Each year Social Media Examiner hosts their flagship event in San Diego, California. The event, Social Media Marketing World, is designed to bring the country’s top social media experts together to share best practices, and to network with one another.
Social Media Marketing World was an unequivocal success. Here, we’ll share with you how to use the same principles that made Social Media Marketing World so successful for your own events.
But first, a little background about what made the 2015 Social Media Marketing World so successful. This year’s Social Media Marketing World was an unqualified hit, over 2,000 people attended from across the globe. Nearly 120 speakers, like Michael Stelzner, Jay Baer and Guy Kawasaki, gave lectures to rooms packed full of social media marketers. Attendees were so enthusiastic about the event that they generated nearly 40,000 Tweets, and over 2,000 LinkedIn connections were made.
Effective event marketing can help you sell more tickets to event attendees, generate buzz and ensure that the people who come to your event are just the kind of attendees you want to show up. We had an opportunity to talk to Kimberly Reynolds, Marketing Manager at Social Media Examiner to get her thoughts on how to properly do event marketing.
Engage Potential Attendees On Multiple Channels
I asked her if there was one channel she would recommend event organizers focus on. Maybe sending great emails to potential attendees is more valuable than engaging with people on Twitter for example. Reynolds said,
“I can't say there was just one "magic" channel. We posted regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. We also included a "house ad" every day in the newsletter. Of all the channels, email was certainly a powerhouse for us. However, I truly believe it was the combination of just being everywhere that made a huge difference. Our website had multiple touch points--including CTAs within posts.”
The event marketing experts at Social Media Marketing World decided the most effective way to spread the word about their event was through multi-channel marketing. Rather than focus on one avenue of communicating with attendees, they chose instead to spread the word across various channels. The key to their marketing strategy is that they were able to use each channel effectively.
Consider the Google Plus post above. Not only does it feature some compelling content and a call to action with a link, it also includes a video of sunny San Diego - further driving home the point of the post. Furthermore, Reynolds highlights a networking event taking place during Social Media Marketing World to appeal to potential attendees interested in making new connections. As an added value, she provides some information for people already registered to attended regarding appropriate attire.
As Reynolds says, Social Media Marketing World didn’t just use one channel to reach attendees, pictured below is an add the event marketing team embedded in blog posts on the Social Media Examiner website.
The ad makes use of a combination of compelling copy and eye-catching visuals to sell the event. Not that it says “largest social media marketing conference,” this is a social selling technique designed to encourage someone viewing the add to want to attend the event that many of their peers will be going to.
Social Media Examiner also promoted their event on their Twitter profile. They created an attention grab visual, like with other platforms. However, you’ll notice that all of the visuals shown here are optimized for the channel they are being used on. Not only are they sized differently, but the copy of each visual is completely different as well. The Twitter image pictured below features an event speaker who many people following Social Media Examiner will be familiar with, for example.
Create Pre-Event Communities
I asked Reynolds what she would recommend other event organizers do when doing their own event marketing. Though she believes that the appropriate event marketing strategy will vary based on a number of factors, she did mention that creating event pages was a good idea:
“As to other events, I would say that it depends upon the event (size, physical vs virtual, etc.), venue and demographics of the attendees. Definitely meet your prospects where they are, rather than where you may feel most comfortable. Creating an event page on Facebook is definitely a smart idea also.”
Social Media Marketing World turned their Facebook events page into a hub of pre-event activity. On the Facebook page, attendees connected with other attendees to set up in-person meetings at the event, they asked questions to the Social Media Marketing World staff, and some even planned their event agenda by talking about what sessions would be best right on the Facebook event page.
As with other parts of their advertising strategy, Social Media Marketing World also created a LinkedIn community and used Bizzabo to build a thriving networking community - all before the event took place. This not only provided attendees with the ability to network with fellow attendees before the event, but it also helped to create a lot of pre-event buzz.
For example, I became so excited about going to Social Media Marketing World, after interacting with fellow attendees on LinkedIn, Facebook and Bizzabo, that I Tweeted about it prior to attending the actual event. People following me, who were previously unaware of Social Media Marketing World, might have actually signed up to go themselves after reading my Tweet. This phenomenon is called brand evangelism, when a user or consumer actually advocates for a specific brand out of their own genuine enthusiasm for it. Creating brand evangelists starts with the creation of a community of fans.
The event marketers at Social Media Marketing World used Facebook, LinkedIn and Bizzabo to create a community of brand evangelists who then organically shared their excitement about attending the event on their personal social media profiles.
Market Different Ticket Types
Social Media Marketing World understood that not all of those who might want to travel to San Diego to attend their event would be able to. Whether travel costs were prohibitively expensive, or if they couldn’t afford to be out of the office for a few days, some people just couldn’t physically attend. So instead, they recorded all of their great speakers and will provide those who purchased a “virtual pass” with the recordings at a discounted rate.
Just days before event day, after it was too late to register for the event, Social Media Marketing World, started advertising their virtual pass across their various event marketing channels. Check out the Facebook post below, it highlights the benefits of purchasing the virtual ticket just days before the actual event. This is a very effective form of event marketing, as those who would likely purchase a virtual ticket may have seen some of the posts from Social Media Marketing World evangelists who were excitedly talking about the event just before it started.
Bonus: 4 Tips To Use Event Marketing To Sell More Tickets
There are a number of different strategies you can implement to become a better event marketer, that have been profiled in this article.
Here’re the X tips to add to your event marketing arsenal in order to generate more ticket sales and create buzz surrounding your event:
1. Use Social Media Channels Frequented by Attendees:
Social Media Marketing World did a fantastic job generating buzz around their event, and as a result were able to see record-breaking attendance figures. They were able to do this by researching where their target audience liked to hang out online and met them there. Using social media monitoring tools or just your common sense, you can find what social media networks your attendees communicate on. Then develop content and ads to suit those channels. In the case of Social Media Marketing World, those channels includes LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ the Social Media Examiner Website and email.
2. Optimize Marketing Content For Each Channel:
You’ll notice that an ad on the Social Media Examiner website wasn’t just re-sized and posted on their Twitter account, and Google+ page. Instead, a completely different Twitter ad was used to make use of that channels strengths. Similarly, Social Media Marketing World often posted video content on their Google+ page because users on that platform we used to regularly engaging with video content.
3. Create Pre-event Communities:
Social Media Marketing World used pre-event communities to bring where event attendees together. Attendees shared their excitement about attending the event, which helped to turn some into event advocates. These advocates took to their personal social media channels to promote the event. Social Media Marketing World capitalized on the buzz generated by attendees by marketing to potential attendees on the appropriate social media channels.
4. Cater To A Wide Audience:
The event marketers at Social Media Marketing World realized that not everyone would be able to travel to San Diego to attend their event. So rather than ignore this wide audience of people, they created a virtual event pass that provided those otherwise unable to attend the event, awesome access to world-class speakers via recorded videos. This helped Social Media Marketing World to sell to reach a broader audience and thus, to sell more tickets.
By implementing these tips into your event marketing plan, we’re sure that you’ll see an increase in online buzz and more importantly - in ticket sales. By reaching potential attendees on platforms they are already active on, you’ll be able to convert them to actual attendees. Keep in mind the Social Media Marketing World is an event based on marketing best practices, so they certainly know a thing or two about, well, marketing a world class event to potential attendees.
If you want even more ideas about how to sell more event tickets, why not pick up a free copy of our white paper on optimizing your event website to attract more traffic? Just click the button below to get your free white paper!