Social media has its limitations as far as customer and prospect engagement is concerned. A simple bit of research (add a link to post The Social Media Myth) on your part will show that the percentage of people making comments on business page posts on Facebook or LinkedIn is quite low. That said, social media can be an amazing boost for the most effective customer engagement tool in the marketer’s kit.
Experiential events, such as trade shows, conferences, pop-ups, immersive events, showrooms, and experience rooms, are cost-effective tools that produce results. Here’s why: Between 72 and 81% of event attendees interact with a brand’s sales staff, technicians, and executives at events.
Over 85% of attendees say that they are likely to make a purchase after attending an event, and 91% say that they have more positive feelings about brands with which they interact. Few other marketing tools, if any, can boast such an effect on the customer.
Communicating with Attendees Before, During, and After an Event
Using social media to promote an event is like adding rocket fuel to a race car. Social media business pages can generate large numbers of contacts, and you can create messages that can be read any place and at any time. It’s the ideal way to connect with on-the-go attendees.
Here are some ways you can use organic or promoted social media posts for your events:
Before the Event
1.Attendee input: It pays to know what your contacts want to achieve at your event. That way you can be sure your message is relevant and resonates with them. Your data collection can be as simple as asking a few questions using several social media posts or enticing contacts to take a more comprehensive pre-show survey.
Here’s an idea. Offer a reward of some type when prospects answer your questions and ask them to pick it up during the event. This is what retailers call a BOGO for you because you get input and a visit to your booth.
Be sure to start this process early so you have time to create effective materials that satisfy attendees’ needs and wants. The information you gather should be shared with outside speakers and other communication vendors so they also can address these wants as well.
2. Event promotion: The clever use of organic or promoted posts helps to heighten interest and generate new attendees. Games, contests, location posts, new product hints, speaker quotes, remarketing, and other innovative messaging techniques create excitement and curiosity.
If you have videos and images from a prior event, use them to create video highlights that give prospective attendees an idea of what they will experience. There is nothing like creating enthusiasm for your event because it spreads like wildfire.
3. Activity highlights: Create video posts that highlight planned special activities, such as golf outings, cocktail parties, charity participation, and other activities that will take place during the event. One statistic I saw stated that approximately 38% of attendees decided to attend events based on their entertainment value.
4. Create great content: Give your social media followers content they can share. Just one as an example could generate 500 views on LinkedIn and even more on Facebook. The more dramatic, relevant, or emotional your posts are, the more shares you will generate.
5. Testimonials: Endorsements from previous event attendees make great influencers, especially for prospects who have not attended your earlier events. Post testimonials on your website and social media sites. You can spread the posts during the pre-promotion period to boost interest.
6. Shareable: Make all your posts shareable to spread the word. As I mentioned, a shared post gets great exposure. If your content is exciting enough, it will be shared by a percentage of everyone who sees it. The results can be pretty spectacular. An original post may generate 500 views and two shares. Those two shares then may get an additional 1000 views and four shares—and on it goes. It’s exponential.
7. Create event pages: Create an event website or, better yet, a page or pages on your company website. Use social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to create event pages and invite followers. Ask viewers to invite their business associates or friends to your event.
During the Event
8. Broadcast posts and live videos: You may not be able to attract every customer or prospect to attend your current event. If they can’t come to you, you can go to them via social media.
Live videos of speeches, product demos, and other activities heighten interest and can be used for after-event promotions. You might also consider a series of behind-the-scenes posts as your exhibit is being erected. This is something most attendees never see, so it can attract people to your exhibit.
9. Activities: Create activities that make your attendees want to post photos on their social media accounts. Instagram is a current favorite for posting photos, as are Facebook and LinkedIn. Interesting displays and unique ideas, such as escape rooms, live performances, and celebrity meetings, will rev- up the viral marketing machine. Because many people use their smartphones for web surfing, especially while traveling, you will attract visitors that may otherwise overlook your exhibit.
10. Instant surveys: After specific activities, send instant mini-surveys using Facebook Messenger, e-mail, or social media posts. You’ll not only gather important data, but also show you care about improving attendee satisfaction. You can also use the reward concept I mentioned previously to get more traffic.
11. Question and answer sessions: During speeches and demonstrations, allow attendees and online followers to ask questions via social media. This not only provides information for the question and answer portion of the speech, but it also creates interest online among those unable to attend.
As these posts will be saved on the various platforms, you will be able to harvest a wealth of marketing data from the questions asked.
After the Event
12. Recaps: Recreate your event on your website and social media pages by providing recaps of speeches, demonstrations, new product introductions, and other interesting activities. Videos have a great impact in such situations, as do product demos.
13. Highlights: Create social media posts and send e-mails that highlight the most dramatic and important aspects of your event. These will act as a refreshers for attendees and expand your event message to those unable to attend.
14. Performance surveys: Mini or full surveys can be hosted on your website or via your favorite survey software and promoted using social media and e-mail. These after-event surveys will assist you in enhancing future events. As part of the survey, you can include a call to action to help move prospects along their journey to becoming your clients.
15. Reuse: The communication materials you create for your event and the photos, speeches, and videos you generate during the event can be reused for sales support and other marketing communication needs. A lot of effort and strategic thinking go into creating effective events, and using what you created for other programs is not only cost-effective, but also creates a continuity of communications.
The effectiveness of your social media efforts will depend on the number of your social media followers. Of course, it is important that you attract followers who are relevant to your brand’s offerings. The more, the better, so start now to increase your social media reach. Here are several actions you can take:
- Create interesting, relevant, and shareworthy content and post often. Shares get you, new followers.
- Be sure links to your social media pages appear on all your media. The more prominent they are, the better.
- If you have the budget, try promoted posts. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn have good systems that allow you to effectively target your best prospects. Advertising and promoting post are generally the fastest way to generate followers.
- Follow your industry’s influencers and share their content. This helps keep your pages relevant—and perhaps these influencers will follow you as well.
- Use hashtags (#) when appropriate.
The five most popular social media platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube—although YouTube is mostly for videos. There are many more social media sites that you may want to explore. Your choices will depend on your products or services and your available resources to manage these pages.
I began this article by saying that social media has its limitations as far as engaging customers goes. Some may argue this point based on their interpretation of what constitutes engagement.
Facebook likes to combine post likes, shares, and comments into the “engagement” bucket. It looks better, but I don’t believe that likes and shares are all that engaging. Comments are, in my opinion, the only true engagement.
That said, however, when it comes to supporting engagement through events, social media’s only limit is your imagination.
Author: Allen Yesilevich