Events mean large numbers of people, all engaging on social around one topic or happening, at the same time – providing a golden opportunity for brands and causes to get on to the radar of a captured audience.

Share of voice is, of course, a challenge.

The simultaneous nature of the national day, conference or awards event conversation creates an online cacophony: a dawn chorus of tweeting.

So how to make your own comms stand out? Never fear, here are four ways to make your posts and updates the social event of the 2016 season…

1. Plan your year

A simple Google search will throw up the usual annual events that’ll light up the Twitter ‘Moments’ tab, but take the time to look into 2016 happenings that are of specific relevance to your brand or cause – be they trade shows, awards ceremonies or global summits.

Dig deeper to identify those events that will best help you to reach specific sections of your audience, meet your comms objectives and land your brand’s unique point of view.

It was completely expected that Ben & Jerrys, with its Climate Justice platform, would participate in COP21 digital conversations – less so Maersk.

However, the global shipping company has publically stated its support for carbon emissions regulation in the shipping industry, and this was the perfect moment to engage relevant bodies and industry influencers on this specific climate change topic.

2. Make friends in high places

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Planned events will have high-profile spokespeople/attendees that will naturally be the centre of attention and therefore the competition for their bandwidth will be fierce.

However, these people will have key followers with their own spheres of influence – and might also be able to influence the top-tier targets. 

Simple desk research, or the utilisation of a tool such as Brandwatch, can help identify the right influencers with the right tone and topics of interest for your brand.

Girl Effect, a girl empowerment movement, naturally looks to engage those who can effect genuine change at the top.

By choosing to drive digital conversations around events such as the launch of #62MillionGirls it has secured engagement from one of the key names behind this education initiative, culminating in the endorsement of @FLOTUS herself (with her 3.45m followers).

3. Lay the groundwork

It’s important to build trust with your chosen influencers over time to maximise the opportunity – before, during and after those calendar events (this is where that planning comes in).

It takes time to build up a store of credibility on a subject – particularly one with which your brand/cause does not have an obvious connection.

There’s no point, for example, belting out a series of cracking tweets during this year’s Oscars in isolation. Unless Pharrell happened to have worn one of your hats, a me-too post will likely be treated with suspicion.

By sticking to your brand’s point of view, and consistently creating content of value around similar events in the run-up to your primary target, you increase the likelihood of influencer association.

Sure, any truly great piece of content has the potential to gain traction, but by properly laying the groundwork you certainly increase your chances.

4. Move with the times

The best laid comms plans in the world are always going to be subject to the whims of the great Twittish public.

Event hashtags change: an inept Superbowl dancer clad in a shark-suit can take over social media, while a political leader’s inability to eat a bacon sandwich can render null and void a carefully constructed party conference conversation.

Having a clear set of editorial guidelines, and a content creation team set up to monitor the event and react with relevant branded content, will be crucial to capture the event zeitgeist.

Then, when the inevitable puddles of this world take centre stage, your team will be ready to react in real-time (and, if you’re a wellies, raincoat or umbrella brand, potentially park your planned Oscars-related activity in favour of this new golden opportunity).  

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