Social media has become an essential and invaluable tool for corporate events. If you ask me, it’s been a complete game changer to the way we look at events today. Social media for events can be used to cover just about every stage of the planning process in a very engaging, and for the most part, cost-effective way.
Here are a few ways using social media can help boost attendance at your next conference or corporate event.
Engage with Your Audience Early
An event begins long before attendees arrive onsite. Engage with your audience early to drive attendance and build anticipation around your event using social media. By doing so, you will encourage potential attendees to consider coming to your event and loyal attendees to register early. Connecting people through social media will create excitement about your event as well as build comradery among people who will already be attending. It will encourage information sharing and add a value for your attendees. Here are a few ways to engage.
Create a unique hashtag for your event. Be sure to communicate it often so people can join and follow the conversation happening around your event. Keep your hashtag consistent across all your social media channels and use it when posting new details or updates.
Send out teasers on social media. Share enticing images of the event venue and tell people to save-the-date for your event. Provide your followers with a sneak peek of the program, or announce who some of your keynote speakers will be.
Pregame. Create a community for attendees on LinkedIn, Google+ or even Facebook. Social Media Examiner used multiple groups for Social Media Marketing World to get attendees to meet even before the live event started. It’s a great way to connect people online, provide exclusive updates, and ask for feedback from attendees to vote on conference topics or speakers.
Get People Excited with Shareable Content
With so many to choose from, you need to find a way to get people excited to want to attend your event. Create content that matters to your attendees personally and to their business. Here are three ways:
Leak event details. Use social media to highlight upcoming event details, speakers and sponsors. Create images that will all parties involved in your event will be proud to share. For example, create special branded badges for speakers to announce to their fans they will be speaking at the event.
Give examples of why to attend. Help potential attendees make the decision to invest in your event. Better yet, make it easy for them to justify their trip to their boss. Content Marketing World has a page dedicated for attendees who need to justify their trip, complete with a downloadable justify your trip letter that professionals can modify to fit their needs. I’ve even seen Slideshare presentations similar to this idea as well. This is the type of content that your audience will appreciate.
Incorporate a good content mix. Be sure to use a variety of content to share and promote your event. Think about what attendees will be looking forward to. Collaborate with your venue and share a list of hotel amenities. Use video to showcase the city where the event is being held or create a presentation using images of the surrounding area as well as recommendations for restaurants and things to do outside the event. NetApp Insight (Fandom Marketing client) has done a great job of showcasing Las Vegas as a destination for its audience of tech savvy attendees through a series of Slideshare presentations.
Consider re-purposing content from previous events, including video testimonials or fun photos of attendees.
Invite Leaders to Attract Attendees
Connect with leaders in your industry to help promote your event on social media. When people see that someone they respect or would like to meet is attending, they are more inclined to want to attend themselves. By inviting influencers to help support your marketing and promotion efforts you increase your audience reach. However, be sure they align with your industry and have the audience to support your event’s goals. You should always have some form of screening process in place. After you secure your influencers equip them with the tools they need to get the word out.
Incentives. Provide influencers with tickets to the event in exchange for promotion on their blog and social networks.
Resources. Offer a variety of resources to influencers so that have more than enough content to choose from when sharing your event. Give out customized discount or affiliate codes they can share with their audience, provide them with a list of different media to share and have some sample posts available that are optimized for each social media platform. Creating a landing page for influencers with all the information they need to help promote your event will keep things running smoothly.
Use a Contest to Drive Word of Mouth
Use social tools to run a contest that will get attendees and potential attendees talking and sharing about the topics you plan to educate them on at the event. Running a contest is a fun and often cost-effective way to create buzz around your event using social media. Especially when the prize is tickets to your event. Remember to include a sharing element to contest entry for it to do its job. A simple sweepstakes form will not be enough.
These are just a few ways you can use the power of social media to drive attendance to your conference or corporate event. Add your suggestions in a comment below.