When you ask someone how to promote an event, social media is a well-known resource, utilizing top social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Of course you need to make good use of those sites, but LinkedIn should also be a part of the equation. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t just a network for acquiring professional contacts.
Here’s a few savvy ways to use this business network to get those seats filled up for your next event.
1. Post Individual Status Updates
This is the most obvious of solutions. Post updates via your personal channel. While you shouldn’t inundate your followers with repetitive posts, you should send regular updates whenever there’s news to share, such as:
- Information about the speaker / presenters (background and biographies)
- Content, speaking topic or reason for the event
- Other activities taking place at the event (networking, workshops)
- Food/ menu options
- Any new information that is confirmed up to the event date (new speakers, new hosts, a special drinks package offer).
All updates should also include a link back to the event page, which you should have one on Facebook. It’s also highly recommended that each post is accompanied by an image. This helps distinguish the post from the mounds of others that your followers are likely receiving from their own followers and affiliated groups.
Don’t forget to upload pictures directly from your computer. Most people add an image by using the site’s “share to LinkedIn” button. However, when you do this the image will be about a third of the size of the original image. Larger and better quality images naturally do a better job at gaining attention.
2. Publish Long-Form Posts
LinkedIn has a special feature that allows users to post blog-length posts. This is an excellent resource to capitalize on. Use it to publish authoritative and useful content to build trust and rapport with your audience.
Keep in mind, though, that LinkedIn has some very strict rules about the type of content that is allowed. For one thing, posts submitted on your company channel are not allowed to include the organisation’s name. LinkedIn may also remove the post if it contains overtly promotional content.
Long-form posts may include a number of topics, such as industry news, listicles and how-to’s. Keep the post informative and find a way to weave a link to your event page without coming across as being promotional. You are also permitted and encouraged to add images, videos, and up to three tags.
Just as with a company blog site, the aim here is to build readership and establishing yourself and your company as an authority figure within your niche. As such, posts should aim to give some sort of takeaway for the readers. You can slip in a link to your event page and quickly mention it in passing, but the bulk of the material has to be beneficial to the reader and not self-serving.
3. Leverage Your Existing Contacts
If you want to know how to promote an event the smart way, then don’t be afraid to ask for help from your current followers. Your lone efforts will never achieve the results that a dozen or more people can achieve. All you have to do to get this help is to ask for it.
Instead of sending one generic message to your followers, reach out to them individually on a one-on-one basis. Address the follower by name, thank them for their patronage, and include your request. You can even add an affiliate program so that your greatest brand advocates are rewarded for referring friends and family to your events. This can be something like a free ticket or a discount code for their next company purchase.
Aside from customers and followers, remember that you can also ask for a helping hand from staff members, sponsors, speakers, and investors that are also an active part of your company and have just as much to benefit from a successful event.
4. Use LinkedIn Ads
Many businesses invest in paid Facebook and Twitter ads for their events. For some reason, though, they don’t consider doing the same for LinkedIn. These ads appear on the top and on the sidebar. To make yours stand out, include a strong message that meets the following:
- Conveys urgency – the reader needs to feel that their opportunity can be lost if they don’t act now. (example: last few tickets remaining)
- Use action-words – command readers to take the desired action (example: reserve your ticket today, RSVP now to avoid the waiting list)
- Incorporate images – Use niche-specific images. Try to use images that include people, if possible
LinkedIn ads are effective because it’s among the few places where you can be directly promotional, whereas content elsewhere is more of the informative nature to build rapport and trust with your followers.
5. Be Proactive in Groups
There are thousands of niche-specific LinkedIn groups for you to join. Become a member to get the word out about your event. However, please remember what has already been pointed out: be informative rather than promotional.
Here are some example groups that are definitely worth checking out in the event management niche:
- Event Planning & Event Management - the first group for Event Professionals is the largest group within the niche, but it is an international group. Still it is definitely worth taking a look at, as it is has well-established standards for group behaviour, and is one of the longest-running LinkedIn groups in event management.
- Event Management UK is a smaller group. They welcome event management enthusiasts throughout the United Kingdom.
- Corporate / Event Management Suppliers / Businesses, UK is yet again a UK group for networking in the event management/entertainment sector, which welcomes everyone who is into event planning.
When you first join a group, you’re the new guy. That means you have to earn your spot. If you immediately begin promoting, then it becomes blatantly obvious what your motives are. Don’t be surprised then if you find yourself blacklisted by the moderator.
Knowing how to promote an event is all about building a solid relationship and letting the promotional aspect take care of itself. When you join a group, become a contributing member by engaging in conversation and lending your expertise whenever warranted.
Once you’re a trusted member, then – and only then – have you earned the right to briefly mention your event.
6. Send a Direct Message
The most important piece of advice on how to promote an event on LinkedIn is to make good use of direct messaging. This can be done though the following:
- InMail – send a direct message to anyone. It’s not free though, and you will have to have existing credit in your account.
- First Tier – send a free message to anyone you’re connected with. A single message can be sent to up to 50 followers. Simply type the person’s name in the “send to” search box.
- Group Message – If you’re part of a group, then you can send anyone within that group a direct message by finding them using the member’s tab in the group page.
When sending a direct message, be sure to include a clear headline that conveys the purpose of the message. The body should be straight to the point. You also need to introduce yourself if the message is to a prospective non-follower (contacted using InMail), or to someone you’re connected with but don’t have a strong familiarity with. Mention your event, and if your budget warrants it, make the offer more enticing by including a discount off regular ticket price.
7. Build Your Invite List
Building an invite list is easy, but to be successful, that list has to consist of high-quality followers. This means people within your demographic. You can achieve this through the following:
- Use LinkedIn filters to narrow down people who fit nicely with your target audience.
- Build your list by targeting people in your LinkedIn groups. Use group statistics to help refine and filter your search.
- Send personal emails to each person on the list. It’s recommended that you use InMail for maximum deliverability. By personal, this means addressing the person by name but also mentioning specific points where possible.
If the person previously asked a question about a product, for example, then the message should ask if he has any further related enquiries. Mentioning your event will serve as the follow-up.
Know LinkedIn Like the Back of Your Hand
Now that you know how to promote an event, become an active player on LinkedIn. Like with any other social network, it has some familiar as well as unique set of tools that you should get acquainted with if you want to leverage the site for best results.
Finally, remember that an event is only as good as its venue, so please look up Ultimate Experience for finding the most event-hosting-worthy locations in London.