Most organizations expend a lot of their resources—time, money, and energy—on events and conferences. An event allows you to really engage with your stakeholders and audience both in real life and, if you’re savvy, online.
How can you best use Facebook and Twitter to get people to attend your event? Here’s a list of steps to take before, during, and after.
Before the Event
Consider a Facebook campaign specifically for your event. Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn all offer good methods to target the right people to attend your event with paid social. "There are a number of ways across each platform, including paid/sponsored posts, hashtags, banner ads, etc.,” writes James Perrin on Koozai.
When someone registers for your event, encourage them to share that they are participating on Twitter and Facebook. "Make it easy by including a ‘lazy tweet’ — a link with a pre-populated tweet including the desired copy and hashtag — for those to share instantly to maximize your social reach before the event,” writes Taylor Carrado at Hubspot.
"Pick an event hashtag that’s short, and ideally, unique to your event,” writes Andy Crestodina on the Orbit Media Blog. “Always, always use this hashtag in every tweet and post.”
For example, the Association of Children’s Museums puts together a conference every year called InterActivity. They used the hashtag #IA16 for this year’s conference on both Twitter and Facebook. They used the hashtag before the conference and soon attendees were using it. The real pay off was during the conference when attendees started posting pictures of themselves and the presentations on both networks. (The Association of Children’s Museums also includes text versions of the presentations from its conferences on their website so that the learning and exchange that happened at the conference can continue online anytime.)
Usually your Twitter and Facebook bios will link to your website, but when you’re promoting a big event, consider changing these links so they send visitors directly to the event page.
Tweet early and tweet often about your event. “Unlike email, most tweets are missed as they flow through the social streams of your audience,” says Crestodina. What kind of things should you tweet about? Crestodina has a list of reasons to tweet and suggests that “many of these tweets can be scheduled far in advance, using tools like HootSuite or Buffer.”
Pre-event Tweet ideas:
· Registration opens
· Early-bird registration is ending soon
· Countdown: “Just X days until the event!”
· Reminder of time and location
· Thank your sponsors (mention sponsors)
· “Just saw Jane’s presentation. Wow!” (mention speakers)
· “See you at the event!” (mention registrants)
· Thanks for sharing, posting and re-tweeting (mention anyone who shared)
· Tweets with a testimonial quotes about a speaker (find these on LinkedIn)
· Tweet to the pre-event blog post using a quote from the interview (mention speaker)
What about people who can’t attend your event? “Virtual participation is an option that is under-utilized for fundraising events. It's great for endurance events, giving days, or auctions. Allowing individuals to fundraise for an endurance event online and run, walk, or ride on the same day as your event but in their hometown can almost double your participation and funds raised,” writes Taylor Carrado at Hubspot.
During the Event
Create a photo opportunity. “Whether it’s a picture with your founder, a backdrop, or a ‘step and repeat,’ encouraging your attendees to take pictures during the event and share them in social media, whether through Instagram or Twitter, is a great way to engage your outside audience. Just make sure you encourage them to include your event hashtag so you can track your total reach!” writes Taylor Carrado at Hubspot.
During your event, post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn about what’s happening at your event. Remember: Use your event hashtag. Share pictures, videos, quotes, or key takeaways.
“Debut a story, milestone, or video for the first time at the event. Share an amazing piece of content highlighting your impact with your attendees and the world during the event. This is a huge opportunity to do something big,” writes Taylor Carrado at Hubspot.
Charity:Water played a new film at Hubspot’s INBOUND conference. After the initial screening, HubSpot emailed every attendee a link to share the video on Twitter and Facebook. “When we did this, attendees generated over 3,600 tweets about the video and 50,000 video views in one day,” says Carrado.
After the Event
Follow up with content from the event. And remember to thank everyone. “Show your gratitude after the event by thanking the speakers, sponsors and attendees in follow up tweets and posts. This is good for networking,” says Crestodina. “Put a few of your best photos on Facebook and Google+. Be sure to tag and mention people… In the days after the event, listen for tweets, mentions and blog posts from others. Hopefully, the hashtag makes this easy. When you see these mentions, share them!”
“Recap the success of the attendees and the event. Share the results in social posts. Taylor Carrado at Hubspot says, “Thank your major donors, top fundraisers, and biggest betters via social media. The more personal your messages are, the more likely those you're thanking will share your messages with their social networks—or even blog about your event.”