As conference and event season gets into full swing, talk in the Hallam office has turned to event marketing and how digital marketing practices can be put to better use when promoting a conference or event.
Here are our top tips for promoting your conference or event using digital event marketing.
1) Use Twitter to Get ‘Bums on Seats’
The first step to success for any conference or event is to get the delegates through the doors. Typically, event marketing might start offline; but online may well offer a valuable, complimentary method of attracting interest.
Consider, for example, the use of Twitter. Twitter has so many potential uses for businesses looking to promote themselves on the web, and for event and conference organisers in particular, it provides a direct line of communication to potential delegates.
Journalists love Twitter. They’re on there, looking for up to date, relevant news stories and your upcoming conference could be just that! Try Googling things like ‘Twitter list journalists‘; a quick search flagged up this list in Leicester of Leicester based journalists which may have been valuable to organisers of Leicester Business Events.
Another way to use Twitter for your event marketing is to identify hashtags and existing conversations which are relevant to you and then engaging with those people. To give a practical example, the Insider Property Awards for the West Midlands is coming up on the 21st November but there is very little happening in the way of social media marketing for the event; check their information page, and there’s not even a link to a Twitter account.
The organisers of this event could be making much better use of Twitter by utilising their existing @Insider account or even creating a new account for the Insider Property Awards to identify key people in the property market who are using property related hashtags – a quick Twitter search picked this one up conversations such as #property and #propertydevelopment; could the event organisers engage with the people in those conversations? Equally, a fairly quick search on Twitter will reveal property magazines, property journalists, real estate publications… all of which could really help to spread the word about the event.
The event organisers could also be following their event sponsors on Twitter (Rightmove, for example, are very active), who will no doubt help them to promote the event too.
Consider how you can use other social media for this purpose too; Google Plus Circles of relevant topics, identifying Communities on Facebook, can all be valuable sources of potential delegates.
2) Start Blogging, Get Found on Search Engines
With word of your event now in full swing, you’ll want to make sure your event is easy to find on search engines.
Obviously working with a team on your search engine optimisation (SEO – cheeky plug, we offer this service… ) to ensure your website is well optimised for your key terms is important, so assuming you’ve done that, blogging is an incredibly valuable next step.
Think about how you can market your event through your blog. Updates on confirmed speakers always go down well, as do confirmations of venues and timings. Don’t be afraid to get more creative! Think rich media – could you film the event organiser talking about the event? Have you held the event before and could you invite past delegates to voice their thoughts? Could you share photos of the venue and layout? Perhaps there’s even an infographic opportunity – could you better portray what your event is about through an infographic?
Creating high quality, valuable, shareable content about your event will help your rankings and increase your chances of being the top result when people are looking for your event or conference by name – and when they’re looking more generically for your type of event.
For example, Vistage is a network of business people across the UK who meet regularly. They maintain a blog which works really well to engage their audience across a range of topics; take a look at http://blog.vistage.co.uk/
3) Keep Up Momentum with a LinkedIn Group
Once people are signed up to your event, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch with them. Allowing delegates to interact with one another is a great way to keep up the momentum around your event and gather more interest.
Take a look at this page from LATI; they’ve created a LinkedIn Group for their members and have been using the group to promote their upcoming events, including this afternoon’s ‘Digital Marketing for High Tech, Scientific and Engineering Businesses‘.
As you can see from the image above, LATI have gained a lot of traction from discussing the event and are even linking back to their Twitter feed to encourage delegates to tweet about the event. This is a great way of maintaining engagement beyond the booking itself and getting some extra promotion in the process.
LinkedIn isn’t the only place to create these types of communities. Do you have a forum area on your website you could utilise? If you have an active Facebook following, make sure you create an Event page there. Could you create an event group on Google Plus?
Email marketing is another useful tool at this stage. Keep people informed with regular, but not overwhelming, email campaigns to build excitement and anticipation.
Keeping people engaged with your event or conference is a great way to maintain your event marketing.
4) Create an Event Hashtag for Real Time Engagement
Hashtags are a tool on Twitter to link together conversations and highlight the topic of a message. Use them by simply including the ‘#’ symbol in your tweet followed by the word you want to highlight.
I’ve already discussed using Twitter hashtag conversations to identify relevant people with whom to engage in promoting your event. Another hugely worthwhile use of hashtags is to connect together tweets about your event as part of your event marketing strategy – before, during and after the event.
To give an example, we recently spoke at the Leicester Business Event on ’20 Ways to Promote Your Business on the Internet’. We created the hashtag ‘#20ways‘ to highlight the tweets we posted that were relevant to that session, sharing those 20 tips throughout the day and allowing attendees to also tweet their thoughts and questions using the hashtag. We combined our hashtag with that of the event, which was primarily ‘#LBE13’, to spread the message further.
Take the upcoming Love Business East Midlands event as another practical example. Despite having a full website dedicated to the event and an active Twitter stream, they’ve yet to mention a hashtag for the event, which could be utilised throughout their promotions and at the event; they may decide to implement #LBEM13 and utilise that in all of their tweets about the event from now on.
So you’re going to tweet throughout your event, other people will tweet too and all the tweets will be linked using a hashtag. Now here’s what we’d do if we were event organisers; take a big screen, have it on prominant display at your event and display all tweets, in real time, using your event hashtag. You’ll find it really boosts your event’s online engagement and helps you keep in touch with all of your delegates. You could even consider a service like ‘Tweetwall‘ to help you achieve this. Here’s an example of a Twitter wall from a Library and Information Science Research Coalition event:
Marketing Your Event Hashtag
A problem the Leicester Business Event had with it’s hashtag is that it lacked consistency and it lacked promotion. We were really keen to utilise a hashtag to promote our session, but struggled to find any communications to let us know what the consistent hashtag was and how we could use it.
If you’re going to use a Twitter hashtag for your event, which we’d highly recommend you do, make sure you get it out there! Share it on your website, use it yourself – even encourage speakers and exhibitors at your event to share the hashtag on their promotional materials and presentations.
5) When It’s All Over… Don’t Stop!
Just because your event is finished, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to add value to the community you’ve built.
Have you collected a list of delegates and their contact details? You may decide that an email out to all of them to thank them for attending is a nice way of representing your brand. If there have been speakers at the event, ask if you can share their presentation slides in this email; people will find it useful and it will remind them of what they took away from your event, keeping them interested for next time.
And don’t forget about those hashtags, Groups and Pages; those people were interested in your event for a reason, so think about how you can continue to share valuable content with them after the event is done. This will help you particularly when you come to repeat the event – you’ve got a captive audience, there waiting for you.
Event Marketing Services from Hallam Internet
We hope you’ve taken some useful ideas from this post.
Event marketing has the potential to really boost your event profitability, but it can require a lot of time, resource and knowledge to get it right. If you’re interested in finding out more about our event marketing services here at Hallam, do get in touch via our contact page or give us a call. We’re able to support you in the run up to the event, throughout the event and in weeks and months that follow with SEO, PPC, social media marketing, email marketing and offline marketing support.