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The 12 Social Media Tricks You Need To Fill Any Event

ROUND UP! ROUND UP! It’s time to use social media to turn your event into the ONLY show in town worth attending. You don’t just want lots of people, you want ones that your exhibitors, speakers, or performers will want to connect with too. A smart event organizer will use social media to get tons of the right people to their event. If you’re not making the most of your social channels then there will be people sitting in offices, living rooms or other events who could be at yours instead. You don’t want that, do you?

We’ve contacted the social teams behind some of the world’s biggest events in music, sport, marketing, comics, and TOYS. They’ve given us exclusive insider info on how they use social media to create major social buzz around their pioneering events. Take note of these points to get your social strategy packing halls, theatres, and exhibition centres in no time.

1. Get attendees social handles

As part of the ticket purchasing process, invite people to enter their social media handle. That way you can follow them, thank them for their order, and begin to build a relationship that could lead to that all important brand advocacy. Relationships with your attendees are important, as events shared by someone AFTER they have confirmed their attendance are 20% more effective than shares before. To get a better idea of the kind of audience your event is attracting, and attract more people just like them, you can create a list of Twitter handles and use a Twitter analytics tool (*ahem* such as Audiense) to see what they talk about, who is influencing them, and the best time to Tweet to attract their attention. This list will come in handy for future events too, you can create personalized DM campaigns inviting them to your next event, or upload this list to the Twitter Ads portal as a tailored audience and re-target them with promoted Tweets for your next event.

Nov 2017 - UPDATE: Direct Message campaigns are no longer available. The new way to send automated direct messages is through Twitter Chatbot.

2. Build up buzz with Twitter chats

Use Twitter chats in the build-up to your event to get people talking about key topics that will be featured. This will help to spark interest in your community and will give you valuable insight into the parts of your event that people are getting the most excited about, by providing your followers with an opportunity to Tweet about what they’re hoping to see/do/learn at the event.

“Our #CMWorld Twitter chat has been an invaluable resource for us, our event and our community. It has provided for us an ear within our community on what our event attendees and friends want and need from CMI and Content Marketing World. It has made our event better because our Twitter chat participants feel comfortable being forthcoming and honest with their needs, struggles and successes.”
Cathy McPhillips, Content Marketing Institute

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3. Q&A on social with people appearing

An active Q&A shared on social media with a prominent speaker or performer attending your event will boost awareness and build excitement. If the person is speaking or hosting in some way, it gives them a chance to show off their expertise and give people a taster of what they could learn at your event. If they’re an entertainer or a celebrity then there will be plenty of ways for them to show their charisma and connect with people who may become customers. Successful Q&As can be via a Twitter hashtag, a Reddit AMA, or in a Facebook post depending on where most of your target audience is. Your guest doesn’t have to answer every question that’s put to them, but we don’t recommend they copy Prince’s example and only answer one!

4. Encourage exhibitors or performers to get involved in the discussion

When you book guests for your event, give them information on what hashtags, URLs and handles you will be using so that all social activity about your event is pointing in the same direction. They can’t do all of the legwork for you, but a few posts now and then can make a real difference. They can help promote by posting updates to their social channels before, during, and after the event to give a wider picture of what’s happening and make it look appealing to a wider audience of their fans, hooking in people for your next event. Prompts for things they could talk about would be who they’re looking forward to seeing, or teasers for any special things they’ve got planned.

As we have more than 260 exhibitors at Toy Fair we spend a lot of time pre the event itself planning our social campaign. With so many exhibitors at our disposal and events going on through the fair we put a lot of effort in making our exhibitors socially aware and encourage them to join in the conversation, whether that be through Twitter, YouTube or Instagram. We start the conversation, but we encourage them to shout out what exciting things they are experiencing to give a wider picture of the fair than just the press office.

Ravi Vijh, Bastion Agency, Toy Fair

5. Different cities? Make an effort to reach them all

If you’ve got multiple events taking place in different cities, making an effort to engage local audiences is more likely to get their attention than a generic post advertising all events. Twitter’s promoted Tweets can be sent specifically to people in certain geographic locations, and regular Facebook posts from a brand's page can do this too. Use analytics tools to find fans of yours who are influencers in certain cities and contact them to set up a promotional arrangement that will open you up to their following.

Pop culture and Comic Con fans live online. Wizard World, which will host events in two dozen cities in 2015, connects with them through a variety of social media outlets. Whether it’s posting photos and videos from events, running special contests, alerting fans to news and notes about the individual shows, or just responding to inquiries, Wizard World targets fans in those markets and encourages them to interact with us and each other.
Billy Patterson, Wizard World Comic Con

6. Use testimonials in your marketing

To sell your future events, get people at your current one to tell the world what they like about it. These quotes can be turned into videos or blogs which can be promoted via your social channels. They could also be incorporated into your wider marketing and adverts. The video below was made at this year’s Social Media Marketing World to encourage people to attend next year’s. Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner explains the method behind making one:

Using testimonials in your marketing can be super-powerful. You can ask people who attended your event to fill out a survey either in person at the event or using a system like SurveyMonkey. The two most important questions you need to ask are:

  • Would you recommend this conference to a friend or colleague?
  • If you were recommending this conference to a friend or colleague, what would you say?

You could also record someone recommending what you have to offer. Ask the person what he or she thought about the event, then lead into the second question about what they thought of the networking. Usually, what comes out of the second question is spectacular. Once you’ve gathered all of the testimonials, go through them and identify the best ones to create content out of.
Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner

7. Find the influencers

Even if someone isn’t necessarily at your event, they may still have an opinion on what’s happening. Ask them what they think about your line-up, what their favorite thing about the main attraction is, or what their favorite memory was of a past appearance there. If you know which social influencers you want to be talking about you in a good way, there are plenty of ways you can encourage them to do so using social media.

A recent example of this was FIFA’s social channels contacting major figures seeking their opinions on the nominations for the upcoming Ballon D’or award, building awareness ahead of the gala presentation event in January. We asked them what lead to this strategy:

"During the World Cup, FIFA devised a concept called the Global Stadium, a live and social hub to create a genuine two-way, second screen experience. We invited the global football audience to join our digital platforms and touched over a billion people with official World Cup content. The Global Stadium attracted stars from inside football, but also outside, with Shakira, Rihanna, Wyclef, Barack Obama, Hulk Hogan, Will Ferrell and many, many more engaging with @fifaworldcup or @fifacom. This not only proved FIFA's global appeal, but its attraction across different walks of life. Since that experience, for major events, we try to ensure we not only seek views from fans, but those from both inside and outside football too.
Fabrice Deschamps, Acting Head of Digital, FIFA


8. See what they like about other events

You want your event to be unique and stand out. To be the best, you need to collect all the best bits from others and learn from them. What was the most retweeted Tweet of your competitors, what do you think made it so successful, and how could you give your spin on it to get people interested in your event? Put their hashtags into a Twitter analytics tool to see what most people were Tweeting about at the event to give you inspiration for yours. You could even use sentiment analysis tools to see whether your competitors’ event was a social success or an epic fail.

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9. Identify your priorities

If you have a big run of events coming up, you can’t go mad plugging every single one or you WILL annoy everyone. Prioritize your events promotion based on what’s coming first and which are most important, then focus on those. The financial side is an important factor, but it’s also worth considering the brand positioning or coverage potential. We asked VICE’s events team how they cope with regularly putting on multiple shows at all of their venues:

We've got a full calendar over a few different venues and so sometimes we have to prioritise gigs on social media. If promoters send us a variety of content for their show that always helps build a buzz. Currently we have loads going on, which affects what we're spending our time on. For example, we've just launched a new venue, The Stillery in Camden. So we’re putting a lot of emphasis on its events across our channels right now. There's also a new night at Birthdays on Fridays called ‘Forever’ and we've been working on building an audience for that too.
Alice Lewis, VICE

10. Show, don’t tell

If your event features products or performances, social media is the perfect platform to let people see for themselves what all of the fuss is about. Don’t give people waffley descriptions about every last detail, show them examples or teasers and let them be thrilled!

The best thing about the toy industry is the products themselves, therefore we adopt an approach of less is more when it comes to social media. This means using images and video as much as possible and allow comments to role from those. No one wants to be told what a toys does, they want to experience it and remember what it was like to be a kid, so we try to facilitate that.
Ravi Vijh, Bastion Agency, Toy Fair

11. Let them tag away

If you want people to come to future events, it makes sense to have some coverage of your current ones, so getting someone to take pictures is always a good idea. To increase awareness about your events, get your logo watermarked in the corner, upload an album to Facebook and encourage people to tag themselves. This will get your attendees advertising your event to all of their friends. If your branded event photo becomes the profile picture of someone in your target audience, that is a social marketing dream!



12. Have a post-event strategy

In the hubbub of promoting the event in the build-up, and covering it as it happens, don’t forget to think about what to do afterwards. You could Storify the best Tweets, you could do a limited-time discount to all attendees who follow you, or you could create a Slideshare or blog out of the key talking points that were covered. You could even look at creating a highly shareable, impressive looking video that shows the highlights of your event. This ‘aftermovie’ tactic is done every year by the Tomorrowland festival in Belgium. The videos get millions of views and will be shared by many attendees all over the world, encouraging people to book their ticket for the following year.

Our aftermovies are supposed to be the cherry on the cake of our events. We want to give the audience the best possible experience before, during AND after the event. By combining an incredible atmosphere with the most magical images, supported by an incredible soundtrack... we hope to create goosebumps, every single year.
Jeroen Franssens, Tomorrowland


Encouraging people to head to your event can be tricky at times, but following these tips will help you have a full house in a flash. If you’d like to learn more about social media and marketing, heading to some of these events is highly recommended. In the mean time, feel free to leave a comment telling us your success stories of getting people into events using social media. We’d love to hear from you!

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