Using Social Media to Market Your Event

Social media is an integral part of any business, and this is only more true in the events industry. A live event means that live posting is a possibility, and there are entirely different experiences before and after the show. It is a chance to market to a captive audience once the event is on.

In this blog, we will talk about how to best leverage social media platforms during all stages of the event, including what platforms will work best for different purposes. Whether you’re a social media expert or still learning the basics, hopefully this blog can give you a boost in your event marketing skills!

The Basics

Before getting started, there are a few things that I am assuming in the writing of this blog.

(1) You use a tool for scheduling social media posts across platforms.

(2) You use a social listening platform to keep track of people talking about you on social media.

(3) You have already worked on building loyalty and a follower base, and your social platforms are not brand new.

(4) You have other marketing channels and a team of people generating attendance and sponsorships in other ways.

Before the Event

Leading up to an event is your opportunity to use social media as a tool for generating attendance. If you have presenters, vendors, or exciting side-events, this is the kind of stuff you should be promoting. Utilize popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook to share these big selling points, and don’t forget to include a link to your registration page or to a landing page with more event information. These highlights can be relatively frequent, but you don’t want to overwhelm your followers. This is a great way to highlight the best parts of your event and entice people to learn more. If you want to see how well these posts are performing, you will also want to create shortened, trackable links through a tool like Bit.ly. To make this method work even better, tag the corresponding presenter or vendor so they and their followers can interact with you as well! This works especially well on Twitter and Facebook, both of which also allow easy sharing of posts.

Possible promotional posts:

  • “Don’t miss [presenter] speaking about [topic] at [event]! [link] #Hashtag”
  • “You can’t  afford to miss [presenter] talking about the latest trends in [topic] at [event]! [link] #hashtag”
  • “Do you enjoy [topic]? Make sure you catch [speaker] at [event] on [day]. [link] #hashtag”
  • “Do you need [product/service]? Make sure to visit [vendor]’s booth at [event] on [day]. [link] #hashtag”

You can also make video content to advertise the upcoming event. It’s up to you on how this should be created, whether you make something in-house or hire another company to create something for you. Either way, you can use YouTube to upload and host any video you want to use, which can be shared via other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. YouTube itself has great analytics, and a comments section, so this content can be leveraged as another way to have a conversation with followers.

You also need to make sure that you can easily find out if people are talking about your event. Come up with a unique hashtag for Twitter and Facebook (while Facebook hashtags aren’t as popular as Twitter hashtags, they do function on Facebook!) and encourage its use in  your own posts. This will make it easier to seek out and find people talking about you! Posting the hashtag on social media won’t be enough though; you’re only reaching the people who are already connected to you. Use the event as a way to recruit more social followers! Try to find a place in the event guide or on signage onsite that features your social media handles and the hashtag. This will encourage attendees to start live-posting.

Other pre-event social media notes:

  • People love tickets! If you have physical or print-at-home tickets, expect to see a lot of posts featuring pictures, especially on Twitter and Instagram.
  • If there are any pre-sale, special registration, or early-bird specials, be sure to promote these on social media as a special offer to your loyal followers.
  • Consider running a contest giving away free tickets, or another prize. This can be used to build up buzz around the event by using the word “free” but also can be used to encourage more social media engagement depending on how the contest can be entered.
  • Share behind-the-scenes pictures of setting up the event. This is both interesting to loyal followers, and it gives a more human touch to your brand. The event didn’t spring up magically, someone had to put up the stages, sound systems, and booths! This is a good way to leverage Instagram or Snapchat.
  • When you start posting about an upcoming event is up to you. In general though, you will want to slowly ramp up the number of times you post as the event gets closer.

During the Event

This is your chance to shine on social media, and will require the full attention of you and any other social media staff. The most obvious tactic is to live-post about exciting things happening at the event. Have someone taking pictures and getting quotes, and post these as frequently as possible. People who didn’t show up will start feeling bad that they decided not to come, and people in attendance will have a higher chance of seeing something when they check social media on their phones. Twitter and Facebook will be the best choices for live-posting, as these are the most fast-paced platforms and the ones people are more likely to check during a dull moment.

Ideally, you won’t be the only one posting during your event! If the event is exciting and useful, attendees will be talking about their favorite presentations, free swag, and notable booths. Many of the posts you will see will be quotes and photos/videos. It is essential that you let them know you’re listening, especially if they tag you. However, you should also keep an eye on your hashtag and if anyone is using it while not tagging you. At the very least you should Like all of these posts. If you’re on Twitter, you should Retweet any that are appropriate, and respond to as many as possible. Even if all you say is “Thank you for coming!”, that will go a long way in terms of making that customer feel wanted at the event. Instagram will also be a big player here.

People love anticipation, and countdowns are a great way to build interest. Scheduling posts counting down the actual event, as well as the announcement of keynote speakers are a low-effort and potentially high-reward way to get people thinking about you and coming back for more. Images will be less likely to get lost in the shuffle, so consider making eye-catching graphics to share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Perhaps the best part of doing social media for an event is that it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you are physically there or not. From your office desk, you can easily interact with people live-posting. The only disadvantage is relying on other people, who may or may not be from the marketing team, to relay back to you what is going on and sending you pictures. On the other hand, running around with a phone in your hand on the event floor can make it difficult to reply to attendees across social platforms. Taking care of social media during an event is a lot easier if there is a team involved, but it is very possible to do yourself if you are comfortable and prepared.

Other social media tactics for during the event:

  • Set up a photo booth to nudge attendees toward posting photos. Plus, everyone loves a photo booth! You can either have attendees use their phones, or have a photographer snapping pictures. If you choose the latter  you can touch attendees again after the event by uploading these photos and letting them tag themselves!
  • Encourage vendors to create a reason for people to post on social media about them and about the event, whether it’s a contest or a photo booth, or something else.

After the Event

After the event is the easy part where you can take a breather, but there is still plenty to be done. Look through any mentions and comments that came in during the event and answer any questions or comments that are still relevant. Over the next couple of days look out for attendees writing posts and articles about what they thought of the event, and thank them for coming.

Possible “thank you” replies:

  • “Thank you for coming!”
  • “We hope you enjoyed your time at _____!”
  • “Thanks! See you next year!”
  • “Thank you for the compliments, we are glad you liked it!”
  • “Thanks! Please let us know if there is anything you would like to see next year.”

While you’re thanking everyone on social media, be sure to share any media articles that were written by news outlets or other blogs. These will help out your reputation and give more validity to your event. These can also fill in the blanks of anything that you write. Speaking of which, you also will want to write a wrap-up blog that talks about all of the great things that happened, and then share that on all of your platforms! Ideally this will be something that attendees will share so that they can show their network how much fun they had! We do this as often as we can here on the Premier Connects blog.

This is also the time to upload any photos that were taken during the event, especially ones by professional photographers that may have taken some time to process and  find their way to you. Sharing these photos on social media will be another way to connect with those who attended, and another chance to hear opinions on how the event went.

The only thing left to do is start promoting next year’s event! Good luck on your social media journey, and I hope that this short guide helped with your questions or concerns.

Do you want to  follow us on any of our social media channels? You can do so by clicking on any of the social buttons here!

Boston CIO Forum 2017 Recap

boston-cio-forum-speaker-excited

March has left us behind, and with it so has the Boston CIO Forum! Held on March 21 at the Westin Waltham Boston, this first forum has inspired us to keep on pushing to make great events. If the first event of the season sets the tone for the other upcoming events, then we can be satisfied. The Boston CIO Forum was an incredible success, not only from our perspective but also from the perspective of everyone involved.

This was our first time executing our kickoff dinner the night before the conference, and everyone in attendance enjoyed themselves. We are looking forward to more dinners at our events, and hosted by us elsewhere, in the future. We also tried a new “passport contest”. We wanted to fully satisfy every vendor involved, and encourage our attendees to visit everyone. Therefore we implemented a vendor passport into our guide booklets, so that each attendee had to visit each vendor booth and receive a stamp. Then, once an attendee got every stamp, they were able to turn the page in to us and be entered into a random drawing! We were glad to see a positive response to this, and plenty of people turning in pages full of stamps.

Boston_CIO_Forum_Vendor_Floor
Vendors and attendees mingle in the networking pavilion

Our audience was intimate, and those in attendance were extremely interactive and excited to be there. We care more about quality than quantity, so we were overjoyed to see our attendees networking with each other and with our vendors. We heard from our vendors and sponsors that they had a great experience and were excited to work with us in the future.

We decided to try something new with this season and how we organize our speaking sessions. We opted to deviate from our normal-length sessions and experiment with a shorter length. Overall, this was well-received, as it allowed for a greater number of sessions, and for those sessions to be more concentrated. A common problem with hour-long presentations is that there can be too much fluff just to fill time. Constraining speakers to a lower amount of time allows them to cut the fat, and give us the leanest and most focused presentation possible. This new format was a hit, and we are looking forward to implementing it more in the future.

Boston-cio-forum-speaker-animated
Our speakers this year were energetic and passionate about IT.

The Boston SIM Chapter held a special session for SIM Women. They were given a chance to promote their partnership with YearUp, and were able to award a scholarship, the recipient of which have a heartfelt speech about her experience. We were happy to donate a sum of $10,000 to the Boston SIM chapter for all of their efforts and giveback.

If you attended this event, please let us know by leaving a comment, or by tagging us on Twitter!

MTL Prospectus Redesign: A Graphic Design Journey

Written by Colt Peterson (Graphic Designer) and Mason Lindblad (Marketing Researcher)

Who?

My name is Colt Peterson, and I am the graphic designer for Premier Event Management. I came on in 2016 to replace our previous designer, who had been with the company for many, many years, and I instantly saw an opportunity to put my skills to the test. Premier’s materials had a design that I felt was stale, and I took hold of this chance to bring an established  company’s looks into the current decade.  Now with that in mind, let’s get on to the design in question today…

Why?

MTL (Midwest Technology Leaders) is an IT community ‘symposium’ geared toward CIOs in the Midwest. They develop content and gather speakers around the needs of IT leaders in that region. Our event management agency took the lead on marketing, sales, and branding MTL when their founders brought the event to us two years ago, looking for a way to grow. When the time came to plan for this year’s event, I was given a chance to update the look of the marketing materials, because my previous redesigns for Premier had gone over very well. The important thing was to make sure that MTL had a creative and attractive look that made it stand out from the competition.

The prime offender

What?

Their Sponsorship Prospectus. The Prospectus was a huge sore spot; not just aesthetically, but also functionally. There were twelve pricing levels listed, which I found to be both overlapping and irregular (i.e not easy to navigate or to compare), and each were no more than a title and a set of bullet points. I instantly thought of a lot of ways  I could update the aesthetic as well, and make the form and function both work together to create an eye-catching and informational piece.

A prospectus is like a prime color – so basic of a tool for sales and prospects, it never leaves your palette. If a website is your public face, a prospectus is your firm introductory handshake. It should be affirmative, concise, clear, and pleasant to interact with. Our team carefully looked at what existed and knew we could do better! From a graphic design perspective, I saw a lot of areas of improvement and was excited to get started…

Where Do We Start?

Content is king, in case you hadn’t heard, so I wanted to make sure the content was clearly visible within the design. The first thing I saw, of course, was the cover page. I couldn’t wait to break it apart, and I actually started scribbling notes on it the moment I was handed a copy. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t get there for a little while. We had to plan what we’d actually present in the final product and how it could positively affect our audience.

Interior example of old prospectus
Interior example of old prospectus

Inside, as mentioned above, were outlined twelve (yes, twelve) levels of sponsorship. From previous year of working together with MTL, we had  apparently predicted every possible variable and pre-priced it. It was a huge concern for me, so I immediately suggested cutting it down and simplifying it. This seems like it would be out of step for a graphic designer to affect pricing, but some user experience design is often associated with delivering the best possible product.

I began by going through the document, page by page, and made a spreadsheet of each and every ‘feature’ offered by each and every ‘level’. Then I began ticking boxes. DINNER SPONSOR (EXCLUSIVE) had a half page ad and a 75 word write up, and so did DINNER (EXCLUSIVE) and EXHIBITOR (EXCLUSIVE). Hmm. This got me thinking.

Each of these was limited to one, each was exclusive, each shared a sort of basic foundation, but the minor variations between them accounted for thousands of dollars difference. Some had more features for much lower prices, and some were almost identical. These sorts of problems are more common than you might think. Companies everywhere get used to the way things are, and sometimes an outsider is needed to tell them that their methods are over-complicated.

I can’t express enough how important this pre-planning was for me to create a successful redesign. Once I had all the features unpacked, I could shuffle them in a meaningful order that related to dollars and cents in a clear way. I made my recommendations to leadership, and we all agreed that we could easily cut three levels completely, redistribute the other features, and adjust pricing along a relative scale.

Besides the feature bloat, the method of detailing each level was not only unattractive to me, but unscannable. Any sales person will tell you that nobody reads every word in a proposal. Prospects look for prices, positives, and negatives. They balance it all, then make a decision. We needed to help buyers get to that decision faster. Much faster.

With the offerings simplified, I felt ready to design. I knew pricing alone would not make a compelling enough prospectus. I believe mission and personnel detail is crucial. If you can’t win on price, and superior products rarely do, a buying decision often comes down to “well… who do I LIKE more?”. It was important to me to create an piece that people could connect with on a personal level by seeing the people they would potentially be interacting with.

The Finished Product

Pricing guide spread, with one-sheet
Pricing guide one-sheet

This is a really proud moment for me. I managed to use a whole cadre of communication tools I’d been itching to exercise to condense and repackage MTL’s entire client-facing element into one helpful system. It’s got icons, it’s got color-coding, it’s got numbers, and – oh yeah baby – it’s got a grid.
I even took the time to shuffle the layout into a one-sheet version, printable on the client-side. This looks great as a PDF and gives you everything you need to make comparisons on-the-fly. This is something you can hand to your boss and say “take a look”.

The point of this is not to say “look how bad the old design was”. It’s that there is always room for improvement in both form and function on any marketing materials, and all it takes is a fresh set of eyes and a little graphic design know-how. It is always important to keep your sales and marketing designs up-to-date and relevant, otherwise you run the risk of your competitors looking better in the eyes of your audience. So break out those old marketing materials, and determine for yourself if you would buy your product or service.

Premier Connects’ altHR Conference to be Held at Pure Space Portland

The first annual altHR Forum will be on September 7, 2017. It will now officially be happening at Pure Space, a unique event space in the Pearl District of downtown Portland, Oregon.

Pure Space features 16,500 square feet and can host over 1500 guests in their main event space. Premier Connects is excited to be working with Pure Space and West Coast Event Productions to help altHR get off the ground and have a fantastic opening year.

altHR will be a gathering of people professionals interested in exploring radical new ideas in the field of human resources. This all-day event will provide innovative talent and business leaders with robust community building, creative problem solving opportunities, and engaging workshops. The forum will be open to those who want to discuss new and interesting ideas in this field.

While the agenda of topics is still being developed, any information related to this event can be found at http://althr.premierconnects.com/

Premier Event Management Makes the Shift to Premier Connects

Premier Event Management, based out of Portland, OR, is known for putting on the Premier CIO Forum in over 15 cities around the country every year. As such, all of Premier’s branding has been under the moniker of “Premier CIO”. Recently, Premier has adopted a number of other events other than the CIO Forum, and as such the company feels that a new brand and name is in order. From now on, Premier Connects will take the place of Premier CIO as the main name and branding on Premier Event Management.

In addition to the Premier CIO Forum, a gathering of regional IT leaders, Premier Connects also manages three other events at present: Emergency Preparedness Leadership Forum (EPLF), Midwest Technology Leaders (MTL), and AltHR. EPLF aims to engage business, government, and faith leaders to prepare, respond, and recover from any disaster. MTL is an exclusive gathering of the Midwest region’s top information executives, which supports the advancement of IT in the region. AltHR aims to provide an alternative and holistic approach to human resources, and provide new knowledge to those in HR.

As always, the CIO Forums will be the primary focus of Premier Connects. Premier Event Management have been running these forums for over 15 years and comes to over 15 cities around the US, including many locations on the east coast and the southeast, as well as in the Premier headquarters city of Portland, Oregon. However, Premier is excited to offer other services such as organizing corporate dinners, publishing white papers and case studies, webinars, and more.

Look forward to the future of Premier Event Management, as the company moves to Premier Connects, and offers a wide variety of services at a quality that Premier’s loyal customers have come to recognize and expect.

www.PremierConnects.com is our new hub for all of our events. Please join us there!

Should Your Event Be Open or Closed to the Public?

When it comes to an event or conference, there is one major choice that can determine the entire feel and theme of the whole thing. The choice between making the day open or closed to the public is an early decision in the process of creating your event and will define it going forward.

Advantages of Having an Open Event

Hosting an event that is open to the public has obvious advantages, that being that there is a potentially unlimited number of attendees (restricted only by the capacity of your event space). A plethora of people from a variety of walks of life and fields of work will attend, and your exhibitors can potentially come across a goldmine of potential customers with a variety of interests.

Disadvantages of Having an Open Event
An open event’s advantages are also its disadvantages. Having an unfiltered stream of attendees means that exhibitors have to do the filtering when the attendees approach their booths. There will be a higher percentage of attendees who are mostly apathetic about the vendors, and may only be there to observe and do not intend to actually spend any money.

Advantages of Having a Closed Event
When you host an event that is closed to the public, you have to filter through a lot the registrants so that only those that fit a certain profile can attend. For the Premier CIO Forums, we only allow people from non-vendor companies to attend for free, meaning that we can have only those looking for solutions, not trying to sell solutions, walking the show floor.

Disadvantages of Having a Closed Event
While having a closed event will give you high-quality, well-targeted attendees, it also means that you have to spend a lot of time and resources filtering out registrants to see if they meet your requirements. The easiest way to do this is to have certain qualifying questions on your registration form, but you could also individually research each registrant if they have professional profiles.

How to Choose Which Type of Event to Run?
Choosing how you want to run your event can be a difficult decision, and will deeply affect the mood and theme. Your choice will be influenced by whether you want your event to be large or small, professional or relaxed, and focused on networking or focused on selling. We hope that this guides you down the right path, but only you can decide what is the best fit for your company!

Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTF) to Speak at Premier CIO Forum

The Electronic Crimes Task Forces will be speaking at the Premier CIO Forums throughout the 2017 season of conferences. The ECTF is a network of tasks forces created by the US Secret Service in 1995 to fight cyber threats and internet fraud. With 39 total tasks forces, we are able to have different speakers in each of our cities, keeping the information and delivery diverse. We are looking forward to the ECTF speakers this year, and we hope you are too! Register for the CIO Forums here.

Premier Values Their Partnerships – A History of Giving Back

At the conclusion of every Forum, the SIM Chapter President is gratefully handed a check written by Premier Event Management. Since the first partnership in Philadelphia in 2002 Premier has believed in SIM’s mission to bring together IT leaders to share, network and give back to their communities. Programs like APC (Advanced Practices Council), RLF (Regional Leadership Forum), SIG (Special Interests Group) and STEM are what mold IT leaders to be the best version of themselves and allow others to follow in their footsteps. Just this year Premier has donated $78,250 to various SIM chapters across the globe. To learn more about Premier and our partners, visit the PremierCIO website.

SIMposium 2016: “20/20 Vision” – Uncasville, CT

This year SIMposium was located in Uncasville, CT taking place at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino and the Premier team had the pleasure of attending the 2016 SIMposium and experience the event as attendees. The theme for the event was “20/20 Vision: The Future is Now”, which was conveyed through unique tracks on the agenda including; Leadership in 2020, Risk Management, The Future of Work, and Inside SIM. Seven Chapters of SIM helped work with the National SIM Committee and Advisory Council to put together the event. This event is always a great way to connect all of the SIM Chapters, IT Executives, and Technology Solution Providers in one space to discuss today’s business environment, gain inspiration, sharpen leadership skills, and make new connections.

Premier CIO Forum – Kick Off Events

Every year Premier tries new ways to incorporate change, make connections, and liven things up.  At our Portland CIO Forum this past October we did just that!  We worked with our partner, the Portland SIM Chapter, to incorporate a Kick-Off event the night prior to the CIO Forum to encompass their monthly SIM Chapter meeting as a way to foster new relationships between the attending CIO Forum attendees and the SIM Chapter Members.  This turned out to be quite a hit, and created such a great buzz for the forum that we are going to try Kick-Off events at our other CIO Forums in 2017!