Maybe you’re the kind of person to raise their eyebrow when someone posts pictures of their food to Facebook, or maybe you check Instagram as soon as you wake up in the morning. However you view social media in your everyday life, you can’t deny its immense impact on your work and your ability to reach potential attendees as an event organiser.
Complain all you want about how kids these days are glued to their phones, but social media marketing — and particularly influencer marketing — are some of the most effective promotional strategies for any brand.
As we emerge from a fully virtual world, you’re probably tossing a few events on next year’s calendar — as you should! And online influencers can be a huge help with getting the word out and boosting attendance, regardless if your event is in-person, online, or a mix of the two!
Influencers can help to expand your reach, connect you with a whole new audience, and even allow you to leverage the trust that they already have with their followers. This will make people much more likely to register. Plus if you offer remote attendance options, these people don’t even have to be anywhere near your event’s venue to attend.
We’ve seen the effects that influencer marketing has had on organizations big and small. But how can you harness that power for your own brand? Let’s find out!
1. Find the Right Influencers
First thing’s first: do your research. The influencers you choose will be the ambassadors of your online marketing efforts, the faces of your brand. So choose wisely.
Don’t pick people who’s bad reputations are going to taint your organization’s image, and don’t just go off the number of followers someone has. Sure, that can be helpful for getting your event in front of more people, but they might have a completely different target audience than your own. Find reputable people who match your organisation’s brand and have followers who will actually be interested in your event.
In fact, micro-influencers can be just as (if not more) effective as macro-influencers. With small and dedicated followings (around 1,000+ followers), micro-influencers more consistently engage with their followers. This boosts their engagement rates and helps to position them as more authentic and trustworthy, especially when they’re sharing opportunities that are hyper-relevant to their audiences.
So when they share opportunities like your event on social media, their followers will trust that they truly believe in the event and the company hosting it.
A great place to start looking is your guest list from past events — after all, your most loyal attendees may be your most authentic influencers. Search for anyone who has a decent following online, then filter your search by looking at their reputation and whether or not their content aligns with your brand. Long story short, you’ll get the right match if you just do some research first.
2. Get Them to Promote Your Event Merchandise
Every great event has merchandise these days. People don’t mind spending a few extra bucks to buy a great memento that reminds them of an awesome event they went to. Between t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags, it’s a fantastic way to boost your event’s ROI. But have you considered using your merchandise in your marketing efforts?
Share photos of your merchandise across your promotional materials to encourage people to register. Even if they can’t attend, they can still show their support by buying something.
Just make sure you create a design that people want to buy and that influencers will be excited to share with their followers. Let’s take the classic t-shirt for example. Bonfire’s guide to event t-shirt designs gives a few pro tips for creating a shirt that brings real value to your event, like:
- Make sure it aligns with your organisation’s branding. Anyone who sees your merchandise should know that it came from your organization. Make sure to follow your brand guidelines by using your official colors and any symbols that represent your organization (like your logo).
- Infuse your event branding, too. Chances are, you’ll give your event its own branding. Incorporate those elements into your t-shirt design. That might include the event’s name, theme, typography, and slogan.
- Consider what your audience wants. Everyone has their own unique styles. Before getting started on your design, make sure you understand your target audience. Learn how they like to dress and what they value about your organization. You could even loop your influencers into this process by challenging them to create potential t-shirt designs.
Once your design is ready, send the influencers you’ve recruited free merchandise to show off online. They can pose in your event’s custom t-shirt and tell everyone how comfy it is, or they can show their followers how they’re staying hydrated with their new water bottle. Encourage them to link to the page where people can place their orders or view other event merchandise.
People can go ahead and place their orders if you’re selling it in advance. That way, they don’t have to wait until the actual event to buy something. They can jump right in and buy what they want before losing momentum.
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3. Post Content During the Event
For your event marketing to actually gain traction, the influencers you’ve recruited should post more than once. The more they post, the more likely it is that their posts will show up in all of their followers’ newsfeeds, so have them post regularly. That includes before, during, and after your event to make sure everyone comes into contact with the event at some point.
InitLive’s guide to Instagram event promotion shares tons of great examples of how you can boost attendance, broken down into the different event stages. Let’s take a look at each stage and how you can get your influencers in on the action:
- Before the event: You want people talking about your event before the big day. Get your influencers in on the pre-event hype to attract potential guests. Sharing pictures of your merchandise is a great start. They can also host a contest or giveaway for their followers, like the chance to win free event merch for sharing an event post to their Instagram Story.
- During the event: Encourage influencers to share event updates. They might go live or post to their Instagram Story to show their followers what they’re missing out on. This can also help close the distance if you’re running a hybrid event and remote attendees want a little more insight into the in-person experience.
- After the event: Keep the conversation going after the event. Encourage your influencers to share event pictures and what they enjoyed the most. Then, return the favor by sharing pictures of any influencers at the event. Not only is this a great token of your appreciation, but it gives them something they can easily share with their followers.
You can certainly share templates and images for them to use during each stage of your event, but encourage them to make whatever they post align with their typical style. People can spot inauthenticity from a mile away, and one surefire way to mess up your marketing (and relationships) is to ignore your influencers’ unique personalities and the type of content they like to share.
When all is said and done, be sure to share a post-event questionnaire, asking your influencers to let you know about their experience. You want to know what went well so that you can replicate it for future events. You also want to know what went poorly to avoid it in future.
It’s time to wave goodbye to the old way of promoting your events and say hello to a modern way of boosting attendance. Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to grow your audience and come across as more authentic. Just make sure you have a plan to find the right people to promote your event. In no time, you’ll see a boost in registrations and be well on your way to hosting a successful event.