Hugh Riley

Are you using social media effectively to promote your event? Consider these useful tips.

The last thing you want is to invest time and resources into planning an event or conference and have it fail. The first step to creating a successful event is to motivate people to actually attend. Events by nature are social gatherings. People attend them so they can connect, interact, and share with their peers. Similarly, people join social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect, interact and share with their peers (Pamorama, 2016).

If you take the right approach, these similar characteristics can work to your advantage when it comes to planning, promoting and building excitement for any event or conference you plan to host. Here are some tips on how we used social media to strategically promote our Tourism Human Resources Conference held in Antigua & Barbuda last month.

Pre-Event Tips:

  1. Create your event objectives. Before promoting your event on social media, figuring out your overall event objectives should be your first order of business. Why are you having this event? Who are you trying to target? What do you need to do to target this audience? How will you measure your success? All of these questions need to be answered so you can know the right ways to reach your desired target audience(s). For instance, CTO’s Tourism HR Conference objectives were as follows:

The main aim of the Tourism Human Resources Conference is to bring together tourism practitioners, from both the public and private sectors, human resource professionals, tourism educators/trainers and consultants as well as tourism & hospitality students of tertiary institutions to share strategies and best practices on areas and issues affecting the tourism and hospitality sectors, to provide updated information on various aspects of tourism’s development, to enhance skills and to allow opportunities for professional networking.”

2. Schedule a social media event communications plan. This schedule will keep you on track for content production and distribution via all of your social media platforms. Here are some of the things CTO included for the pre-conference stage in our social media event communications plan:

Here are snapshots of a speaker online discussion we hosted on LinkedIn several weeks prior to the conference.

During Event Tips:

  1. Build the conversation online. Issue press releases, Tweets and other social media updates that would engage those who could not attend. It is also relevant here to highlight key points from your event that you would like the press to cover. This is where traditional media and new media intersect. Together with strong press releases and frequent Tweets and other social media updates, your message gets spread out to an even wider audience. This creates an opportunity to get featured by the media. For instance, issuing frequent press releases and social media updates about our event, resulted in it being featured in an article by TravelWeekly.com, written by Gay Nagle Myers. Click here to take a look.
  2. Use photos and videos of attendees and speakers in social updates. At your event, set up a media corner where attendees can take pictures and videos. This is also a perfect opportunity to ask event delegates to complete evaluation forms to get their feedback from your event. Consider using attractive props such as an InstaFrame that would compel attendees to take photos using it and would then be encouraged to upload them to their social media using your event’s hashtag. This InstaFrame costs about US $45 and is a popular promotional piece to engage attendees, especially the millennials or Generation Y demographic. This is a great example of how you can foster user-generated content (USG) to your social media platforms. Here is a video of one of our speakers, Ian Blanchard giving us his insights on achieving overall excellence.

Also, here are some delegates who tagged us in their photos with the InstaFrame on social media.

Post Event Tips:

  1. Create and share photos from event with hashtags on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. After your event, share images of your attendees and tag them if you can. This gives people a chance to comment and talk about how much they learned or what a great time they had and how much they’re looking forward to attending again (Social Media Examiner, 2015).
  2. Share content from affiliate partners, attendees and speakers who wrote or Tweeted about your event. For instance, the CTO welcomes opportunities to share articles from industry experts who write about their experiences from attending our events. Take a look at this blog post from one of our speakers; Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon, Independent HR Consultant and Founder of Aquarius HR Consulting. Stay on the look out for these kinds of stories and share them on your social media channels.
  3. Ensure that it all boils down to the right numbers. It can be so exciting to watch your follower count increase during your social media event promotions. Look at how many re-tweets your getting, and watch how many people are engaging with your content! Isn’t it great? But wait, while this is all wonderful, how does it prove that you are bringing home the dollars? If you or your boss is starting to ask that question, here’s what you can do to see the impact on overall sales. After reviewing CTO’s event evaluation forms from the final day of the conference to which 49 delegates responded; 5 persons stated that they first heard about the conference from social media. If this was applied to the Master Class event held on the final day of the conference and the cost of one Master Class session was US$125, then we can do the math. This would mean that US$625 in additional revenue was earned from social media promotions from that one session. This is a small start to prove how social media promotions can contribute to your overall event registration sales.

In short, social media is a great way to promote an event and increase ticket sales. Remember to ask event speakers to promote your event on their social media platforms and use various props to make attendees willing to share promotional material from your event. Cheers to your social media event marketing success!

References

Pamorama. How to Promote Your Event With Social Media Marketing . 2016. http://pamorama.net/2015/02/16/promote-event-social-media-marketing/.

Social Media Examiner. 16 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Event . 2015. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/use-social-media-to-promote-your-event/.

Wired Impact. How to get more people to your events with social media . 2016. http://wiredimpact.com/library/social-media-nonprofit-events/.