In a post-vaccine world, more than half of B2B companies and marketers expect companies to increase commitment to in-person events, including trade shows, according to MarketingProfs. This is good news for those who appreciate face-to-face networking and in-person viewing of product and service innovations. But hybrid and digital events continue to perform well post-pandemic, so now opportunities for events, whether they be hybrid, digital or in-person have expanded dramatically.
With a resurgence of in-person events and continuing demand for digital and hybrid events, it’s a pivotal time to apply a smart social media strategy to boost attendance, no matter the event format.
Social Media’s Key Role in B2B Event Marketing
When done with a bit of planning and creativity, social media can help maximize visibility and attendance at your next event. (We did say planning, a step which can’t be skipped.) As a bonus, social media offers a convenient platform for repurposing your content and leveraging your trade show, or other event, investment long after the event wraps up.
Check out a few of our favorite tips to get the most out of your event through crisp and thorough social media event marketing:
Use Hashtags & Connections
Depending on your level of participation in your event, you may have access to a list of contacts for partners, key speakers, break-out session topics and potential attendees. Leverage your contact list with these steps:
- Follow event organizers, partners, sponsors, speakers, presenters or known event attendees on Twitter (add them to a Twitter List) and Instagram
- Create a specific hashtag and use it alongside the event’s official hashtag to tweet about your upcoming event
· Did we mention you should absolutely have an official event hashtag?
- Start tweeting and posting early—even as early as a few months before the event—to build relationships with partners, key players, and event attendees and to increase the visibility of your event.
A sidenote here: It’s vital to change up the content, so you’re not sending out the same message for months or weeks before the event. And for this, you must plan not only with a social media calendar for dates, but for content, and remember to switch up static posts with video or other forms of content.
The recommended ratio is 1:4, which comes from a 2011 book by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffery Cohen, but holds up well today. The formula not only incorporates relevant content, user-generated content, and promotional content, it calls for a variation in the form. Social software giant Sprout Social reports video leads the pack for content engagement, followed by images or photos, text-only posts, stories and live video.
At a live event, such as a trade show, engage employees and booth visitors with photos and video during set-up and while the event is taking place. Use your hashtags to get your content where you want it via live tweets or posts.
Twitter and Instagram Tip:
If you think you’ll be too busy to manage social media at the event, consider using a social media management platform or hiring a social media partner to schedule bulk tweets and posts beforehand. Then, add to those with live tweets and posts as often as possible during the event.
Leverage Live Streaming
Offer Contests, Product Demos, and Giveaways to Engage Your Followers
Take some time to learn how livestream works in advance of the in-person event. Whether you’re using Instagram Live, Facebook Live, or YouTube, do a few livestream trial runs beforehand. Stream a production run, a project completion, or a customer testimonial to liven up your social feed on a regular workday.
By the time the event happens, livestreaming will be seamless.
At the in-person event
Take advantage of the real-time opportunities for livestreaming during the event. Ask customers for testimonials, interview employees about their event activities, and engage partners in conversations about the benefits of your product and your company.
Livestreaming offers a great way to bring the trade show to those that couldn’t be there in person and allows you to add some action and authenticity to your social presence.
After the in-person event
Repurpose your livestream content to create a trade show/event recap that highlights your customers’ experience with your product and your company. Clip short snippets from the stream for future posts when you’re looking to show off your company’s personality.
But also remember to conduct a post-event survey (ideally via social media). It can provide invaluable feedback to you on your company or event. Do this whether your event is digital, hybrid or in-person. Use this HubSpot blog post to get an idea about what questions are best for event surveys.
LinkedIn for Long-Lasting Event Connections
Another excellent follow-up tool is LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be a bit cumbersome to use in real-time at the event, but it makes a great follow-up tool to reconnect with key players and potential clients long after the event finishes.
If your contacts are already LinkedIn connections (and in limited cases even when they aren’t), you can use the “InMail” feature for direct messaging. Shoot your contacts a brief note thanking them for their time and interest, or simply to say that you’re glad you had a chance to talk and you’d like to keep in touch. You can also use the message as to segue way to offer access to a white paper or an invitation to an upcoming networking or digital event.
If your contacts are not yet LinkedIn connections, go to their profiles and click on the ellipsis at the top right. Click “Personalize Invitation” and write a brief message in the text box before sending your connection request.
What about Tik-Tok?
If you want to try the app or your target event attendees fall into a cohort who is on – or loves – TikTok, embrace the social media right along with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. But our advice is to understand how the platform works before you embrace it for an event. Try this blog post to get the basics on event promotion using TikTok and then play a bit to see where you can inject its powerful presence into your social media event marketing plan.
You may not directly connect Google to social media event marketing, but there are some tips for using it to help encourage event attendees. According to Google, three options exist to help your event appear in search results. The three options are as follows, directly from Google Search Central:
- If you use a third-party website to post events, check to see if your event publisher is already participating in the event search experience on Google. For example, you post events on ticketing website or social platforms. If your event publisher is integrated with Google, continue to post your events on the third-party website. You can stop reading here.
- If you use a CMS (for example, WordPress) and you don’t have access to your HTML, check with your CMS to see if there’s a plugin that can add structured data to your site for you. Alternatively, you can use the Data Highlighter to tell Google about your events without editing the HTML of your site.
- If you’re comfortable editing your HTML, use structured data to directly integrate with Google. You’ll need to edit the HTML of the event pages.
Follow the above tips (and find more here in the 2022 Content Marketing Institute report ) to integrate traditional in-person marketing strategies with the far-reaching capabilities of social media. If you need help designing and deploying your social media strategy, contact ER Marketing for advice and insights.