I recently watched Bat Kid Begins a gorgeous documentary film about the viral bonanza that became of a Make a Wish event in San Francisco back in 2013. Not only was the documentary a heart-warming story of a little boy with a big dream but it got me thinking about the simple ways all events can maximise their publicity by using strategies that have become available in the social era.
So where do you start?
Hashtags & Mentions
To get the conversation going and make it easy for people to share provide your audience with a distinct handle that links back to your event. The @SFBatKid and #SFBatKid handles made it super easy for people to get on board and engage with the event. Make sure you tell people about your handle too! Instruct your audience on how to mention your event and encourage them to do so through social media and signage at the event. Pick an event hashtag that’s short, easy to type on mobile, memorable and ideally, unique to your event. You’re going to always use this hashtag in every single tweet, Facebook post, LinkedIn update, Instagram photo, sign, email, personal invite and advertisement. Use it in literally EVERYTHING.
Find your influencers
Twitter makes it easier than ever before to reach out directly to influencers. Identify people with large followings that might have an interest in your event and personally invite them. Consider offering free tickets to influencers who can engage your audience with personal recommendations. Targeting the right influencers to spread your message can have a far more targeted reach than an advertisement in traditional media. Use Twitter Advanced Search to find people who are interested in your event. Consider giving bloggers press passes and exclusive images or info to share to their followers. Sometimes limiting what you share with the right influencers will get you more, it will create that must-have buzz that you are looking for.
Small bites with big impact
With only 140 characters in a tweet you need to focus your pitch and tell them about what interests them. Consider your target audience on different social channels and pitch to THEM. A standard pitch across all social channels won’t work as well as targeted communications for different audiences. Develop attention grabbing snippets to share on social media that create a big impact in a small package. When it comes to Facebook and Instagram your audience will be scrolling through a huge amount of content so select images that will stand out in news feeds and evoke FOMO (for anyone born before 1995 that’s ‘fear of missing out’).
Work with event partners
Encourage your sponsors, event partners and speakers to help with event promotion. To get them on board you need to make it super easy for them. Pre write tweets and Facebook posts for them to share accompanied with images and the event hashtag. Make sure you cross post back to them sharing the love and further building your relationships. Consider selecting speakers, sponsors and partners who have good social pull of their own. Ask speakers to promote the event to their LinkedIn network and Facebook followers. They will be likely to have engaged networks that are already interested in events your presenters are speaking at.
Give event goers something to photograph
Whether it’s a great location for a selfie, a branded back drop or celebrity photo op giving spectators something to photograph provides them with something to share on social media. They’re likely to share it on the spot or while they’re at the event so make sure you provide them with the right social media handles to post with the image. Encourage everyone to snap, tweet & share on Facebook and Instagram.
There’s a heap of tools out there to help you maximise your event publicity. Try Fandom App where you can engage attendees and virtual viewers, and enrich the experience by amplifying the best voices in real-time, as well as highlighting key speakers and influencers. Livestreaming your event on the likes of Ustream can help boost awareness and convert fence sitters with good old FOMO.
Post event wrap up
In the days after the event, look out for tweets, mentions and blog posts from others. Your unique event hashtag makes this easy. When you see these mentions, share them! Show your gratitude after the event by thanking the speakers, sponsors and attendees in follow up tweets and Facebook posts, continue using the hashtag to keep the conversation going.
You’re in the driver’s seat
While you might not end up with Obama tweeting your event (as he did for @SFBatKid) using these strategies will certainly help to spread the word and get as much event publicity as you can. You need to drive the social conversation and actively manage it, don’t just wait for it to magically happen on its own.
If you’d rather hedge your bets by getting some experts in, we can ensure you get the publicity you need to make your event a success.