“This year we are going to start engaging with more people via social media,” your boss says at the staff meeting.
“We’re going to have a conference blog, a Twitter feed, a conference Facebook page and a Linkedin event. And I need each of you to contribute some weekly content.”
Hearts drop. Eyes roll. Some even excuse themselves from the room.
Social Media Strategy?
Many of us have heard similar words from our supervisors. The intention is good. The goal of engaging with customers and potential customers is good.
Yet, often organizations implement a social media program without aligning it to their business goals. We think that social media should be its own stand alone strategy and business objective. So we create “engagement” and “conversation” tactics with no connection to core business functions.
Your business does not plug into social media. Social media plugs into your business.
Social media is not its own function. It is a tool to communicate.
Look at your current conference business objectives and strategies. Where can social media easily integrate as part of your tactics to achieve those objectives? Instead of creating a separate social media strategy, use social media as a vehicle to support the existing business strategy.
Increasing Attendee And Exhibitor Sales
Like it or not, your conference depends first and foremost on revenue. Without revenue, your conference dies. So there’s no need to pretend that social media isn’t ultimately about generating or driving attendee and exhibitor sales.
How you use social media to make money and in what context separate the good from the ugly. Using it as push, broadcast, interruption advertising only, can create a backlash. Using it to acquire new registrants though reach and influence is smart.
Here are several ways to use social media to increase attendee and exhibitor sales.
1. Acquire New Customers
New attendee acquisition in social media usually starts with awareness leading to regular online participation with the conference organizers. It starts with awareness and reach, leading to influence and ends with conversion.
2. Develop Followers Into Customers
Using social networks to create both depth and breadth of online engagement is one way to develop your followers. Social media creates both influence (word of mouth) and scale with horizontal engagement (peer to peer) that traditional media does not. Regular online participation with your followers via social platforms can convert them from followers into customers.
3. Amplify Reach Of Conference Marketing Campaigns
Another way social media can increase sales is by amplifying the reach of conference marketing campaigns. Years ago the only way to scale a conference marketing campaign’s reach was through TV, radio, print, billboards, magazine inserts, direct mail and trade reviews.
Today, the media environment is richer and more economical. You can create your own YouTube videos. Blogs can enhance the relevance and depth of conference content. Branded Facebook pages can leverage discussion and publish posts. Not only can you scale your campaign’s reach, you can also make your messages stickier.
4. Offer Discounts And Special Promotions
Offering a special time-limited discount code with a hyperlink to the conference registration website can generate sales on the spot. Different codes can be used for different social networks so that you can track ROI.
What are some other tactics that conference organizers can use to create more attendee and exhibitor registrants? Why is online engagement important to the customer conversion process?