Using Social Media to Boost Event Registration
:: By Disha Dinesh, Godot Media ::
Events are an essential part of running a successful business. They serve as an excellent means of creating a buzz around products and services, interacting with new clients and old, and positioning your company as thought-leaders or industry experts.
The three keys to creating a successful event are: a brilliant theme, effective event planning and smart event marketing. Integral to the event's success is the excitement and turnout, for without either of the two, a company cannot maximize on the benefits of an event.
Most social media marketing strategies are straight-forward, there's one goal– to engage the audience using entertainment or information, and then convince them to do something, in this case register for an event.
Here are different ways to captivate and convert readers into registers for an event:
Claiming the spotlight on social is a task in itself. While traditional social media marketing efforts do work, to raise the bar on registrations, single channel/account marketing won't cut it. Here are three ways to amplify visibility of an event on social media:
1. Employee advocacy
Who better to promote an event than a company's employees? Most large companies have 1,000s of employees, and each of those employees have at least 100s of connections on social media. If these employees were to share event details on their accounts, that event's exposure would expand exponentially.
Studies have proven that people consider employees of a company more credible than its CEOs. People are also more likely to be influenced by other people than by advertisements. With apps like DrumUp that make it extremely easy to make and manage employee advocacy programs, employee advocacy becomes a low investment, high return method of event marketing.
2. Hashtags for discovery
Hashtags are quick, effortless and highly beneficial. Most people overlook the perks of using relevant and interesting hashtags with their content. Hashtags make online searches faster and easier. They also helps brands establish identities on social media. If a brand “owns” a popular hashtag, it can become an extremely efficient way of social media marketing.
Hashtags work both ways– they help people find relevant content and in the process also ensure that only relevant people join a specific conversation. A well-placed hashtag related to an event can help interested parties find the event and can help the event receive registrations from only truly interested parties.
An event hashtag has to be relevant to the event theme, if you want it to show up in conversations. It has to be relevant but unique; no one should have used it before. A tool like Hashtagify.me can help in discovering trending and popular hashtags by category, influencer and usage patterns that can help spur off great ideas. It's a good idea for companies to add the chosen hashtag to all their social media account's bios.
3. Targeted marketing
Social media platforms have paid targeted adverting that can be particularly effective. Instead of shouting messages into the void, companies can choose the type of individuals they are trying to attract and pay Facebook to place their ads on those individuals' pages. This can be great for events because most events are super-concentrated on a very niche' idea/concept.
Facebook also provides re-targeted marketing where businesses can reach people who've visited their Facebook pages and left. It's easier approaching people you know are interested but need a simple extra push to take the plunge.
LinkedIn also has interesting options of reaching a specific kind of audience through their InMail service.
With increased outreach and visibility, the next important thing a business needs in promoting an event is participation. Participation cannot be forced, it has to be coaxed and ignited. Social media engagement is the way to go, to encourage the audience's involvement. Here are 10 ideas to create engagement for events on social:
1. A fun, unique name
How the event is named matters. A catchy name that prompts curiosity and compels shares is half the battle won. To market the event on social media, the company has to ensure that the name is also hash-tag friendly and hasn't been taken by a different event page on Facebook.
2. A cool, catchy hashtag
Ideally event hashtags should be developed early so they can be used 2-3 weeks /months (based on the event size) prior to the event to build up excitement. The hashtag should be short, fun, and used consistently across all social channels. Post event hashtags are great for ending things on an open note and initiating relationships with attendees, speakers and future participants.
3. A strong and tempting call-to-action
This should go on all event-related communication. While it is fun creating concepts, the end goal (registration) shouldn't be lost in them. The audience should have a clear idea of what the company wants them to do (register by clicking on a link/button). Bright registration buttons could be a part of all shares.
4. Event pages on social
Facebook event pages make it easier to invite people. Events could be posted on groups with individuals who are likely to be interested in the event. On LinkedIn using relevant labels could help companies find the right kind of crowd for their events. Social event pages are also one of the best ways of answering questions related to the event and posting updates/teasers. Team the pages up with great visuals, tools like Canva help in making high-quality images with less effort.
5. Highlights from prior events
This is a great seller. An audience is more likely to trust an event that has a great track-record. Highlights from previous events also create anticipation and excitement for forthcoming ones. The more exciting the videos, the better the response a company is likely to get from this engagement tactic.
6. Visual testimonials from prior attendees
Nothing works as well as videos with genuine enthusiasm for events. These could come from old participants who may have enjoyed their experiences. Word of mouth remains one of the most powerful methods of marketing, well ahead of paid advertisement.
7. Speakers' videos or quote visuals
If the event has an exciting line-up of speakers, there's nothing like it. Companies should invest in presenting these speakers to potential registrations in the best way possible. If they could have each of the speakers introducing themselves or even simply saying hi on video, that could be a great social share. Even if this weren't possible, curating some of the speakers' old talks or quotes using visuals could be good idea.
8. Contests and questions
The best conversations are open ended. Contests and questions are ways of getting the audience involved in a conversation that you want to have. Contests related to the event with prizes of free tickets to the event, questions about topics, speakers or ideas associated with the event are all effective ways of getting more interest and registrations for an event.
9. Arming associates with shareable content
Generally, events involve a lot of people– organizers, volunteers, guests and employees of the company conducting the event. Most of these people are probably present on social media. Giving them exciting shareable content is a marketing strategy that will carry itself post an initial investment of time in creating that shareable content. Employee Advocacy, as explained before, covers a good part of this strategy.
10. Getting the community involved
Like Diana Harbour, proprietor of The Red Dress Boutique said she did in her initial days before getting funded on Shark Tank, involving the community is a great idea. When she'd go shopping for her products (complete coordinated outfits), she'd post pictures on social media and ask her audience, “Do you like this with that?” or, “Would you want this in red?” And the response would be overwhelming.
Ask the audience and they'll tell you exactly what they want. This is great for the pre-event phase. If a company plans an event in conversation with their audience, they're not only going to create an event that the audience loves, but they're also going to create buzz around the event that's yet to come.
Apart from outreach and engagement, it's also important for the company to be active on social during the event. Live tweeting a quick snap-shot of a speaker with an @mention, a Facebook snippet of a video with tagging the attendees or LinkedIn event updates are excitement-capital for the next event to come.
Finally, it's vital to remember to track all the traction a company's event gets on social. This could be done with link shorteners that have built in analytics– like Bit.ly. It's also good to keep an ear out on social to see pingbacks on the event's hashtag or related conversations. Companies should make it a point to reply to all comments and questions.
Surpass Your Goals
Social media marketing is the perfect way of maximizing outreach, creating effective engagement where the audience is looking for it and building up excitement for an event. With proper planning and execution, any company can realize and surpass its event registration goals.
About the Author:
Disha Dinesh is a content writer at Godot Media (http://www.godotmedia.com/). Her interests include social media and content marketing. When she's not writing, she's on the hunt for social media trends and inspiration.