2020 has seen many shifts in marketing strategies, most notably the move to virtual events. For many companies, this has shifted digital marketing efforts from promotion of physical event attendance to online webinars, participation in online industry events, and other virtual seminars or meetups.
As digital marketers, it is important to quickly adapt to the changing landscape in your customers’ industries and the marketing world as a whole. Let’s explore the ways that social media marketing can be used to quickly and effectively shift strategy to increase attendance, participation, and awareness for your customers’ online events, webinars, and virtual happenings.
1. Take Advantage of Organic Social Media Features
Incorporating messaging and promotion for upcoming events into ongoing social media strategies is a key component to increase event awareness and ultimately, attendance. However, it is also critical to look to specialized features on social media platforms in order to make your event stand out.
Let’s take a look at some of the key features and strategies to consider when promoting an online event.
Social Media Stories
I wrote in a recent post that stories will be a key component to social media success in 2020. Instagram stories specifically grew at a rate 15X the rate of feeds in 2017 alone… and this isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
For virtual event marketing, digital marketers should use stories on social media to tease for upcoming events, link directly to registration pages or further event information, and increase overall awareness of the event with their target audience.
When hosting an event online, companies should create an “Event” on Facebook that contains the what, when, and where for their target audience. Attendees can then RSVP and be reminded of the event automatically by the platform. In addition, this allows you to directly interact with potential attendees and increase exposure as friends of your attendees will see their interest in the event on their newsfeed.
Companies can also boost their Facebook event through paid advertising in order to further increase attendance and share the event with target accounts and relevant audiences within their market.
While many B2B companies focus social media marketing efforts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, Instagram is another platform that can and should be used to boost engagement and web traffic specifically.
Instagram offers many creative tools that engage audiences, such as the ability to create countdowns for upcoming events or announcements. B2B companies hosting online webinars or other events should use countdowns on Instagram stories as a way to promote and build excitement for upcoming events, linking back to relevant assets or the event registration page.
There are a multitude of event formats companies can choose from when hosting virtual events. If the event is an open-format focused on awareness and engagement rather than registrations, live streaming the event across social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn is a great way to promote real-time, genuine interaction and conversation with potential leads.
Promoting the live streamed event prior, as well as ensuring company employees are aware and involved on social media during the live stream, will help to aid efforts and increase engagement and reach for the event.
2. Pay Attention to Your Messaging
As we move further into 2020 and virtual events become more prominent for companies across the globe, refined messaging will be an even more critical component.
Digital marketers should put themselves in the shoes of their target audience. Why should they take the time to attend this specific online event or webinar? What will be the benefit? Why is it worth it? It is important to consider what your audience needs and why it is crucial for them to attend your event, now more than ever.
Using list-based posts on social media outlining the features of an upcoming event is an excellent way to quickly and clearly show your target audience the importance of their attendance. Here’s an example of that post format highlighting an article’s key takeaways:
Effects of inaccurate customer/prospect data:
— KoMarketing (@KoMarketing) April 30, 2020
Keeping messaging up-to-date and in line with trending topics across social media platforms is also critical to success, especially as more companies start promoting online events.
For example, LinkedIn engagement was up 76% for work-from-home related content by April of 2020. In addition, looking into the “Trends for you” section of Twitter and “Today’s News and Views” on LinkedIn are easy ways to help to inform digital marketers’ messaging and promotion of upcoming online events to ensure relevancy amid the market and industry at hand.
3. Don’t Forget About Influencer Marketing
I shared my insights into a key trend for social media in 2020 in a recent eBook on Search Engine Journal. The trend? Influencer marketing.
Cross-promotion with highly relevant industry influencers through outreach and collaboration is a great way to improve visibility. However, simply increasing employee engagement and promotion of company executives’ insights around these events is an effective way to increase thought leadership and attendance. As you and your customers ramp up online event efforts, incorporate cross-promotion with program speakers and encourage employee advocacy to drive registrations and results.
For example, using quotes from speakers or executives that will be participating or presenting at the event in social media messaging and custom graphics/video is a great way to introduce the event topics to your target.
There are a few ways to integrate employees and speakers. Tagging speakers and assisting with messaging guidelines for employees to get involved on social media will additionally help to spread your message and increase event participation.
4. Incorporate Paid Social Media Advertising
Along with organic social media promotion, don’t be scared to put some money behind your event promotion, even if it’s virtual. Paid advertising on social platforms will increase visibility and attendance of your event significantly, as it allows you to reach beyond your followers on the platforms.
Consider using Lead Generation ads on LinkedIn, which require the target audience to fill out a form in order to capture important information such as name, email, and job title. This list is then available directly in LinkedIn for you or your customer.
These ads can target custom audiences using target lists, job titles, and/or industries – they even allow you to exclude competitors in order to further refine your audience.
On Facebook, a great approach is to retarget those that have visited your website via a Facebook pixel, or directly target email lists in order to turn those past touches into leads. Implement this targeting in traffic campaigns, leading your audience to a registration page for the event in order to increase sign-ups.
5. Implement Post-Event Promotion
Often, there is a missed opportunity when it comes to post-event promotion of virtual events. While registrations and participation in the event itself is an important way to measure results and success, don’t let the promotion end once the event is over. Take advantage of the wealth of content presented and either distribute to your attendees to keep them engaged or repurpose it for your blog, website, and social media efforts.
For example, creating gated on-demand versions of webinars or online seminars and re-sharing these across social media through both organic and paid channels will continue to increase relevant leads and build your network and audiences for the future. Another way to continue promotion of the event is to create summaries in the form of social media posts or content assets and blogs that can then be shared on social media. This can include quotes from the event, videos summarizing important topics that came out of it, and testimonials from those that attended.
As virtual events become more of the norm, social media marketing is a critical piece to increasing participation, registration, and ultimately, growing your business. Digital marketers should incorporate the above strategies, as well as keep a pulse on the competition and industry trends when it comes to virtual event marketing through social media.