How Can You Engage Attendees That Aren’t At Your Event?
Last Updated on July 10, 2022
As an event organizer, it’s your job to keep your attendees entertained and engaged. It’s your job to ensure that everything at your event goes off without a hitch, and that everyone who goes there leaves satisfied. What you may not know is that this process actually starts well before the event itself – and expands well outside the walls of your event venue.
After all, being an event planner is only partially about running events. It’s also about effectively marketing them. Today, we’re going to touch on that.
How can you keep your attendees engaged before, during, and after your events, even if they aren’t there?
Before You Get Started
There are a few things you’ll need to do before you get down to the specifics of engagement, according to Business 2 Community’s Pam Dyer:
- Identify your objectives
- Select your tools
- Figure out your target audience
- Figure out what social networks said audience uses
- Create a content schedule
- Produce, curate, and share content based around the event
- Consider planning a contest or two
- Make sure everything’s mobile-friendly
We’re going to start strong. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are one of the most formidable weapons in your arsenal where event marketing is concerned. Not only are these platforms incredibly effective tools for driving attendance, you can also use them to make announcements, post updates, and generally just hype people up.
As such, they form the crux of pretty much all your engagement efforts, as they’re the best way to reach your attendees.
“Events are, by nature, social affairs,” explains Dyer. “People attend them so they can connect, interact, and share with their peer. Likewise, people join social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to connect, interact, and share. If you play your cards right, these similar characteristics can work to your advantage when it comes to planning, promoting, and building excitement for any event you’re hosting.”
So how exactly do you play your cards right? According to Social Media examiner’s Kimberly Reynolds, there are a few ways(we’ll spare you the obvious stuff here, like creating an event page and talking to people):
Facebook Ad Remarketing
Facebook’s got a feature known as Custom Audiences, which shows advertisements to people who’ve already visited your site – a concept which Reynolds refers to as remarketing. Reminder: you may want to be leery about using Facebook ads based on your target audience. If you’re hosting a tech conference or an event primarily attended by millennials, there’s a good chance that many of your prospective attendees will be using adblock – and thus won’t see this content.
“Remarketing can be a very effective strategy, as people rarely buy the first time they hear of an event or see an offer,” says Reynolds. “This is especially true for big-ticket items like conferences and conventions.”
People today are increasingly visual, meaning any form of video you can leverage to market your event will inevitably engage them. See, people absolutely love video content, especially on Facebook. There’s just something far more interesting and engaging about it.
The numbers should tell you enough here – according to Socialbakers, the viral capacity of Facebook videos tends to be at least ten times higher than YouTube links.
As for what kind of video you should create, Reynolds recommends creating highlight reels of past events. Not only will this give prior attendees something to talk about (and share with their friends), it’ll likely intrigue prospective guests if it’s done well enough. Just remember one thing while you’re making these reels: they need to be compelling to your target audience.
Do people have good things to say about your previous events? Do you have interviews with guest speakers, attendees, or celebrities regarding something that went completely right? Don’t just let them sit on your hard drive gathering digital dust – put them to use marketing your event.
Not only will this paint your future events in an incredibly positive light, it’ll also improve your relationship with the people whose testimonies you’ve gathered. People enjoy popularity, and as such, they’re very likely to share any comments or interviews attributed to them.
As with testimonies, you should put any photos of attendees, event staff, or volunteers from a recent event to use, and share them through your social channels. Don’t stop at old content, though. You’d be surprised how well a few photos of your event’s setup process can go over; people love getting a look behind the scenes, as it were.
“Along with a well-designed event, setting up visual aids to help spark people’s interest in taking and sharing pics is always a good step,” writes Z Kipster’s Celeste Kaufman. “An eye-catching display, a cute photo-op, or interactive photo booth are all safe bets for getting people to line up with their smart phones. Just be sure that the name of your client or event can be easily seen in these areas. This way, even if guests aren’t plugging in to your social media in particular, you’re still getting the exposure you’re looking for with their networks.”
A disclaimer here: be extremely careful where hashtags are concerned. As many beleaguered brands have learned in the past, it’s very easy for troublemakers and malcontents to hijack them, and at that point, you might as well give your campaign up for lost. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way…
Event-specific hashtags are all about discoverability. They’re about making content associated with your event easy for attendees to locate. Choose one that’s memorable and unique for each of your events – and check out this article on hashtag best practices, while you’re at it.
Social networks are, at their core, all about community. They’re about conversing with one another online. As such, setting up group discussions about any number of topics related to your event can be a great way to get people excited.
Behind The Scenes Content
Everybody loves getting a look behind the curtain, to see how an upcoming event is shaping up. Try posting regular glimpses of your venue, your event team, your guest speakers, and your setup process. This shouldn’t be the only content you post, mind you, but it’s a good way to round out everything else.
Special Graphics For Speakers
Got a well-known guest speaker presenting a keynote at your event? Do up a few quotes from them, and attach them to a graphic. You might be surprised how quickly people share that sort of thing.
Really, Anything Shareable
Honestly, anything your attendees can share or discuss is fair game, provided it’s related to your event.
A Countdown Timer
One interesting idea for driving hype about an event comes from Attend’s Dan McCarthy, who suggests creating a sort of countdown timer on your event’s website or Facebook page. Whenever the timer goes down a tick, release a new piece of content related to that particular timeframe. Not only will this keep your guests interested in what might be coming next, it’ll constantly remind them of your upcoming event – engaging them in the process.
“The whole “12 days before Christmas” thing has long been used to get kids excited in the days leading to the big holiday,” explains Attend’s Dan McCarthy. “You can devise something similar. In the 12 days or so leading to the event, create something every day to keep your followers interested.”
As an event manager, your job doesn’t begin or end within your event’s venue. You’re also responsible for keeping people engaged in the days leading up to your event. Always remember that.
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