It's easy to show social media love when you're trying to get people to attend your event. But if you fail to make them feel loved and appreciated on-site, then you've missed a crucial opportunity.
Your reputation is everything.
If people aren't familiar with your event, you'll need more than a flashy marketing strategy to convince them to show up. You'll need referrals, testimonials and a bunch of people unrelated to you who talk positively about what you do.
You know who those people are? Past attendees. Don't believe us? Having a legion of brand ambassadors ultimately can save you time, money and create a much wider reach than your content calendar generates on its own. Still aren't convinced? Read this.
How do you show them love?
Follow these three steps.
- Incorporate the audience's point of view into your event design. When you're building the agenda, looking at the flow and talking to your speakers about content delivery, keep in mind the needs of your audience. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they want to learn? What will help them connect with each other? How can you (in a non-salesy way) connect them to sponsors and/or exhibitors? What can you do to ensure they can find refreshments or restrooms when they need them? How can you minimize time wasted standing in lines? Do all that.
- Reward them early and often. People are competitive. They are goal-oriented, crave recognition and have a weak spot for status symbols. Event organizers: Use this to your advantage by rewarding people who are creating positive buzz about your event. Do so publicly so you create an incentive for others to mirror their behavior. Who was the first person to tweet about your event? Who's posting the most-liked pictures? Who's asking the best questions? Give them all a prize. Then tell the others what they can do to earn recognition. If it's appropriate, contract a service (mobile app, tablet-based game) that creates a leaderboard for the event and project who's on top in gathering spaces and during breaks.
- Ask for advice ... and actually act upon it. If people have some skin in the game, they're more likely to show up. That's why it's important to let people vote on at least one element of your event — be it the entertainment, the speakers, the location or even the signature drink. Post-event, think about what you really want to know and ask those questions in the survey. If you use that feedback to improve the event, let people know what you did. In this simple way, you'll not only make past attendees feel valued, you'll ensure that your event remains relevant, fun and engaging.
Now I'd like to hear from you. What have you done to make people feel valued? What have you experienced at other events that you liked? Let me know by leaving a comment below!