5 Social Media Tactics to Enhance Live Events–Lessons from DMA:2010

Actionable Marketing 101

Greetings from DMA:2010 in San Francisco where I taught a two day Social Media Marketing Certification class to an engaged SRO audience and will be presenting on Tuesday and Wednesday. Interestingly, the DMA has integrated a variety of social media into this year’s conference in order to expand and enhance the event’s reach. Specifically, they’re using blogging, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Meetup, Twitter and Yelp as well as a mobile app to help attendees get around the show.

Event marketers can enhance live events by adding social media to their marketing mix to build their house file by attracting new prospects, generate leads for later business development, convert prospects to paying customers, bring in exhibitors, attract sponsorships and create and/or cross-sell related products. Customers, mainly business people, use events, conferences, and trade shows to learn from area experts, build personal networks, meet with customers, suppliers, and distributors, generate new business, and see new products.

Consider event marketing’s three distinct phases when adding social media to your mix.

  • Before the event focuses on expanding the universe of prospective attendees while attracting exhibitors, sponsors, and other types of show-related advertisers. Use social media to help create interest using video, podcast, and blog interviews, as well as social communities. Provide information your target audiences want without being directly sales-driven.
  • During the event broaden conference engagement for attendees and those who are unable to attend in-person with community forums, live videocasts, blogging and Twitter streams. Provide a special area with electric outlets during presentations for bloggers, videocasters, and podcasters. Give these attendees facilities to interview show speakers and attendees. Encourage the use of  Twitter by providing a special show hashtag to attendees to comment on the proceedings as they occur. Ask attendees to post to your photo galleries, either on your site or on public forums. Provide Wi-Fi to aid the creation and posting of timely content.
  • After the event extend the show and provide for future engagement. Post videocasts, podcasts, blogs and photos on your site to attract a broader audience for the content and to help build a house file for future events. Also, upload presentations to public sites like Slideshare to extend your reach.

5 Social media tactics for event marketing

Since social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum, here are five tactics to improve your event marketing’s performance:

  1. Ask your audience to create and share content. Don’t limit your invitation to develop show-related content to one segment of participants. Include everyone your show comes in contact with such as employees, exhibitors, sponsors, attendees, customers, speakers, and the press. While they may not all share your perspective, they can all contribute to spreading useful buzz for your event’s brand.
  2. Cross-promote your marketing. Promote social media across various channels including third party offline media, third party online media, social media, internal media and live. For example, show the Twitter stream for your event as it’s going on.
  3. Leverage social media’s search optimization qualities. Since social media supports search results, ensure that all online content is optimized for the words your audience uses when they search.
  4. Encourage social media across platforms. Since events often focus on a broad audience, allow creators to use the media of their choice to connect with your event – blogs, Twitter, videos, podcasts, social networks, forums and photos.
  5. Provide for social media activity on social media platforms. While you may have a special website for your event, know that attendees will use public forums, such as YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as their personal or company sites to distribute their content and comments.

Social media can broaden your event marketing and help you reach your business objectives. Consider the best ways to use it to further your organization’s specific business goals. Social media can help increase your event’s audience and awareness by building and tapping into many preexisting and event specific communities.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Related column on event marketing:

5 Keys to Effective Conference Presentations

Photo credit: Pranksky via Flickr

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