Social media to promote a workshop or conference

As speakers Leslie and Sheila from Tourism Currents use social media to promote a workshop or conference like Main Street NOW

As speakers and trainers, Leslie McLellan and Sheila Scarborough from Tourism Currents always use social media to promote a workshop, or even a big conference like Main Street NOW.

Are you hosting a conference, workshop, or maybe a small partner event?

Use social media to help promote it and get people signed up, even when you have a tiny (or a zero) budget. Since we do a lot of conference speaking, webinars, and social media workshops, we’ve seen plenty of ways to promote such events.

Let’s get started:

Event Social Media Promotion Basics

Take care of these items first…..

**  Set up an Event Page on Facebook. It is like building a little community and marketing engine specifically for an event. Not a new Facebook Page – unless it’s going to be a big annual happening, maybe – we’re talking about an Event Page hosted by your existing brand Facebook Page. Use the Invite feature to invite relevant people in your personal networks, and encourage others to do the same. You can sell tickets through Facebook as well.

Remember that Facebook’s discovery feature shows people “Events You May Like” and “Popular With Friends,” which helps get the word out for you.

Update Nov 2019LinkedIn has revived their Event feature, so consider whether your event makes sense for the LinkedIn audience. Right now only profiles, not Pages, can set up Events.

**  Set up a website landing page or an anchor/primary blog post about the event. This is where you want to send people to learn more and sign up. If you do not have a website or blog, then this might be the site where you’re selling tickets or handling free registrations, like Eventbrite.

**  Pick a conference or workshop hashtag. Put it in every event description, including print items AND the event’s landing page or anchor blog post on your website. Use it yourself to show the way. Encourage attendees, speakers, and sponsors to use it, particularly on Instagram and Twitter (where hashtags fit the platform culture) but only occasionally on Facebook and LinkedIn (where the audiences aren’t really big hashtag users.)

**  Budget for social media ads. Even US$20-50 can get you some decent reach for a Sponsored Facebook post about your event. LinkedIn ads are more expensive, but can be carefully targeted and might make sense for a business or professional development event.

If you have a long lead time, think about YouTube video ads or sponsoring a podcast that is popular with your intended audience.

Get Your Speaker(s) to Help Promote

This is a technique that is very common at digitally-savvy conferences and workshops, but surprisingly less so at the tourism, hospitality, and economic development events that we’ve seen.

Get those speakers involved; it’s good for their business and good for you. Some ideas:

  • Make sure they know about your social channels, relevant Facebook Event page, and the hashtag. Encourage them to highlight their own speaker expertise while also spreading the word about your event.
  • Ask them to guest post on your blog, or do a Facebook Live or LinkedIn video with a preview of their workshop or keynote topic.
  • Offer a speaker discount registration code for them to share.
  • Use Canva or other graphic design tool to make “I’m Speaking at ____” digital badges. You can make “Meet Me at ____” for attendees and “We’re Sponsoring ____” ones while you’re at it.
  • Set up a Twitter List of speakers, so attendees can find all the experts in one place.
  • Tag speaker names or businesses when you post about them on social, so they’ll know when you’re talking about them. If they’re smart about community-building, they’ll respond with a comment and/or share your post.

Get Your Sponsors & Supporters Involved

Most of the same ideas we shared above can be used with conference/workshop sponsors and supporters.

In addition to a special sponsor registration code, see if they would like to offer a special discount, useful download, or service to attendees.

This is a lot more helpful to their business than simply having their logo slapped onto a website or brochure. Frankly, it’s also a lot less annoying to your attendees than suddenly ending up on a sponsor email blast list (or the endless snail mail brochures that you can’t figure out how to turn off.)

Some sponsors may have to be coached a bit on why and how to interact on social media. For example, explain why they should take the time to show up and converse when you tag them on a Facebook post, or how hashtags work. Train them up!

Do you have questions, ideas, or tips about conference, workshop, or event promotion? Let us know down in the Commets.

Click here if you need a social media conference speaker or a partner/staff workshop (that’s part of what we do. 😊 )

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