Being active on social networks before, during, and after an event is critical to your promotional strategy and successful attendee engagement. Since events, like Dreamforce, are in real-time, attendees often use social networks to get updates and to participate in a live environment. Social is a unique opportunity to interact directly with your audience and have them share your message.
With social media, you need to execute on many different tactics during an event so you need a solid plan to stay organized and focused. And you need to make sure that you have a presence across all of the major social channels.
Read on to find out Marketo’s tips for creating an awesome social media strategy for events.
Twitter is a powerful tool for not only marketing and promoting your events, but also engaging and connecting with the audience and attendees in real time. Use Twitter to live tweet, interact with partners and influencers, and drive traffic to your event page. The first step is to make sure you set up a hashtag for your event to use on Twitter, and make sure this is well publicized. If you are giving a webinar, the hashtag should be announced by the moderator and listed on the slides. If you are attending a live event, make sure you tweet the hashtag beforehand and include it on promotional materials.
You want to make sure you schedule out a series of tweets about your event. Promote your presence at an event and get your network to register through social channels. Make sure you tweet out an hour before your event to get some additional last minute attendees:
Also, encourage your partner and influencer network to promote your event. You can build Twitter lists to include speakers, sponsors, and people who are already talking about your event. At Marketo, we also set up promoted tweets and bid on our company name and event hashtag.
During an event we suggest you use a social monitoring tool like Hootsuite to track mentions around the event. Retweet and reply back to interesting points and questions from attendees. You can also encourage employees to reply back to interesting points and questions from attendees. And the best way to interact with attendees at an event is live tweeting. If you are attending sessions make sure to tweet 2-3 key points from each presentation.
Because Facebook is so visual, it is an ideal place to promote your events with eye-catching graphics. By using a mix of promoted and organic posts, at Marketo we find that Facebook works quite well before an event to ramp up registration. Begin posting on Facebook 2-3 weeks ahead of your event and then post once per week to continue the momentum.
You can use a variety of visual tactics on Facebook to promote registration and create engagement opportunities during your event. Before every event, create a graphic that you will use on your social networks. Your graphic should not only be eye catching, but it should also include relevant information about the event like name, time, date, hashtag, and a registration link. Take a look below at our Facebook post for an upcoming Dreamforce 2013 promotion we are doing. Notice we have the event name and hashtag, a compelling statement and call-to-action, a link to register and a fun visual.
Facebook is also a great place to compile and post event photos. At Marketo, we post photos throughout an event and then post them in an album for attendees to browse through after the event has ended.
The Google+ Events feature allows Google+ users to send out customized invitations to anyone regardless of whether they are Google+ users. It syncs beautifully with Google Calendar and shows up automatically when a user confirms for an event. In addition to sending out invites to webinars, tradeshows, work functions, parties, etc., Google Events can also send out invites for Google+ Hangouts. Invite tradeshow attendees to a Google+ Hangout to get influencers, customers, and prospects in the same place discussing highlights of the event. Schedule individual times for discussion or have your Hangout open the entire day. Make sure you are posting event highlights and photos throughout the day as well. Here is an example of a typical event post we add to Google+ to drive registration:
LinkedIn provides some basic functionality for promoting events. Before your event, promote registration with your visual image and landing page.
You can also post your event on relevant LinkedIn groups to get some additional traction. Employees are a great avenue for event promotion via LinkedIn. Make sure that you have socialized your event and encourage them to share your registration page on their LinkedIn pages as well. In fact, for our Good to Great virtual event, LinkedIn drove the highest amount of registrants, so don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn for events!
At Marketo, we make a graphic for every webinar and event that we promote. We find that it increases our post engagement and captures the attention of our fans on social networks. We have seen an uptick in registration by using this tactic, particularly in a promoted post.
Creating an infographic about your event or series of events is a fantastic way to get someone excited about attending. Not only is it a fun and unique visual take on events, but it also provides your audience with important logistical information in a way that is easy to understand. Infographics work best if you are sponsoring a large event or hosting your own event. You can even create one infographic depicting all of the events you will participate in during a given year. And because infographics are super shareable, they will give you a social lift. Check out an infographic we used to promote last year’s Dreamforce event:
Influencer outreach is all the rage in the world of social media. It’s essential to identify and connect with influential folks in your industry to make sure your business and initiatives are on the right people’s radar. Reach out to influential people who are in the area where your event will take place--this could be a list of bloggers or experts in a particular space. Pre-arrange times for short video interviews to share on social channels and for event follow-up to your attendees. Your influencers will promote the videos and interviews and you can get the benefit of their extended audience.
Whether it is a tradeshow or a virtual event, dedicate someone to live blogging. Events are happening in-the-moment, so engage your readers by writing about what is top-of-mind for them. Additionally, live blogging is great for promoting what you are doing at the event and driving traffic to your sessions or booth.
At a large tradeshow, Marketo will usually write 1-2 live blogs per day based around activity at the event such as session highlights, keynotes, or the exhibit hall. A live blog adds energy around your writing that a blog posted after the event just doesn’t have.
What social media tactics do you use to engage your attendees at an event?
Dayna Rothman is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Marketo. She runs the Marketo content initiatives and is the managing editor of the Marketo blog. Dayna has extensive experience in content marketing, social media, marketing automation, and inbound marketing. She has an MBA from Golden Gate University and lives in Oakland, CA.