With conference season coming up in the year, we see a lot of these events succeed (and many fail) at marketing on social media. Some smaller conferences willy-nilly post about their event hashtag the day of, hoping to have the hashtag trend on Twitter through magic; even some events will encourage people to use the event hashtag, but the organizers only post the hashtag in random places around the venue.
Social media marketing for conferences should ideally begin three to six months BEFORE the actual event, especially if the event is not well-known/brand new to the business world: even SXSW starts promoting the following year’s events right after the current year’s festival ends! If you are planning a conference or another type of event this year, here are nine effective ways to to market on social media:
- Set up the conference hashtag – Make your hashtag short yet easy to remember and start promoting the hashtag via Twitter and Instagram. If you haven’t yet created your print promotions, be sure to include the hashtag on that collateral. This way, you make your hashtag official (and then attendees will know what to use when tweeting at the conference).
- Search for industry influencers and possible attendees & ENGAGE! – Depending on what type of conference you are organizing, you want to start conversing with influential people/possible attendees in your industry on Twitter. Don’t start selling the conference to them right away: BUILD that relationship and then tell them how they would benefit from attending your conference.
- Create content about different aspects of the conference to increase excitement – Have your content marketing planned out three to six months in advance. Write articles about your keynote speakers, the venue, the city you are hosting your conference in, etc. Get people excited about attending your conference: stir up a bit of FOMO with enticing articles!
- Live-tweet during your conference – Whether you have a dedicated staff member tweeting all the sessions at the conference or a team of staff members to spread out (especially if your conference has multiple tracks), get the conversation going with your conference brand account! Better yet, encourage attendees to live-tweet to help spread the word about your conference.
- Include your conference hashtag on EVERY presentation slide/placard/display – People can forget your hashtag easily, so give them reminders throughout the venue by having your hashtag on signs, placards, displays. Remind all of your conference speakers to include the hashtag in their slide decks so attendees can easily live-tweet during their sessions.
- Obtain ALL conference speakers’ Twitter handles (if available) – Speakers want to connect with attendees (generally). Make it easier for speakers and attendees to connect by publishing each speaker’s Twitter handle in your schedule and reminding speakers to include their Twitter handles in their slide decks. Ideally, you will want to get the Twitter handles at the very beginning of your conference planning.
- Make a conference recap of social media mentions on Storify – After your conference is finished, you want to provide a social media recap through Storify, a free tool that “helps make sense of what people post on social media.” Add tweets, photos, videos, and other social media posts to your Storify feed that used your conference hashtag. Curate the highlights from the conference and remember to share the recap to your followers after you finish compiling your Storify.
- Keep the conference buzz alive post-conference through attendee surveys & blog post highlights – In addition to Storify (which you should publish right after the event), keep the traction going from your conference by sending out an attendee survey to seek feedback and creating content on your conference blog about featured sessions. Better yet, reach out to attendees to see if anyone wants to contribute a guest post on your blog about his or her personal experience at your conference. User-generated content is very powerful.
- Consistently publish to your social media in between conferences – Don’t just let your conference’s social media presence go to sleep after you have finished organizing this year’s conference: keep your social media updated with partner events, video highlights from your conference, and conversations with previous attendees. Keep your conference brand top of mind by continuing to provide value to your audience so that your next conference will be even more successful.
We hope you will have a very successful conference this year.
(Speaking of conferences, we ARE attending SXSW in a few weeks! Be sure to follow along with us on social media!)
If you need a little help with your conference’s social media marketing (which includes live-tweeting AND live event photography), learn more about our #ShakeItUp package.