Events are extremely useful to marketers because they allow face-to-face, direct contact with their potential and current customers. Furthermore, events are useful for developing stronger connections with target markets, getting immediate feedback on products and services as well as addressing customer concerns.
Social media and social networking can be used to help promote events in advance, as well as motivate attendees to engage more deeply with the event during and after it takes place. Here are some helpful techniques you can use to connect your events with your online activities.
Connecting Before an Event
1. Facebook Events
Making your target attendees aware of your event is clearly important and Facebook events application is a great tool for achieving this. Creating Facebook events makes it easy for your connections to know when the event will be, where the event will take place and what kind of activities they should expect. Make sure you have as much information as necessary to clearly indicate the value of attending. If you don’t give your prospects and customers a good reason to be there and get in on the action, they probably won’t.
As your invitees accept your invitation to attend, it is automatically posted to their walls allowing their network to become aware of your event. This gives added exposure to your event and can help your event go viral. You have the option to display the number of persons who accept your invitation on the events page which can encourage others to accept your invitation. Another great feature is the comment section where you or anyone can post great things about the upcoming event. Long Island Entrepreneurs uses this to increase attendance to their monthly business networking event.
2. Twitter Updates
Twitter is an amazing way for you to let your followers know about upcoming events taking place offline and to give them little reminders leading up to the event without being too intrusive. Use Twitter to share links to your sign-up page if attendees need to register for your event. Twitter can also serve as a great platform for people to quickly ask questions about the event and give people a reason to attend. It’s a great way to build momentum and anticipation for the event as the time comes closer. For example, today I am tweeting every 2 hrs about a free business networking event that I am hosting at Retro Lounge & Grill in Freeport. Included in my tweets is an offer of a free drink to anyone who re-tweets it 4 times.
Connecting During an Event
3. Live Tweeting
Your prospects or customers who may not be able to attend your event does not have to miss out since live tweets can be used. Live tweeting during events allows companies to engage their audience and make them feel like they are a part of the live event. In addition, it offers an added level of engagement for those who are in attendance. Even if they are at the event, taking part in an online discussion where possible will allow you to interact with your target audience on multiple levels. It also shows them you care that they took the time to attend your even. Create a unique hashtag for each event you host and publicize it to both attendees and people following online so everyone can easily follow and take part in the action.
While of course it would be great if all your followers and customers were able to attend the event you have put so much time and effort into planning and hosting, as we know, that’s not always the reality. Just because your customers or prospects can’t make the trip across the country, doesn’t mean they should miss out on the experience. Consider live-streaming the various speaker presentations throughout your event. This is also a great tactic when you are expecting a lot of people or if there are a limited number of tickets available. It encourages people to still participate and can help to reach a larger audience of people who were unable to attend but may still be interested in the content.
Connecting After the Event
5. Photo Streams
Whether it’s through Facebook, or Flickr posting pictures from your event to photo sharing sites allows your attendees to relive the event and enables those who missed your event to get an inside look at all the amazing stuff that happened during the event. The goal is to make people feel like they missed out on an amazing event that, maybe next time around, they will attend. Encourage attendees to upload their own photos, too. Photos give people a chance to share their personal experiences with the event, creating an amazing connection between attendees, your event, and your brand. See photos taken at events I host as well attend at SM Business Solution Facebook page.
6. Blog Retrospectives
Writing blog post about your event not only gives you a chance to thank all of the people who took the time to attend your event, but it also gives you a chance to highlight what you accomplished by hosting the event. How successful was it? How many attendees did you attract? Describing what you learned by meeting prospects and customers face-to-face will convey how much these interactions actually mean to your company and how important they are you. Here is a post, “The Social media social“, by Robert Saunders that he posted to this site after we co-hosted a business networking and social media seminar. You will see from the comments that were made that we were able to successfully engage our audience even after the event.
7. Recorded Video Content
Create videos from the live stream for people to view or download from sites like YouTube. This enables you to reach those weren’t able to attend the live event or watch the live-stream. Hopefully, if you’ve generated enough buzz about the event and kept that buzz going afterward through creating a successful event and generating positive testimonials from attendees, people who felt like they missed out on an awesome event will want to access the content they missed.
Do share with us how you are able to use your online activities to generate interest and increase attendance to your events.