Events

Leveraging your Event with Social Media by Jordan Hefler

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | How to Create a Branded Experience On and Offline | Jordan Hefler

Hi hey hello! This morning I got to give a presentation at the Baton Rouge Events Association about how you can use social media to leverage a branded experience for your event- or any event you’re a part of as an entrepreneur or business owner. I think the presentation went pretty well so I decided to share some of that info with y’all too, cuz why not?!

In a digital and social age, it's more important than ever to properly utilize social media to help plan, market, and execute your event to your target audience. You can use social media to create a branded, engaging, and successful experience for your guests- before, during, and after your event.

There are two ways you can approach these methods- planning your own event vs. leveraging an event you’re involved with.

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | Jordan Hefler

It might sound pretty elementary, but you can totally use social media to help plan, brand, market, execute, cross promote, and leverage your event (and for free! It’s free advertising!)

These methods can be applied for weddings, corporate meetings, conferences, parties, business launches, concerts, festivals, fundraisers, galas, art shows, or even your own kid’s birthday party!

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | Jordan Hefler

SO. How many of y’all have ever gotten on social media to get ideas about how to plan your event? If you thought “no” then you’re wrong because you’re on a blog learning about it right now so HA!!!!

Anyways…searching Pinterest or Instagram to get ideas for what you want your event to be like is super useful. It can help you answer these questions-

  • What is your event? Are there experiential factors you can create at the event that will make the attendees want to post while they are there? (photo booth, curated area, social media wall, etc.) What about your product, service, or venue is “instagrammable?” Social media is just the ancient art of “word of mouth” just online- What will make people want to share and tell their friends?

People love murals, props, neon signs, mylar balloons, signage, cute table details, etc. People WANT to post pictures of themselves or things that they are doing. They want to be seen! AND they want to use special hashtags with their posts- but just make sure you think of something easy for everyone to spell otherwise you won’t be able to find the photos later!

If you’re searching for ideas on Pinterest, there’s no reason why you can’t use photos of your own execution of the idea and re-share it on Pinterest to help the next person who’s searching. It’s a big cycle y’all!

If you’re searching for ideas on Pinterest, there’s no reason why you can’t use photos of your own execution of the idea and re-share it on Pinterest to help the next person who’s searching. It’s a big cycle y’all!

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | Jordan Hefler

Y’all know I am a little nerdy about branding. I mean I have a whole online workshop about it. But I think it’s one of the most important (if not the most important!) aspects to marketing anything successfully! Just like having consistent branding in your business, I am a firm believer that your event should have a brand of its own. Think of the best parties you’ve ever been to- they probably had a pretty baller theme, am I right?

  • What is the vibe of the event? Is there an aesthetic, theme, or persona for the event both on and offline? (Colors, tone of voice, logo, design assets, etc.)

  • Once you have identified your brand, it becomes easier to share/take images that fit that mold. Make your marketing strategy intentional with a branded look!

If you still need help identifying a brand, get inspired with my FREE branding worksheet here!

An example of using consistent branding on and offline- while also utilizing branded hashtags and cross promotion tagging.

An example of using consistent branding on and offline- while also utilizing branded hashtags and cross promotion tagging.

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | Jordan Hefler

Now that you’ve identified what the theme/brand/aesthetic/vibe is going to be, you can use social media to promote those branded assets in a rhythmic way up until the event.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY.

  • You can do wayy more than just saying “get your tickets!” or “see you there!” You don’t have to be so salesy when marketing your event- you basically want to brainwash them into knowing what the post is about without even having to read it (that means you branded it well!)

  • Use social media to promote multiple different aspects of your event or service. For instance, you can spotlight different sponsors or vendors involved, you can spotlight the location, you can spotlight some behind the scenes action of planning the event, you can post about how you came up with the idea, you can post pretty photos that just generally align with the branding even if they’re irrelevant…there are tons of angles you can go at this from!

  • Repost user generated content (UGC) with their permission to help gather content as well as spread the word to new audiences. An example of this is when a conference asked if they could repost one of my photos of an orange New Orleans building with a blue sky- I realized their branding was blue and orange and the event was happening in New Orleans. I immediately thought that was genius because I was then aware of the event and even intrigued to find out more info- now I’ve been attending it for 3 years all because they asked if they could repost a photo of mine! I’d say that’s successful marketing.

  • Using affiliates or sponsored posts with influencers- this is a great way to reach new audiences!

  • Take your prospective attendees behind the scenes of the planning process (Use IG stories/snapchat etc.) Use this to build up anticipation!

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | Jordan Hefler

Alright so your event is here...now it’s time to execute all this hard work! This is when you are realllllly going to want to take lots of photos and have someone running the social media platforms to film stories, document, etc. to let everyone at home know what they’re missing out on. You can literally hire someone to do this, OR you can do it yourself. Just make sure you don’t forget- sometimes when you’re the one running the show you don’t have time and you’re going to definitely want this content for later!

If you’re taking the photos yourself and you don’t know where to start, I’d suggest enrolling in my Mastering iPhoneography workshop series online. It’ll teach you how to create DIY content with your phone!

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | Jordan Hefler

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people post photos and don’t credit! As a photographer, this could be a make or break situation for me potentially getting hired for another gig- tagging other vendors and crediting them on social media is a huge way to cross promote each other and make it a mutually beneficial experience.

If you’re an event planner and you take a photo of the food spread, tag the caterer AND the venue AND maybe the band playing AND the florist and yaddi yadda. It’s not only polite- it’ll make them see it and probably do the same, which would therefore get your social media platforms in front of other audiences. Here are a few more cross promotion strategies:

Here are some examples of accounts successfully cross promoting with other accounts.

Here are some examples of accounts successfully cross promoting with other accounts.

  • Tag your location with the geo-tags (mixing this up every post is a good way to reach new audiences- city vs. venue, etc.)

  • Respond to comments! This is a PUBLIC way to show your personality. Other people will be reading the comments you respond back with, so use this as an opportunity to really get your name in front of them.

  • Reaching new audiences: engaging with those other people who have liked the other account’s image (IE you and caterer post the same photo and tagged each other- go like everyone’s photos of who liked the caterer’s photo.)

Here’s an example of posting an image with the specific event’s geo-tag, then searching that geo-tag to interact with other posts made at the same location. This is a great way to reach a targeted audience- AKA people who have also attended that event. By engaging with their images, there’s a good probability they’ll click your account and see relevant posts from the event and maybe hire you/follow you/become aware of you/engage with you online.

Here’s an example of posting an image with the specific event’s geo-tag, then searching that geo-tag to interact with other posts made at the same location. This is a great way to reach a targeted audience- AKA people who have also attended that event. By engaging with their images, there’s a good probability they’ll click your account and see relevant posts from the event and maybe hire you/follow you/become aware of you/engage with you online.

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | Jordan Hefler

Sooo the event came and went and it was successful. Don’t let the conversation stop when the event is over! Analyze posts that were made from guests with the hashtag, check the location geo-tag and like everyone’s images who came, comment and message back to people. Use those images/stories others posted to share into your own feed as user generated content to promote it again for next time!

  • Leverage it even further by making a blog post about the event with behind the scenes insight/tips from the whole process with the images you got, and put all of those images on Pinterest. SHARE your experiences, don’t be stingy- this is what people are searching for on Pinterest (you got your ideas from these types of posts, remember?!) In the end, people who are searching for that topic will see you as the authority on the subject and therefore engage with your content or maybe even hire you for their next need. Did I hack your mind yet because that’s exactly what I’m doing with this blog post as we speak!

If you’re looking to dive even deeper into these subjects, consider enrolling in my Do What You Want Workshops! Click below for more info.

Leveraging your Event with Social Media | How to Create a Branded Experience On and Offline | Jordan Hefler

First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition by Jordan Hefler

First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition by Jordan Hefler

So if you have been living under a rock and haven't seen my 58208 posts about it, I had an exhibition for my music photography and it went sooo well! I literally posted about this show an obnoxious amount for fear of nobody showing up and it ended up being about three times as packed as the photos you'll see below (which was awesome but also stressful but mostly awesome!)

First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition by Jordan Hefler
First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition by Jordan Hefler

Here's a little run down if you weren't able to make it to the show or don't know anything about it:

It happened at Perkins Rowe, a beautiful and hoppin local outdoor retail area in Baton Rouge where I typically stroll around and go shopping at stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and J Crew. Basically one of their spaces has been empty for a while and instead of waiting for someone to lease it they started to utilize it for pop up events. They asked me to do a pop up art show there a few months ago and it got my wheels turning- I figured this would be a good time to do a show since I haven't done one in 4 years! I decided to do an exhibition of my favorite concert photos I've taken in the past 3-4 years and title the show "First Three, No Flash." More about what that means in a second.

First Three, No Flash| Music Photography Exhibition at Perkins Rowe by Jordan Hefler
Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Because it's a space originally intended for retail, there are areas on the wall with hanging rods and shelving units. My family got together and helped me drill holes in a bunch of scratched records and we put my logos on them and strung them from fishing line and tinsel to help cover those spots on the wall. This ended up being a perfect backdrop for photos and also added some fun shiny branding to the space!

Drilling holes through records for decorations
Hang records and CDs from fishing line in front of tinsel for a fun photo backdrop

The reception took place from 7-10pm on June 1st and it was a success! My mom and aunt bartended, my boyfriend helped stock the beer, my dad was the merch guy, and my brother used his truck to help move everything. Tin Roof graciously donated beer, Jay Ducote donated some of his Blanc du Bois white wine, and Capital City Records gave me some scratched records to use as decorations. We even had a rum drink we named "Mosh Pit Punch" but unfortunately spelled Pineapple wrong on the sign LOL which you can see in the photos below. Last but not least, my FAVORITE local artist Thomas Wimberly asked to do some painting renditions inspired by my music photography...obviously I said YES and he made some amazing pieces to put up next to my work!

Paintings by Thomas Wimberly inspired by photography of Jordan Hefler | First Three, No Flash
Thomas Wimberly and Jordan Hefler at the First Three, No Flash exhibition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Thomas Wimberly and Jordan Hefler at the First Three, No Flash exhibition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

One of my favorite things I got to do for the show was make a playlist of songs only from artists I've photographed and having it play over the speaker as people looked at the work. This wasn't that hard for me because I typically try to photograph artists that I listen to in the first place! I tried to exclude the heavy heavy heavy music and really tried to find edited versions of the rap songs haha (it was a public event, I didn't want to get too crazy!) You can follow that playlist on Spotify here!

BIG thanks to my friend Eric Garcia for offering to come take some photos at the start of my opening reception! It really was surreal to see my work printed large scale and have a ton of people come out to view it. My artist statement was printed on the wall next to the images, and you can read it below

ABOUT FIRST THREE NO FLASH

There’s nothing quite like photographing live music. Lights are flashing making it hard to meter your shot, crowd surfers are falling on top of you and your gear, the guitarist on stage is thrashing around, security guards are yelling at you to see your photo pass…. you’re completely at the mercy of what is happening in front of you as well as your surroundings and access limitations. Lighting is unpredictable, the fans are unpredictable, and most of all the performances are unpredictable. It’s an experience that is truly out of your control as a photographer. The adrenaline rush is insane as you are trying to get all of your shots in a short window of time for your assignment, while usually sharing a small space with other photographers competing for the same thing. Your time in the photo pit is intimate without being intimate at all. Being an artist documenting other artists is surreal, frustrating, rewarding, and liberating all at the same time.

"First Three, No Flash" is the industry standard rule for photographing concerts, meaning credentialed photographers can generally only photograph the first three songs from a specific area and utilize what light is available. These limitations affect what type of lenses you bring, how many cameras you use, and how you approach your assignment. This rule is widely understood by the music industry and generally applies to the press. There are exceptions and your access is dependent on who hired you, what the venue is, if you know the band, etc. but you’re generally only allowed in the photo pit or soundboard area for the first 15 or so minutes. That time goes by fast when you’re wrestling with all of the variables at hand. The “First Three, No Flash” rule is said to have caught on in the 80’s:

“Paul Natkin, one of Chicago’s best concert photographers stated in an interview that the rule started in the 80’s with bands playing in New York. During concerts, the photographers, only having 36 shots available per reel of film became concerned with the lighting and started using flash to light up the artists on stage. This caused many artists, such as Bruce Springsteen a bit of a headache when fifty or so photographers started flashing him as he walked on stage. The Boss became concerned with this practice and said something needed to be done. According to Paul, someone came up with the idea of just letting the photographers shoot for the first fifteen minutes, or first three songs as the average time per song is around five minutes. It was around this time when MTV appeared on our television sets and artists wanted to look perfect on stage photos as they did in their music videos.” -Fred van Leeuwen, Fstoppers.com

I have always been drawn to old film photos of Led Zeppelin concerts in the 70’s and have gotten such emotional reactions to images of young screaming girls chasing The Beatles in the 60’s. I grew up thinking how important it was that someone had captured those moments, and dreamt of being able to do the same with the bands that I loved. With a photography degree in 2014 and no idea what to do with it, I quickly got burned out from photographing everything people told me I should do…until I dove head first into music photography. 

This exhibition highlights the concert photography opportunities I have had over the past 3-4 years, as well as artwork by Thomas Wimberly inspired by these photos. All of the songs playing over the speaker are from bands and artists that I’ve photographed, many of which you will see on the walls today. Most images on display were photographed during the first three songs without flash.

The past few years have been SO much more work than you could ever imagine, but gave me experiences that have intensified my passion and appreciation for music, photography, and the art of the fleeting moment in general. Photographing live music is hands down my favorite, and I am eager to see what opportunities in the industry are next.

I just want to reiterate how thankful I am for anybody who helped support this show by donating something, helping me set up, letting me hang flyers in their store, or buying anything! I sold a ton of merch (if you didn't get a chance to scoop something I have stuff in my online store here) and am hoping to do more pop up shops like this in the future. I also unveiled two new products at the show- the Thank You Tee and the Do What You Want Record Bowls!

Do What You Want "Thank You" Tee
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Keep up with more events like this by subscribing to my email list! I'm hoping to do another art show in the winter and I have nooo idea what work I'll hang up then, but stay in touch by subscribing here!