Want to learn how to raise the bar at business events? Do you want to stand out among the rest? Guest blogger, Sarah Kirkpatrick of Elephant's Remark, has your tips!

5 Ways You Can Raise the Bar at Business Events (Using Social Media)

5 Ways You Can Raise the Bar at Business Events (Using Social Media)

Sarah Kirkpatrick & Ashley Saunders – co-founders of Elephant’s Remark

Oftentimes, when we think of business events, we think of stuffy, corporate, suits and ties, keynote speakers, cold sandwiches and coffee, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In recent years, many corporations who play in the B2B world are not only utilizing LinkedIn to stay connected and share professional updates, but they are also more engaged than ever before in the social space.

A common misconception used to be that social media was only useful in accessing a business to consumer audience. What seems to have been forgotten is that consumers are people, and people work for businesses and oftentimes embody the brands they represent. It is now a proven method for reaching your B2B audience in the digital space.

“83% of B2B marketers use social media; making it the most common B2B marketing tactic.

With the popularity and accessibility of social media continuing to grow, we are sure to see a greater online presence represented at these business-targeted events. For those of you who organize, plan or host these corporate engagements, here are 6 ways you can raise the bar.

1. Use a Custom Hashtag

There are a number of reasons to use hashtags on social media. For many, it is to capitalize on something that is already trending – for whatever reason – and hopefully be seen by a larger audience; for others, it’s to join in on a conversation on a specific topic. In terms of events, regardless of whether your event is B2B or B2C, chances are, there will be some type of online posting by your guests and a custom event hashtag is a vital part of monitoring that conversation and grouping all of that User Generated Content (UGC) for future reference and use. For custom event hashtags, we offer four pieces of advice:

  1. Do your research before you pick your hashtag.
  2. Keep it simple and relevant.
  3. Use it in your own social media correspondence leading up to and during the event.
  4. Display it everywhere so people know to use it when they post (keynote presentations, physical signs, event guides, e-blasts, in your event app, on the welcome packages, etc.).

2. Engage with Vendors & Sponsors on Social Media

Whether your event is a B2B tradeshow, or a conference, chances are there are people from other organizations that helped you put it all together. What better way to say thank you than a public shout out on your social media networks?

An easy way to collect vendor information is to request it when they fill in their paperwork to be a part of the show. As for sponsors, you are already displaying some of their signage or marketing material at the physical event, so asking for their online handles will be easy. A quick picture of their display booth or signage, if applicable, a LinkedIn ‘thank you’, or a tweet talking about how their brand is helping out your event can go a long way. Not only will it do wonders for your corporate karma, but will likely get retweeted or #regram(ed), which exposes you to their social audience as well, and could result in valuable business relationships being formed. Not convinced?

“49% of B2B buyers research vendors by looking at their LinkedIn profiles, and 44% have actually found potential vendors by looking at shared connections on LinkedIn.[ii]

3. Monitor the Conversation

If your business event, seminar or conference has an event app with a live-chat or posting option, it’s easy to keep track of what your attendees are saying. If not, then hopefully you’ve used a custom hashtag that can be easily searched on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It’s important to monitor what people are saying and address any negative feedback being posted about the event or the brand, rather than ignore it or delete it. If all else fails, you can monitor “check-ins” if you’ve set up an event on Facebook or see location tags when Instagram photos are shared. Do your best to address things needing your attention – questions or concerns, but also spend some time liking posts as the brand, just so your attendees know you appreciate them sharing the content.

4. Make it Interactive

Even if you are B2B selling, the people attending your event are just that – people. They are either posting on their company or brand’s social media accounts or their own, which likely at least ties into their business in some way.

Your event content should be entertaining and educational already if you want people to pay to attend, so making it thought provoking or interactive will just add another level to the experience. One big way to do this is: holding a contest to bring out your guests’ competitive natures and making sure they are enjoying the experience. This can be based on a series of hashtags or business messages posted around the venue, or you can do digital trivia, or a creative contest of some sorts. The truth is: no matter how educational your presentation is, there are always additional opportunities for engagement to drive UGC and overall event enjoyment.

5. Repurpose Your Content for Next Year

Most companies, when they decide to organize an event, be it a conference, trade show, series of seminars, etc. don’t anticipate it being a one-off. Unfortunately, when events aren’t designed or executed properly, or when they aren’t documented, this can sometimes be the case. You can help avoid this by creating a database of all your content to use in promoting next year’s event. Collecting original or UG photos, testimonials, video footage, screencaps of social media conversations, sound bites, and anything else you can get your hands on are valuable marketing assets that will give you an edge when promoting your business event in following years, to potential sponsors, vendors and event attendees.

“More than 70% of all B2B marketers use at least one of the “Big 4” social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) to distribute content[iii].”

If you are already using social media in your overall marketing strategy, then why aren’t you incorporating it into your business events? Whether your event is a single day lunch-and-learn style function, a three-day trade show or a full week of seminars, social media is an extremely valuable tool for engaging with attendees, increasing awareness, building brand loyalty, providing customer service and enhancing your guests’ experiences with your product or service.

Elephant’s Remark is an on-site, day-of ‘Live Social Engagement Company’ specializing in social media management and engagement at business-to-business and business-to-consumer events.

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017_B2B_Research_FINAL.pdf

[ii] https://www.weidert.com/whole_brain_marketing_blog/why-every-b2b-company-needs-a-linkedin-company-page

[iii] http://digitalmarketingphilippines.com/10-reasons-to-diversify-your-digital-marketing-efforts/