Events, conferences, and trade shows are an established means to help employees learn from area experts and build personal networks; meet with customers, suppliers, and distributors; generate new business; and see new products. But with the current economic climate, it’s no secret that event marketers are having a tough time maintaining attendance levels and augmenting revenues. One way they can overcome these challenges is by adding social media to their marketing mix.
Social media is a natural for achieving event marketers’ major objectives because it can:
- Build your house file by attracting new prospects, generating leads for later business development and reactivating former customers.
- Drive revenues by converting prospects to paying customers, bringing in exhibitors, attracting sponsorships, and creating or cross-selling related products.
When using social media to achieve these goals, it’s important to incorporate social media each step of the way. Here are some ideas on how to do so.
Before the event. Event marketers need to focus on expanding their universe of prospective attendees while attracting exhibitors, sponsors, and other types of show-related advertisers. Social media can help build interest with video, podcast and blog interviews, as well as social communities. With these formats, exhibitors and sponsors can share information without being directly sales-driven.
During the event. Social media can broaden the conference’s engagement for attendees and those who are unable to attend in person through the use of community forums and webcasts. Provide a special area during events for bloggers, videocasters and podcasters, and allow them to use PR facilities to interview show speakers and attendees. Create a show blog to build excitement around the event and to provide a transcript. Microblogging formats like Twitter allow attendees to comment on the proceedings as they occur. Ask attendees to post to your photo galleries, either on your site or on public forums like Flickr. Provide WiFi access and public computers at the show to aid this process.
After the event. Social media enables event marketers to remain connected to attendees, extend the impact of exhibitors and advertisers, and market other products including future events. Post webcasts, videocasts, podcasts and photos on your site to attract a broader audience for the content and to help build a house file for future events. Also, leverage other types of information, such as forums, to continue to engage attendees. Also track social media’s buzz impact on your event using a range of factors, such as the number of people who contribute content, the number of visitors who view or listen to this content, and its impact on search results.
Social media can do a lot to increase your audience and your awareness. It’s all about building and tapping into the specific industries and communities that fit your target audience.