Harnessing the Power of Social Media for Your Next Event

By Susan Tucker

Hosting an event can be a daunting task. Not only do you need to determine a topic, date, budget, potential speakers and location, you also need to promote the heck out of it to make sure it’s as successful as possible. Other forms of marketing and advertising will work, but harnessing the power of social media can really help you tap into online word-of-mouth (the best kind) to get the most BANG out of your marketing BUCK.

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Here are some ways to use social media to boost attendance of your locally based event.

Prior to the Event

  • Define a hashtag and make sure you use the same hashtag across all platforms.
  • Use your event hashtag, along with your geographical area hashtag. For example, mine may be “Join me in #Boulder next week for #GetSusan2014. Register here http://link.com”
  • When trying to figure out the best hashtag to use, try the RUSS approach: Relevant, Unique, Short & Sweet
  • To help with the pre-event buzz, inform your invitees of your hashtag beforehand, and ask them to share it with their followers.
  • Create a Twitter list and keep track of everyone using your hashtag. Keep the conversation going.

Promoting the Event

  • Create an event page either on your website, with EventBrite or using Facebook Events.
  • Think about the type of information you’d like to gather and consider going beyond (but not too far beyond) the typical name and email. This could be a great time to capture demographic information such as: website, role in company, size of company, their social media channels – so you can follow back –  and how they heard about it.
  • Consider using Facebook and LinkedIn’s hyper-targeted – by geographical region – ad platforms as a way to promote your event.
  • Don’t forget to use your hashtag here, too.
  • Keep track of your activities in a spreadsheet and tweak them as you go.
  • Identify any allies – this could be a great time to collaborate with a community partner (those who have a similar but not identical reach). Arrange for cross promoting using email lists and social media platforms.
  • Send private, personal messages to your local LinkedIn connections.
  • Begin promoting your event about 5-6 weeks prior, and incentivize early purchasers.
  • Use email to promote your event.
  • Your emails should include: a Registration email, a Confirmation email, a Reminder email, a Follow-up email and a Lead Nurturing email (about your company with a call-to-action).

PRO TIP: Provide pre-written tweets using your hashtag, in all your emails. Check out ClicktoTweet.com to create links. Test it out here!

During the Event

  • Consider streaming out, during the course of the event, Q&A’s that could be relevant to your itinerary.
  • Encourage attendees to post comments about the event, using your hashtag, and stream live updates in a public area. Find the code for embedding a Twitter Widget here in this Social Media Examinar blog post.

After the Event

  • Follow up with people you met and chatted with individually with a short email or by reaching out through one of your social media channels.
  • Turn your event content into future social media content.
    -Videos: turn any videoed sessions into an on-demand webinar.
    -Blogs (or long-form LinkedIn posts): turn breakout session topics into a series of posts.
    -Images: Take photos, short videos and post them at the event and after.

With a little planning, your event can be buzz-worthy and organically shared with lots of new potential attendees using the power of social media.

What are your tips for promoting events through social media? Did I leave anything out?

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