Social media is all around: Hashtags, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and millions of Apps.
There’s no avoiding it.
But, do you know how to make them all work? And, more importantly, do you know how to use them to build your event audience, engage your conference participants and create a following that will listen and react to your messages year-round?
Regardless of which social media tool or app you use, keep in mind the #1 rule of social media: create two-way conversations.
Here are five tips we’ve gleaned over the years of managing and conducting national and international events. We hope they’ll give you a head start on engaging your audience in rich, productive two-way exchanges.
1. Connect with your potential audience.
Perhaps easier said then done, you say? Well, that’s where social media and crowd-sourcing (or crowd creating, we like to call it) comes in. Let’s say you’re working to create an educational event for busy professionals and want to offer the coursework they can bring back to their practices and can earn them continuing education credits. Ask their opinions about types of learning sessions they need and can really use. How? Consider one of the many polling platforms: PollDaddy, GoogleForms, Survey Monkey. Or, if you’re lucky enough to assemble potential audience members via webinar or other live session, try PollEverywhere. You’ll get live responses that you can post to a web browser or within your presentation. Your audience will feel connected with the planning phase of your event.
2. Populate the event.
While you’ll have a webpage dedicated to the event, make sure you take advantage of the wide number of social media sites that let you post your event and reach out to followers – for no charge. Everyone knows about Facebook Events, where you can create an event and invite your friends and the public. Likewise, you might want to consider Meetup, depending on the nature of your event, and Eventbrite (you can even sell tickets if you are organizing a fee-based event).
3. Promote your event.
Sure, you’ll do a lot of traditional marketing and promotions for the event. With social media, you can add a new level of touch points to reach attendees and not break the bank. A myriad of websites offer event listings and great publicity for your event. The benefits of seeking out these sites include branding, referral traffic, and SEO benefit. The cost? Your time, and often, no fee. Just a few of these free event listing sites are: zevents.com, eventful.com, allconferences.com. Make sure you find the sites appropriate for your audience; many sites cater to particular niches.
4. Energize your event.
Your keynote speakers and / or main celebrities are a valuable asset to your event program. Ask them to produce content that will pique interest. If possible, have them produce a short video you can post on your website, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr or through Twitter.
Make sure you capture Twitter handles from each registrant or anyone signing up for more information. Create a Twitter list of all participants; update regularly and send short messages before the event to create enthusiasm for new programming as it becomes confirmed.
Use a free social media relations tool, such as PitchEngine, to build a multi-media news release. While this will help drive traffic to your event site, you can also capture the link to the release and send it to potential participants.
5. Broadcast your event.
Social media especially has something for those who can’t attend this year’s event but will be convinced not to miss it next year.
Ustream. This live-streaming platform gives you the ability to broadcast live from your event site. You can captivate millions with your messages delivered in high-definition video. You can choose from several reasonable pricing options for a scalable, social and feature-rich streaming video.
Flickr. This image and video hosting site is a perfect place to engage your participants and get exposure for the event. Give your attendees Flickr account access and encourage them to upload their best shots (maybe a best-photo-of-day prize?).
BuzzFeed. As a registered user of BuzzFeed, you’ll set up a homepage that will feature your video, image and/or link to news contributions. You can drive your followers to the news through Twitter, your website or email promotions.
We can offer hundreds of more effective tips and strategies for having your event attended by your target audience, promoted to those who should attend, and capturing the event activities for historical and programming purposes. Email us for more information.