Social media has changed the game when it comes to promoting your conference. While traditional invitations to colleagues and interested user groups still have value, the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn offer the chance to get the word out about what you’re planning to a wide variety of like-minded people with minimal effort and cost.
But how do you find these people if you are new to these ways of communication, and what are the most efficient time-saving ways of finding potential attendees quickly in the vast hubbub of noise that social media sites generate?
Once you have chosen your conference’s theme and venue, ideally through a specialist conference facilitator who offers meeting rooms and venues from an hour upwards, spreading the word to get as many relevant attendees as possible is the biggest challenge that event organisers face.
You can have a superb speaker line-up, with great facilities and catering, but if not enough people come to make question and answer sessions lively, or to create excellent networking opportunities, then much of your hard work has been wasted.
This numbers game is where social media excels, not least because everyone you tell can share information about your conference with anyone they know who might be interested, who in turn can…you get the idea.
The key aspect here is targeting – you need to send your message to people you are confident will be interested in it. Hopefully, if you have professional profiles on these sites, you may already have a network of people that work in similar professions or have common interests. You will be a member of, or at least know of, interest groups covering this subject. If not, now is the time to start building that network – a bit of time invested will pay huge dividends now, as well as in the future.
LinkedIn is the premier professional networking site, so a good starting point. You can message any people you are connected to, or search groups on the site and post messages to their members. Find relevant groups by selecting ‘groups’ in the drop down box next to the search box on the homepage, and typing in keywords. You will have to join any groups you want to post to, but can turn off notifications so you don’t get a deluge of activity reports you don’t want. Look for groups that match the conference theme and have large numbers of members – that’s the sign of an active and engaged community, just the sort of people who are likely to attend conferences.
On Facebook, you can again search for like-minded groups, and may be able to post on the walls of groups to which you are not a member. If you turn off notifications, as above for LinkedIn, remember to check back on your posts in case people have questions for you before committing to buy a ticket.
Lastly Twitter – a site with huge reach but no group structure. Here, the key is to search for people who mention your conference subject or related keywords in their profile biography, and send them an @ tweet directly. You can send the same one to lots of people, but remember you only have 140 characters – so make it snappy.
Harnessing all of the awareness-raising tactics mentioned above, both new and old, gives you the best possible chance of a successful conference. Good luck!
About the Author: These useful tips have been provided by Meetings Four You, who offer a range of conference venues in Bristol, oxford and throughout the UK.