Social media has enabled B2B marketers with a wide range of opportunities for promoting their events. Whether it’s a webinar or a multi-day conference, leveraging social media can help event organizers extend an event’s visibility, attendance and pre-event conversations.
Using social media to build event attendance
Most larger events have their own web site and most smaller events have a least a landing page with registration (and hopefully those include social sharing functionality), but very few take advantage of the event capabilities of several social media channels or services. If you are running an event, consider promotion in the following areas:
1. LinkedIn Events
Setting up an event in LinkedIn is a fairly simple process. Once your event is created, invite your connections to attend. LinkedIn users will be shown events that match their specific business needs based on the information they’ve added to their LinkedIn profile (Job Title, Industry, etc.), so your event may show up in their recommendations. In addition, your event will become searchable, and people connected to event attendees will see the event listed in their contact’s profile.
2. Facebook Events
Facebook doesn’t have the most elegant option for managing events, but it can be effective. If your event or organization does not have a Facebook presence, just set up your event in Facebook Events and invite all your friends. Here’s a good guide from Mashable on How To: Organize an Event on Facebook. It’s a year old but the information is still useful.
If your event or organization does have a Facebook Page, you should create the event through that Page. It is a bit convoluted, but start by going to your Page and click “Edit Page” in the lefthand navigation. Click “Applications” in the left hand navigation. Events shows in your list of applications, and click “Go to Application.” Now you can create the event normally, but it is associated with the Page. This event will appear on the Page Wall, and you can still invite your friends, plus send an update to everyone who has liked the page.
Eventbrite empowers you with simple but powerful tools to manage, promote and sell out your event. It’s free to sign up and get started. Eventbrite provides everything you need including custom page templates and the ability to sell tickets. If you sell tickets, Eventbrite charges a fee, plus you will need to link to a Paypal or Google Checkout account to accept payment. Eventbrite will also list your public event in its directory. You can even track your registration page in Google Analytics.
Plancast is the easiest way to share events with friends. Just create an account, add an event and invite people to announce their attendance. Once your event has multiple attendees, people can leave comments, invite their contacts, add the event to their calendar and more.
Twitter can offer limitless value in promoting your event. Here’s some Twitter event-marketing recommendations:
- For larger events only, create a new Twitter account that you can update all year long
- Establish and publicize a hashtag for your event
- Create separate Twitter lists of event speakers, sponsors, attendees and local restaurants and attractions
- Use Twitter search to find potential attendees and follow them
- Tweet about event-specific information including sessions, speakers, exhibitors, benefits of attending, etc.
- Promote your event by running a contest. For example, give away a free or discounted registration for those that tweet about your event
6. Facebook Page
A Facebook Page can provide a destination for attendees to engage with event organizers. Organizers can share their pre-event processes and event updates which will help generate interest. Sharing photos, videos, press releases, media coverage, speaker updates, etc. and receiving feedback on those posts will benefit both the attendees and the event organizers.
Create a blog for the conference and source content from speakers and attendees. Write posts about the conference and answer frequently asked questions. The blog can even extend beyond the conference and be used as a year-round source of information. Social Fresh and Social Media Week NY are good examples of event blogs that generate marketing value.
8. YouTube and UStream Videos
Create pre-event videos discussing conference topics or featuring conference speakers. Consider a live video show a few days prior to the event to share event information, agenda, speaker bios, and whatever other event-related topics you’d like to cover. Invite attendees to ask questions via Twitter or live chat.
Building a community around your event may only be viable for the larger conferences like SXSW, but the value it can bring to attendees is worth the consideration. Within the SXSW community, attendees can research and vote on panel sessions, engage in event-related discussions and prepare their schedule. If your event has the resources and a large enough base of attendees, consider putting a community in your event planning agenda.
There’s a variety of mobile marketing options to consider for your event. You can use pre-event text voting to get attendee feedback, use QR codes on marketing materials like posters and print ads, and mobile apps can be created to provide event details, agendas, locations and other pertinent information.
Put together a slide presentation of your conference benefits, topics or speakers and posting it to Slideshare. Leverage it for other uses too including the event blog, Facebook page, etc.
12. Foursquare, Gowalla and other check-in apps
It seems people will do anything for a badge or other check-in reward. Use this to your advantage. See if you can offer something special at the event check-in for those using a location based service like Foursquare, Gowalla or Whrrl.
So what other ways have you used social media for your B2B event marketing?