How social media can increase your event’s attendance, revenue and participation


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Originally published in the Puget Sound Business Journal

It was assumed just a couple years ago that in-person events, conferences and trade shows would diminish in number, attendance and importance with the onset of social media and the deterioration of the economy. But now, in fact, the opposite may be true. Business travel and event expenses are expected to increase this year, the annual CES conference in Las Vegas set an attendance record last month, and CMOs at companies nationwide are increasing their investment in events as a key sales & marketing channel.

I believe social media – the very trend that was expected to make in-person events irrelevant – is actually making them more attractive, more important and more accessible for businesses and attendees alike.

The reason is quite simple – social media channels and the content therein is dramatically increasing our awareness, interest and discovery of the amazing content, networking opportunities and other benefits that getting together in person provide, and is actually increasing people’s interest in taking the time and money to be there.

There was once a fear that making event content more readily available online would discourage potential attendees from making the trip. Now we’re seeing that the opposite is true.

Without significant staff requirements or expense, you can proactively leverage social media for your next event, conference or trade show too. Start with the following tactics before, during and after the event.

Before The Show

  • Take a quick survey (informal is fine) of your members or expected audience to prioritize their existing social media tendencies (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Use social channels to share offers to register, as well as highlights and teasers about the agenda, speakers and topics
  • Identify prospective attendees based on their social content and bios, and send personal invitations to join you
  • Start a Facebook or LinkedIn group specifically for your event, for attendees to start networking with each other right away
  • Identify particularly socially-active registrants and invite them to be part of your event’s “social team”, so that they’re spreading the word before and during the event on your behalf
  • Create an editorial calendar of content to post on your blog, in the Facebook & LinkedIn groups, and via social channels that corresponds with the agenda and session topics planned

At The Show

  • Create an official event hashtag, communicate it in all your pre-show and at-show marketing materials, and designate someone (or a team of people) on staff to share highlights, retweet others and keep the Twitter conversation hopping (not only for those in attendance but those who couldn’t make it and are already prospects for the next event)
  • Create and claim your event on Foursquare, and allow participants to “check in” there each day with a rotating set of special offers
  • Record each event (even better, stream it live) and post it on your blog (with links through your social channels) for others to share
  • Create session and end-of-day summaries of ideas shared, key participants and their social details, and post these in your various content and social channels to promote readership, pass-along and retweets
  • Curate content and summaries written, shared and tweeted by others

After The Show

  • Package and repurpose content from the event, and send links to these summaries to all attendees
  • Build a list of those who participated online, tweeted or retweeted, and/or joined your event’s Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter handle (this is your immediate prospect list for next time)
  • Convert your Facebook page, LinkedIn page, Twitter handle and more to immediately reflect and promote the next event
  • Post social media-exclusive offers to book registration for the next event right away

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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