When you’re hosting an event, think of social media as free advertising. Yes, organic doesn’t get you what it used to, but it can still be a valuable tool for event marketing. But, just like with any tool, you need to know how to use it.
In the B2C sphere, event marketing can be relatively easy- especially in the entertainment industry. After all, a music festival like Coachella will get much more press than the annual GPUG Conference. B2B event marketing is all about using social media to reach and market within your niche audience. There are dedicated GPUG enthusiasts – a rather large community of them in fact. But they won’t be as noisy or widespread online as Coachella fans.
With that being said, here are five ways you can use social media for B2B event marketing.
Use Your Speakers
Who’s speaking at your event? What is their audience like? Do they have a large following on social media?
Events don’t take place in a vacuum. Use your community to your advantage.
Ask your speakers to post about what they’re doing to get ready for the event. Are they preparing their presentation? Can they show a sneak peek? The more involved your speakers are, the more you can expand your audience.
Think about it. The people who follow your speakers on social media create a pre-engaged audience. They follow your speaker for a reason: they’re interested in what that person has to say. Use that to the advantage of your event marketing, and have your speakers encourage their followers to come to your event.
Not only can you reach your target audience when speakers create posts about your event online, but it also enables you to quadruple the reach of your post. For example, let’s say you develop a post about your upcoming event and share it online. You reach maybe a third of your followers, get a few shares, and reach some people that aren’t actively following you yet. But if your event has four different speakers who can also share your post, your reach has now quadrupled. You’ll reach different audiences who may still be interested in attending, and you’ve obtained impressions beyond just your captivated audience.
When you post about an event on your timeline, you’re most likely preaching to the choir. But if your event is shared by several different people, you’re going beyond the choir. You’re reaching new faces and expanding your community.
Develop a Hashtag
I’m sure you’ve seen it before. Event hashtags have been the trend for weddings for the past few years. Most of them are rather campy, i.e. #promdate2lifemate, but hashtags are really effective. Not only do they provide a catchy “tagline” for guests to use when they post during and before the event, but a hashtag also creates a kind of running live feed for attendees to follow. Live tweeting is easily followed when hashtagged appropriately. Attendee pictures can be easily rounded up on social by a quick search of the hashtag.
Hashtags are also useful if you’d like to create a trend with some momentum. You can promote a hashtag on Twitter – to the tune of 200k a day – or you can attempt to get your hashtag to trend organically. Don’t be disappointed if your hashtag isn’t trending enough to be on Twitter’s sidebar. It’s rare that a B2B hashtag would trend on a platform like Twitter. But check in with your target audiences. Are there groups they frequent on Facebook or LinkedIn? Is anyone using the hashtag there?
Keep track of where your event has the most traction by checking in with where it’s most frequently used.
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FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out. It’s powerful. Use it to your advantage.
Show your attendees why they should fear missing out on your event. Post sneak peeks of behind-the-scenes shots with things you’ll be giving away during the event. Speakers can post videos about why they’re so excited to present, and even share sneak peeks of their materials.
Behind-the-scenes shots of your organization getting ready for the event isn’t the only way to build anticipation for your event. Host free ticket giveaways or contests on social media. Have people share or comment to participate, and then pick a winner who’ll get free tickets or swag. This increases your event’s audience and gets potential attendees involved. People love free things. Giving away free tickets encourages participation and builds anticipation for the event.
Were you lucky enough that your event sold out? Make a huge deal out of this. Announce that you now have a waiting list and no more tickets will be sold – but wait! You do have two more tickets to give away. A sold-out event has a certain air of exclusivity that gets people excited to attend and wishing they’d bought their tickets sooner.
Engage with Attendees
Who’s sharing your event-related posts on Facebook? Tweeting about when they’ll be going? Engage directly with the attendees who are engaging with you. Like, share, or retweet the posts where your event is mentioned. Comment with an interesting detail of the event. Follow the attendees who are following you.
The more you engage with your attendees before the event, the more your audience feels that their presence is exciting. When you engage with attendees, you’re boosting your event marketing by encouraging social posting and pre-event sharing.
Create a Facebook Event
When you’re planning an event, make sure you use all of the tools available to you in your event marketing toolkit. A large part of your audience is on LinkedIn? Create a LinkedIn group around the event. Invite your clients, coworkers, and connections to join the group to stay up to date on the latest news when it comes to your event.
Your Facebook company page is more active than your LinkedIn account? Create a Facebook event that can be shared, where attendees can ask questions and you can advertise any pre-event contests or giveaways. A great advantage of Facebook events is the RSVP portion. You can get a relatively good idea of who’s going to be there through the attending function. Consider incorporating it into a contest.
Whether you choose a Facebook event or LinkedIn group, get your speakers involved. Quick posts introducing their background or just saying how excited they are to present gives the speakers press and builds more anticipation for your event.
Social media algorithms also give a different emphasis on events. Facebook’s algorithm collects data from you to better recommend events to users it thinks will be interested. Take advantage of the algorithms in your event marketing and put some extra care into setting up your Facebook event.
Event Marketing on Social Media Takes Dedication
When you’re marketing an event on social media, you need to have the time to craft updates, create events, engage with attendees, and organize your speakers into promoting the event themselves. Event marketing on social media takes time, dedication, and consistency. If you’re unsure how to go about marketing your event on social, then it might be time to reach out to the experts.