By Jessica Gonzalez
A few months ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one night. Suddenly, I had an aha moment. I realized that I was taking screenshots of events and products that other people had tweeted, with the idea that I’d research them the next day on Google. I made a habit of this: researching products, reading up about them and oftentimes making a purchase when all was said and done.
It occurred to me that some of these posts were being liked and shared by thousands of other Twitter users. Some of them were likely doing exactly the same thing as me: taking note of the featured product and eventually buying it for themselves. In a sense, the original posters were acting as brand representatives: tweeting about a product and eventually creating dozens of new customers.
This form of social media sharing has a name: social amplification. On the one hand, this seems fairly straightforward: you want attendees at your events to post about you on social media. When you consider the exponential effect this can have, though, its significance becomes clearer. One attendee’s social media post might reach a few hundred people at most. However, if a portion of them re-share and some of their followers re-share again, your event has the potential for viral reach.
Leveraging social amplification at your next event is a great way to increase your audience reach. Here are three things you can do to encourage your attendees to post about your event.
Provide Access to Free Wi-Fi
Without Wi-Fi, a lot of people at your event are going to be unable to share their posts on social media. As Seth Burstein from Trade Show Internet pointed out when I recently spoke with him, "Cell service varies from venue to venue and even within each venue. There’s no guarantee attendees will have service when they want to post.” Particularly in larger buildings and exhibition halls, cell phone signals can be spotty.
You want your attendees to have dependable access to Wi-Fi while they’re at your event. The venue itself might provide some level of complimentary wireless, but relying on it isn’t always the best idea. “Sometimes the service is good. Oftentimes, it’s not,” says Seth.
Instead, consider providing Wi-Fi for your attendees through a third-party Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP’s sole focus will be on setting up fast, reliable internet access at the venue. If there are any issues, they’ll be able to take care of them for you. Lock in a reliable Wi-Fi provider in advance and you’ll dramatically increase the amount of social sharing that happens at your event.
Use Photo Ops to Your Advantage
Selfies are all the rage. You want your attendees taking selfies: each one is another potential social amplification opportunity. But how do you encourage your attendees to take photos?
“Selfie areas” are an excellent option. You can even put them on the event map and label them as places where people are going to want to stop and snap a picture. These spots are also a great place for branding and sponsorship.
In addition to setting aside special spots for selfies, consider organizing an area near the main stage for “celebrity selfies.” Don’t think in terms of Hollywood stars. Every industry has its celebrities, after all. Make sure that attendees have an opportunity to pose with your biggest speakers before and/or after their presentations.
Place Social Vending Machines Around the Room
Every event has swag. Most vendors offer it in one form or another, not to mention the event organizer. But what if instead of simply giving swag away, you asked something of your attendees in return? Imagine a swag vending machine, where attendees have to tweet or post to social media in order to receive an item. Social vending machines are gaining traction around the world as we speak. I’ve seen machines dispense energy drinks, reusable water bottles and even champagne.
Why give away swag when you can use it as an opportunity to encourage social amplification?
Promoting your event in advance is important. But, once the event is underway, you want the rest of the world to know about it. Social amplification is the key to ensuring that anyone who missed out this time around will have FOMO and be on next year’s list of attendees.
Founder of InCharged, cellphone charging stations where consumers plug in their cellphone and sponsors can present non-obtrusive messaging.