Posted by Marcus Krieg | October 15, 2014
Generate Leads, Expand Your Network & Amplify Your Brand at Industry Conferences with Twitter
It sucks, doesn’t it?
You spend thousands of dollars bringing your company to a conference, only to get average (or below average) results.
In the past, this usually would happen to organizations that felt they needed to have a presence, but lacked the resources to really “go big.”
But today it seems that EVERY brand stands out, with flashy colors, elaborate booths, and cool conference “swag.”
Getting attention can be virtually impossible when everyone is using the same tactics. Walk into any exhibit hall today and you’ll find yourself bombarded with sound, color and motion. It’s an advertiser’s worst nightmare.
This conference booth “arms race” has driven up the cost of exhibiting at conferences for everyone. And with bigger budgets come greater expectations.
So how can event coordinators help their brand rise above the noise and stand out?
Fortunately, there’s an efficient solution for everyone: Twitter.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, your best bet is to dominate the “Twittersphere.”
Why Twitter? Why not Facebook or Instagram? What about all the other social channels?
Twitter blows them away. Here’s 3 reasons why:
- Conference Hashtags: Nearly every conference these days has a hashtag, which creates a short-term community within Twitter that’s filled with people in your target audience.
- Opportunity: Most people use text or link tweets, which take up only a tiny amount of visual real estate in Twitter feeds. This is a huge but seriously underutilized opportunity for savvy marketers to make their tweets pop with visually-interesting photos and videos.
- Exposure: Unlike the other “major” social media platforms, Twitter makes your posts visible to people who aren’t already in your audience, providing an opportunity for you to meet new prospects and influencers.
That’s why so many organizations are already using Twitter at conferences. But, fortunately for you, most brands aren’t any good at it.
You may see someone live-tweeting here or there, but nothing substantial. Certainly nothing that makes any individual brand stand out.
Seize that opportunity! I’ll show you how.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 10 actionable tips your team can use to dominate Twitter at your next conference.
Twitter Tip #1: Be Helpful
In social media marketing, always follow the Golden Rule: treat your followers the way you would want them to treat you.
That means tweeting helpful information that you would find valuable if the roles were reversed.
You’d be surprised how much engagement this tip can generate. The last time I went to a conference, I made a concerted effort to get there a day early and explore the area.
Here are some examples of helpful tips you can tweet out at conferences:
- Great restaurants (Pro Tip: Schedule these tweets out around meal times)
- The location of essential services (Registration, hard-to-find breakout rooms, etc.)
- Invite people to run with you or work out at the hotel gym
- Provide reviews on local activities
- Tweet out schedules and other documentation that people may have left behind
- Where to catch a cab
The goal here is to add value to the discussion. If you help someone out in a pinch, they’ll remember you and reciprocate by following you.
Twitter Tip #2: Remember Your Three Audiences
At a conference, it’s easy to forget that you aren’t just talking to the conference attendees.
You actually have three distinct audiences:
- Prospects attending the conference
- Prospects who couldn’t attend the conference
- Influencers who can help you meet new prospects after the conference
All three audiences are incredibly important. While you certainly can focus on just one or two for the duration of the event, it’s much more effective to provide content for all three groups.
It’s also a great idea to use Twitter to make friends with speakers, bloggers, and other important influencers at the conference. Share their tweets and engage with them. If possible, try to meet them in person. Twitter is great, but nothing compares to good old fashioned face-to-face relationship building.
It’s also essential to keep in mind that only a tiny fraction of your addressable market is actually at the conference. Most couldn’t make it. So don’t forget that the largest portion of your audience is hungry for information about the conference. Give them the experience of being there. They won’t forget it (or you).
Twitter Tip #3: Share Lots of Pictures
According to Twitter’s Media Blog, photo posts get 35% more engagement than standard tweets.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why that is. Just take a look at your Twitter feed and you’ll probably see lots of “boring” tweets with occasional sprinklings of photos.
Photos take up so much space that they naturally attract attention. So don’t be shy about posting lots of photos at your next conference.
Pro Tip: If you’re taking pictures of attendees, get their Twitter handle and tag them in the photo.
Twitter Tip #4: Share Lots of Videos
Videos also take up lots of visual real estate on Twitter feeds, increasing your engagement by 28% over standard text or link tweets.
Now, you may be telling yourself that videos aren’t worth it. After all, images get more engagement on Twitter and they’re much more affordable.
However, it’s important to remember our goals in using Twitter in the first place; which is to generate leads and grow your business.
So while photos may get more engagement on Twitter, videos are actually much more effective at building relationships with your followers and nurturing them until they become clients.
And it’s much easier to implement than you may think.
For example, posting a hand-held video of yourself providing a tip or sharing an “ah-ha” moment from the conference may be all you need to start building great relationships.
Pro Tip: Use a clickable call-to-action in your video and drive people to a relevant landing page on your site, where you offer a free product (ebook, white paper, report, etc) in exchange for an email address. This can be done with YouTube videos or with some third-party video players, like Wistia.
But if that’s not your style, or if you’re looking for something more polished, just bring a video marketing agency to your conference and have them help you out.
Some agencies can even edit the videos on-location and help you post them during the conference, when they have the biggest impact.
Pro Tip: If your business is using a video content marketing strategy, consider bringing a film crew to conferences. There are countless opportunities to interview key opinion leaders (influencers) and happy customers. This is much more cost-efficient than a one-off video shoot. And more interesting!
Twitter Tip #5: Make Friends with the Host
I can’t overstate the importance of getting to know the person or company that is running your conference.
Generally speaking, the host is an influencer in their own right, which makes them a valuable person to network with (see Tip #2). But more importantly, everyone at the conference typically follows the conference host on Twitter.
If you make friends with the host and staff, they’ll be much more likely to retweet your posts, which is an invaluable boost to your credibility in the community. You can never have enough free marketing.
To make friends, I always recommend using two persuasion principles that almost always work to your advantage:
- Reciprocity: People are more likely to do you a favor if you do them a favor first.
- Likeability: People are more likely to do you a favor if they like you.
To do both in one swoop, I follow a simple process:
Well before the event, ask what you can do to help promote the conference.
For example, WireBuzz offers to make promotional videos for the conference hosts at no charge, which earns us a lot of good favor. While it’s not something every business can offer, your business is likely qualified to do something of value for the conference host.
Of course, you then need to follow through and deliver on your promise.
After you’ve helped the hosts in some way, find out where you can meet them at the conference. Once you arrive, make a point of introducing yourself in person.
Pro Tip: your host is running a conference. Be friendly, but respect their time. It doesn’t take long to make a personal connection (more of that likeability we discussed).
Be sure to retweet and engage with the conference host’s Twitter account (some extra reciprocity, for good measure).
In my experience, this small step is usually enough to get your host to start retweeting and engaging you on Twitter.
Twitter Tip #6: Live-Tweet the Presentations
At conferences, this step is the one thing that people tend to do well, but don’t think you can just leave it to others.
Sharing insights and quotes from the presentations is a great way to serve those in your audience who couldn’t attend the conference, while helping you build relationships with the speakers you’re referencing.
Pro Tip: Use quotation marks in your quotes. The presence of quotation marks in a tweet increases retweets by 19%.
Twitter Tip #7: Live Blogging
You know everything I just said about live-tweeting? It all goes for live blogging too, except for one thing: live blogs are significantly more valuable to your audience.
Here’s what to do:
Plan which sessions you’ll be attending and create templates for each in advance. During the sessions, simply write and organize the information presented by the speaker. Try to publish it within 5 minutes of the session’s close, before someone else beats you to the punch.
Next, push your live blog out on Twitter using relevant hashtags. Don’t forget to @mention the speaker and host.
While live tweeting is valuable, live blogs are the closest to attending the conference that most of your audience can get. You can either provide the value of “being there” or let someone else do it.
To do this, it helps to think of yourself as a journalist covering the conference. What is most useful to your audience?
Pro Tip: Create a relevant offer and call-to-action at the bottom of your post. This will help you convert relevant traffic into leads you can nurture.
Pro Tip: Make sure you use Twitter cards. Twitter cards make it so that when someone shares your blog post, it’s formatted in a Twitter-friendly way. This helps extend the reach of your content so you can get more bang for your buck.
Twitter Tip #8: Ask Questions
What are conferences really designed for, anyway? Learning, right?
Yet for some reason, attendees think about conferences as being only about making money and closing deals.
Take advantage of the educational atmosphere by asking questions on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to challenge the speakers and engage them in conversation.
By asking a question, you’re more likely to get a speaker or influencer to respond and strike up a conversation. If the topic is not Twitter-friendly (requires too much detail/discussion), suggest meeting in person or moving the conversation to another platform (email, Facebook, etc.).
Keep in mind that the speakers want to expand their network and make new friends too. Don’t be shy!
Twitter Tip #9: Use Stats and Data
One of the most valuable things about conference presentations is all the data that the speakers share, such as case studies.
People love data because it’s so much more credible than ordinary quotations. It has numbers.
Although people talk about not liking math or numbers, they seem to be magnetically pulled to numbers on Twitter.
In fact, tweets that contain a number get an 18% boost compared to posts that don’t.
So during your sessions, remember to live tweet stats and case study data.
Pro Tip: Using this tactic in combination with some of the other tips in the post can get you even better results. For example, you can get a lot of traction by posting a picture with a text overlay that references the data. Another possibility is to use a stat to tease a link to your live blog posts. Mix and match!
Twitter Tip #10: End the Conference with Wrap-Up Content
So you’ve attended the conference, made friends, and completely dominated the Twittersphere. What now?
If you’ve done everything right, you should have an immense collection of quotes, stats, and newly-engaged Twitter followers to delight.
Take advantage of that by creating a conference wrap-up post. This may be a video, slideshow, or blog article that summarizes all the key takeaways from the conference.
Posts like this are great “link bait” because everyone wants to know what happened at the conference and so many influencers will be referenced in the post.
Make sure you reach out to all the speakers you mentioned in the post and ask them to share it with their audiences.
Pro Tip: This works way better if your wrap-up post is the very first. It still has value if you can’t be first, but the first post usually gets the most love. So prepare your post ahead of time or work on it in the evenings during the conference. Ideally, this post is up within an hour of the conference closing down. You may also consider posting your wrap-up as a guest blog on a more authoritative site to generate even more exposure.
Simply put, Twitter is a great opportunity for any business to stand out at conferences. You just need to be organized, put in place a solid strategy and be confident in your outreach.
Each of these 10 tips is affordable and pretty easy, so I hope to see more marketers taking advantage of Twitter at future conferences.
If you have any tips of your own, or questions related to using Twitter at conferences, please post them in the comments below.
To learn more about how your team can prepare for conference marketing success, check out the infographic below.
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