The Intersection

Broaden Your Event’s Appeal With Influencer Marketing

Social media is the place to grow your community — and here's how to create a strategy to attract and engage the right audience.

Social-media marketing has become a crucial aspect of the meetings and association industries, which is why it is so important to promote association conferences through social channels before, during, and after an event, according to Ori Lahav, associate vice president of Kenes Group. “Social media is the place to grow your community,” he said.

But social media should not be used without a strategy in place to attract and engage the right audience, Lahav said in the latest video for The Intersection, produced by PCMA and PSAV. “You have to invest time in research and content, in regular posting, in monitoring and responding to what happens on those social media channels,” Lahav explained. “You have to make sure that not only [do] you post, but you post things that are engaging to the audience.”

Using hashtags, streaming videos, and regularly observing how the online community responds to posts can help bolster an event’s following on social channels. Another way to boost an event’s online presence, Lahav said, is to identify key social-media influencers in the realm of a specific conference and ask them to provide extra event promotion via their personal accounts. By choosing Twitter “ambassadors” — or influencers — to promote a European medical congress, the Kenes Group grew the meeting’s Twitter impressions by nearly 7 million year over year. “The only thing we had to give [the influencers] in return was access to the VIP lounge,” Lahav said.

Matt Lombardi, who just helped conclude the National Association of REALTORS’s (NAR) annual REALTORS Conference & Expo in early November in Chicago, said that influencers also play a large role in helping to promote the NAR event, which attracts more than 20,000 attendees.

“We have what are called featured attendees, which are about 30 to 40 individuals who are sort of the eyes and ears for their followers via their platforms,” said Lombardi, senior vice president, marketing, events and alliances for NAR. “That’s a key component of what we do from an influencer marketing perspective to get the messaging out there a little before, during, and after the event, of what’s happening and why people should be there,” Lombardi said. “But if they can’t, here’s what’s happening.”

The majority of these influencers come from the organization’s meeting and conference committee. Committee members are asked to be a mouthpiece for the event in their local area about six months before the event to reach the largest number of would-be attendees. In return, committee members contribute to identifying speakers and subject matters that should be covered at the next meeting.

“Our members’ business is all based on their reputation and the relationships that they establish,” Lombardi said. “and so we try to leverage their credibility, their experience, and their spheres of influence amongst their peers.”

TIPS FOR BROADENING YOUR EVENT’S APPEAL WITH SOCIAL MEDIA 

1. Realize that building relationships with your attendees using social media is a long-term process.

2. Know that such vehicles as Facebook’s new live video and YouTube viewings of your content can expand your audience and reach exponentially from year to year as you work to increase attendance.

3. Social media and digital messaging, Tweets, blogs, and videos still cannot do the job alone of bringing the attendance you want.

4. Seek out brand influencers who can magnify your story by forwarding your messages to others.

Watch the latest video from The Intersection.

Casey Gale