Hosting your own B2B event can be a highly effective marketing tactic and one that could help boost your bottom line. From creating the perfect excuse to approach target customers, to increasing your visibility, strengthening brand positioning and credibility, and providing a source of quality content, the benefits can be huge.
As well as personally inviting specific leads and companies on your sales ‘wish-list’, you will want to use your event marketing to get in front of as many potential new leads as possible.
That’s where your comms channels come in. If done well then social media can be your secret weapon. It can help you to maximise your results on all counts, by starting conversations and drawing attention to what you’re offering.
Creating a buzz
For any B2B event you may consider holding, it is likely that it will be on a much smaller scale than an industry show or conference – although some companies do decide to go big. It really depends on what you ultimately hope to achieve, what budget and resources you have available and who your target audience is. But whatever the size of your event, social media should have a prominent place in your event marketing plans from the outset, supporting your efforts before, during and after the event.
Top tip…Even if you’re thinking of holding a private event, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to keep it from your social media channels. You could still benefit from talking about it online – unless of course it is top secret! Public chat about a private event can help create a buzz. It may also work to spark interest in others and get some people wondering (and even asking) how they go about getting an invite for the next event.
To help you, here are our top tips for getting the most out of social media in each of the three key stages and what you can do to successfully generate a ‘buzz’:
Before the event
Create a bespoke hashtag – As part of your social media planning, create a hashtag that will promote your event and then use it everywhere, in all comms you put out about the event, including on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Avoid using anything too long or complicated though, as that will use up precious characters in your posts.
Now check it! – Make sure you have tested your proposed hashtag before you start promoting it. Search and check what comes up for it currently and also look at it written out, to make sure it reads ok (#susanalbumparty…need we say more!).
Promote early – Give people plenty of notice. Make sure the details are up on your website and get talking and sharing the details as early as possible.
List your event – Add your event to any and all event lists you can find that are appropriate for what you’re planning to host and the target audience.
Get teasing – Create a schedule of event teaser content and start talking about the event and what attendees may expect from it.
Tag in your speakers – Make sure you ask any speakers and other contributors for their social media details, so you can include them in your marketing. Also make sure they have yours, including the event hashtag and website link to the page about the event. Encourage them to help you spread the word.
Make it easy – The event details should be really easy to find and share
Find influencers – Target ‘influencers’, those people who will be interested and excited about your event and who will help share the information with their established network. A share from one or more of these social media users could work wonders for your reach.
Monitor the action – Make sure you have set up or updated your social media monitoring tools (TweetDeck or HootSuite for example) to follow your new hashtag and to monitor all the conversations you are generating. This will help to ensure you quickly see and can respond to any queries and comments.
Attendee engagement – Ask attendees for their social media details as part of the registration process and mention there that you would like to connect that way, then find them and tag them in to your posts and tweets to encourage them to share and chat about your event too.
Invest in ads – Use Facebook ads to target the specific audience you are after. If you’re investing in hosting and managing an event then it is worth investing in promoting it with highly targeted, paid for space, as well as through your general social media activity.
One final bonus tip (that doesn’t have anything to do with social media but can help!), generate extra visibility for your event by adding the event details hyperlinked to the web page onto everyone’s email signature.
During the event
Get attendees working for you – Put your event hashtag up on the big screen along with your company Twitter name and start the event by asking attendees to tweet and post as much as they’d like throughout the event. No asking people to turn their phones off, you want them to be put to work for you!
Just the job – Depending on the size and nature of your event, have at least one person who is dedicated to posting on your social media platforms throughout it. They should also be monitoring, sharing and connecting with attendees as much as possible. Tagging in attendees and speakers where possible.
Use the power of swag – This will depend greatly on your event format and who your target audience is, but giving attendees a great swag bag or other freebies to take away can help generate a lot of online conversations, especially if they are worthy of a photo. If guests receive this on arrival then they have plenty of time to get sharing. Think fun, think innovative, think clever. It doesn’t need to be anything big or expensive.
Take it live – Have you thought about using live streaming, if it’s going to be appropriate for what you’re doing?
Cover different formats – Using photo and video within social media posts is known to strengthen their impact and increase views, so share away. Take photos of anything you can and consider videoing the event. That way you will also have footage you can repurpose and use after the event.
Use the FOMO advantage – FOMO, which stands for ‘Fear of Missing Out’, is the fear that we may be missing out on something better. Through your social media activity and the snippets you share you can make people feel they have missed out on something great by not being there.
After the event
Don’t wait, get analysing – The sooner you can do this the more accurate it will be. Have an event debrief and talk through what worked, what didn’t and why. Plus any other learnings and ideas you come up with, which you may improve on or introduce for the next event.
Produce follow up content – Prepare a series of blog posts and other content, including photos, videos and slideshows, and drip-feed them out onto your social media channels.
Continue the conversation – Keep talking about the event, using the hashtag and tagging in attendees and contributors wherever you can. Ask questions and for feedback. Make sure you monitor and reply promptly to any responses.
Follow up with attendees – Thank attendees for coming and follow up with an email sharing links to the content you have produced.
Repurpose your content – Even though time may have passed after an event, you can again share the content you produce at a later date. For example, something may happen within your industry that it relates to, giving you a great excuse to dig it out. Or you may simply want to reference back to some great advice that your speaker shared. There are many wants to reuse and repurpose content, to make sure you are maximising its potential impact.
Achieving great things from hosting your own B2B event will ultimately come down to one thing – how well you plan. That includes setting well-defined goals, working out the detailed mechanics and being clear on the role that social media will play. All of these points must be thought about and decided on far before the event itself gets underway. But it will be worth it in the end. If you get it right then you could successfully create a buzz around your event, and use it to reach new audiences, to target your top prospects and show your company is a force to be reckoned with – a great result in anyone’s book.
Any marketer will know that events, exhibitions and conferences require a significant investment and substantial planning. Download this 3 step guide to engage with prospects before the event, maximise your opportunities on the day and convert those opportunities into sales.