This post was originally published in 2016. Due to popular demand, this blog post has been updated to get you ready for a successful 2018 conference season.
Conferences, trade shows, and other industry events are a demand generation goldmine, not just because your best prospects are all in the same room at the same time, but because conferences create conversations, with thousands of people talking about relevant topics on social media. So what’s the secret weapon to extract the most value from all the social chatter? The answer is the hashtag.
Oh, the conference hashtag…it’s much more than just a way to be part of the buzz or to feature user-generated Instagram photos for the lobby displays. As a business attending or sponsoring an event, the hashtag is your key to targeting, engaging, and nurturing your qualified leads.
Here are some of the strategies the marketing team at Socedo will be using to get the most out of every event.
Pre-Event: Target Attendees
What if you could hit your lead quota for a conference before it even starts? For the Marketing Nation Summit last May, we generated 30% of our total event leads prior to Summit.
Using Socedo’s social targeting capabilities, we listened for all mentions of the conference hashtag #MKTGNation on Twitter from leads in our target market. For any lead who Tweeted the hashtag, we engaged with them on social media and sent them a personalized direct message with a link to our “VIP list.”
We also sent them a follow-up invitation email letting them know all about our cool swag, exclusive happy hour, and the same link to a form where they could register for our VIP list if they were attending Summit. Those who were attending received an automated follow-up email from our Account Executive Damien to schedule a 1:1 demo at our booth for the chance to win even more prizes. We set up ALL of our booth demos using this campaign. Damien’s schedule was booked with qualified, interested leads before Summit even began.
In addition to the #MKTGNation hashtag, we also targeted followers of the event handle as well as followers of the hosting brand @Marketo.
We took the same strategy for INBOUND, the Hubspot sponsored conference. For INBOUND, we tracked #INBOUND16, @INBOUND, and @HubSpot.
During Event: Promote Content
Conference sessions are addicting. Attendees take thorough notes, talk about their learnings over lunch, and research speakers in between keynotes. Their less fortunate colleagues back at the office are scouring Twitter for real-time updates at the show.
We jump into this information stream by sharing related content (or our own updates) on the conference hashtag. Even old blog posts can have new life on the right conference hashtag.
For leads we didn’t connect with prior to the conference, we email them related content, for example, a joint webinar we did with an influencer who is speaking at the conference, or a whitepaper about a topic mentioned during a keynote. Our event email messages typically have a 25% higher click-through rate than our emails on average. All of this engagement helps us get more form fills, more leads, and more visibility among our target accounts.
Post-Event: Nurture Leads
The struggle is real when it comes to post-event blues. Fortunately for us, the nostalgia that conferences cause ends up as a flurry of blog posts, webinars, and recaps, all of which are tweeted out with the conference hashtag for another month or so following the conclusion of the event
The idea here is that we’ve already developed some great conference-related content leading up to and during the event. Right after the event is a good time to reach out to attendees and keep our brand name on their radar. Rather than just calling down a list, we make sure to stay connected with those who are still the most engaged from the event. One of our customers, Dynamic Signal used this tactic and as a result doubled the number of opportunities generated from post-event follow up.
Finally, one of the benefits of social media is that you don’t have to actually sponsor an event to generate leads.
These strategies can be used even without a booth presence. Revitas uses Socedo to generate leads from conference hashtags and handles, and they’ve seen enough success from social alone that they’ve been able to scale back their event sponsorship budget. Now that’s a good return on their investment.
Learn what industry events your leads are talking about on Twitter by starting a free trial of Socedo.