Social media has had a dramatic impact on the evolution of event marketing.
Marketers can more easily than ever, promote events across social platforms, connect with delegates – and connect delegates with each other via event pages and forums, harness the power of event hashtags, and create and share post-event summary content.
It’s always interesting to see how creative event organizers can be with their approach to social media. I’m particularly impressed from both a first-time delegate and marketer’s perspective, how the Problogger team built massive pre-event engagement for the Problogger Training Event (PBEvent) last week.
What is the Problogger Training Event?
Run by Darren Rowse, founder of the highly successful Problogger and Digital Photography School blogs, PBEvent is Australia’s largest and longest running blogging conference.
Darren and four international speakers are headlining the event, and will join some 650+ Australian and international bloggers over two days on the Gold Coast to discuss how to grow readership and build profitable blogs.
Tickets went on sale in April 2015, with 400 tickets being sold in the first 20 minutes, giving some insight into the loyalty and enthusiasm of Problogger’s tribe.
A Summary of Social Platforms
Once registered, delegates can join the private PBEvent Facebook Group, which is moderated by Laney Galligan, Problogger’s Business Development Manager. Rowse says he “chimes in when he can.”
“We have a very active, engaged community,” says Galligan. “Our strategy is to provide a stream of discussion points in the Facebook Group to get people chatting about the conference and connecting with each other.”
The @Probloggerevent Twitter account posts regular updates, and the event’s hashtag, #PBEVENT, has been widely promoted in all of the conference material and emails.
For the first time, there there is a Pinterest board and collaborative boards where the Problogger tribe can curate content.
About eight weeks before the event, the Problogger team started sending out a weekly countdown and email update. There is also an Event App, which allows for scheduling sessions and connecting with other delegates.
How Problogger Are Delighting Their Delegates
While those elements are not in themselves unique, what is impressive is the vibe in the Facebook group. As soon as I got access to the group, I felt part of the Problogger community. Everyone is friendly, keen to learn and share and we collectively couldn't wait for the event – the excitement in the group was palpable in the days leading up to the event!
The Problogger team is successfully using the group to delight delegates by facilitating networking and connections, introducing and involving speakers, throwing in bonuses, competitions and posting regular helpful logistical updates on the page.
Let’s look at some of those activities in more detail.
1) Be a host/hostess and facilitate connections
It’s one thing to simply create an event page on Facebook and hope that people engage, but it’s something entirely different to facilitate connections and help delegates start chatting with like-minded people before the event.
After asking everyone to post which categories they blogged about, Galligan created an attendee networking hub, which lists a dozen high level blogging niches, such as First Timers (to a PBEvent), Travel & Outdoors, Family Life, Business, Food, Travel and others.
For practical purposes, she used the photo gallery function in the group page, created an image in Canva to represent each niche, then encouraged bloggers within each niche to introduce themselves, link to their blog and say what they were most looking forward to about the event.
In another post, she asked everyone to share their Facebook pages so we could all hook up with each other that way.
Rowse says that they put a heavy emphasis on Facebook because it’s the network that most of their attendees use on a regular basis. “That’s where our attendees naturally hang out and interact with each other so that’s where we decided to put our attention,” he says.
“Once the event is in progress, we expect to see more activity on Twitter and Instagram. We’ll have many people live-tweeting from the conference,” says Galligan.
2) Encourage the speakers to engage with the group
On the Facebook page, there have also been several call-outs from speakers seeking input from delegates about their biggest challenges with blogging and other questions relevant to their presentation. It’s great how the speakers want to tailor their content for this audience.
I also love this approach because it makes the rockstar bloggers seem all the more accessible to new bloggers – and it’s not always easy to get such direct access to the big guns.
3) Throw in unexpected bonuses and competitions
Who doesn’t love a good bonus?
Problogger secured some great bonuses for delegates including a whopping $450 discount from one of the sponsors, Olympus, on one of their new cameras.
Olympus are running 16 photography sessions throughout the conference, covering everything from basic photography, to food photography and video. I thought this partnership really made sense, given the growing importance of photography and visuals in blogging.
Additionally, there was a discount on Moo business cards, which encouraged the networking aspect of the event.
And, travel partners Virgin Australia, ran a travel blogging competition in conjunction with Problogger, with first prize being 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer Points, an annual Gold Velocity membership and guest blogging spot on the Virgin Australia blog.
As well as creating hype around the event, the Facebook feed was full of discussions about new cameras, business card designs, how people prepared for the event, how to get the most out of the event – and all things blogging.
4) Listen and respond to feedback from delegates
Rowse and Galligan agree that the event has evolved over the years in response to feedback from delegates.
“In many ways what we’re doing is based upon what we see our attendees having asked for in previous years in terms of their FAQs and what they’ve requested in terms of wanting more opportunity to network with other blogger,” says Rowse.
“We realized a few years ago that the event itself was just part of the journey for our attendees. Anticipation and pre and post event networking take things to the next level both in terms of our attendees having a better experience but also in terms of our goal of the event for them to get better in their blogging.”
The Problogger Team have done an outstanding job building a thriving community around this year’s Problogger Training Event. Be sure to follow the #PBEvent hashtag on Twitter and Instagram over the next few days to follow the action!