I had a chance to speak at the recent PCMA annual convention on a panel covering the topic of utilizing fresh new digital media ideas for traditional event marketing. Social media can be a powerful way to promote your event beforehand, while in progress, as well as keeping the conversation going afterwards. Here are 6 things that you should consider to implement before your next event to both increase participation as well as have a more informed and engaged audience.
1) Create and promote a hashtag
In the world of event marketing, utilizing the power of Twitter hashtags in coordination with an event is almost a no-brainer for many in 2012. However, I find that many do it too late or don’t promote the hashtag at all so participants may not be aware of it until the day of the actual event. Hashtags are not only important for social media engagement regarding around your event – they also become search engine indicators that go beyond Twitter.
2) Create a social media channel and promote the speakers
Many events are now creating social media channels to promote themselves on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Google Plus and creating a LinkedIn Event page should also be added to this list. Next make sure that you let all of the speakers and sponsors aware of these social properties by informing them of the URLs well before the event. Don’t stop there: Make sure that you “tag” speakers in Facebook, Twitter and even Google+ (yes, Google Plus!) from your event account when you promote the event. This will make it much easier for them to share information about the event with their social media followers.
3) Have an Influencer Outreach campaign to attract social media “influencers” in your industry
Brands are always trying to find social media “influencers” and reach out to them. Why don’t events do the same? Find some industry “influencers” that are active in social media and make them your “Brand Ambassadors.” A few free tickets can go a long way in free advertising!
4) Experiment with LinkedIn Ads to Attract Visitors
If you’re a reader of this blog, you know that I like to shake up the way that you think of LinkedIn. Assuming that your target audience for your event is a professional one, there is simply no better way to win mindshare and micro-target professionals than through LinkedIn Ads. If you haven’t experimented with it yet, now is the time to realize what perhaps could be the biggest “secret” in social media marketing.
5) Create a LinkedIn Group
Continuing on the theme of LinkedIn, why not create a LinkedIn Group for the event? There is a case study in Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing of a woman in North Carolina who runs an annual conference in California as her business, and thanks to LinkedIn she can attribute 60% of attendee revenue from this niche group of 1,000+ members. A LinkedIn Group also allows attendees and speakers to network and receive feedback on topics before the event even starts for a more optimized experience. There is simply no better place to generate a discussion with the professional demographic than within LinkedIn Groups.
6) Create unique content to help promote
One mistake that a lot of social media channels for events makes is to just tweet out the same old self-promotional content. Similar to how businesses and brands need to promote content in a non-advertising paradigm as part of their social media marketing efforts, so does your event. The good thing is that you can create original content to promote through the help of your speakers. Ask them to create unique blog posts or do video interviews with them to provide attendees previews of their topics.
These are just a few of the many, may ways that marketers can leverage social media before their event. What other advice would you add?