- Develop a single hashtag for the event well beforehand (don’t forget to use it yourself – ALL the time, including adding it on and spread the word across every platform) – promote it in all advertising media not just social media – and remember to plaster it EVERYWHERE on the day, on handouts, up on screens, on lanyards – and ASK people to use it. In fact give them an INCENTIVE to use it – best tweets, fastest tweet, poll on the day etc. Tweets mean prizes after all.
- Find influential figures in your sector via klout/followerwonk and invite them to the event(for free? if you REALLY want them to come) – don’t forget to explain WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM. And if you can’t think of anything, don’t expect them to come. They are probably invited to everything anyway.
- Brainstorm WHO and WHERE your ideal attendees may hang out. Split them into categories i.e Business Owners – Networking events, twitter, business hashtags etc. Students – Facebook, trendy new social media, student forums etc. Conference Addicts – Networking hashtags, followers of previous or similar conferences, LinkedIn – ‘try ‘Networking*’ as a search term plus the geographical area in Advanced Search. You HAVE set up a page for your event on LinkedIn, right? Mind you if you are already part of a large network it can be easier and quicker to leverage the event using your personal LinkedIn – use your discretion as this can backfire. Don’t blame me.
- Obtain Videos from participants / speakers / attendees and place on youtube, event site, Google plus, LinkedIn, Facebook…you know the drill. Use the right tags and hashtags, Google loves video. Consider Vine. In fact, definitely do Vine. By the time you are reading this it will be an essential. Find out who LOVES your speakers – speaker groupies if you will. Make sure they know about your event as they will a) go b) spread the word and c) tweet like crazy on the day as they will want to build a relationship with the speaker.
- Leverage the network of EVERYONE involved in the event. From the venue to the AV man to the photographer to the hotel next door right through to the PR people there are a multitude of cross promotions available. USE THEM. Twitter is best for this I think, but there are other, more creative ways to find common ground and cross discounts and joint ventures. Make everyone a winner.
- If you have previous events use photos and testimonials to promote your new one! Referrals are KING.
- Use related images on pinterest and facebook to promote event – always include your logo and event date ON images – people have very low scroll stopping attention spans. (SSAS? – Well whatever it means to realise that you have to MAKE IT EASY and MAKE IT QUICK for them to get the info they need)
- Find and join relevant LinkedIn groups plus create your own – but depending on time scales (gold star if this is 12 months strategy but we both know its more likely a manic push to the finish) as above it may be better to leverage existing networks – personal and professional. Design discount codes for specific communities – LinkedIn groups, networking groups, local chambers, consider an affiliate scheme – INCENTIVISE people to help you spread the word. Imagine someone coming to you and saying – ‘Got this event, tell everyone, thanks’ if you don’t even know them. Now imagine a contact on twitter you have been chatting to about newfoundland dogs (or whatever) for a few weeks who talks about a ‘Grooming for Newfoundlands’ event and offers you a 25% discount code for you to offer to your 1,000 facebook fans on your ‘I love Newfoundlands UK’ page plus a 10% affiliate fee that you can put towards organising a mini bus to the conference. Sound more appealing already doesn’t it?
- Remember no one really CARES about your event – you may have the best venue, speakers, buffet (OK, they do really care about the buffet) but all your potential delegates want to know is WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME??? Make sure you focus on the benefits and ‘afters’ for them, not how snazzy your tweet wall is gonna be or how happy you are to have got your favorite speaker on board..
- Engage like crazy. Fall madly in LOVE with each and every person who talks to you online (and offline) about your event. Talk to them, find out what they want, what they are looking forward to, their likes and dislikes. Its tempting to retweet every mention but it’s better and more authentic to @reply and build up a conversation. Find out about them, their business, why they might benefit. Network face to face – go to EVERYTHING where your potential attendees may be and LISTEN to them, introduce your event to them only when it’s clear they will benefit. GIVE value. Go old school – face to face is still social marketing, and then connect with them online. Yes this takes time, much more time, but it’s these guys that you engage early that become your biggest cheerleaders before, during and after the event. You do WANT to do this again next year don’t you……?
You want to fill your event? You have to do what it takes.
This is a guest post by Helen Pritchard AKA Social Media Helen . She loves the buzz of Social Media Marketing for Events, not Newfoundlands so much, but she ‘does what it takes’ to fill events using social. Tweet her up @BlueSkyDigi or find her on LinkedIn.
“Image source – Flickr , usage under Creative Commons license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)”