This is a guest post from Dan McCarthy, Event Manager at Ultimate Experience in the UK. Thanks for your contribution, Dan!
Social media is no longer some secret weapon for promoting your event. Just about every event planner uses social media to some degree. It’s more of a matter of how it’s being used that’s relevant. If you’re like most people that only use it for sending a few posts and pics here and there, then you are vastly underutilizing the full extent of social media.
Here are 10 ways to put a little “umph” into your event promotion using the full power of social networks.
- Get Speakers involved
It benefits the speakers to promote the event they’re speaking at. After all, the more people in attendance the more exposure the speaker gets. He/she will be able to include in the resume that they spoke at event X with a Y number of guests.
Professional speakers are always looking for more gigs, so they should already have their own social network following that they can tap into. Encourage the speaker to send out tweets and other posts using the event hashtag.
- Include Video Testimonials
Written testimonials are fine, but they by themselves are insufficient. People are naturally skeptical about testimonials since they are typically fake or come from paid endorsers.
With video testimonials taken from people at the previous event, however, you have an actual face and person willing to give their full name. This lends a sense of authenticity. Create a highlight reel of testimonials and upload them on YouTube a few weeks before the event to elevate hype and excitement.
- Host a Happy Hour Event
In the days leading up to the event, create a “happy hour” event. This could be an online get-together using Google Hangouts. What can this consist of? Well, whatever you want.
Here’s some ideas to consider:
- A special reveal of who will be at the event, the exhibits available, the speakers, etc.
- Inputs from guests, such as what they would like for lunch, the type of promotional items they would like, and so on.
- Q&A session
- Special amenities that they may be willing to pay a little extra for, such as valet parking or bar service
- Make Your Attendees’ Voices Heard
Voting is such a simple yet underrated method. The Mexican restaurant chain Qdoba Queso hosted a simple poll on Facebook where customers can vote for their favorite menu items. Results were shown in real time throughout the polling.
Photo: Exact Target
How might a simple concept like this be used to promote your event? It’s rather simple. Use it to ask your attendees what they are looking for in an event. Is there a particular product that they want the speaker to highlight?
Would they prefer a single daylong event, or a shorter event divided over multiple days? Shaping your event based on majority consensus is always a good way to garner loyalty.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Get Weird
Social media is all about creating attention. Anything that’s weird or considered “out there” hardly ever fails to generate social media shares. Here’s an ingenious video from the company Squatty Potty to promote its product for improved bowel movement.
The video is extremely weird and involves a unicorn doing a number 2. The video was also a mega success and garnered over 20 million views as of April 2016, despite having only been released in October 2015.
It’s going to take some creativity on your end, but what can you do to create a promo video for your event that is just as over the top?
- Take Advantage of Instagram
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The travel company Expedia exploited this and reaped maximum results in the process. For one of its South American vacation sweepstakes, it released a series of beautiful photos of the place along with hashtags like #OnlyInSouthAmerica.
The campaign was a success, and Expedia ended up with a super impressive score of 999 on Unmetric.
You can do something similar for your event. Use Instagram to upload photos from the previous event. This should be flattering pics of the venue, of the guests mingling, of the speaker lecturing, and so on.
- Don’t Forget About LinkedIn
Even though it’s a company event, planners tend to neglect LinkedIn for some reason. Given that attendees are your consumers, you need to use the social network that’s specifically geared for business use.
One of the best ways of using LinkedIn is by joining multiple groups within your industry. This helps you reach out to additional people with some form of connection or interest in your niche. You can even start your own group if there aren’t a whole lot of existing ones with a large following base.
The group is an outlet for you to make your event known, but you also need to provide some form of value to fellow group members. This means contributing to discussions, Q&A sessions, and so forth.
- Remember to Blog
Technically, blogs are considered a social network since they can be commented, liked, and shared. With that in mind, you really need to be active on your company blog while promoting your event.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you should be submitting dozens of low quality posts that blatantly promote the event. Provide your readers with useful content that is every bit as entertaining as it is informative.
Then, in the final paragraph, briefly remind readers to reserve their ticket. This way, you market your event without being to overly promotional.
- Come Up with a Theme and Promote It
Ideally, there should be a theme centered around your event. Whatever that theme is, promote it using social media and even through offline methods if available. The beverage company Honest Tea held a campaign that did this to perfection.
In line with its name, the company held an experiment to test the honesty of pedestrians from various cities. It held several Honest Tea stands without a vendor.
A sign asked pedestrians to insert $1 into a box before grabbing a bottle of Tea, relying solely on customer honesty. The results were recorded and made public on social media.
Photo: Coca Cola Company
If you can come up with something similar and have the budget to do so, then it has potential for being a viral breakthrough.
- Encourage Lots of Tweeting
Tweeting with your hashtag really begins to take effect when the tweets come in by the volume. Get your followers tweeting and reward them for doing so. Perhaps you can entice them with some freebies in return, such as personalized event swag that awaits them on event day.
Those who submit a certain number of tweets can also be entered into a contest for an item like a free ticket or an upgrade to VIP status. Consider a variety of giveaways in return for positive tweets. Those whose posts are retweeted a certain number of times can also be given a bigger prize.
Amp Up Your Social Media Use
Begin to think out of the box when using social media. There are so many ways you can use it for garnering massive amounts of publicity. You just have to be willing to go beyond the typical occasional post.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.