What is it like running the social media for a major event like TEDxAuckland?

It has been a wonderful year for the TEDxAuckland community.

With the success of the event behind us, I’d like to give you an insight into my role as the social media manager for TEDxAkl 2018.

The annual event took place on October 13th at Shed 10. I first stumbled upon TEDxAkl in June 2018 after reaching out to them, as I felt a strong urge to be part of a community which inspires, builds and challenges ideas.

To cover the event on social media, intense planning was needed the week before. Our main focus was on how the atmosphere of the event could be captured organically via the online platforms to portray an authentic view of the event for anyone not attending.

Content would all happen in real time, and needed to be posted quickly and regularly, therefore, following instincts and capturing things in the moment was essential. I had written a plan for myself (and three very helpful volunteers) to ensure I covered the key aspects of the event we wanted to capture, but left room for improvisation. We planned to utilise Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by posting stories, photos and tweets to generate engagement.

Intense nerves washed over me as I waited for the day to start. Upstairs of Shed 10, the iconic TEDxAuckland sign dazzled behind the stage, and the seating arrangement was ready for the approaching audience.

The doors opened at 9 AM where a sizeable queue of eager attendees were waiting to enter. The first few rows of people entered the building, to their right, Auckland Puppy Rescue had an adorable puppy playpen set-up - this of course was an immediate hit and perfect for covering on social media.

Passing this and beyond the registry, the main downstairs area was for our food and drink vendors. Delicious aromas were cascading through the building early on. Free coffee, courtesy of Allpress Espresso was enjoyed, along with delicious yogurt and muesli from The Collective. People were beginning to familiarise themselves with the venue and the many food & drink set-ups on the bottom floor of Shed 10. (Read more on the food & drink of the event here)

Set-ups weren’t limited to the edible. We had local artists on site, explaining their work to interested eyes. The BizDojo lounge provided a much needed chill out zone for the long day, and Thought Wired had a neat interactive set-up with virtual reality and mind-controlled robots.

Instagram stories gained the most attraction and it was obvious why.

A majority of them were short clips to present each speaker. Unlike a still image, the video made you hear and feel a punchy moment from each speaker’s visionary idea, putting you in the room for a brief moment. We had over 2000 Instagram profile visits, and hundreds of views for each post on our stories.

It was also great to see the attendees capture and share moments by using their own social media throughout the day - Some of which we used to repost to our main channels. To me, it proved that audiences were engaged in the event. They were looking at our content and creating their own for their own followings. It also emphasised the power of social media in terms of its reach and how quickly it can spread. This was what we wanted to achieve.

Another important part of TEDxAkl were the live performances. An incredible art installation by Obelix and three musical acts demonstrated how we wanted to highlight some of Auckland’s local talent. Like the speakers, they used the platform to present something new and hard hitting and we strived to capture this too.

The experience of the day has made me realise how fantastic it is to be there in person. Social media can only go so far, and it could never fully capture the ambiance during the speaker sessions and the intermissions. It was wonderful to witness attendees coming together and tentatively talk about the talks they had just seen over a coffee, a beer, or some food.

A number of the talks confronted very real and prevalent issues in Aotearoa and around the world. It was obvious that for some, sharing their thoughts and feelings with a group after each speaker session provided comfort, support, and connection.

Social media is a great tool to use for engaging audiences who were both there and not. However, I also hope it serves as a vehicle to entice people to come and experience it in person as it was truly a memorable event that should not only be experienced via a screen.

Managing the social media has taught me how influential this platform can be. To use it responsively is key, as we continuously strive to release content that is unique, honest, and stimulating. I look forward to being part of the team going forward, and growing TEDxAkl’s voice on social media.