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Published in Content Marketing category on (09/26/2016)

How Proactive Social Media Outreach Gets People to Your Events

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Top 3 Tips on Event Promotion

“Who else is going?”

This question almost always arises when trying to make plans of any kind. Even for the smallest of occasions, social proof can play a big part in generating interest. When it comes to large events – especially ones where networking is one of the primary values – social proof can be your greatest selling point.

Traditionally, event marketing involved reaching out to an email list and convincing potential attendees of the value of your event one at a time. In the digital age, it isn’t just the event’s own messages that get people to your events, it’s also the people who are tweeting, liking, and talking about your event online.

Event marketers are catching on to the value of social interactions. According to Emarketer, 58% of marketers use social media to engage their audience during events. While increasing engagement during and after an event is great use of social media, generating buzz before an event and starting the demand generation process is where social can really bring value.

Here are the steps you need to take to build a social media strategy to help drive attendees to your next event:

1. Find Target Attendees

“Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even.” -Jonah Berger, Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On

When some marketers think of generating buzz, they think of hitting as many channels as possible with their message and hoping some of it sticks. When you look at how real word-of-mouth is generated, however, there is a much more targeted approach available.

Instead of targeting as many prospects as possible, focus on the right attendees. Thought leaders, brand advocates, and socially active prospects can do a lot more to spread your brand message than a simple email campaign.

There are a couple tactics you can use to find the attendees that will be most impactful to spreading the word about your event:

Lead Scoring: Using lead scoring to capture attendee touchpoints at your event can pay real dividends when identifying who your social advocates are. A solution that tracks what sessions your participants attended, who they met with, and what products they showed interest in can be used to identify who is most likely to advocate your next event.

Real-time Social Behavior: Whether your prospects attended a past event or not, they are sharing a wealth of information about themselves on social media. Using a tool like Socedo allows you to collect the information prospects are sharing about themselves, such as interests, affiliations, and problems. This can be used to identify potential attendees across all of your social networks.

2. Connect with Them on Social

If you’re planning on attending HubSpot’s annual INBOUND conference this year, you probably know a few of the names that are going to be there. This is because HubSpot targets speakers, marketing thought leaders and agency partners that are influential on social media. HubSpot then benefits from the built-in audiences of people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Alec Baldwin. HubSpot understands one of the most fundamental rules of generating interest – public visibility.

Rather than reaching out to your target audience privately, connect with them on social to help generate pre-show buzz. When other people, outside of your list of influential attendees, see someone they know is attending your event, they’ll be enticed to do the same.

Using a social media tool, like Socedo, alongside a marketing automation system, can help scale these interactions so you can reach all of your audience segments. Here is an example of a sequence of communications you could put together using a combination of these tools:

  • Initial Pitch Email: Reach out to them through email to invite them to your event or ask them to speak at it. Be sure to keep your message short, personalized, and focused on the value they will see from the event.
  • Follow-up on Social: Send a Tweet that mentions your email and keeps them engaged. Social media can be a great way to signal someone on a different channel if the first message was forgotten or didn’t reach them.
  • Repeat on different channels until they sign up: Don’t pester your target influencers, but be prepared to spend some time getting in touch with them. Use a mix of email and various social channels to find the medium they are most responsive on.
  • Email Asking for Promotional Help: Once they are signed up for your event as a speaker or an attendee, send another email asking them for help in promoting the event. In the next section, we’ll talk about specific assets you should create around high-profile attendees. Be sure to include these in your email message.
  • Engage on Social: Follow-up from your email in the same manner as before. You should also continue to promote the event and tag them in any mention of them or any conversations relevant to them to ensure they and their audience are engaged.

The more personalized and meaningful you’re able to make these engagements, the more likely they are to be shared and to generate even more word-of-mouth for your event.

3. Generate Pre-Show Buzz

Once your target attendees have been converted, your work isn’t over. 77% of event marketers use social media as a main engagement strategy before an event because they understand this engagement will draw other social users into the conversation and towards their event.

Even if your most enthusiastic attendees are willing to share information about your event, they may not do it without some direction from you.

  • Provide links to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media platform where you have a presence on your event’s web  page, and at the event site itself in the form of QR codes and similar ways to connect.
  • Offer gated, free content for those who use the official hashtag in their posts from the event, which also gives you an easy way to track the conversations and data related to the attendees.
  • Provide shareable assets to your sponsors, speakers, and influential attendees. If you want your event advocates to share, provide them with social media updates, images, blog posts, videos and anything else they can share with their audience. Be sure to include unique tracking links so you can learn which influencers are bringing in the most attendees.
  • Feature your attendees in your event content. Feature your high-profile attendees on your blog, share social media images of attendees, and post testimonials from past events.
  • Target social ads to your influencer’s followers. Once you have content that features your high-profile attendees, you can target it directly at their followers through social ads. This ensures your messages reach the right people.
  • Join the conversations on social by following relevant event hashtags and industry keywords so you can identify opportunities to move conversations forward.

Technology company Lenovo understands the need to generate buzz for events. They recently used a targeted social media strategy to reach out to key prospects of Lenovo Tech World, their flagship event for IT decision makers. The company found so much success in this direct approach to social event marketing that they already plan to use social to drive registrations for future events.

Event marketing doesn’t start at the event itself – and neither should your social media strategy. With a targeted and automated approach to social lead generation, you can ensure your event is attracting the right attendees. With further social engagement, you can ensure those attendees are generating buzz to grow your event attendance exponentially.

 

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