Putting on a conference or an event isn’t easy. It is a lot of hard work and dedication. Until recently, marketing centered on cultivating targeted lists and relying on speakers to entice attendees to come and hear them speak. Marketing relied heavily on other people selling an event that you had spent time and energy creating. That all changed when social media came onto the scene. Now event organizers can market the event themselves, develop a following, and use the feedback given online to make the conference even more successful. Here's a quick guide to using social media to make your event a smash hit.
With being able to communicate with attendees and perspective attendees, event organizers are able to harness the best kind of marketing there is – word of mouth. Not only are you able to check in with attendees and answer any questions or concerns, but you are able to connect them with the speakers you have lined up. Just think about it: The attendees are coming to your conference to gain knowledge from a select few experts in their field. By meeting and interacting with the speakers on social media beforehand, they feel part of the community, part of the family. This makes attendees share the conference or event even more with their own friends and colleagues, which are more than likely, your targeted audience.
Listen to your speakers on social media and see how they interact with their own community. This lets you know how they will act at your event. It shows how they will respond to questions before and after their session. If you have a speaker that is just pushing links to buy their new book and not interacting and engaging with their social stream, then this might indicate how they are going to be during the Q & A portion of their session. Social media is a key way to assess how people handle interaction and if they have true conversations with people or a one-way dialogue. By using social media to research your perspective speakers, you are already ahead of the game in determining if your event will be a raging success or an ultimate failure. Your audience needs to trust your speakers, so they in turn, trust your conference to be worth their hard earned dollars.
One of the best things that social media has done is revolutionize marketing. It allows businesses to identify their most important leads and what motivates them, and talk to each one individually even if a message was sent to the masses. Being able to answer questions, handle objections, plus act on suggestions and recommendations before and after the conference is worth its weight in gold. No longer is marketing an event a one-way ad channel but a collaborative process engaging leads and making them interested and connected with the event in a way that they couldn’t possibly imagine missing the conference.
There are five main social media channels that you should be using to engage with your attendees and speakers. Facebook might have started as a way for old friends to reconnect, but it is now a social media powerhouse for businesses. Your event or conference should have a Facebook Page where you have pictures from past events, information on the speakers, and the general rundown of what to expect at your event.
Facebook Groups can boost your engagement. Groups are like one big live chat and whenever a new message is posted, a notification is sent to all the members of the group – one major thing you don’t get with pages. In groups though, you want to have conversations and build excitement for the event. Groups are not indexed by search engines so keep putting good content on the Facebook Page so it is the permanent place your audience will come back to. A good practice is to use Groups for each event and the Page for your overall company’s message. You can even publish Events to both Groups and Pages, but don’t rely on it for an accurate head count. Use it to get the word out.
LinkedIn is a good social network when used properly. Knowing that people only check in every once in a while but when they do, they are a highly targeted audience base. LinkedIn can be incredibly valuable for event organizers who are looking for speakers and finding attendees in a specific niche. Create a free static business page and start to join Groups that are related to your event. Next create a group about the event that you are putting on so you can interact, but more importantly see where your audience works, what they do, and who they are connected to.
The power of using Twitter for engagement cannot be ignored. With just 140 characters, Twitter is one of the best social media tools to connect your event to those you want to attend it. There are two kinds of tweets that have a huge impact. The first is a broadcast tweet where you make an announcement about the latest speaker or where the Happy Hour is happening. Conversational tweets are directed to one person or a few people answering questions, giving advice, or listening to feedback. You want to use Twitter to lead these conversations and make your Twitter timeline the place to go for up-to-date information and relative real-time conversations.
YouTube and the power of video marketing is here to stay. Create videos on everything from the trade show floor, the opening keynote, to the different sessions. One of the best parts of YouTube is that others can embed the videos onto their own websites. Shoot a short promo video and upload it to YouTube and then ask your speakers to place it on their sites to help promote the event.
Using Instagram during the event itself is powerful as people are sharing pictures at an increasing rate. Everything from what they are packing to attend your conference, to getting on the plane to picking up their badge. People following along on Instagram are watching your event unfold before their very eyes. Using hashtags on Instagram (and Twitter) is necessary to keep the engagement high and interests piqued.
Hashtags are an essential way to make your event a smash event while using social media. Every platform now uses hashtags to help users search for relevant content. The hashtag is still king on Twitter and Instagram, but gaining momentum on Facebook. Make sure to create a hashtag for your event that is the same across every social media platform. Use Twitter to have real-time chats using your hashtag. During your event, your attendees will turn to this hashtag to find out what is going on in sessions and after sessions. Hashtags are extremely powerful and you should monitor them before, during, and after your event.
Encourage attendees to tweet while they are listening in a session using the hashtag. This makes everyone who didn’t make it to your conference wish they were there! You are creating a bridge between onsite attendees and those tuning in from their laptops around the world.
By using all social media to its fullest potential, your event or conference has a high chance for success. Listening is the first step in good communication skills and social media allows you to listen in to your attendees world’s and then engage with them in a non-threatening way. By collaborating with your speakers and connecting to your audience before, during, and after the conference you increase the likelihood that they will help spread the message for your next event. Make sure to monitor the hashtags and keep up the conversation to continually build your audience base. Using these social media techniques ensures that your next event is a smash hit!
About the author
For a free copy of Joel's special report, "How to Use Social Media to Make Your Event, Seminar or Conference a Massive Success" send a blank email to email@example.com.