Boost your conference with social media marketing
Social media has revolutionised the way we live and especially the way we communicate with each other. It’s no longer just about keeping up with the Motsepes or spying on old partners – now social media is an essential part of the conference marketer’s playbook and here’s how you can make the most of this indispensable marketing tool.
According to Smart Insight’s latest 2019 global social media research, there are over 4.4 billion internet users worldwide and more than 3.4 billion people using social media. And these numbers just keep climbing – making it an invaluable resource when it comes to conference planning.
Eventbrite, a leading global platform for live experiences, worked on 3.9 million events in 2018 explains that nearly 25 % of traffic to event registration pages comes from social networks, and people who register after hearing about your event on social media are three times more likely to share it with others. Social media can easily help you increase awareness around your event and help you fill up your conference venue – all with just a few savvy clicks on your computer.
The outdated school of thought that sees social media event marketing as a time-consuming task that doesn’t deliver any real value is losing ground. This is the perfect channel for initiating conversations, reaching out to attendees, speakers, and finding prospective conference-goers. If you’re looking for marketing channels that drive hype, engagement and attendance, social media should be at the top of your list.
When using social media event marketing, the key is knowing what to post and where to post it to reach potential attendees. You must have a social media strategy in place – this is essential, as it will ensure you know what to post, when and how.
Event planners start working on an event months in advance and similarly, you need to start promoting your conference months before the actual event. Buffer, a social media marketing software company, did some interesting research into the science behind social media marketing by studying more than 25 million social media posts of 50 of the most popular events over a full calendar year, July 2013 to July 2014. Buffer focused on what people were talking about before, during and after events.
One of its key takeaways was that nearly as many people are talking about an event before the event as they are during, so start the online conversation early to create a hype around your event.
The best way to keep your audience engaged in what you’re promoting is by interacting with them. But always try to strike a balance between promotional posts and conversational ones. You want to build anticipation and drive registration and ticket sales and not annoy your audience with unnecessary or poorly worded posts.
Pick your platform:
Choose a platform that speaks to your goals and audience, you need to be where the people you’re trying to reach are.
According to Statista, the most popular social networking site worldwide is Facebook, with over 2 billion active users, YouTube and WhatsApp round up the top three global sites.
So while Facebook is a key engagement tool, other valuable sites include Twitter, for its ability to generate discussion and engage global audiences using concise messages.
LinkedIn is another great platform to utilise as you can create long-form content about your event and easily target professionals in a specific sector.
If you want to reach younger professionals, Instagram is a great way to highlight the social aspect of an event or to showcase sneak peeks into the preparations. This is also a great opportunity for you to post and curate high-quality, shareable images.
Unleash your hashtag
Once you’ve decided on your hashtag – use it early and often to create a buzz around your event. The sooner you use it, the more time your audience has to engage and interact with it. Keep your hashtag short and memorable and go for one that hasn’t been used before and check that it doesn’t overlap with any of your competitors.
Be a Tease
Release your event information gradually, so as not to overwhelm your audience and keep your posts fresh and informative. Always cover the basics like event date, venue, programme highlights, special guests, teaser images, and early-bird rates. You can keep the conversation going by giving your readers teasers, especially around the speaker line-up so that you ensure your event is trending.
Use trusted followers, partners and even speakers to help you spread the word – by having the speakers share your content, you can leverage their followers as well.
Put social sharing buttons on every page of your conference website. You can also include the handles of your speakers, so potential attendees to tweet @ or about them. You’re your partners branded images and content that they can post on your behalf.
DURING THE CONFERENCE
Make things easy on yourself and prep as much social content as you can in advance. You want to keep the momentum going so ensure you have a collection of pre-written posts and suitable images to post throughout the event and don’t forget the hashtag. If a key speaker is quoting a recent study, post the relevant links on social media in real-time. The more you do in advance, the less you’ll have to worry about on the day.
It’s also worth considering live-streaming your event, that way those who couldn’t make it can still be a part of the action. If live-streaming isn’t an option, then live-tweet instead.
Monitor the posts
Ensure someone monitors what content delegates are posting and share it. Not only will you be able to stay on top of things, but you can also pick up on any potential problems early on. Show you care by replying to every mention and this also helps form a personal connection with the audience. According to Buffer’s research, the largest amount of social media updates came from quotes and multimedia shared during the event (36% of all updates).
Collect and save
Thanks to your social media plan you already know what type of content you need for your post-conference marketing. Collect relevant content like videos, group photos, interesting tweets and live testimonials from your audience for later use. Give priority to multi-media formats – so that you create something special after the conference.
POST – CONFERENCE
Your work is not over, even if the conference is. Use social media to thank everyone involved in the event and share conference highlights in pretty, well-designed posts. Use social media’s built-in analytics tools to track engagement and you can also design and post a survey to gather feedback on the event.
Social media is flexible and can make a huge difference. But just like everything else, it’s all about preparation, focus and a solid strategy. These simple strategies can help you create a truly memorable event.
Sources: Eventbrite, Buffer, Statistica and Congrex