Even the most outgoing, networking-oriented personalities get butterflies when entering a room full of strangers. While it’s only natural, it doesn’t have to be the norm. Use social media to create connections among attendees in the weeks leading to an event, and you’ll ease their tension upon arrival, decrease your no-show rate, and may even manage to sell out the venue and inspire attendees to count the days until the action begins.
Here are some social media and email tactics you can use to engage attendees and foster new connections among registrants before they arrive.
While it’s likely that you already know to use and promote a dedicated event hashtag, there’s more you can do:
- Encourage attendees to follow each other.
- Create a Twitter challenge that rewards attendees for gaining the most new followers, re-tweets and favorites from fellow event participants. Be sure to add a caveat that they must engage fellow attendees through helpful and relevant tweets to be eligible for a prize that will be awarded at the event.
- Facilitate private Twitter chat sessions dedicated to answering event FAQs or conversations with a keynote or noted panelist. Along with helping to bring the attendee community together, this can also generate more buzz for the event.
- Regularly contribute fresh photos and content such as updated attendee numbers, bios on your top speakers, and details on special activities at the event, like entertainment or book signings.
- Initiate and contribute to conversations by asking interesting, open-ended questions, such as what attendees love most about the host city.
- Create a poll that asks attendees to vote on fun topics such as their favorite things to do in the city or best places to eat, for example.
- Run a trivia contest related to your industry or event location and reward the winners with a small token at the event.
To make sure your emails are a welcome reminder and generate more excitement in anticipation of the event, segment your attendee list and save a section for customized content. Specifically, you can segment attendees based on:
- Position/title. Feature recommended panels and speakers of interest along with a link back to your event page where readers can learn more.
- Location. Include local travel information on airports, airlines, car rentals and shuttle services. You can also encourage carpooling by providing information on safe, local meeting spots.
- Poll results. Using data from the Facebook poll, include information such as local restaurant specials or museum hours. Taking the poll to a new level, ask attendees if they’re interested in meeting up on-site to take in a local attraction. You may also consider contacting the venue for a group discount.
Tying it all together
During and after the event, you can reunite attendees by integrating your email and social media efforts in these ways:
- Share positive feedback from event surveys.
- Interview attendees on-site and feature them in newsletters and on your social network pages.
- Post a series of fun and informative videos that give outsiders a good sense of what they can expect at future events.
- Ask attendees to share feedback directly with you, on your Facebook event page or using your Twitter event hashtag.
- Encourage attendees to continue the conversations they started at the event with their new contacts.
What social media strategies work well for you? Which don’t? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
This post explains one of the 33 skills all meeting and event planners need to master. Discover the others here.