Fundraise Smarter

How to Nail Social Media At Your Fundraising Event

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jul 25, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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There’s a lot of wringing of hands in the world these days about how much young people use their phones.

Whether you’re young or old, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now (but for two very different reasons). We’ll save the merits for and against our connectedness for another day. For now, let’s discuss something I think we can all agree on:

How can you really nail your social media at your next fundraising event?

A strong social media game can work wonders for your events. For one, they help you capture that “F.O.M.O.” (that’s “Fear Of Missing Out”) feeling that can drive future engagement. If my friend goes to an event that I decided to pass on, but all the pictures he’s sharing on Instagram look amazing, I’m going to feel a bit silly for deciding not to go.

And you can bet that next year I’ll be there.


Point is, when your event is consistently producing a stream of social media content, it’s free advertising for you. Beyond that, it helps increase the level of engagement of attendees. People will scroll through the posts surrounding your event to see what other people are doing. Perhaps you’ve got a fun station set up somewhere in the event space, and they’ll see other people posting about it and go check it out themselves.

But good social media doesn’t happen by itself. Sure, you need a fun, engaging event, but it goes beyond that. If you don’t set yourself up for success, you’ll find your attendees might be staring at their phones for a very different (and not nearly as good) reason: they’re bored out of their minds.

Here’s some tips for maximum social media exposure during your next event.

1. Make The Hashtag Known

Alright, so really step 1 should be “Decide on a hashtag,” but we’re going beyond just “Social Media 101” here.

Don’t let your hashtag be forgotten. Make it abundantly clear what it is and have reminders throughout the night. Put it on signs around the venue. On placards on the table. Have your MC announce it multiple times. Tag your OWN tweets with them (duh). Put it on the big screen.

You could even incentivize people to use your hashtag. Luster makes these super cool photo printers that you can set up at an event that will only print photos that feature your designated hashtag. People love having printed photos to take home (a novelty in today’s digital world), so they’ll be extra motivated to include the hashtag.

2. Seed the Posts

You know how the guy playing an instrument on the subway or in a busy public space always seems to have just a few dollars already in his tip jar? There’s a reason for this.

“Seeding” the tip jar with a few dollars plays a psychological trick on us. We see some dollars in there already, so naturally we assume that other people have already deemed this person worthy of a buck, so why not drop one in too?

Do the same with your social media for the night! Utilize your hashtag before, during, and after the event, sharing photos that you take on your own or re-posting user-generated content. That way, when people look at the hashtag, it’s not just a lonely empty void.

3. Have a Backup Plan

Always, always, always have a backup plan. You never know what might go wrong, but if you’re prepared for it, you can minimize the damage.

As an example: I recently heard about an event aimed at high school students that had its hashtag hijacked by spam-bots posting hundreds of posts containing sexually explicit content a minute (this has been known to happen when a hashtag begins to trend locally). Obviously, this was not the desired outcome for the organizers of this event.

So they thought fast and picked a new hashtag and began promoting that. They tweeted alerting everyone to the new hashtag (without explaining the reasoning for the change, so as not to draw more attention to it) and pinned that tweet to the top of their account. Next, they had a few influencers also tweet about the new hashtag. Finally, they retweeted every last tweet they could that contained the new tag, so that anyone who visited their twitter page would see only the new one.

Beautifully handled, and a near disaster was successfully averted.

4. Showcase Active Users

You’ll typically find a few super heavy social media posters at your event. Maybe everyone isn’t sharing a picture, but these super-sharers will make up for it.

Make sure you showcase them a bit as a way to encourage their posting! Retweet their posts, comment on it, like it, whatever you can do to show your appreciation. Let’s face it, one of the primary reasons we share things on social media is because we want a reaction from our friends. When that behavior is reinforced, you’re practically guaranteed your attendees will do more of it.

5. Bring Along Your Influencers

If you’ve got people with a big social influence in your database, consider throwing them an invite (maybe for free or discounted for paid events) so that they can bring their social media prowess to the event.

The cost to you is fairly low: a comped ticket or two. But the added benefit of the exposure for your event can pay off big time.

How do you find influencers? Our Insights tool can do that for you!

Bonus tip: sign up your influencer as a peer-to-peer fundraiser!

6. Give People Material To Post

One of the problems with social media at events, from webinars to galas, is that there just isn’t always interesting stuff to post. You’ll typically see a flood of posts at the beginning (“So exicted to attend _______!), but after that they’ll trickle in.

Unless you give people a reason to post!

Provide your attendees with some inspiration. Try flashing some questions people can respond to on the big screen and have them tweet their answers. Have them vote on something during the event via Instagram post. Set up a photo booth with props. Sprinkle a few of these throughout the night to keep things moving.


7. Give Attendees the Tools to Post

Know what they quickest way to kill social media at your event is?

No wifi or cell signal.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to post something with a bad cell signal. Your attendees will likely just give up. Not only that, they won’t be able to scroll through your hashtag to see what other people are posting. You might as well not even have a hashtag.

So make sure you’ve got some wifi going! Provide the password to attendees so they can keep the posting going strong. If possible, include some charging stations as well so people can keep a full battery. After all, they’ll want some juice left to power their phone for that Uber ride home.

8. Don’t Forget Snapchat!

If you want strong social media use at your event, you’d better not forget the hottest name out there at the moment.

Snapchat is a bit different from most other social network in that it doesn’t utilize hashtags. What you can do, however, is make a custom “geofilter” for your event.

Geofilters are custom designed frames that go over pictures and videos posted to Snapchat that are specific to a geographic location and timeframe. Check out this one below for the neighborhood where the WeDidIt office is located:


Snapchat recently made these available to the public. You can submit a filter on their website, choose the timeframe and location, and get an immediate quote on price. For small spaces and short timeframes, the filter are surprisingly affordable!


Social Media is a Cocktail Party

The old axiom about social media is that it’s best to treat it like a cocktail party: don’t be overly self-promotey (add that word to the dictionary, would ya?), listen more than you speak, and interact politely.

As the host of said cocktail party, you need to act as any good host does: make sure people have full drinks (charged phones), introduce them to people (give them something to talk about), etc. Your job is to give people a smooth start, and they’ll take it from there.

And once you master that, you’ll have the hottest ticket in town!

Topics: social media, event fundraising

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