Your event may only last a few short days, but keeping your audience engaged before, during, and after is crucial – because if you’re not talking to your audience, your competitors will and that could lure some of your attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors away. So, how do you get those longer conversations started?
1) Get Social
According to the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 86% of marketers say that social media is important for their business, but many event organizers just don’t have time for it. If your current social media strategy is “Start Facebook event page,” you’re missing the boat. The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch. There are tons of resources out there - for instance Marketo has a great sample social media plan for events - just fill in the blanks and you’re on your way.
2) Mix Your Media
Having an engaging event website is a given. Most event goers also want a mobile app to help them plan their activities. And, if you’re going to encourage attendees to post to social media using your designated hashtag, you’ve got a lot of places to track. Keeping all of these items in separate systems will double or triple your work. Look for website solutions that can be easily integrated, so you’re not constantly updating information in two, three, or more places.
3) Get the Party Started
Just like any good host, you may have to be the one to initiate conversations that encourage participation and facilitate networking. Pepper your tweets, and social media postings with links to interesting articles, requests for feedback about your past and present events, contests, and exclusive opportunities only available to those participating in social media conversations.
4) Don’t Rely on Organic Growth
Just like a garden, you have to tend to the seeds you’ve planted on social media in order for them to grow. If you start a group on social media platforms, like LinkedIn or Facebook, assign someone to moderate it, or you run the risk of losing your audience. Nils Montan, owner of the LinkedIn group, “Law and Social Media Networking,” said, “Many of the groups I belong to are kind of ‘dead’. The owner starts them and then just lets a thousand flowers bloom without rhyme or reason. Usually people seem to get bored and stop posting and the featured discussions stay up for months.” If you don’t have the time or resources to start and maintain your own group, become an active participant in a group that’s relevant to your target audience, but run by someone else.
5) Invest a Little Time, and Reap the Rewards
If you’re always out there connecting with attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors in the places they go for insights about the products and / or services you offer, you’ll remain top of mind. Then, when your event rolls around, re-upping will be a no brainer. If they’re already used to seeing your name and organization, they’ll be more inclined to click on a link for your event website once you post it, and more importantly, participate! You put a lot of effort into planning and executing exceptional events, but no one will know how great they are if they don’t attend. Staying engaged with your audiences throughout the year elevates your brand, so they’ll think of you as a trusted resource – making your events that much more appealing.