Using Social Media to Increase Event and Webinar Attendance

Alan BelniakMarketing, Social Media7 Comments

queue for event attendance

"I cannot wait to attend this webinar!"

I’ve been asked a few times by colleagues to assist or consult on how to use some social media sites to drive traffic to webinars, virtual events, actual events, and the like.  Instead of recycling the e-mail over again, I’m turning it into a post [this one].  I can point colleagues to it, you all can comment on it, and the world is a happier place.

Here are a few thoughts below.  I’ll use webinar as an example, but you can easily substitute in a live event, meet-up…  whatever (obviously some things may need to change).…

  • Look back at the attendance of previous webinars and see if they are interested.  Is this social media?  Nope – this is just good common sense.

  • Look through the notes of your listening exercise and spend some time in the networks where conversations are happening.  Not a ton of time.  But not zero time.  After all, you want them to attend – you’ve got to at least tell them.

  • Use a site like to search for your search term on only discussion boards.  As above, do not just go in and advertise a web cast.  Listen, listen more, comment, offer content, then ‘pitch’ the webcast.

  • Look for other groups on LinkedIn that relate to your topic.  See if you can join them (to the ones that you are not members of).  Same as above – do not post the link to the webinar.  Instead, become a member of the community, answer questions, ask questions, offer content.  Then post a link to the webinar.

  • Same process for Facebook (though if you’re doing a more business-focused webinar or event, I’d start with LinkedIn).

  • Are you featuring a speaker at your webinar?  Great!  Here’s what you can do: Let’s pretend our speaker is from Forrester Research.  You could search Twitter for the text “Forrester Research” (I did it here for you:  Go to those tweets, and then look at, say, the first five followers of the people who used that term.  See if, from their bios, that they might be interested in this kind of topic. Follow them.  There’s a good chance they will follow you back.

  • See if your guest speaker has a Twitter account.  Follow her for sure.  And… see who else she follows, and maybe message them.  If they like her content (by virtue of following her), there’s a good chance that they might be interested in your webinar.

  • Use a site like to search on Tweets and bios for keywords relative to this webinar.  Here are other Twitter directories you can consider.

  • Once you find people, follow them.  Then listen for a few days.  Then offer up links about other kinds of related content.  Then offer up a link to the webinar.  You need to ‘win them over as a friend’ before you pitch to them.  As Chris Brogan has said, “be there before the sale.”

  • Send out an internal message to colleagues in your company with suggested copy that they can use to send out beyond the company walls to promote the webinar.  Suggest that they use
    • certain text and a link for Twitter;
    • create a bit of a longer, but more personal message (and link) for Facebook; and
    • a more professional (but short) message for LinkedIn (you can update your LinkedIn status, too, like Twitter).
    • Email these people and suggest that they update their statuses with this.
    • Key takeaway: reduce the friction for participation by giving people tools instead of orders.

  • Does your company use Yammer?  Great.  Send out an internal Yammer message, asking people to do the same.

  • When posting links in any social channel (like LinkedIn), it’s helpful to use to shorten those links.  You get free tracking statistics if you use one of those services.  Can you use others? Sure.  I like  I also like Coke, and you might like Pepsi.  You get the idea.  No one wants to read a URL that 128 characters long.

There are probably more, but this should be plenty between now and then.  You’re probably saying (correct me if I’m wrong), “Wow!  I don’t have a ton of time to get into these sites and listen, comment, offer content and links, and *then* offer the webinar.””  You might be right.  The real value in social media is to foster and curate long-term relationships, even if they are digital.  The reason being is that when you have a call to action, it doesn’t come across as, “Buy my stuff!”  It comes across as, “Hey, I’ve offered up lots of good stuff before, in the form of comments, links, content, etc. – here’s another, and it’s a webcast.  I think you’ll be interested, based on our past discussions.””

Make sense?  The key is to start now (notice that there’s no reference to when the webinar actually is)… start now, so your involvement won’t look planted.”  Key to your success is to stay somewhat involved after the webinar.  This isn’t a one-time broadcast.  If you’ve participated in these groups (maybe even pre-solicited questions ahead of time to feed to the speaker?), then you know the conversation won’t end as soon as the webinar is over.  It doesn’t if you’re face-to-face, so why should it online?  And if you think about it a bit more deeply, it’s a good idea.  You’re really just starting early for the next one.

Depending on your level of social savvy-ness, some of this is old hat to you, and some is new.  Also, I am “… like a dwarf on the shoulders of giants.” I picked up some tips along the way, augmented them, added new ones, etc.

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