Mar 02, 2018 by Victoria Rudi

5 Ways to Gauge Event Success Using Social Media

Social media rules are changing, and the way you analyze your social media impact should too.

It’s critical to stay up to date with social media’s frequent evolutions. Each twist and turn does its part in transforming the way brands engage with their audiences. And these changes each affect your future events.

Take the changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm switching the focus to people over brands. Or Instagram pushing new engagement with hashtags by making them followable like people.

However, an understanding of the new features isn’t enough.

Social media provides a tremendous amount of information for events, and that extends well beyond pre-event research and planning. Not taking advantage of it leaves dozens of valuable thoughts, gripes and compliments, and moments from your guests and sponsors unknown, that you could be using to improve.

Here are 5 ways to get the most out of social media for ROI and success tracking.

Tip 1: Consolidate the social media activity around one or a few hashtags

It’s important to create a dedicated event hashtag for attendees to use when sharing their experiences on social media.

A dedicated hashtag will help you follow the online conversation. It can also help you evaluate the social media reach of your event.

When creating event hashtags, keep it simple and make sure to align it with the identity of your brand or event. And be sure to give guests a clear reason to use it – attach it to an activity or photo-op at the event, and include it in event materials like menus, itineraries, etc.

When the event starts, you can track in real-time on the social media feeds directly and see what’s happening. After the fact (or even during the event, if you have the resources for it) use various analytics tools to collect the real-time mentions of the hashtag and measure its performance through likes, impressions, and engagement.

Tip 2: Keep tabs on local activity with geolocations


You have a big advantage with tracking an event: you know where it is on a map.

See who checked in at the venue, who tagged their public posts with the location, and cross-check it with your guest list. You can uncover insights that might not be clear on other channels – like what plus-ones posted about the event, what people thought about the venue, and maybe even impressions from others who didn’t attend but passed by your check-in.

There are also more real-time activity maps popping up, like Snapchat’s Snap Map, pictured above, that shows a heatmap with swirls of color around locations with the most platform activity.

This can be a great real-time shortcut to see what guests are posting from your event, but may be less careful about tagging for you to find afterwards. It can even be a handy way to sneak a peek into other events for ideas!

Tip 3: Listen actively to what your guests and followers are saying

It almost goes without saying, but use social media for the human insights it brings just as much as the numbers.

For every comment card and feedback form that goes unfilled after your event, there’s a chance that guest took to their Facebook wall or Instagram story to express how they felt. So take it in as part of your guest feedback, which can be useful even for a post-event debrief.

Your goals here can be two-fold: watch and learn from what your people are saying, and also engage with them if there’s a complaint or question you can resolve.

A quick rule-of-thumb for engaging – don’t swoop in on more private posts, like on a personal Facebook account, if it looks like the guest probably isn’t expecting public input. Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook groups that feel more ‘public’ are all likely fair game.

Strive for positive, memorable interactions. While a response may be directed towards one post, anyone is free to see it. Every form of engagement is representative of the event.

Also see: Your Full Guide to Event Marketing with TikTok

Tip 4: Use intelligent tools for better insight-gathering

There is no shortage of social media analytics tools out there.  If you’ve wondered “Can I measure…” about something on social, chances are there’s an app for that. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • Mention: Ever wonder who mentioned your brand or event, or where? This is the easy shortcut.
  • Keyhole: Mentioned before for real-time hashtag tracking and analysis.
  • Sprout Social: One approach to a unified dashboard to analyze multiple social profiles side-by-side.
  • Snaplytics: More stats for the oft-neglected Snapchat.
  • Tailwind: The top insights tool for Pinterest, especially relevant to the event world.
  • TapInfluence: Enterprise-level influencer marketing data tool.
  • Canvs: Powerful sentiment analysis that purports to uncover not just what people posted about your brand, but why.

The data is no good without the ability to understand it. Invest in making sure you or a member of your team is well-versed in turning it into useful insights with actions to follow.

Tip 5: Keep an eye directly on your VIPs

Your VIPs are a kind of two-way channel: it’s an inside look at a specific experience of your event both for you from above, and for their legions of followers from beyond.

As such, it can be helpful to think of what VIPs share as almost like the protagonist’s view of your event – the moments they highlight, their subtle impressions, and their interactions are what a lot of people will perceive.

Not only that, but your other guests will often circulate around the activities of VIPs, so tracking and analyzing the experience of your VIPs, directly on their feeds and stories and where they’re tagged, can shine light on a wider set of experiences at your event as well.

With VIPs, guests, and other followers, a common theme here is to a good and attentive listener. Ask the easy and the hard questions, and put these strategies to use in getting more out of the time you have available for ROI and insights.

The answers may surprise you, but not as much as the surprises that lie in wait for those who ignore some of their best sources of learning.


Victoria Rudi is a professional content creator & strategist for event magazines, startups, and apps. She covers topics such as event logistics & technology, attendees’ psychology, event communication & marketing, gamification, etc. Stay in touch by connecting with Victoria on Twitter.