A lot of work goes into planning a conference. Any competent conference planner must raise funds, make a schedule, and organize speakers and events. These are important parts to putting together an incredible conference, but that effort is for nothing if no one knows it is happening! You need to market your conference!
Filling the halls of a conference can be hard. Traditional marketing and advertising platforms have grown less effective in the age of the internet. Few people still read magazines. Everyone fast forwards through commercials. But, there is still hope with a good social media strategy.
Social Media has changed the face of conference marketing. For a conference to gain traction in a field, it must have a solid social media strategy as part of the marketing mix. Social media may seem easy, everyone does it after all, but marketing a conference using these platforms can be a complicated task. Use these five social media strategies to boost your conference registration.
1. Set SMART goals
Things can get chaotic quickly in the social media world, which is why any social media strategy need to set goals to keep them on track. This may be advice that you’ve been hearing since kindergarten, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. Having goals in mind will allow you to target your efforts and measure your accomplishments.
To quote self-help books across the country, these goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. SMART for short. Each element of SMART is critical to an effective goal. A goal needs to be specific to ensure you focus your efforts. It must be measurable to ensure that you can track your progress. Goals must be achievable to actually happen. If they are not relevant than they will not actually help you, and adding a time element keeps things moving.
Think about what exactly you want to do. Are you trying to boost conference registration? If so, who are you trying to attract to your conference? How many people do you want to register? Once you know what you need and set goals, you can begin to build a killer social media strategy for your conference.
2. Be a human being
The feeds of the people you are reaching on a social media platform is filled with people talking about their lives. Social media is a vast collection of human beings using their voice and giving input on our world. If your page is nothing more than see-through and robotic marketing messages, the contrast against the other posts in the feed will ruin you. The fact is, social media is about listening to people, so to succeed you need to develop a voice that is human.
Conferences are built around special interests, and the team that puts them together shares those interests. So, take the drive which built the conference and put that into the social media persona. Talk to those who might go to your event as a fellow appreciator. Talk like you are sitting down with someone who is as passionate about the subject of your conference as you are. Use that passion and tell them about the cool things you must offer. Humanizing your voice on social media will make your page more engaging, and will drive more people to consider your event.
3. Give a good reason to follow you
It is important to think about what your social media profile offers to your followers. Of course, the purpose is to drive more registration to your conference, but that is not a reason for Joe to follow you. In fact, Joe really doesn’t want his Facebook feed filled with you telling him over and over that he should go to your conference. When developing your strategy, keep in mind the people who must hit “follow” for it to succeed. You need to offer them something that they want.
There are different ways to approach this. If your conference is on a professional field, post educational content about the field. If the conference is on a lighter subject, then make your audience laugh. Keep your followers informed on news in the field. No matter what your route is, the point is to create an engaging presence that goes beyond simply telling your followers about your event. Still promote your event of course, but do so in a way that your followers will enjoy. The content you post needs to be frequent as well, nothing hurts a social media profile the same way that silence does.
Not only will this engaging content increase your following, but it will build a relationship between your followers and your brand. When someone is choosing between similar conferences, they will want to go with the one they feel like they know better. So, make sure that is you.
4. Encourage Discussion
Awesome, so you’ve found clever ways to tell people about how your conference is the best that they will find. You’ve spread that message far and wide across social media. Your page is engaging and filled with great content worth following. There is still a big problem though. Every conference says that theirs will be the best! Why should anyone believe you?
Social media is unique from every other marketing platform in that it is, to put it simply, social. The purpose of social media is not for you to sell your conference, but rather for people to talk about their lives and share their experiences. An excellent social media strategy must take advantage of this, and get people to talk about their experiences at your event.
Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful forms of advertising in existence. Anyone with money can create an ad, but people will trust a recommendation when it comes from a friend. They will also feel jealous when their friend’s pictures with big wide smiles taken at the conference they missed start to get posted.
The best part is, social media users naturally do this. Your conference is going to be a phenomenal experience. Guests will want to talk about it and post pictures all over the internet. Each one of those posts is an advertisement from a genuine source, and goes out to every single one of the posters friends. This is the most effective tool that social media offers, and any effective social media plan will include ways to encourage attendees to post about their time at the conference.
5. Differentiate your social media strategy based on platform
There are a lot of different social media websites. Though they all serve the same purpose, each is different in subtle ways. They also have their own strengths and weaknesses, and different user bases. Because of this, the same post might receive no attention on Twitter, but get tons of likes on Facebook.
These differences mean that thinking of social media as a monolith will doom any social media strategy. The strategy must differentiate between the different platforms, while still maintaining a unique and developed voice throughout. For example, content moves quickly on twitter so posts should be short and frequent. Meanwhile, posting to frequently to Facebook could start to clog up the feed of followers and could end in them unfollowing. Instagram is a visual medium, which means every post must include a striking image. Linkedin is a great tool for reaching people in professional fields, but you won’t get much attention with more casual content.
Understanding the potential for each website of the social media world allows you to optimize your strategy to reach the most people possible. For more information on strategies for specific social media sights, check out this article on event marketing with Facebook and this article on using Snapchat.
Social media offers limitless marketing potential, and a great way to grow your conference registration list at low costs. Tell us in the comments below how you have used social media for your conference!