Business events can be hugely influential when it comes to success. Depending on what the purpose of your event is, the occasion can be anything from a business-building lead magnet to a sure-fire way to increase employee retention and drive up brand loyalty.
The success of a business event, however, hinges almost entirely on engagement. If you run a cut-and-dry event that few people are interested in, then you aren’t going to secure the benefits you want to achieve. Attendees will turn up with the wrong mindset, won’t be as attentive, and may not even bother to come at all. You might need to use some kind of business event promotion.
There are several ways to ensure the strong attendance and engagement that you need, including great event production, exciting and unique opportunities, and well-known special guests. However, one often-untapped method is the use of social media to promote the event.
Now, we don’t simply mean sharing event times and dates on a handful of platforms. We mean a full-blown strategy of social media promotion and targeting, designed to leverage the assets of your business event to drive up levels of interest by maximising both appeal and reach.
But how do we achieve this?
1. Posts by partners, speakers, and brands
There is no better way to build buzz around a business event than by getting people to talk about it. Anticipation means your event goes from being just another date on the calendar to the function of the year. However, creating anticipation and buzz by yourself can be tricky unless you’re a large and inspiring company. Happily, most business events aren’t the product of just one business entity.
You may have partners, sponsors, speakers, VIP guests, or attending brands. All of these have their own reputations and followings. Speak to them about sharing social media posts through their own social media channels. Start to whip up a media frenzy — with all the major players involved in your event talking about it — and you are guaranteed to get people engaged and interested in what’s to come.
2. Get creative with your social media posts
The social media landscape is a minefield. Data suggest a Twitter post has a lifespan of around 18 minutes or less, and with hundreds, if not thousands, of others to contend with during that short period. Getting your content noticed and engaged with by users means it has to be about more than just simple text-based posts — or you’ll find your content buried under a pile of other, more interesting posts.
Strong business event promotional strategy requires social media posts that do more than just inform. If you want people to pay attention, give them a reason to. You could build anticipation through countdowns to exclusive reveals, making announcements about major exhibits, speakers and so on, setting up polls and votes relating to the event, and sharing images or videos of behind-the-scenes activities.
3. Create a hashtag
Hashtags are not just designed to support trending topics or for meaningless extra words at the end of a social media post. Hashtags are searchable and trackable tools that allow you to monitor posts about your event, and also allow social media users to discover all the relevant posts surrounding it.
Create your own hashtag, for example #BusinessEventName2020. Use this hashtag in all your social posts, and encourage others posting about the event to use it too. This way, all social content relating to your event can easily be found. It’s also straightforward for people to identify what content posted in their feed relates to your event.
4. Develop a landing page
Social posts word counts are often finite. They offer only a snapshot of information. It’s hard to convey everything about your event in a single post. To combat this, you can promote your event through many social media posts. But you cannot be sure the same people will see every one of these posts.
To ensure every post you share has the potential to convey all the details of your event necessary, create a landing page on your website devoted to your event. Here you can share everything about your event, from dates and deadlines to speakers and schedules. When you post about your event, provide your landing page, or at least direct users to a place where they can find it. By doing this, you don’t need to worry any information will be lost.
5. Run giveaways
Giveaways and competitions are an enticing way to get people actively involved in your business event promotion — because there is the potential for them to obtain a reward. These kinds of promotions also have the added benefit of creating more activity on posts, including likes, comments, and reshares, which in turn gets the promotional material seen by more people.
Examples of giveaways include asking attendees to comment on what exhibition, speaker, or stand they are most looking forward to, with the promise of something free like a one-to-one session or VIP experience. You can also do post-event giveaways, offering free entry or exclusive access to the next event by asking visitors to share their experiences, such as the best quotes of the event.
6. Choose your social media platforms
Not all social media platforms are created equal. Different platforms have different demographics and methods of reaching people. Instagram, for example, is a highly visual space, excellent for reaching those in industries such as design and fashion — however, its potential is diminished when it comes to sectors like finance and economics; sectors more suited to Facebook and LinkedIn.
Spreading your resources equally is not going to get you the best ROI for your social media efforts. Identify the core platforms that impact your business event the most and focus on those.
7. Strategise post times
Your social content will often have varying levels of effectivity depending when you post them. Most social platforms are geared towards sharing new content over old content — meaning older posts are harder to spot. As a result, if more of your attendees are active at 7 am rather than noon, more people will likely view your posts.
There is no set standard for the best times and days to post, as it varies wildly depending on your demographic. The best option is to run tests. Send out multiple posts throughout the day, and over a series of days, to define when your particular audience is most active and engaged with social media.
8. Encourage social sharing of attendees
FOMO — or the fear of missing out — is a powerful motivational tool. This type of promotion can encourage those not attending your event to decide to turn up, and it can also act as an incentive to those who didn’t participate on this occasion to seek out the next business event you hold.
Fear of missing out is all about witnessing others either having a good time without you or gaining something you want. If you can get your attendees sharing posts about your event on their own social media, it will help to produce that powerful FOMO feeling amongst their contacts and networks. Techniques to encourage your attendees to share posts on social media include:
- Signs and language — Prompt people to post either visually through messages or signage, or simply by asking them to.
- Dedicated zones — Setting up social media photo zones — such as a photo booth or views across the event floor — are a great way of getting people to share images.
- Live update screens — It is possible to set up screens across your event that display live feeds of your hashtag or mentions on social media. The prospect of having their post appear live can encourage people to share content. Just be sure to have a moderator making sure nothing inappropriate makes it to the big screen.