While most associations use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to push out information about their meetings, many event professionals don't realize thatcan be even more powerful when attendees become the evangelists for the event. That was the message behind a recent MeetingsNet webinar featuring Jeff Hurt, executive vice president, education and engagement, at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. Hurt outlined four steps that can help get attendees to spread the word about your events.
Identify mass influencers, someone with greater-than-average reach and word-of-mouth impact. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools an association has, explained Hurt, because that's how 91 percent of prospective members will hear about the organization. Using terms developed by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point, Hurt described two types of influencers: mass connectors and mass mavens. Mass connectors have huge followings on social media networks. Mass mavens are content creators: bloggers, reviewers, and contributors on industry discussion boards. You can find them by searching topics related to your industry at alltop.com, boardreader.com, delicious.com, klout.com, Googleblogs.com, postrank.com, Socialmention.com, Listorius.com, and Twitterchat.com, among others.
Deliver excellent customer service. “You want to give people reasons to talk about your meeting,” said Hurt. That means providing a great experience. But influence happens well before the meeting even starts — it starts right after registration. “Make them feel like they belong to your association. People get blown away by good customer service.” When customers are satisfied, they will become fans and evangelists for the organization.
Empower with information. Before the meeting, spread information via speakers' blogs or tweets with details about sessions. Hurt suggests talking to presenters at thestage about hosting pre- and post-meeting webinars, posting a YouTube video promoting their presentation, leading an online chat at Facebook or Twitter, or writing for your blog, e-newsletter, or magazine. Speakers should encourage attendees to tweet about the session before (to help shape content), during, and after the presentation. Speakers often are happy to oblige, seeing social media as an opportunity to boost engagement.
Amplify event fans. Acknowledge the people who are chatting up the meeting by thanking them. Amplify what they are doing and help their word of mouth go even further.