Building attendance for our virtual summit, SURGE 2017, presented us with an interesting challenge. The event was premised upon collaboration, and we were committed to the idea that the success of the summit would lie in the active participation of the attendees. This meant that we were not just promoting an event, but inviting people to become part of our knowledge-sharing community.
We needed to go about broadening our network and expanding our audience. And we discovered that this required calling for some support.
When it comes to creating an outreach strategy for a virtual summit, the potential to build and expand the event community through promotions by our speakers and sponsors is incredible.
Theoretically, each individual brings with them their own network, so through their combined promotional efforts your audience will expand beyond the scope of your own community. And theoretically, each individual is willing to contribute to increasing attendance.
The problem is, it’s actually very difficult to get people, no matter how committed and excited they are about a project, to follow through on this. It’s a bigger ask than it might seem – and more importantly, our speakers had already put in so much effort to create amazing content, and our sponsors were equally generous in supporting us. We didn’t want to inundate and ask too much of them.
So we asked ourselves: how can we make it as easy as possible to share the event?
The answer to our question came in the form of a partnership with an event tech company called snöball, influencer marketing. We arrived at this solution after a period of attempting different strategies: to explain what led us to partnering with snöball, it’s worth going through the journey we took.
Of course, you can (and should) work to make sure you have created as comprehensive a Toolkit as possible, including text for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook posts, as well as for any newsletters or emails that you speakers and partners may want to send. I would also recommend compiling a different kit for speakers and for sponsors, with wording that best reflects their relationships with their networks, as well as their role at the event. You can even send personalized graphics for each speaker and each session, as well as for the sponsors, so that their marketing strategies are as individual as possible. All of this not only makes it easier for them, but also increases the likelihood that they will share the event.
We used this system, originally. After publicly launching SURGE 2017, we immediately received an influx of registrants. Things were looking really positive, and we were delighted that with minimal promotional efforts the event was sparking interest.
We also noticed, however, that several speakers were not promoting out the event, and that the people already registered were doing little to spread the word, either. We did have buttons on the event page encouraging anybody who was attending to share it, but given that this is fairly commonplace they were probably glossed over.
Therefore, about a week before the event, we decided to try something new, and this is when we paired up with snöball.
Snöball creates personalized landing pages designed for event influencers to share their participation at events, and really capitalizes on social proofing. Their strategy let us leverage the power of our influencers’ network and grow visibility for our event beyond our base audience. They also make the sharing process really easy. Speakers and sponsors received a branded and personalized email, which included pre-written social media posts pre-populated with the influencer’s personalized info, as well as texts for newsletters and emails. Rather than having to sift through a Word/PDF attachment, they could simply send this text by copy and pasting directly from the email body.
The real brilliance of snöball’s model is that each component had a link to a personalized landing page, that looked something like this.
This offered a really convenient way for people to spread the message about the event – not just our speakers and sponsors, but all the people who had registered. We were also provided analytics as to which unique landing page had the furthest reach, so we were able to track our collaborative promotional activity in a robust way.
I didn’t know what to expect when we embarked upon this new strategy with snöball, but I was surprised and pleased with the results (which amounted to a little over 10% of our overall attendance). The best thing about personalizing messaging in this way is that we were able to increase our reach while also respecting the amount that our speakers and sponsors already do for us. Having an easy and convenient strategy in place for them meant that we could support them in supporting us, and vice versa – which, after all, was the idea at the heart of our collaborative project.
Arianna spoke in the “Virtual Conferences: The New Frontier session during SURGE Spring, an interactive virtual summit hosted by AssociationSuccess.org on May 2nd-4th. Click here to watch the sessions on demand.