When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, its impact on the way businesses operate was immediate across industries. And few had to figure it out as quickly as the organizations hosting massive summits and expos with thousands of attendees who could no longer meet in person.
Gatherings once held in convention centers and giant ballrooms were now being translated into a format previously reserved for webinars, increasing the number of virtual events by 1,000%. In this socially distanced world, meeting your audience where they’re at is critical in keeping them engaged while you’re apart. That’s why social media and digital marketing must be incorporated into your virtual event strategy from the very start.Connect and Convert
Social media has always played an important role in driving event awareness and registrations. Now it’s also an essential component in overcoming an entirely new challenge: actual attendance. The remote format has forced most events to lower costs, with many going entirely free. This has greatly expanded accessibility but also makes it easier for audiences to register and then fail to attend. Without the usual, monetary outlays on things like registration, travel, and lodging, how do you motivate your registrants to actually show up for the event?
You can’t just ask people to register and leave it at that. Keep your audience invested by showing them (just enough) of what they’ll miss if they fail to tune in. Leverage features like LinkedIn events to build awareness, drive FOMO, and inspire conversations among attendees. Keep them hooked with social content that reveals new event details, sneak peeks of keynotes, and exclusive teases that will keep you top of mind. (Pro tip: Take advantage of paid social targeting opportunities either to broaden your reach or zero in on key audiences and boost registration.)
Tier One Case Study: When healthcare technology company GHX had to move its 2020 Summit Digital Connect online, they kept their audience engaged with immersive Summit social content. By promoting keynotes with teaser clips and promotional messages from speakers, they were able to drive attendance and keep registrants engaged while counting down to the live event.
Keep Your Audience’s Attention
Typically with events, social media builds toward that live event where you’re able to connect with your audience in person. With events now online, marketers are challenged to recreate that live experience virtually. Social media is your secret weapon. This is one of the closest touchpoints you’ll have with your attendees, so you’ll want to make good use of it by keeping content as live and in-the-moment as possible, while also accounting for those who may tune in later. Adapt your strategy to showcase content that keeps your audience captivated and connected.
HubSpot’s INBOUND 2020 kept its viewers tuned in by making content as accessible as quickly possible. That included posting follow up clips and sharing messages from keynote speakers quickly after the full sessions were broadcast. This not only kept attendees engaged, it gave them a chance to catch these keynotes on demand if they missed the live event
Keep the Conversation Going Post Event
Your social media marketing work isn’t done just because your virtual event is over. On your social platforms, explore new conversations attendees might have missed, survey your audience on key categories, and find new ways to package the valuable content you’ve created for your virtual event.
The Adobe Summit 2020 wrapped up its live summit with a recap sizzle reel that pulled together highlights to create new, shareable content. They also used the opportunity to keep people tuned in with easy to access on-demand content.
While logging onto your computer might not be as exciting as hopping on a plane to share, learn, and network together, a virtual event can still provide invaluable information and connections for your audience. With in-person gatherings out of the question for the foreseeable future, staying creative and keeping attendees engaged with strong social media marketing will be critical to event success.
Tier One works with clients to build strategic social media plans that keep audiences delighted and engaged. Learn more about how we can help craft the right social media marketing plan for you.