Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Host a Busy Event with the help of Social Media

This article was originally published in The Defacto Group's Quarterly Newsletter.

Fall and spring are popular times for yearly conferences. You might be looking at an event slated for November and worrying about the ticket sales, or just starting to plan something for April and want to ensure its success. Either way, here are some suggestions for getting buzz around your big event, hopefully picking up more ticket sales, and attracting bigger and better speakers for you next one.

John Morgan captures the audience at the B2Conf

The Basics

Set up a Facebook page for the host organization as well as a Facebook event.

Set up a Twitter account with an exciting and interesting description of the event in the bio and a link to your web page or registration page.

Make sure your venue is listed on FourSquare, or add it.

Consider setting up an event in LinkedIn, especially if it is a business related event and you see a large community of your targeted audience there.

The Meat of it

So you have all your accounts set up, you've been sending out posts with links to your registration everyday but you have only 15 likes on Facebook, one person has RSVP’d to your event and it was mom, and all of your Twitter followers are named SydneySmyth706 and ask you daily if you've seen this funny photo of you on the internet.

You need to put out compelling, interesting stories to make anybody care about your big conference. You need to stop sending out the equivalent of 10 second radio ads, without even the great radio voice. You need to be a caring person reacting to the everyday happenings of your community.

You community is made up of your attendees, your speakers, your sponsors, your venue, you local business and social clubs, you local media. These are the people you should be following on Twitter, and liking on Facebook. Then talk to them!

Help your venue promote their other events, RT their tweets and share their Facebook posts. If your speaker sends out a tweet about a great or bad experience in a coffee shop that morning, celebrate or commiserate with them. When your local media posts a good news story about your local economy let them know you read it and it makes you proud to be hosting your event in that city.

Social media is the place for conversation and reciprocity; it’s not the place for advertising.

The Payoff

After you've built your network of friends, fans and followers through chatting with them, then it becomes easy for them to buy from you, easy to promote you, and easy to come again.

Choose a hashtag so that your Twitter followers (hashtags also work on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+) can find join the conversation about your event, and connect with other people attending. Promote it everywhere, online and offline.

Post visual content. Information is abundant on the internet, help people out by making it easy for them. Post a photo instead.

Tell stories about your sponsors and speakers. Were they on the local news, or better yet Oprah? Share a video.

Include a link to your main page or registration page as much as possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask people specifically if they are coming to your event, as long as you've had some sort of interaction with them where you've showed them you care about them.

Remember that promoting your event should start as soon as you begin planning. Involve people right from the beginning and they will help you succeed and maybe even join the planning committee for next year’s event!

The crowd gathers early in Market Square for Fourth Friday

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