Hosting an online event is an excellent way to call attention to your brand or company. But how do you fight through the noise, so your event gets the attention and attendance it deserves?
First step, create a landing page for the event, as well as an event on Facebook and Google+. Next, if appropriate, create a signup on Eventbrite and/or other ticketing site. Then, send out invitations to your newsletter subscribers. These are the basics for getting people to sign up, but there is much more work to be done.
“Getting the word out about any live or online event is all about hustle,” says John Genovese, Co-Founder of PolitePersistence. “The scary reality is people don’t care about what you’re doing. You need to put it in front of them in a way that seems natural and makes sense for them.”
Here are 5 tricks for promoting virtual events. Note: These ideas can also be used for live events.
1. Create an Event Hashtag. And Tweet Often. “I’m a big believer in event-specific hashtags,” says author Shel Horowitz, Grassroots Marketing. “Social media is also a great way to spread the word ahead of time. One cool and easy idea: Send out separate tweets naming each speaker with their twitter handle (but not leading with the handle, as Twitter sometimes channels them just to that person). The great thing–if the speaker is Twitter-savvy, he/she will retweet it to probably a larger group of followers than you have.”
2. Plan. “Prepare all social update texts and images beforehand,” suggests Raam Anand, founder of infoYOGIS, who conducts Google+ Hangouts regularly. “I recommend sending status updates at least twice a day and start these updates at least two weeks in advance.
“Use images while posting about your event on Social networks,” Anand continues. “Pictures attract a lot more visitors than just plain text updates.”
3. Be Specific. And Be Social. “Spend the most time finding the right audience(s) and catering the message for them,” says Simon Tam, president and founder of Last Stop Booking. “Too often, people want things to appeal to everyone … but that doesn’t work. Find groups that would be most excited about the event and get them talking about it; they’ll invite their friends.”
Tam continues, “Don’t just announce an event, find clever ways of getting people to talk about the event,” “For example, asking questions, getting people to like/retweet/share, having provocative/interesting/humorous information, etc. The more people interact, the more your message will be shared.”
4. Ask for Help. “One of the keys we’ve found in getting social media buzz is to get others to do the buzzing,” says Dan Lucas, Blended Learning Specialist, Blended Schools Network, who has had a lot of success using social media to generate interest in their massive open online courses (MOOCs). “Asking related (but non-competing) organizations to promote an event is painless, and they’re often happy to do it. Just remember to return the favor; these can be valuable relationships for both companies.”
Lucas adds, “We’ve learned not to sit around waiting for things to go viral. Putting in a little leg work at the beginning gets things started.”
5. Don’t Forget about LinkedIn. “Post the event details and RSVP link (if applicable) on your company page,” says Ali Liaquat, Digital Marketing Strategist, dinCloud. “Ask all your colleagues and friends to like that update. Also, share that post in related groups on LinkedIn – this will help your post to get more exposure and will eventually increase the attendance. For example, at dinCloud, we recently had a webinar on “Server Virtualization.” We shared the webinar/RSVP link on our company page and in various related groups. Luckily, our post in one of the groups received a number of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ – which helped it to become the ‘popular discussion’ (and our post automatically moved to the top). That group had more than 250k members – exactly the right type of audience that we were looking for (i.e. Cloud Channel Experts, IT Decision Makers, etc). Our webinar post received around 100k impressions during that week, and since it was the most popular discussion in that group – the weekly newsletter of that LinkedIn group also featured that post at the top. This helped us to gain hundreds of additional attendees.”
A successful event can help you lift your company’s visibility, while providing a valuable resource. The key to promoting an event is to be active, aware, and constantly engaging your audience.
Follow the @SocialTimes Twitter feed for more social media tips and tricks.