Summer event season is coming up fast, and this year is sure to be a doozy of an opportunity for brands to engage with their biggest fans. Whether you’re launching a new product or celebrating a successful year, in-market event marketing is a fun way to bring your consumers and businesses together. If you’re ready to plan your next event, keep reading to find out how advocacy marketing can help turn this year’s events into something extra special.
Why Are Events Important?
You might be under the impression that events aren’t all that important. If that’s true, then you are as wrong as snowshoes in Hawaii. Here are just a couple of the reason events and event marketing are worth all that hassle:
- 98% of individuals are more likely to buy a product after attending an event activation.
- 31% of marketers believe that event marketing is the single most effective marketing channel.
- 75% of companies with event budgets between $50-100 million say they expect an ROI of more than 5:1 from live event and experiential programs
Events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person, tangible connections with your brand in an ever-increasing digital world.
While most event marketing initiatives intended to be a fun time for attendees, the main business goal of an event is typically tied to driving sales and leads. A few ways you can increase sales and support lead generation during your events are:
- Having event-only discount promotions
- Using mobile point-of-sales systems
- Offering a branded promotional product
- Sponsoring a contest or sweepstakes
But how do you drive excitement, attendance, and engagement during your event? Enter advocacy marketing.
Pair Your Event Marketing with Advocacy Marketing
Looking for a cost-effective marketing tactic to support your event marketing strategy? Advocacy marketing is your answer!
Even though paid social is a popular way to promote and market your next event, it’s not foolproof. 30% of all Internet users use some type of ad blocker. With the average social media user connected to 400+ friends and family, you don’t need to solely rely on paid social. With an advocacy marketing program, you can easily reach thousands, even hundreds of thousands of individuals.
Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Are you more likely to go to an event…
- A) That your friend suggested
- B) One that a brand suggested
If you answered A, you’re not alone. 92% of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations. While 72% of people said they trust content shared by “normal” people rather than brands. As your advocates share your event invites onto their social channels, they are personally endorsing your event. Making those who are on the fence about attending more inclined to bite the bullet and go.
In an advocacy marketing program, your most loyal fans become the driving force to market the event to their friends and family. Once they join your program, they’ll be able to share your event-specific content directly to their personal social media feeds. In doing so, they’ll be providing each piece of shared content with their stamp of approval and endorsement.
Here’s how to get started:
1) Build the Event Experience Around the Right People
It’s the Age of the Influencer. Everyone from grandmas to 4-legged pets has become trusted influencers. Like we said above, 92% of individuals trust an influencer over an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. Influencers are the new brands.
Instead of building your event around your executives, consider building the event marketing experience around the influencers that will be in attendance. While celebrity guests and large-scale influencers are powerful event-buzz building tools, don’t forget about the micro-influencers.
The micro-influencers are those individuals with 30k followers or less. These individuals are seen as more authentic than larger-scale influencers. With 6.7 times more efficient per engagement rate, they’re a smart investment. Micro-influencers drive 22.2 times more weekly conversations than the average consumer. Which means they know how to get the people talking. Which is exactly what you want before your event, during, and afterward.
When you launch your advocacy marketing program, be sure to reach out to micro-influencers in the area to encourage them to join your program. Offer them free (or VIP) admission to the event if they sign up to join. Also, be sure to keep your everyday fans top of mind. The target market and demographic who you’re counting on to show up and make your event a huge success. An advocacy marketing program can be a huge opportunity to not only engage them prior to the event but also market to them long after the event has passed.
2) Add A Personal Touch to Your Advocacy Marketing Efforts
Your advocates know a lot of people. That’s why you chose them to advocate for your event, right? So, don’t be afraid to take advantage of their audience. In 2018, personalization is no longer a “nice thing to have,” it’s a necessity. When Influitive used a personalized invitation to an event they were hosting they had a 29% email open-rate compared to their usual 16.1% open-rate.
You can work together with your advocates to personally invite attendees. Your advocates should be inviting their most relevant connections. You can help them decide on who to invite by suggesting people in their network who would be interested and find value in attending the event.
3) Share Content That Sizzles
News flash, if you’re only using your advocates to share content that screams, “BUY TICKETS OR JUST REGISTER AND COME, OH GOODNESS PLEASE ATTEND!”. You’re not going to be successful.
Sure, a proper advocacy content mix should include pieces that do promote signup, but it should also include content that excites and delights people who are on the fence about attending the event. Here are a few of our favorite types of event marketing content:
- Sizzle Reel – Show a fun video or collage that informs potential attendees of all the fun they’ll be missing out on by not attending the event.
- Special Moments – Think celebrity appearances, karaoke contests, or cooking demonstrations. This content type focuses on specific moments that will happen during the event.
- Previous Year Highlights – If this isn’t your first year hosting this event, be sure to share some highlights of last year’s event so that people get a solid understanding of the awesomeness of your event.
4) Create an Official Hashtag
Everyone’s going to be talking about your event online, so make sure you have a way to organize all that chatter. Hashtags make it easy for them to show and organize their excitement.
Creating an official hashtag is more than about coming up with something clever. It needs to be…
- Relevant to the event
Remember, consistency is key! So, make sure that the same hashtag is being used across different social channels. A hashtag is a part of the conversation. You and your advocates can use the hashtag contextually in tweets, status updates, and photo captions.
If you’re using an advocacy marketing platform like SocialToaster, you can even gamify hashtag use by awarding additional rewards and points to advocates when they use the hashtag in their online posts.
5) Provide Incentive for Sharing
Your event should be exciting enough that influencers and even those sitting at home not attending want to share in the experience. Yet, excitement alone isn’t enough to entice people to share every piece of event-promoting content you provide.
Including incentives in your advocacy marketing efforts can be the perfect carrot for earning increased levels of advocacy participation. A couple incentive examples include:
- Sweepstakes for prizes, products or services
- Swag bags
- Discount code on products or services
- Entry into VIP sections of the event
6) Host a Preview Event
Gearing up for a large-scale event? Consider hosting a mini-preview of the festivities.
Show off your decor. Bring out the tasting menu. Bust out the cocktail shaker. Then invite a handful of your most influential advocates to this preview event to drum up buzz and excitement for the real deal.
Keep these tips in mind for a successful preview event:
- Create an Insta-worthy experience with colorful backgrounds, statement walls, and photo-wonderful imagery.
- Spare no corner when it comes to previewing the stars of your event (food/drinks/etc.)
- Consider sending participants away with parting gifts or swag bags to prolong the excitement of the event
7) Channel Your Inner Guerilla Marketer
Borrowing a book from the guerilla marketing playbook can be a great way to create excitement around your event. Here are a couple of our favorite guerrilla marketing tactics:
- Reverse Graffiti
- Flash Mobs
- Treasure Hunts
- Publicity Stunts
Regardless of your guerilla marketing tactic of choice, you can use your advocates to help spread awareness of the focal point of your guerilla campaign. Then continue to use your army of brand fans to amplify any media hype you attract.
Remember, these are the kind of marketing tactics that you don’t see coming, and they often involve creative ideas and stunts. Be sure to think outside the box when planning your guerrilla marketing campaign for your event.
8) Leverage User-Generated Content From Previous Years
At SocialToaster, we’re huge fans of user-generated content. See one of our most popular posts here if you don’t believe us.
If your event is an annual affair (looking at you Beer and Wing Bash, otherwise known as my idea of heaven), keep a running catalog of your previous years’ user-generated content.
Instagram posts, Facebook stories, TikToks, whatever the medium of choice, keep an account of your most powerful posts. Then use your advocates to use your historical posts to hype your upcoming events.
Let’s Plan Something Together
Planning a successful event takes a team and we want to be a part of that team. Let us help you create a successful event through an advocacy marketing program. Call us at 855.62.TOAST, send us an email, or request a free demo today to learn more about how advocacy marketing can help you create an event that’s one for the books.