Running Successful Live Events on Social Media with Vanessa Wojtusiak

Vanessa Wojtusiak is the Director of Audience Development at WTNH-TV, the ABC television affiliate out of New Haven, CT.

During her 15-year career in media – spanning radio to apps and digital platforms as well as television – Vanessa has built the entire social media strategy for iHeartRadio’s brand, from the ground floor to 75% brand awareness in 2015. This includes cultivating its social following from zero to 7.3 million “Likes” on Facebook and establishing and skyrocketing growth across Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and creating a presence on Snapchat.

While she was the Director of Social Marketing at iHeartRadio, Vanessa created a comprehensive social media strategy for iHeartRadio and provided best practices for 850 radio stations across the US. This resulted in significant growth and engagement for the brand at the time and accounting for billions of social media impressions from each event.

Vanessa’s passion is transforming traditional media to evolve in the digital space. She is currently is working at the news organization to bring news, events and relevant content to local audiences on social media and through digital channels.

Seek An Audience will be running an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, where Vanessa will be answering questions relating to running live events on social media, in addition to asking her questions about audience development in general and her professional background.

Here are the key areas of learning you can expect, as a result of attending:

  • Best practices and processes for setting your own live events using social media
  • Designing event activations to encourage further engagement and exposure
  • Establishing beneficial advertising and sponsorship partners into social media programs and events on a national scale.

This event will be taking place on the 29th of June, 2017 at 4 pm, New York Time . If you can’t attend and would still like to ask some questions, please enter them in the comments section below, and the Seek An Audience team will see if they can be answered during Vanessa’s session.

Running Successful Live Events on Social Media with Vanessa Wojtusiak

Finally, please be sure that as a minimum you gain contributor access (through signing up on the site), in order to allow you ask questions. Sign up and we’ll get this sorted ASAP.

AMA Recap Discussion

AlonsoBalbuena (Guest): Hi, Vanessa. I am Alonso Balbuena, a journalist from We are very interested in having live events on social media. A couple of weeks ago, we had our first live event. How could we get better at it? Currently, we have Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. We also want to expand our audience and keep them more engaged. Thanks. Alonso

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Let’s kick things off! Firstly Happy Birthday, Vanessa, hope you’ve had an awesome day 🙂

Vanessa Wojtusiak: Hello, everyone! I’m looking forward to helping you with your live event strategies and offering some best practices in the space. Feel free to comment with questions below.

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @alonsobalbuena – Hi, Alonso. That’s great! Can you tell me more about the first event you hosted and the types of events you’d like to do moving forward?

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @vahe_arabian – Thank you so much! My day has been great and now even better getting to discuss a topic that I’m so passionate about. Thanks for having me, Vahe.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Vanessa,

Here are a few questions from people that aren’t able to attend today.

  1. What kind of processes and tools did you layout to achieve the success you did with iHeartRadio?
  2. What made you start in audience development in the first place?
  3. What do you see the future of live events on social to look like? Are there platforms we should prefer over others?

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): @vanessa_wojtusiak – They’ve got their events listed here –

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @vahe_arabian – 1. Processes + tools for events: First of all, it was a lot of careful planning. It’s very important to have a schedule for pre-promotion to be able to spread the word about your event, as well as an on-site or day-of plan and post-event plan. The content you deliver before, during, and after will help map out the level of success and visibility. Use content hooks to tease what will happen and give your attendees a sneak peek into aspects of your event. Whether its photos, countdowns, polls, or videos, these are all great to share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. Stagger out the content to give it time to “breathe” given the various platform algorithms and review each post’s performance to tweak it along the way. Creativity and analytics go hand-in-hand when planning and promoting an event. As far as tools, I’m a huge fan of on-site displays to help encourage sharing and conversation. I’ve used Expion (now owned by Sysomos) as well as Twubs to create compelling tweet-to-screens and Instagram photos from event attendees. Snapchat, and now Facebook Event filters, are also great to help get your branding outside of whatever venue your event is taking place in and reach another audience to drive visibility and awareness.

Vanessa Wojtusiak: 2. What made me start in audience development: consumers, attendees, viewers, listeners, users are the most important part of any business. They’re the ones enjoying your product and will continue to come back and recommend and share it with friends and family if they’re satisfied. I enjoy being connected to that front line and being creative with the various avenues and touch points of communicating to audiences. My background is in marketing, so being creative and staying on the front lines of consumer behavior is interesting to me. Risk taking is important; there is no strategy without trying something new and that’s the part where “development” comes in. You’re constantly developing, evolving, and trying new things to reach and extend your audience bases. Each avenue has a specific message delivery system. For instance, in an email marketing campaign, you’re communicating differently than on Instagram, Facebook, or even a traditional television commercial. These elements are important to understand since each platform is so different.

Vanessa Wojtusiak: 3. The future of live events: Video, video, video has been the key! Live events are primarily visual and an experience that people want to experience; if not on-site, then through a way where they can be connected. It’s human nature to want to be social and want to be involved. Video fills this void. This is why Facebook is pushing Facebook Live as well as Instagram Live and Twitter bringing live broadcasts to audiences from the palm of your hand. Taking it one step further will be AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) for fully immersive event integration.

Vanessa Wojtusiak: 4. Platforms we should prefer over others: Like I mentioned before, each platform has a unique use case. You also need to take a look at your audience data and demographics. Who are you trying to reach? Where do these people generally spend their time? Do some necessary research to be able to better captivate that audience and have an understanding of how people consume content across platforms. Your event might be better suited as a Facebook Live, maybe a Snapchat Q&A but that depends on a mix of things including your demographic, your content and event as well as your end goals (traffic back to your site, downloads of your app, overall audience engagement, sales of a product, etc.). It’s all very dependent on those variables.

Jose Hernandez (Guest): Hey, Vanessa, this is José Hernández from Plaza Publica, can you tell me more about the design to promote events, graphic, and multimedia? Sometimes, at last, the link between the message and the design gets all the strategy down. Do you have any examples of graphic/multimedia pieces of successful events?

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @josehernandez – Graphics are important. For pre-promotion, create a clear graphic with dates and times of your event and your brand logo, if possible. Try to avoid heavy text. Generally, you can add supporting event details in a post on Facebook or a tweet or Instagram caption. Keep your graphics eye-catching and simple to use as promotion. That way, they will be more shareable too. Showcase an image that really describes what your event or brand is about. People are visual, so this is important. As said, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Remember, though, that if you’re using paid promotion to help boost your event, Facebook only allows for 20% text on images generally, so your ad may not get approved if it is too text-heavy.

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @alonsobalbuena – It’s great that you’re using Facebook Events to have people RSVP and see the various events and topics taking place. Do you promote these pages using ads or schedule out separate posts linking back to the Facebook Event page? That is important and I would also suggest using geo-targeting to help elevate the events to the people you’re trying to have attended.

Pablo Mart: Hi, Vanessa, I am Pablo Fernández (@Chequeado). I would like to know what is your KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for live events. Regards

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): @vanessa_wojtusiak – to add to this how did you run a video campaign on Facebook for $0.01 per view?

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @pablo_martinfernandez – Hi, Pablo. Each event has a different KPI because they can all be so different. I do like to look at engagement numbers, though, because I feel as though the amount of people who are commenting, liking, and sharing is a strong indicator on how much the event resonates with the attendees. Sheer reach numbers don’t necessarily mean anything unless someone is taking action. You could be reaching 1 million people but if no one is talking about it, it’s passive and not impactful, whereas you can be reaching 500 people and 300 of those people are actually having conversations and sharing. The latter is more successful. This engagement rate, to me, is the key.

Pablo Mart: @vanessa_wojtusiak – Thanks, Vanessa!

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): I would like to start wrapping up the AMA session with a few closing remarks from Vanessa. Are you able to provide us a sneak peek at what you’re working on atm @ the ABC TV network and what we should be looking out for on social media publishing in general?

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @vahe_arabian – I always compare Facebook ads to playing the stock market to really optimize on cost. Keep a careful eye on who you’re targeting and when to pull back or increase based on your results and the relevancy score to your intended audience. It’s really a science!

Vanessa Wojtusiak: @vahe_arabian – Maintaining a digital-first outlook within a traditional medium is what I’m primarily focused on driving here. Every day is different with the content we’re trying to serve to our viewers, users, followers, and fans. Experimentation with new platforms and strategies while reviewing performance metrics is the key for me. Within social media, keep an eye out on the proliferation of video content and remember to be social — engage and talk to your bases — it’s not a one-way conversation…SOCIAL is the operative word.

Vanessa Wojtusiak: I am signing off now but thank you for having me, @vahe_arabian! I hope everyone found this session informative. Feel free to ask me questions on Twitter or message me there at VanessaW.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): @vanessa_wojtusiak – the pleasure is ours 🙂

AlonsoBalbuena (Guest): @vanessa_wojtusiak – Thanks, Vanessa. First of all, happy birthday. I see there is a problem with social media because of people seeing content without an audio. What do you suggest to engage people to start hearing the live feeds? I’ve seen some pages suggesting users to activate the audio on them.

AlonsoBalbuena (Guest): @vanessa_wojtusiak – Next week, we hope to host a live event of a social protest that will be held in Lima, because of a corruption case in the government. Should we use and include in the transition the #hashtags used or create our own?

Shreya Sen (Guest): Thank you for this fantastic forum! Unfortunately, the timing makes it difficult to attend the session live from India. Please let me know if we can engage with the speaker in any other way or can be sent the content of the session.

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