LinkedIn is an underrated tool for event marketing. Lots of people still think of LinkedIn as primarily being a way to network for a new job or keep track of business contacts, but the truth is, LinkedIn is also a fantastic tool to help promote and invite people to your next event. However, just as the rest of the social media landscape has gotten more cluttered and complex in recent years, if you want to get the most out of event marketing on LinkedIn, you need to have a plan and execute it properly.
LinkedIn Groups are an excellent resource for meeting people and discussing shared areas of interest in your industry. For example, back in 2009, my company started a LinkedIn Group called “Manage Your Leads” and we’ve grown it into a very active, thriving community of sales and marketing professionals. Consider starting a new LinkedIn Group that is specific to each event that you want to promote, especially if you are promoting a big annual event. Or look for Group discussion threads that are related to the topic or themes of your event, and then find opportunities to mention your event as part of that Group discussion.
BEWARE: LinkedIn Groups are often tight-knit communities that do not want people to just drop by with spammy or salesy posts. Before you start promoting your event, spend some time finding the right Groups to join, and contribute to the discussions in those Groups, first without mentioning your event. Then, after you’ve built up some credibility as a valuable member of the Group, you can start asking people to your event!
Make a plan
Just like you should know the approximate value of a sales lead (based on the conversion rates of each stage of your sales process and how much a typical deal-closing is worth to your company), you should know what it’s worth to you to get each person to attend your event. How many people do you need to attend the event for it to be a “success?” Better yet, what qualitative measures can you use to measure your event’s success – what are the strategic goals for your event? Are you trying to get new sponsors, partners or collaborators who can be beneficial for future sales and marketing opportunities? Are you trying to build your audience with a certain market segment, or build relationships with a certain level of decision maker, or get invited to bid on a proposal or do a demo at certain companies? Whatever your goals might be, make a concrete plan for how this event can help you reach them.
Every successful event requires collaboration and support from multiple people, brands and organizations. LinkedIn marketing is a great way to work with a team of people – event speakers, sponsors, and other promotional partners – to spread the word about the event to ALL of your audiences. Look for ways to cross-promote each other’s work on LinkedIn as well as supporting the overall goal of publicizing and marketing the event itself.
There’s so much inauthentic communication on LinkedIn, from spammy InMail messages to insincere posts; so don’t waste people’s time. Bring your authentic self to every conversation. Even if it takes more time; avoid using copy-and-pasted invites or copy-and-pasting the same comment with a link to your event. Especially if you’re reaching out to key influencers or people who you’d like to have speak at your event, write something original, fresh, and “real” for each of these high-value people that you’re contacting.
Do your research
LinkedIn is valuable not just for connecting with people to invite to your event, but also for researching companies, organizations, and individuals ahead of time to figure out which ones are the right fit to support your event. If you need to find guest speakers for your event or find sponsors or influencers, LinkedIn is a great way to figure out which ones are the best for your needs. Like the old saying, “Measure twice, cut once,” you should spend at least twice as much time researching collaborators for your event before you start to craft that first message or dial that first cold call to ask them to get involved.
Business events are taking on a second life more and more on social media, so it makes sense to use LinkedIn for your event marketing. Just use the same approach as you would use for any other networking activities on LinkedIn, with a few event-specific differences. Be sure to do your research, build relationships and offer value before you ask anyone to support or attend your event, and generally focus on building a sense of trust and authenticity so people see your event as a genuine source of value that will help make their careers better.
Gregg Schwartz is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing, an industry-founding lead generation firm based in Connecticut. His company helps technology companies and various startups and small-to-mid-size businesses in the B2B sales category generate sales leads and improve their sales processes.