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How to Build Attendee Personas for Event Marketing

- by Alyson Shane

Do you use Attendee Personas when developing your event marketing plan?

If not, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to understand your attendees’ wants, needs, and what to say to get them excited about registering for your event.

By creating Attendee Personas to represent different types of people who would benefit from attending your event, you can clarify your event marketing messaging so that your readers feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

What’s an Attendee Persona?

Attendee Personas are event-specific versions of the Buyer Personas marketers use to understand their target audiences. They’re called “personas” because they’re intended to represent an individual within a larger group.

In order to do this effectively, we need to dig deep into who these people are and identify their industry, job title, network and/or trade show membership, and other professional details. Other helpful elements include pain points, wants, needs, likes, where they get their news and consume media, and who their influencers are.

What’s the Difference Between a Buyer Persona and An Attendee Persona?

A buyer persona is a persona (fake person) businesses create as representations of their ideal customers. They use these personas for market research so they can craft marketing copy that speaks to their customer’s needs.

Attendee personas are similar in the sense that they also create semi-fictional representations of your ideal attendee, but they focus on different areas that help us understand their needs in relation to our event.

How to Create an Attendee Persona

Creating an Attendee Persona is easy, just make a list of your attendee’s characteristics, including:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Job title
  • Pain Points
  • Personal/professional motivations
  • Social media they use
  • What they want to learn at your event

Finding Information for Attendee Personas

Start building your Attendee Personas by identifying the types of people you want to connect with to promote your event. It’s likely that your event will appeal to more than one individual type of person, so it’s likely you’ll need to develop several Attendee Personas

If you aren’t sure where to start, try these research tips:

  • Analyze survey data. Take a look at what attendees have said about past events and note the similarities you see between industry, job title, etc.
  • Review your competitors. Identify similar events and take a look at the themes, topics, speakers, and attendees to gain insight into who may want to attend your event.
  • Ask “what opportunities does my event offer?” Are there people who haven’t attended a past event who would benefit from attending now?

Digging Deeper: Who to Ask

Now that you have a basic understanding of the types of attendee personas you’ll be building, it’s time to loop in other sources of attendee information, like:

Your support team 

They interact with your attendees on a daily basis and will have valuable insights into the details that are important to your target audience. Ask about areas like:

    • What are the questions they hear most often?
    • Which social media channels generate the most traffic?
    • What are the most common concerns attendees have?

Your sales team

If you have a sales team, tap into their customer relationship management (CRM) data to identify new event audiences, learn which types of attendees come back every year, and more.

Past attendees

If you can, arrange a video or in-person interview with past attendees. Gathering information from them directly allows you to ask specific questions about their needs, wants, and pain points. 

Other ways to learn more about your attendees is to follow blogs from industry influencers, follow conversations around industry hashtags, and using social listening tools to stay on top of emerging trends and topics.

How to Build Attendee Personas for Event Marketing: Recap

Building Attendee Personas is the fastest way to gain an in-depth understanding of your attendee’s wants, needs, and pain points. 

By doing the work of developing these personas in advance, you can write marketing copy that speaks to their needs and gets them excited about registering for your event.

Do you have any tips for building great attendee personas? Tweet them at us and we’ll update this post with your suggestions!

Are you feeling overwhelmed with your event’s social media marketing? Let HeyAlfa generate complete a social media marketing campaign for your next event! Join our private beta and save 5 — 10 hours of event marketing per month per event.


 

10 Rules of Social Media Automation for Events

- by Alyson Shane

Event social media automation is the process of using software to automate specific tasks like writing, scheduling, and publishing event-related content.

Automating your event's social media allows you to deliver a continuous stream of high-quality content without needing to make sure you manually log in and post something every day. Social media automation also saves you time — up to six hours a week in some cases.

Why is social media automation popular?

Social media automation is popular because it lets you schedule posts in advance. This guarantees your event's social media posts will be published if you're too busy to do it manually.  

Automating part of your social media gives you more time to focus on growing your community, which helps "humanize" your event and builds excitement about attending.

Social media automation also streamlines your workflow by taking care of repetitive tasks that you would otherwise have to do by hand. This lets you focus on details like securing vendors, managing registrants, and improving the attendee experience.

Types of event social media automation

There are two ways you can automate your event's social media:

1. Using a social media scheduling tool 

One way to automate your event's social media is to use a scheduling tool like Buffer, Hootsuite, or SproutSocial. 

These tools allow you to write social media posts and schedule them as far in advance as you want.

2. Using HeyAlfa

HeyAlfa automates social media campaigns for events.

We use your event's unique information, like the name, date, venue, speakers, and more, and generate posts about those topics. This allows you to can focus on that community engagement and growth we talked about earlier.

Whether you use Buffer, Hootsuite, HeyAlfa, or a combination, there are still some basic rules to follow to be successful when automating your event's social media. 

10 Rules of Social Media Automation for Events

1. Know where your attendees are

How would you describe someone who would benefit from your event? Which industry do they work in? What's their job title? What are they looking to get out of an event like yours?

Understanding these aspects of your ideal attendee profile helps identify where they're spending time online. 

Here's a quick breakdown:

  • Facebook: popular among professionals and older generations.
  • Twitter: popular for B2B connections, news, and networking.
  • LinkedIn: popular with older generations; business-focused.
  • Instagram: popular with younger generations; more casual.

Depending on your attendee's demographics, they may be active on all of these social networks or just a few. 

Knowing which they use should inform where you share your automated social media content. 

2. Update your content regularly

If you're using a scheduling tool and writing your posts by hand, it may be tempting to re-use the same posts over and over again. Resist the temptation!

Your followers will notice if they see the same post multiple times, which can cause them to lose interest in your event and what you have to say. If you add more speakers, sponsors, or other exciting details, add in additional posts to let your attendees know what they can expect.

Luckily if you're automating your event's social media using HeyAlfa, we do this for you.

3. Apply the 5-3-2 content rule

The 5-3-2 content rule is a social media marketing principle that dictates that out of every ten social media posts you write:

  • Five relevant articles from reputable people and sites
  • Three pieces of original (nonpromotional) content, like blog posts
  • Two personal or funny posts

If the idea of sharing other people's content seems counter-intuitive, consider this:

Events are about creating a community for attendees, and curating content from influencers in your industry establishes your social media profiles as a go-to place for news and information.

Even better: curating content from your speakers, sponsors, partners allows you to cross-promote one another on your social channels for free. 

4. Promote using the 4-1-1 rule

This rule keeps you from sounding pushy with your posts, and dictates that of every six posts you write:

  • Four posts of new, original content you've published
  • One curated post (see above)
  • One post that sounds salesy

Here's an example of what this might look like:

  1. "Meet our volunteer Charles in our latest feature"
  2. "Find out what goes into making EventHub 2020 a reality"
  3. "EventHub 2020 Sponsor feature: Insurance Co"
  4. "10 Questions with EventHub 2020 Speaker Jane McDonald"
  5. "Here's a post from EventHub 2020 speaker Tom Smith's blog"
  6. "Register for EventHub 2020 and catch Jane McDonald and Tom Smith on our stage!"

5. Share when your audience is active

Users on different social media networks are active during different days and times throughout the week. Posting during the most popular times by each network increases the chances that your audience will see your posts.

Here are the ideal days and times to publish your social media posts:

Facebook

  • Days: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Times: 9:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:00 - 4:00 PM (when people are commuting, or on lunch)

Twitter

  • Days: Wednesday and Thursday
  • Times: 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and between 5:00 and 6:00 PM.

Content moves quickly on Twitter, so you may want to tweet similar content multiple times to get the most engagement.

LinkedIn

  • Days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • Times: 7:00 - 8:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 5:00 - 6:00 PM

Most people using LinkedIn are busy during work hours, so schedule your posts during times when they'll be free to read it. Avoid Mondays and Fridays, as well, since those workdays tend to be the busiest.

Instagram

  • Days: Tuesday and Thursday
  • Times: 8:00 00 0 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

6. Know which time zone to use

The days and times listed above may need to be adjusted depending on the time zone where the majority of your potential attendees live.

If you're promoting locally, use the time zone for your area. If you're promoting nationally, or internationally, keep local time zones in mind to reach the maximum number of possible attendees.

7. Don't schedule too far out

It might seem like a good idea to schedule as much of your event's social media content as far out as possible, but you might run into problems.

For example, if your event sells out you don't want to keep promoting registration, so you'll need to delete all future posts promoting ticket sales by hand. 

Usually this isn't a problem, but if you've scheduled months in advance the removal process can be time-consuming and doesn't guarantee that all posts mentioning tickets have been removed.

(If you use HeyAlfa you don't need to worry about promoting the wrong thing at the wrong time. We update your campaign the minute you turn ticket sales' off' on your dashboard.)

8. Customize by network

Every social media network is different, so you'll need to tailor your posts to have a tone that matches how other users are talking to one another.

For example, Twitter's layout allows you to play with spaces in your tweets to help them stand out, like this:

The same tactic on other social networks doesn't yield the same result:

As we can see, on other social networks the post gets cut off and we lose the call-to-action, so beware.

9. Engage with your community

Automating your event's social media doesn't mean you can ignore your community!

In fact, social media automation should have the opposite effect: it should give you more time to engage with your followers and build a community around your event. 

We recommend taking an hour a day to check your profiles, respond to any comments or direct messages, and participate in conversations related to your event and your industry.

Remember: events are about community-building, so use the time you save by automating your event's social media on nurturing that community.

10. Monitor your progress

Just because you're automating part of your event's social media marketing doesn't mean you should stop paying attention to how it's performing. Some things to monitor could be:

  • Which hashtags get the most engagement
  • Which topics or details (venue, speakers, etc.) get the most engagement
  • Which posts got the most/least engagement
  • Which days and times get the most/least engagement 
  • Which posts generate website traffic

Use this information to evaluate your existing posts, and to make improvements on any future posts in your campaign.

If you're automating your event marketing campaign using HeyAlfa, you can simply update them instead of re-writing them from scratch.

Social Media Marketing Automation for Events: Recap

We've talked about why social media automation is popular, different ways to automate your event marketing campaign, and 10 of the most important rules to follow. 

By now you might be thinking "wow, this could save me a lot of time," which is true, but remember: the key to a successful event is spending that extra time building a community around it.

Social media is a powerful tool for event promotion because it allows you to engage with your target audience on a consistent basis. A strong social media presence helps potential attendees learn the value of attending and helps them get excited about joining you. 

This is why we created HeyAlfa. We take care of the repetitive parts of event social media marketing, so you have more time to focus on building excitement and community around your event.

Do you have any thoughts on social media marketing automation for events? Tweet at us or get in touch with your question.


 

How Event Creators Can Adapt to Coronavirus Event Cancellations

- by Alyson Shane

Coronavirus event cancellation is sweeping across the globe. Events are being cancelled or postponed across multiple industries - even the coronavirus conference was cancelled due to the coronavirus!

For event organizers, attendees, and sponsors, cancelled events represent a big loss in brand awareness and sales. Events are an opportunity for businesses to come together, share ideas, and make the connections they need to keep growing.

For now, the Coronavirus is standing in the way of all of that. Social distancing is needed to “flatten the curve” in many countries, and in-person events are being cancelled due to (very real) public health concerns.

These days, companies need to adapt to find new ways to keep engaging with event attendees without an in-person event to draw them to. 

Host online events

Reformat your in-person events as a series of webinars and live streams. Ask presenters and keynote speakers to join in and share their expertise with attendees through their webcams, and by doing screen shares.

Types of online events for social distancing include:

  • Webinars and online training
  • Town halls 
  • Livestreams 
  • Q&As 
  • Interviews
  • Whiteboard Wednesdays

Connect with attendees on social media 

Everyone is turning to social media as a way of coping with social distancing, so make sure you’re talking to your attendees and being an active member of your online community.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Create a Facebook or LinkedIn group

Groups are a great way to connect directly with attendees and create a sense of community around your event on social media. Not only can attendees talk and get to know each other, but you can guide the discussion and learn more about their wants and needs by asking questions and guiding the discussion.

Start a Twitter chat

Depending on your event, more of your attendees might be active on Twitter. If this is the case, starting a Twitter chat is a great way to foster a community without an in-person event.

There are a few ground rules for hosting a successful Twitter chat, including:

  • Guide the discussion by asking questions 
  • Prepare your questions in advance
  • Choose a recurring date and time
  • Decide if your chat is weekly or monthly
  • Have a theme so attendees know what to expect
  • Create a custom hashtag like #MyEventChat for people to follow
  • Include the custom hashtag in every tweet related to the chat

You can add extra value to your Twitter chat by inviting industry experts to join the chat and share their expertise with attendees. 

The most important part of hosting a Twitter chat is being prepared. As the moderator, it can get overwhelming to manage the conversation and publish chat questions at the same time. 

You can avoid this by scheduling your tweets in advance using a tool like HubSpot or Buffer, but if you don’t use a scheduling tool then at least make sure you’ve written them down in advance.

Focus on your email list

Email is one of the most effective ways to reach people. The average open rate for a welcome email is 82%, and the average return-on-investment (ROI) is $42 for every $1 you spend on email marketing.

That being said, don’t just send an email because you’re anxious about losing touch with your attendees. Make sure your emails are useful.

What do we mean by “useful”? Here are a few examples:

  • Have one central topic per email
  • Write about topics attendees care about
  • Keep it short and simple
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Send them consistently (weekly, monthly, etc)
  • Include a clear call-to-action (CTA)

Host a Slack workspace where attendees can hang out

Slack channels are popping up everywhere to help people cope with the isolation of social distancing. Creating a channel gives attendees a place they can spend time, talk to one another, and feel a shared sense of community without attending an event in person.

To keep the conversation from getting overwhelming with too many participants, create Channels within your Slack workspace to organize discussions by topic. 

How event creators can adapt to Coronavirus event cancellations

Event creators need to be resilient and creative during this strange period. By finding digital ways to connect with attendees they can continue to foster communities without relying on in-person events.

If you have a topic you’d like us to cover here on the blog, tweet your idea at us.

Looking for help promoting your next online event? Sign up for our private beta and let HeyAlfa generate a complete social media marketing campaign for your event.


 

7 Signs You've Found the Perfect Conference Venue

- by Alyson Shane

Are you wondering how to find the perfect conference venue?

Choosing the perfect conference venue isn’t just booking a flashy space that wows attendees. 

Choosing the perfect conference venue means anticipating your speakers’ and attendees’ needs, and making sure they’re taken care of.

This ensures a positive experience for everyone, and will make your conference memorable for all the right reasons.

Below are seven signs you’ve found the perfect conference venue:

1. The venue is accessible and inclusive

One of the most important parts of ensuring a positive attendee experience is to choose a venue that is accessible and inclusive.

We love the tips outlined in the Council of Ontario Universities’ guide for choosing venues, which include:

  • The building entrance. Doors should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter, and should have a power-assist button.
  • Meeting room size. Big rooms with lots of space are better-equipped to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters. But, rooms that are too big could prevent vision or hearing-impaired attendees from engaging with speakers.
  • Washrooms. The most important factor to consider is the washroom proximity to all meeting and dining areas.

2. There’s lodging nearby for out-of-town attendees

If your event isn’t held in a hotel, then it’s important to consider the proximity of your location to nearby hotels for out-of -town attendees.

If your event isn’t close to any hotels, see if you can arrange a shuttle service. Otherwise you’ll need to factor in the expense of taxi services when pricing your tickets.

3. The venue has staff on-site to help

Depending on the size of your event, the venue should assign at least one person to be your dedicated point of contact both leading up to and during the event.

It’s important to only book a venue from people who are committed to addressing your concerns in a timely manner. Don’t book venues with people who take forever to get back to you, or who seem flippant about your questions or concerns.

4. The venue accommodates your needs

Make sure to clarify any audio/visual needs with your venue and determine what they have, and don’t have, before booking.

Make a list of all the technical equipment you’ll need for your event. For example, if your event features multiple speakers who may need to plug in laptops and use microphones, make sure that the right equipment is available before booking.

Other areas to clarify include:

  • Stage location and audio-visual setup
  • Seating arrangements and capacities
  • Sponsor areas
  • Whether or not you can bring in outside vendors
  • If any break-out spaces are available

5. The venue is sustainable

The venue you choose is a reflection of your event’s values - whether you want it to be or not.

As a result, it’s important that you take care in choosing venues that are close to public transit, or are committed to using compostable plates and cutlery.

6. The venue offers additional branding opportunities

Do you remember to ask about signage and branding opportunities when you book a venue?

Promoting your event doesn’t stop during the event, so make sure to ask about where you can place signage and banners throughout the facility, not just in the event space.

Get creative: ask about signage in elevators, in the lobby, and anywhere that catches your eye. We suggest doing a walkthrough of the space before booking to get a sense of where you can add some extra branding to raise awareness of your event.

7. The venue has flexible food and beverage options

Most venues provide onsite food and beverage, but it’s important to clarify the following areas before signing on the dotted line:

  • What kinds of food and beverage options are available?
  • Can they accommodate special diets or food allergies?
  • Are you allowed to bring in outside vendors?

Make sure to clarify whether the venue can manage additional requests from last-minute attendees, and whether attendees can order à la carte during the event as well.

7 signs you've found the perfect conference venue

Keep these seven elements in mind while booking your next event venue and rest easy knowing that one of the most important aspects of planning your event is taken care of.

Want to save even more time planning your event? Sign up for our private beta and use HeyAlfa to generate your entire event marketing campaign for social media.


 

10 of the Best YouTube Lo-Fi Playlists for Productivity

- by Alyson Shane

What kind of music do you listen to when you want to be productive and get sh*t done?

Hey, it’s Alyson from HeyAlfa here. For a long time, my answer to that question was “silence.” 

As a writer, I’ve always struggled to listen to music and write effectively, and as a result whenever I sat down to hammer out my thoughts (like I’m doing right now) I’d always wind up needing to turn off whatever I was listening to. I needed more space to think.

For a long time I got around this by listening to EDM, jazz, or classical, or OSTs like The Social Network and The Fountain.

(Ask me about my love for Clint Mansell.)

Recently I’ve really been digging those lo-fi playlists that have been exploding on YouTube. I’m actually listening to one right now. 

This post is inspired by our pal Alex, who sends me new videos a couple of times a week. I love getting texts from him with a new playlist to check out, so here are 10 of my favourite lo-fi playlists for office productivity in 2020:

1. lofi hip hop radio - beats to sleep/relax to

This is the live steam I’m listening to as I write this post.

I like it because it’s nice and smooth, with lots of piano and ambient sounds. Unlike a lot of other lo-fi playlists on this list, this one doesn’t have vocal samples which is nice if you’re looking for something to sink down into that won’t distract you with a catchy chorus.

I like listening to this playlist when I’m working at night. There’s something about a fully belly and a nice glass of wine that goes well with this playlist.

Listen on Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2Ryy9JL 

2. Campfire Crackling [warm / cozy beats]

I guess technically you’d call this a ‘chillhop’ playlist (I can hear all my old DJ friends groaning over this right now, heh) but I’m adding it here because it’s got the same kinds of beats, and because I listen to it a lot.

This playlist is nice because it features outdoor sounds, like crickets chirping, owls hooting, and (of course) campfires crackling. It’s as cozy as the name says it is, and I’ve really enjoyed listening to it with a cup of coffee while it snows outside.

Bonus: I put this on when friends come over and it’s great background music to board games.

Listen on Spotify: ttps://chillhop.lnk.to/sptfySi 

3. lofi hip hop radio - beats to study/relax to (Racoon edition)

Okay, this soundtrack doesn’t have “Racoon edition” in its name, but I refer to it that way in my head because there’s a ton of YouTube playlists called “lofi hip hop radio - beats to study/relax to.”

If you click the link you’ll see that the stream features a cute little racoon hanging out on its laptop - hence the name - and you can treat your ears to some sweet lo-fi vibes.

This playlist features minimal vocals, ambient sounds, and is great for doing really thought-intensive work like crunching numbers or looking at data. 

Listen on Spotify: https://chillhop.lnk.to/lofihiphop

4. Nighttime Ramen [jazzy beats / lofi hip hop mix]

If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat and varied than the video above, this mix is a great alternative.

I love jazz, and I find this mix really easy to work to. The tracks selected features tons of horn, piano, and saxophone, which gives it a moody, groovy feeling. The tracks build and crescendo nicely, giving you a real sense of progression, which can be helpful for fueling creative momentum.

Ever so often you’ll hear a vocal sample, but they’re not too heavily featured. You can find my fav track in the mix by skipping ahead to 19:51.

5. Super Lofi World

This one comes to you courtesy of Alex, who sent it to me and sent me down a rabbit hole of video game-themed playlists that I’m still exploring. I’ve been a gamer since my parents got us a Super Nintendo for Christmas in 1991 and grew up listening to music by Koji Kondo and Nobuo Uematsu, so old school video game beats are a soft spot for me. 

Super Lofi World features music from Zelda, Pokémon, Donkey Kong, and more classics that nerds like me will love. 

My fav track is at 18:14 - there’s something about the music from Donkey Kong that I still can’t get enough of.

Listen on Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2YyMSWp 

6. 24/7 nostalgia - lofi hiphop beats to study/relax to

Maybe it’s the anime clips that show on repeat as the stream plays, or the heavy use of the harp and xylophones, but this playlist always reminds me of music from shows like Sailor Moon, or Studio Ghibli movies.

This stream often features vocal tracks, bird chirping, waves, wind, rain, and all the ambient sounds you can think of. It’s pretty groovy, and blends into the background nicely if you’re tackling to-dos like writing emails, marketing copy, or anything that requires you to be detailed-oriented.

Best of all: since it’s a livestream, you never have to worry about running out of tunes to listen to as you work!

7. DAYDREAM | TOKYO RAIN | LO FI MIX

I’ve always loved writing while it’s raining. During the summertime I’ll often haul my laptop and a cup of tea out into our sunroom with our cats in tow to listen to the rain fall while I work or write. 

As someone who lives in a city where winter temperatures regularly dip to -30C (-22 F), I find myself longing for the sound of rain often during the winter months. This playlist is a great remedy, and includes bird sounds, thunder rolls, and even the occasional lightning strike to really create the feeling of being surrounded by a gentle, warm downpour. 

8. Heavy Rain | Lofi HipHop

This playlist opens with a beautiful piano rendition of The Song of Storms from The Legend of Zelda, so we’re already off on the right track.

As we can tell by the name, this playlist also features heavy rain sounds, as well as a few samples, including some “garden of your mind” samples from Mister Rogers which just make my heart explode.

This playlist makes me want to curl up under a blanket and sip hot chocolate while I work, which is often what I find myself doing while I listen to it.

9.  24-7 lofi hip hop radio - late nite chat

I only recently discovered this stream, but I’ve been listening to it a lot recently. 

I like this stream because it features tracks that feature more synthy sounds than a lot of other streams/mixes on this list. 

I find that a lot of lofi playlists can start to blend together over time, but to date this stream has kept things feeling fresh by occasionally injecting something with a heavier beat or more 80’s sounds.

10. Zelda and lofi

I know I’m really focusing on nerdy content here, but I listen to this playlist at least 4-5 times a week and this list wouldn’t be complete without it.

The Legend of Zelda is known for its sweeping soundtracks and original music, and this compilation of remixes and covers layered with bird sounds, water sounds, and sounds from the games like cuckoo calls is honestly just a treat to listen to. 

This playlist takes me back to happy days playing Ocarina of Time as a kid, and does wonders for my mood and productivity. 

I find I listen to this one most often first thing in the morning, over a big cup of coffee while early morning sunlight streams in through the window.

Listen on Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2rxFApP 

The best YouTube lofi playlists for productivity: conclusion

There are so many lofi videos on YouTube, and even more once you start to expand into areas like chillhop, ambient, synthwave, and more. 

If you ask me, there’s never been a better time to be a productive person in need of some great background music.

If I’ve missed mentioning your favourite playlist, let me know by tweeting at us at @sayheyalfa


 

Event Marketing Strategies to Reach New Attendees and Grow Your Following

- by Alyson Shane

Are you looking for new ways to reach new attendees and grow your following on social media?

If you’ve been trying to figure out how to turn your attendees into social media followers who engage with, promote, and stay excited about your event all year, keep reading:

Always be posting

Often, annual or recurring events will “go silent” for months at a time in-between events. This is a mistake, because it means you’re missing out on months of opportunities to remind attendees about how much fun they had, and promote the value of attending.

The easiest way to post new content is to blog regularly. 

Regular blogging isn’t just a great way to keep your website updated with fresh content (which search engines like Google love and helps with search engine optimization) but it also gives you multiple chances to send traffic back to your website, and promote your event year-round.

Some things you can publish on your blog include:

  • Speaker or keynote highlights
  • Industry news and updates
  • Updates to the next event
  • Thought leadership articles
  • Interviews

Make sure to make use of your social media channels and well as your mailing list to stay connected with attendees, as well.

Create campaigns centered around your events

The key to successfully building an online following is to engage with the people who follow you regularly.

Not just be replying to them, but by asking their feedback and thoughts, too. Some great ways to do this include voting, polls, or the “ask me anything” option available through Instagram Stories.

Make sure to include a clear call-to-action that tells people what you want them to do; if your followers don’t know what to say, they may not say anything at all!

To really boost engagement with your posts, try using incentives.

Make sure to choose prizes that are appropriate for your event’s brand, like “bring a guest for free” or free entry into a door prize.

Even better: if you have sponsors, discuss partnering with them to provide gifts, coupons, or free services as part of your incentive campaign.

Include testimonials in your marketing

Many event planners will spend time describing how great their events are, but fail to include testimonials from real-life attendees as part of their marketing.

Take a lesson from the business community and start including attendee testimonials in your marketing. 

88% percent of consumers polled by Vendasta stated that they trusted these reviews just as much as personal recommendations. 

This stat tells us that testimonials can play a vital role in showcasing the value of attending our events. After all, if people are more likely to buy something after reading a testimonial, it’s safe to assume that they’re just as likely to register to attend your event based on a recommendation.

Highlight what makes your event unique 

What makes your event different? If you don’t know, now’s the time to dig in and find out!

The easiest way to do this research is to compare your event against other, similar events, and determine what makes yours unique. Some ideas include:

  • The unique experience you and/or your team bring to organizing
  • Unique topics, themes, or perspectives
  • Milestones (largest, first, location-specific, etc.)
  • Venue details and features

Make sure to @ mention any speakers, venue accounts, or other relevant accounts as part of your social media promotion. 

Cross-promoting with event partners typically means you’re reaching an audience of people who will be interested in what your event has to offer, abd is an easy (and free) way to reach more attendees and grow your following.

Follow up after your event

Don’t leave your attendees hanging after a successful event! Make them feel appreciated and included by following up with them after the event has ended.

The easiest way to follow up with everyone who attended is to send an email to the list of people who were registered, but the trick is to send more than one follow-up email.

This is your chance to thank them for attending, showcase any highlights, and ask for their feedback on how to make the next event even better. But here’s the catch: instead of jamming all three of these topics into a single email, send three separate emails over time.

Sending emails with only one ask is the easiest way to get readers to take the action you want them to take, so consider a follow-up strategy that looks like this:

  • Day after the event: thank you email
  • Four days after the event: event highlights email
  • One week after the event: feedback survey email

This strategy has the added bonus of keeping your event top-of-mind for attendees, even after the event has ended.

Do you have any event marketing strategies that have helped you reach new attendees and grow your following? Tweet them at us.

Want to save time promoting your event by generating a complete social media marketing campaign for your next event? Join our private beta.


 

3 Pre-Event Hype Ideas to Increase Attendance

- by Alyson Shane

Do you know how to create pre-event hype that excites and engages your audience?

Creating pre-event hype isn’t something that happens by accident. It takes planning and organization to keep your audience’s attention until the big day.

The most important part of your plan is your content strategy. The content you share as part of your pre-event hype needs to be connective and memorable.

Below are three ideas to get you started:

1. Plan a branded event campaign

Consider everything you need to do to keep your messaging consistent across your website, social media, email, and paid ads.

Update all your social media profiles with the same (or similar) bios, profile pictures, and header images promoting the event.

Use branded hashtags like #MyGreatEvent2019 whenever you post about your event on social media.

This helps you keep track of all the conversations happening around your event, and gives attendees a way to see what everyone is saying, too!

Don’t just post about ticket sales on social media.

Spacing out your sales content with blog posts, interviews, industry news, and other announcements helps your content feel conversational and helpful.

2. Share behind-the-scenes videos

An easy way to connect with your audience and get your attendees excited about attending your event is to share videos that help them get to know you.

Events are chances for us to make real, human connections, and there’s no better way too be “human” online than through fun and entertaining videos.

Even better: using the word ‘video’ in your email subject line can increase open rates by 19%!

If you’re not sure what to share, think about the kinds of questions your audience might want to know about the event you’re promoting, such as:

  • What’s the event all about?
  • What kinds of topics, ideas, or sessions will be covered?
  • Who are some of the speakers, presenters, or performers?
  • Who are some of the people involved in planning?
  • What are some details about the venue?

Still not sure what they want to know? Ask them.

Instagram Stories, Facebook Polls, and Twitter Polls are all great ways to engage with your audience and find out more about the kind of content they want to see.

3. Start sending out emails ASAP

Email marketing is an important way for event creators to connect with their audiences and help get them excited about attending.

Use your event promotional calendar to pre-plan out when you’ll send out emails to your mailing list, and write as many of them in advance as you can. You’ll thank yourself later - trust us.

You should aim to send an email at least once a week, maybe more if you’re counting down to a special event like when early bird ticket sales end and prices go up.

Start planning your pre-event hype now

Spend your creative time planning exciting pre-hype campaigns for your event and leave the social media promotion to us. Fill out the box below to join the waitlist:

Let’s be internet friends! Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


 

Your Social Media Event Marketing Plan in 5 Easy Steps

- by Alyson Shane

Event marketing can be one of the most time-consuming parts of event planning. Luckily,  by breaking down your process into simple steps you can create a plan that saves time, sells tickets, and gets your attendees excited and talking about your event.

Even better: creating an event marketing plan means you have a repeatable process that saves time on future events.

Below are 5 easy steps you can take to start building your event marketing plan today:

1. Create a Website or Landing Page

The first step to promoting event on social media is to build a website or landing page dedicated to your event. It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated, but should focus exclusively on your event, what it’s about, who’s involved, and what attendees can expect.

A website or landing page also gives you a place to brand your event, optimize for SEO, and send visitors who may not have found the website if it were only listed as a footnote on your business’ website.

Link to your event page from your corporate website, since this will organically improve their search engine page rankings, and to ask anyone involved with planning and promoting the event to share the URL on their own blogs and social media accounts as well.

If the event is recurring, create a blog section on the website and post regular updates to build anticipation as you release the names of your speakers, talk times, session topics, activities, and more.

Each new post on your blog gives readers a new reason to visit your website, so don’t miss out on this valuable marketing opportunity!

Once these pages are complete, link them to your social media accounts and run your registration through them to create a seamless attendee experience from start to finish.

2. Promote Early Bird Discounts 

One of the easiest ways to ensure commitment from attendees early on is to incentivize them with early bird discounts and packages. 

Not only does offering early bird discounts help you sell more tickets, but it also gives those early bird attendees time to contact their friends, family, and colleagues to encourage them to attend as well.

You can also consider using marketing tactics like referral incentives, where an attendee earns a reward or deeper discount on their ticket if they refer a certain amount of people who also register to attend.

3. Develop a Content Strategy for Your Event

One of the easiest ways to promote your event is to lean on your speakers and their ability to promote it to their audience. 

One of our favorite ways to leverage your speakers’ knowledge and skills is to invite them to publish guest posts on your blog, or to participate in an interview leading up to the event. 

This will help position your speakers as thought leaders in their respective industries, and it will motivate other industry leaders to attend your event. 

For example, most digital marketers would jump at the chance to hear Ann Handley talk about content marketing, just like most VR developers would bend over backwards to hear John Carmack talk about what Oculus is up to. 

By empowering your speakers to promote their upcoming appearance at your event on their own blogs, social media channels, and newsletters, you can encourage their audience to register to attend your event and connect with an industry expert they love.

4. Use Social Media Contests to Build Excitement

Give your attendees even more reason to be excited about your event by hosting contests and giveaways on social media. 

Contests can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like, but they should all share these basic qualities:

  • Has clear rules for entry. By specific!
  • Encourages engagement (Liking, commenting, @ mentioning, sharing) in some way.
  • Has clear start and end dates.
  • Clearly states what the contest winner will receive. 

For example, you could host an Instagram contest where users submit entries by Liking, sharing the post on their own feeds, and commenting by @ mentioning someone they want to bring to the event as their guest. 

A prize pack could include free registration for two, meal vouchers, and any other items or experiences you can spare to make the contest as appealing and exciting as possible.

5. Find the Right Partners and Sponsors 

The people you partner with can make - or break - your event, so take care to choose relationships that compliment your event and attendees. 

For example, choose to have your startup-focused event catered by a local restaurant instead of choosing a corporate catering company; or partner with local hotels to secure discounts on rooms for out-of-town attendees. 

Include your partners and sponsors in your content marketing plan, and partner with them on contests and giveaways, if possible. Feature them on your blog, @ mention them on social media, and ask them to do the same in return.

Event Marketing Made Easy

By taking the time to develop your social media event marketing plan you can develop a repeatable and well-tuned process that saves time, sells tickets, and helps attendees feel excited and inspired to attend your event - and tell their friends to attend, too!

Let's be friends! Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


 

How to Sell Out Your Event Using a Promotional Calendar

- by Alyson Shane

The secret to selling out your event isn't just about having the best speakers or the hottest venue (though those don't hurt.) 

The secret to selling out your event is being organized.

Unfortunately that can be hard to do with so many deadlines, dates, and details to manage at once - especially in the months and weeks leading right up to your event.

That's where your promotional calendar comes in. 

By organizing your event's significant dates into a campaign-style calendar, you can have a better understanding of what to say, and when.

To get started, download this free event promotional calendar template and follow along as we walk you through how to use it:

Identify your event milestones

Sit down and make a list of all the important dates between now and your event, such as:

  • The day you announce calls for speakers
  • The day the event schedule is released
  • The day early bird tickets go on sale
  • The day early bird ticket pricing ends

Identifying these dates in advance means you always have something to build towards in your promotional content.

Countdowns and posts highlighting that there's only a few days left to save on early bird tickets, for example, is a great way to incentive people to register early.

If you'd like some help generating and scheduling that content, fill out the box below:

16 weeks before your event

There's a lot to do in the weeks before tickets go on sale, but now is the time to start promoting your event to your community.

First, announce to your followers on social media that tickets will be on sale soon. This will start to generate some initial buzz that you can build on later.

Second, if you have a list of attendees from previous events, send them an email letting them know when they'll be able to register.

Start working with sponsors, speakers, volunteers, and other partners to coordinate a promotional strategy for the day tickets go on sale, and make sure your website is created (or updated) to start promoting the event.

13 weeks before your event

Tickets should now be on sale.

Send out an email to your mailing list to let everyone know registration has opened, and publish updates to your social media profiles and event blog (if you have one.)

Make sure your sponsors, speakers, and other partners are in lockstep and ready to start promoting ticket sales on the same day. Provide them with tracking links and any special codes they can distribute to attendees, and plan to check up on them every 3-4 weeks.

Roll out any social media or search ads announcing that tickets are now available. Make sure to highlight early bird pricing if you're offering it.

10 weeks before your event

Start heavily promoting your event and the benefits of attending.

If you've been selling early bird tickets, now's the time to end the sale and introduce regular registration pricing.

Start sending your attendees more personalized emails by segmenting them into categories based on why they're attending.

Use these emails to highlight the benefits of attending that are unique to each group and their needs, and that encourage them to share the event with their colleagues and friends. 

Use your mailing list and social media to highlight speakers and topics, give shout-outs to sponsors, and testimonials from past events if you have any.

If you have a blog, ask speakers and sponsors to write guest blogs and share with their communities.

Keep track of your email open rates and click-through-rates (CTRs) to see how different messaging resonates with different categories of attendees. Now is also the time to end any unsuccessful ad campaigns, and to reallocate their budget into new ads, or ads that have been performing.

6 weeks before your event

Now is the time to add a sense of urgency to your promotional content.

Your social media, blog posts, ads, and emails should all be notifying interested attendees that time is running out.

Use this time as an opportunity to "dig deep" into your event and highlight different or unique ways to be prepared to attend. If attendees have to travel to attend, highlight interesting or unique things about the city you're in, or the venue where the event is being held.

Blog posts with subjects like "everything you need to know about XYZ event" and "everything you need for a successful XYZ event" can also be great ways to help attendees get excited about attending.

If you've been running ads, retarget users who have visited your event website and started the process of registering, but didn't finish.

Now is a great time to run a contest to keep the momentum going. There are lots of contests and giveaways you can choose to do, but the key is that contests should encourage your community to share something and, ideally, post about why they want to attend.

2 weeks before your event

Send an email to everyone who hasn't registered yet and remind them that there's barely any time left, so they should act now. 

Your social media and blog content should also be sales-focused, with lots of calls to register worked into your copy. 

If you were running a contest, it should have ended by now.

Download the free template

Take the guesswork out of promoting your next event and download our free event promotional calendar template.

We've created it in a spreadsheet so you can modify it to your needs, after all, some events need more than 4 months' of promotion - some get promoted all year!

If you're not excited by the idea of writing 4+ months of social media content to promote your event (we get it) sign up to be in our closed beta and start saving time on your event marketing:


 

4 Things I Learned in Startup School 2019

- by Alyson Shane

Hey everyone, Alyson writing here to let you know that HeyAlfa just graduated from Startup School 2019 - yahoo!

Startup School is free is a free online course for founders actively pursuing their own startup from YCombinator.

In addition to making me realize that 10 weeks goes by really fast, Startup School was a great opportunity to learn from thought leaders in the industry, meet other founders, and put in some serious time into developing HeyAlfa.

Below are a few things I took away from my experience.

If you're a startup owner I hope you find these 4 things I learned in Startup School 2019 helpful:

1. Know your product market fit

As part of the program we were required to attend a group session once a week. These sessions were fun, informative, and overall a great way to get feedback on our business idea.

I really enjoyed meeting other founders, and was impressed by the unique and interesting challenges the other startups were solving. Some of my favorites included:

Something that became clear as we got farther into the program is that if you don't know your product market fit, you won't be able to give a succinct answer when someone asks what your startup does.

Here are a few of the questions that came up a lot in the group sessions about this topic:

  • What is the specific problem your startup solves?
  • Are there any other tools currently solving this problem?
  • If 'yes,' what about your startup is different enough that people will want to use it instead?

The last one is the hardest to answer, and is the one where most people got stuck. 

Unfortunately, it's also the most important one to answer, because there's almost always going to be competition in your space. It's just up to you to determine what makes your startup harder/better/faster/stronger than the rest.  

2. Stay organized

There's a chaos to running a startup that I didn't anticipate. 

I like to be the lady with a plan, and even though the Startup School lessons and resources, and books like Crossing the Chasm have informed my thinking a lot, knowing what to "do next" sometimes felt a bit overwhelming.

To manage this, I created two Trello boards:

  • Startup School 
  • HeyAlfa Marketing

Here's what my Startup School board looks like:

Here I can easily reference any of my notes from group sessions and lectures, re-watch the videos, and keep track of our progress in one place.

My HeyAlfa Marketing board gave me a place to "put down" all my ideas, plans, and to-dos, and gave structure to what sometimes felt like a confusing number of tasks. 

Setting deadlines on the cards and automating email reminders for myself meant that I (rarely) missed something. 

And, like the bullet journal technique, I found that the tasks that kept slipping were actually the least important things - they'd just felt that way when I'd created the card. 

This also helped me prioritize things that mattered (talking to users) over things that just made me feel good (writing blog posts).

3. Put in the time

John and I both run our own companies, so until recently we were working on HeyAlfa exclusively during evenings and weekends. 

Once Startup School began, I pivoted my focus a bit and started spending more like 70% of my workday on HeyAlfa, and 30% of my workday managing my business. 

That may not sound like a lot, but putting in a few extra hours here and there in addition to the evenings and weekends I was already spending paid off in spades. 

We've made so much progress in such a short amount of time, and being in the program was the thing that lit a fire under us and pushed us to get more done.

4. Communicate with your cofounders

I've never had a cofounder before.

I'm the boss in my other business. I'm accountable to our clients, sure, but all the decisions about the business start and end with me. I've gotten used to it, and I like it that way.

In addition to being cofounders, John and I are also engaged. As a result, most of our work on HeyAlfa to date has been done sitting next to each other on the same big, red IKEA couch that I'm sitting on as I type this right now.

It also means that, until we began Startup School, most of our "planning" was done in notebooks, or in our heads. This is obviously no way to run a startup. 

Taking the program, and our progress, seriously meant taking our communication more seriously. 

Kevin Hale's lecture "How to Work Together" was illuminating, and I've modified the Decision Disagreement Framework template he suggested into one for us to use at HeyAlfa - check it out:


Luckily we haven't had to use anything this sophisticated to solve a disagreement yet, but I feel good knowing we have a way to document disagreements when they arise.

Personally, I've also had to learn to grow a thicker skin. Getting feedback from a cofounder who is also your romantic partner is HARD. Full stop. 

But it's also teaching me a lot about how to handle constructive criticism, and I've grown throughout this process as a result. Resolving cofounder disagreements (in my limited experience, anyway) often comes down to not saying what you feel in the moment and coming back to it at a later date when cooler heads prevail. 

Turns out having a cofounder is a lot like being in a relationship. Who knew!

Do you have any Startup School 2019 takeaways?

If you were also in Startup School 2019, I'd love to hear about your experiences as well! 

You can find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, so share your stories with us and let's keep growing together.

And don't forget - if you want to start saving time on your event's social media, sign up to join the HeyAlfa waitlist:


 

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