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The Oscars proved that all events should capitalize on social media dominance

By: Lydia Bird

The Oscars were hosted on Sunday night in Los Angeles and there is much for event managers to learn about how the awards are having to modernize the promotion and delivery of its showpiece event to continue to have the reach it has boasted for years. Social media is playing a key role.

The TV figures for this year’s Academy Awards fell 20% from 2018 to a record low 23.6m viewers but early reports have highlighted that the show has already surpassed a 20m audience through social media sharing and conversation alone. 

There are many positives to take from the additional reach that social channels can provide to all live events, especially those without huge broadcast deals to fall back on. But it is crucial that event organisers are able to lead the conversation online, control the narrative and capitalize commercially on the extra eyeballs that can be generated.

4 ways to modernize and transform events through social media

Profound changes in technology, channels, and viewership behaviour are transforming the way audiences consume media content. In order to remain popular and relevant, events and awards ceremonies have been forced to adapt. The Oscars are a good example and can provide some inspiration to event managers looking to maximize the reach and impact of their events. Here are some key takeaways. 

1. Listening to your audience

Often embroiled in controversy, the Oscars ceremony has faced much criticism in the last few years for lacking diversity, not proving equal recognition to all award categories, as well as being out of touch with what most movie-goers watch in cinemas.

Social media can be a double-edged sword. It can invite audiences to complain or disagree with what they see in real-time but also provide a useful reflection on public opinion. This feedback can be crucial for making improvements, innovating and attracting larger audiences in the future.

Good examples of reactive changes that The Academy has introduced include inviting younger audiences to vote for award winners and proposing a new awards category based on popularity. Some might even argue that social reaction to winners in earlier awards ceremonies like the BAFTAs can impact who wins at the Oscars themselves.

Takeaway – Make the most of social media to gather as much feedback as possible and make informed changes to future events. No events get it 100% right first time – that’s okay!

2. Amplifying promotion

Event promotion 101 is all about creating a buzz before the event – social media is made for this. Create your own hashtag and post small chunks of information about the event over a period of time to build interest – in the Oscars’ case this included for instance: how to tune in to watch the show, highlights from past footage of awards winners, venue preparations, award nominations, etc.

During and after the event is a great time to promote accompanying footage through social channels to reach a larger audience and generate more engagement from the occasion online. Awards ceremonies are a hotbed for sharable content, so make the most of it whilst it is most valuable – awards speeches, behind the scenes, and interviews all work well.

Takeaway – Be prepared to produce, clip and share as much video content as possible before, during and after your events to build momentum and enable online audiences to engage and interact with the show.

3. Innovating through social platforms

With a view to modernizing, The Oscars began announcing award nominees through social media channels hosted by celebrities, rather than at a customary, invite-only cinema event which used to take place in Hollywood a few months before.

Using new automated messaging through Twitter’s direct messages, audiences were also able to participate in an ‘Oscars Predictions Experience’, essentially giving you the opportunity to respond with your winner for each category when prompted.

Takeaway – Social media platforms provide unique channels for audience engagement that may have never been possible in the past – think polls, filters, AR/VR. Make sure your events are adapting and innovating with new technologies, so you don’t fall behind.

4. Owning the moment commercially

There has been an exponential increase in online video consumption and social media clips have played a significant role. In the event world, for example, it is now likely that anyone could easily follow something as publicized as the Oscars through their Twitter or Instagram feeds on the night, without having to be there or tune into the coverage itself. Something the sports world knows all too well. 

To combat what could be a lost audience – a key revenue driver, event organizers should take advantage of their ability to capture and share their own high-quality footage on location. This should enable them to be the official source of content online that attracts the most engagement, rather than any unofficial sources whose content they cannot control or commercially benefit from. Go ahead and scroll through the Oscars’ own twitter account to see just how many video clips they shared on the night!

Takeaway – Be prepared to satisfy audience demand for online content because other accounts will. The more content you can produce and share, the more engagement you can generate for yourself and potentially monetize.

Are you an event organizer/ agency? Looking for tips to improve your use of video and social media to take your event to the next level? Check out our social media guide to discover how.

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