From tweet-ups and other social gatherings to conferences and high-profile events, thousands of events take place every day all over the world. Social media and other inbound marketing tactics can combine into a strategic approach to promoting your event, increasing the hype surrounding it, and attracting the attention of both potential attendees and media.
The message you send to your audience a few months in advance should be much different than the message you send a few weeks or days before your event. By providing remarkable content that keeps attendees on their toes, your potential attendees will be begging YOU for more information. So the question is, “How do you generate interest in an event using the tools that are right in front of you?"
Step 1: Design your event by defining your objectives and strategy.
Before you can utilize any inbound marketing tactics, you must think about what you are trying to accomplish with your event. Do you want to generate more recognition for a company? Do you want to partner with a charitable organization? Do you want to sell your product? Then, clearly outline your MEASURABLE objectives and goals for the event. Do you want to increase revenue of a product by 15%? Do you want to increase membership by 25%? Once you have these various aspects set, you can begin working on the strategy.
You can make event planning much easier by creating a timeline with a strategy focused on your objectives and goals. Outline the tasks you need to accomplish in the order they need to be completed. You can't send out invitations to an event without knowing the venue, and you can't tweet about the event until you have information about the theme, speakers, or purpose.
Step 2: Start generating hype and buzz for your event!
Once the venue, dates, speakers and other details are nailed down, you can begin to use inbound marketing tactics to generate excitement with your current attendees while also attracting new registrants. Think about what you can do to entice people to visit your website to get more information about the event. You may want to secure high profile speakers or confirm a popular venue, but the trick is really to produce valuable content about your event that will keep your attendees asking for me and show others why your event is a “must attend” occasion.
You can blog, tweet, make an event on Facebook or create content in a LinkedIn group, but the key to success is showing that you are a thought leader in your industry. If you are having a conference about mobile technology, discuss trends that are happening in that industry. Write blog posts about current events. Create discussions on Twitter. Comment or post in Facebook and LinkedIn groups that target your audience. Not only will your current attendees enjoy having these discussions before the event takes place, but they will help you grab the attention of potential registrants who might not yet be signed up for your event. Having a solid social media presence can lead the way to a successful event with high attendance.
Step 3: Make your event a trending topic.
When the day of your event arrives, the buzz and hype shouldn’t stop -- it should amplify! With the use of hashtags and the practice of live-tweeting, Twitter has become a great way for attendees to share knowledge and insight during events (and it's no longer rude to use your cell phone during a conference because of it). It's also a great way for people who are unable to attend your event in-person to participate and get value from the event's conversations that they can follow virtually. These days, an event isn't considered very successful unless people are talking it online while it's taking place. Take the opportunity to encourage your attendees to tweet their ideas, critiques and opinions. Then, send traffic to your website by creating incentives like making presentations available for them to reference online afterward.
Step 4: Don’t stop now!
Once your event is over, don’t let the excitement die down. Consider writing a blog article to recap the event's key takeaways, and encourage people to continue their conversations on Twitter or on your blog. Contact media outlets for post-event coverage. Ask for testimonials from some happy attendees to show others your event was successful. Successful events generate excitement that can continue long after the actual event takes place. By showcasing this excitement, you can position it as a must-attend event in the future, especially if it's annual or recurring.
Step 5: Measure, Measure, Measure!
The best way to show others that your event was successful is through quantitative and qualitative measurements. In addition to how many people attended your event, gather their thoughts and opinions about the event itself. What convinced them to attend your event? What did they like or dislike about the event? There are many free online survey tools available that can be used to gauge people’s interest. Once you gather this information, you can learn from attendees' responses and use that insight to make appropriate changes for future events. Not only will this help you discover how to increase attendance at future events, but it will also help you drum up interest from potential sponsors.
What other inbound marketing strategies have you used during your events to make them successful? Share them with us!
Photo Credit: Design by Chon