Increasing Conference Attendance Using Social Media

Back in the “days of old”, we distributed information through predominantly print advertising and direct mail.  Those traditional forms of marketing are making way for digital marketing, email marketing and social media.

According to market research sources, the most successful ways to market and increase membership and conference attendance is through:

  1. Email
  2. E-newsletters
  3. Conference websites
  4. Facebook, Twitter
  5. Direct Mail
  6. Partnerships with other Organizations

Below are some tips and tricks for each marketing method; make sure you pick methods that work for you and are easy for your team to maintain

Websites – having a high quality, easy-to-navigate website will increase your traffic and create “trust” in your potential delegate or member.  Also ensure your website has quality content, and ensure the content is being updated on a regular basis.

Social Media Platforms  – What do they do?

  • Create peer-to-peer information sharing
  • Reach non-traditional audiences
  • Engages younger members
  • Increases opportunities for sponsors, exhibitors
  • Cost-effective
  • Two-way dialogue

What can you put out on Social Media:

  • Event information
  • Brand awareness
  • Conference updates
  • Create excitement, urgency
  • Date sensitive information

How do you manage all the Social Media?

  • Designate a volunteer to monitor social media outlets for chatter and to create chatter
  • Be consistent and relevant
  • Don’t just “promote”, but provide content and reasons for further engagement

What tools should you use?

  • Where are your delegates hanging out?  Facebook?  LinkedIn?  Twitter?
  • Facebook pages are more informational, attractive interface
  • LinkedIn creates more discussion


Twitter How To’s

  • Create and twitter handle and hashtag months prior to your event – make sure you test your hashtag to see if its already being used!
  • Advertise the hashtag, especially with tweet geeks
  • Ensure you have at least one team member monitoring the twitter feed; having a team makes the job that much easier!
  • Twitter tips:
    • Messages should be en mass; try to stay away from direct twitter messages, or starting a message with someone’s handle (@xxxxx)
    • Using the hashtags ensures people can follow the conversation without necessarily following people
    • Ensure your facility has appropriate internet bandwidth and try to work wireless internet into your venue contracts
    • Advertise people’s handles on their namebadges under their names
    • Hold a twitter session at the beginning of a conference to create engagement and knowledge

Facebook How To’s

  • Create a “page” versus a “group”
  • Facebook pages content is currently only reaching 2% of its fans (this is a Facebook thing, nothing you’ve done).  To ensure your posts show up on your fans’ feeds:
    • Post often
    • Create engagement – poll your fans, ask questions
    • Create content they will like and share
    • Tools for automated paid reach – Woobox, Facebook fan CRMs

LinkedIn How To’s

  • Create a “group”
  • Generate dialogue
  • Look for speakers in LinkedIn

YouTube How To’s:

  • YouTube videos can be made anywhere nowadays, from your desktop, or your phone
  • Keep it Simple – no need to perfect your video, be real
  • Negotiate with your speakers to create a YouTube teaser for their address, then use as a marketing tool (post on Facebook!)

Keeping it all organized:

There are tools that can help you post in multiple places at once, and schedule your posts so you can do most of the heavy lifting in advance:

  • Hootsuite
  • Tweetdeck
  • Seesmic
  • Socialite

An effective social media marketing program is cost-effective, not too time consuming, and very engaging.  Starting your social media campaign now ensures increased engagement for the conferences to follow – you gotta start somewhere!

Have additional questions?  You can find me on twitter – @lcalderwood, on LinkedIn, or by ol’ fashioned email,  Happy tweeting!!

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