Managing Social Media at a Huge Event: #SageSummit

While attending Sage Summit a couple weeks back in Chicago, I spent quite a bit of time with the social team. I, along with a few other social influencers, were there to “report” on the conference, and generate social content on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and more.

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It was fascinating to me to watch the social team in action. I manage social media for events sometimes, specifically The Wellness Show, which is a 3-day trade show that will be held in March next year. About 30,000 people walk through our doors over the space of the weekend, but not all of them are tweeting or generating content.

As a social media manager at an event, you have two jobs: first off, you have to manage the social media being generated by the folks attending. This means favoriting and retweeting or replying to tweets, commenting or liking Instagrams, etc. You have to interact with the content people are generating or answer their questions. Secondly, you have to generate your own content on the business’ social channels.

The kind of social content being generated during something like The Wellness Show pales in comparison to the kind of content being generated at an event like Sage Summit. It’s a huge task.

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I interviewed Dru Chai, Social Media Lead for Sage, about how they cope with all those tweets.

RC:  Tell us a little about Sage Summit.
DC: Sage Summit began as a modest gathering of Sage partners and customers. Over the last three years, the event has evolved into a truly global conference for small and medium businesses. Entrepreneurs can hear from well-known speakers, network with industry experts, discover innovative technology and other resources to help springboard their company to the next level.
RC:  How many people attended this year? And of those people, do you have some idea of how many were generating social content?
DC: Approximately 15,000 people attended Sage Summit this year. I estimate that over half were actively generating social content – especially during the popular keynote conversations with celebrity speakers. On-site activation like photo booths, contest, and prize giveaways helped to encourage attendees to share their experience on social.
RC: Your team was responsible for two things: generating content for the Sage social channels, and monitoring content being generated by participants. Can you explain to us how you managed those two momentous tasks?
DC:   Planning social media for Sage Summit is a year-round effort, but it really picks up steam in the several months leading up to the event. We plan and schedule as much social content ahead of time, leaving room for all of the fantastic “spontaneous” activity during the event.
Two people were part of the “social conversation” team, leading content publishing, monitoring, and engagement on Twitter. Another two people were “social explorers,” and they were tasked with providing the behind-the-scenes at Sage Summit using live streaming platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live.
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RC: What kind of social traffic did you see over the three days?
DC: We always see a huge spike in social referral traffic and to our website during Sage Summit, and this year was no different. Link clicks were up 600% from last year. We doubled our potential reach from the previous year with 574 million potential impressions over four days. Overall in the month of July, 1 billion potential impressions!
RC:  What tools do you use?
DC: We used a combination of social media publishing tools to schedule and publish content throughout the event, though we primarily use a tool called Social Studio.  We also use Sysomos, a dedicated social media listening tool to monitor and measure the activity.
RC:  Were there any takeaways or learning experiences you’d like to share with us?

DC: Successfully executing a social media plan for a large-scale event requires many months of prioritizing and strategizing, but you can never predict what will happen during the event. You have to be able to adapt quickly and calmly resolve an issue in a matter of moments. You have to be able to handle countless requests from all different directions. Expect the unexpected.

Infographic courtesy of Maximillion.co.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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