By Sacha Cohen
Event marketing used to be relatively straightforward—a mixture of traditional advertising, word of mouth, and direct mail. Then attendees showed up, networked a bit, listened to some speakers, and left with goody bags if they were lucky.
Social media, however, takes event marketing and attendee participation to a whole new level. From live tweeting and live streaming to social media integration on invitations and event pages, social media is an important part of the event promotion mix.
If you’re not incorporating social media into your event marketing strategy, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Here are 15 tips that will help you boost attendance, engagement, and buzz for your next event.
1. Use an integrated invitation platform such as EventFarm, Paperless Post or Eventbrite to help you manage and track invitations. These tools keep getting better and better–with integrated analytics, sharing tools, paperless checkins and more.
2. Develop a schedule of social media messages and reminders that will go out before, during and after the event on your social media channels.
3. Use a short, consistent hashtag on all communication about the event including invitations, event website, follow up emails, event listings, and through all social media channels. Then track your reach with Topsy.
4. Promote the event through local blogs, calendars, and affinity organizations. Make it easy for these outlets to promote your event by providing easy to repurpose calendar listings, social media messaging, and offer to guest blog about the event.
5. Connect with the media by alerting local media about the event as early as possible—at least several weeks in advance.
6. Put your event’s hashtag everywhere: on event materials including handouts, presentations, goody bags, signage and banners.
7. Hire a photographer and/or videographer if budget allows so you can capture the event and share photos and videos through all of your social media channels after the event. You can also use Ustream (and its iphone app) to stream live video of your event for free.
8. Tease your event’s content before the event through guest blog posts, contests, and giveaways. You can offer select pieces of valuable content to your target attendees prior to the event through social media channels. For example, you might offer a book excerpt if the event is for a book launch or a discount on a product for product launches.
9. Encourage two-way dialogue before, during, and after the event. Get feedback from attendees about what type of presentations they want to see and after the event, ask what presentations they liked the best. For example, SXSW is famous for its interactive panel picker.
10. Ask speakers to share their Twitter handles prior to a presentation.
11. Encourage live tweeting from the event. This works best if you can identify a couple of influential attendees who can participate and spur conversation and interaction.
12. Create a Twitter list of all attendees and encourage attendees to put their Twitter handle on badges and name tags.
13. Regularly post about the event on your organization’s Facebook wall—and don’t forget to include the event’s hashtag.
15. Follow up quickly and with a message that includes at least one Call to Action. For example, after a recent client event, we sent out a thank you follow up email that also included links to the client’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Here’s a fantastic infographic from Marketo that will keep you organized and on target with social media for your event.