Conversation and Conversion: Making the Most of Social Media for Your Live Events


Conversation and conversion are the currency of today’s events and conventions.

Live events offer a fantastic opportunity for brands to promote their good and services to a crowd that is there to listen. However, even just attending an industry event includes some upfront investment. To maximize their return on this investment, most companies rely on generating leads or another quantifiable form of brand awareness. 

Communicating through social media is the most immediate and direct way to achieve this goal. According to research published in Adweek, the vast majority of marketers agree that social media efforts are essential to succeed at live events and are a valuable method of building social media collateral.

Half of the respondents felt that social media brings more people to them, while 78 percent believe that social media allows people to experience the event from their brand’s perspective. When asked about specific channels, 93 percent listed Twitter as the most useful, which was followed by LinkedIn, according to 67 percent of the people surveyed.

To ensure that your desired audience is aware you’re attending an event – and can find you while you’re there – utilize every available outreach at your fingertips: both before, during, and, yes, after the event.

Before the Event

You have two main goals before the show. The first is to generate awareness (and buzz) that you will be attending. Accomplish this goal with an active social media presence. As with any communication around an event, always include the current event’s hashtag.

For example, if you are introducing a new product or service, create a demonstration video, upload it to YouTube, then share the video on multiple platforms.

If someone from your company is a featured speaker or participating in a panel discussion – or if your company is sponsoring a symposium – utilize social media to spread the word of the time, place, and topic.

If you are going to be an exhibitor, post photos of your display as it comes together, from rendered drawings to finished products (your design house can supply these). Call attention to any special features or areas where promotions will be running throughout the event.

If you have attended the event previously or have a connection with a past presenter, post previous highlights, and include a note of anticipation that looks forward to the approaching event.

You could use your social media efforts to direct attendees to an event-specific landing page where visitors could receive a downloadable incentive, such as a coupon for your products or services that’s exclusive to event attendees. This action will help you remain in contact with these prospects by placing a cookie on the visitor’s device.

Your second goal for the event is to set up some meetings with prospective buyers. So, how can you reach out to potential clients when you don’t specifically know who will be attending the event (because the probability of show organizers handing you a list of attendees ranges from highly unlikely to less than zero)? Well, you are going to need to do some legwork and create a list of attendees.

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You can start by reaching out to your current clients to see if they are going to attend – and if they know of any colleagues who are going, as well. Also, monitor social media and follow the event’s hashtag to discover anyone who is promoting their upcoming attendance. Check the event’s website for a list of speakers and presenters; then watch their social media activity for conversations with future attendees.

Once you’ve developed a list, reach out and give a friendly greeting to these potential attendees and prospects. Email is probably the most effective, although you could reach out through LinkedIn or Twitter. A word of warning regarding email correspondence. There is no better way to lose a prospective customer than to become an annoyance, and one of the biggest annoyances of our modern age is spam (in the “unsolicited or undesired electronic messages” definition, not the canned meat, although…).

So, when emailing someone directly (or reaching out through LinkedIn), it is essential that you personalize these communications. Reserve automated messages for people who have elected to receive these communications from you (i.e., those on your newsletter list, etc.). This engagement should be personalized and feel organic, not like it’s from a bot. It may take a little extra time and effort, but the potential to avoid alienating prospective customers is worth it.

During the Event

Not everyone who would like to attend a live event can make it to the site. So, by thoughtfully utilizing social media, you will be able to bring a portion of the event – specifically, your portion of the event – into their lives. Posting photos, periodic updates, insightful quotes from presentations, and entertaining highlights, will both keep those would couldn’t be there informed and you in the middle of the conversation.

When you meet with or run into current customers, ask if they would be willing to record a show video of their event experiences – and try to segue into their relationship with your brand. These “on the street” testimonials can add an additional layer of authenticity to your social media efforts.

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However, your social media outreach should not be reserved only for those who couldn’t attend. It can – and should – be utilized to reach out to attendees on your list who haven’t yet been able to meet in person. One way to reach this crowd is with geofencing.

Geofencing creates a virtual boundary around a physical, geographic area. When anyone enters this area, the cookie you placed on their mobile device will trigger an action, such as a push notification through social media, a browser, or text message. You can set the border around the event that will send a note reminding visitors of your presence.

After the Event

Once an event has ended, usually the first step is to hand any leads you just collected to your sales team. However, once that is accomplished, there are still plenty of attendees who may not have converted into a lead but remain prospective customers.

Reach out to this crowd with an email or through social media. As before, personalize these efforts. Many marketers have already moved on to the next event, so just reaching out and personalizing your communications may be enough motivation to encourage a waffling consumer to get off the fence and make a commitment.

In addition to any direct outreach efforts, create some articles for your website that recap your event activities and other highlights your audience would find interesting. Make sure these posts subtly remind readers of your company’s leadership efforts within the industry. Promote these articles on social media.

Also, remember that cookie you placed on a visitor’s computer? You can create a retargeting campaign and use this little bit of code to send personalized messages toward precise prospects. Try to keep these messages event specific, maybe by offering your take on special moments.

Since this event will likely occur again in a year, keep refining and updating the list you created. You will probably use it again and again.