I do social media keynote presentations at hundreds of events a year, and many events, conferences and conventions are still struggling to figure out how to use social media to promote their event. Social media can be a powerful way to build awareness and drive attendance at events.
Here are some of the best ways that I have seen conferences use social media to drive attendance and build buzz and awareness:
1. Build Buzz with a Blog
Start by building buzz before your event with a blog. While your website might contain all of the vital information, a blog is a great way to make announcements, share updates and cover some of the additional details leading up to your event. It can also give people something to talk about on social media channels.
2. Tweet it Out
Twitter is a powerful social media tool because posts on Twitter are public and can spread throughout the web. Create a Twitter account to share information about your event, and connect with speakers, sponsors, past participants and people in your target audience.
3. Use a Hashtag
Use and promote a hashtag to allow you to see and share updates about the event. A hashtag is a way to theme posts so that they can be found. Using and asking others to use a hashtag is a great way to build momentum for your event.
4. Ask Speakers to Promote
Ask your speakers to help you promote your event. Many speakers have large followings on social media, and can be great sources for driving awareness for your event. Encourage them to share details and updates on their social networks as a way of making your event bigger and better. Send them specific tweets, emails and Facebook updates that they can easily share with their friends and fans.
5. Ask Sponsors to Promote
Sponsors are also stakeholders in your event and can be a great resource in helping spread the word about your event. Ask sponsors to use their social network and other marketing tools to advertise their participation at the event and help spread the word. Again, send them specific posts and status updates that are easy to share.
6. Announce Your Announcements
Every event has a handful of big announcements. Announce your announcements through press releases and social media posts (and ask sponsors and speakers to help spread the word). Adding new speakers, new sponsors, new exhibitors and hitting key registration numbers are all great excuses for announcements. Leading up to your event create a regular drumbeat of announcements.
7. Promote Your Speakers
At most events, the speakers are one of the key draws. Leading up to the event create a plan to promote your speakers and their areas of expertise. For example, consider interviewing your speakers about their presentations, or having them write guest posts for your blog. Promoting your speakers and their knowledge is a great way to build buzz.
8. Post as a Facebook Event
Create a Facebook event for your conference. Facebook is the #1 social network in the world, and most people are on Facebook every day. Creating an event on Facbeook is easy and free – once you have created the event you’ll have to invite people (and have your speakers, employees and partners invite people) to help spread the word.
9. Invite Influencers as Partners to Your Event
Find the influencers in your community and invite them to your event as bloggers or partners in return for helping you to promote the event. I have been invited to a number of events as a social media VIP where I am asked to tweet and blog about the event.
10. Find Your Audience
Find your audience online, and participate where they are. Consider who your ideal attendees are and look for the groups, forums, blogs and news sites that they read. This will give you an idea as to where you can build partnerships to promote your event.