LinkedIn to promote your events. Since its launch way back in 2003, LinkedIn has been on a meteoric growth run approaching half a billion users worldwide – 414 Million as of February with 2 more joining every second. In the process, they’ve leapfrogged countless now-forgotten social networks to become one of the largest and fastest-growing platforms in existence. Despite its impressive growth and staying power, many event professionals still don’t grasp the potential LinkedIn holds to promote their events, their brands and their customers to a targeted audience.
What Makes LinkedIn So Great?
Sure, we know our way around Facebook Ads and how to blast our event hashtags on Twitter, but LinkedIn offers B2B event professional something the other platforms cannot: relevancy. While Facebook and Twitter trump LinkedIn in sheer number of users, it’s the context within which those use interact on those respective platforms. Both platforms cater to people’s personal interests, friends and family updates, which is a wide spectrum to say the least. However, LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. In short, it’s where professionals socially interact when they’re in “work mode” and, if you’re in the B2B event industry, that’s precisely when and where you want to catch them.
Furthermore, a large percentage of professionals, and brands themselves, (>50%) are not active on Twitter, meaning they log in less than once per month if they have an account at all. Therefore, by publishing your event and your branded content on LinkedIn, you’re expanding your reach to an massive audience that may otherwise never have heard of your event and what you have to offer.
How To Maximize Your Event’s Impact On LinkedIn
Even you’re not a heavy LinkedIn user, you’re probably still aware that upon logging in you’re met with a newsfeed, similar to Facebook and Twitter. Of course this feed displays the most recent and highly shared material of your collective contacts arranged in some secret algorithm, but that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. (read: You should still share personal and company updates)
Beyond simply posting a personal or company update and crossing your fingers, LinkedIn offers an increasing amount of channels to raise awareness for your event, find potential partners and even target new sponsors.
First, get to know LinkedIn Groups. There are literally millions of public and private user-generated groups on LinkedIn, and within them there are sub-groups. Combined they cover every professional sector, niche, interest and target audience often even broken down by geographic region.
Large event professional groups such as Event Planning and Event Management boast as many 313k members as of this writing, and you’re able to join smaller subsets of that group once you’re approved as a member. This is a good place to start, but don’t sell yourself short. There are probably dozens of relevant groups for your events and professional area of expertise. Find them!
Once you’re in, get to know the rules. You can’t just go around blasting your event with links to ticket sales. Don’t be that guy.
Instead, bring value with you as a little present when you join a new group. Depending on the group and the context in which it’s set, offer some industry news, a recent study or poll result, or highlight a little known fact. By leading with value, you don’t risk alienating an existing user base that was just getting along just fine before you started spamming them with your event.
Once you’ve engaged a little in good faith, you’ll be more comfortable and authentic with a soft sell about your upcoming event. Make your post personal and make sure it’s relevant to the LinkedIn Group in which you’re posting. Do not blanket spam all of your LinkedIn Groups with the same message. Again, don’t be that guy.
If you’re honest and authentic about trying to bring value to a relevant LinkedIn Group with information about your event, you’ll be met with open arms and professionals grateful for the new opportunity.
One of the newer features LinkedIn has poured investment into the last few years is Pulse, they’re publishing platform. Pulse is a powerful blogging platform because it’s already connected to your existing connections, but can also catch fire and be shared into 2nd and 3rd level connections and beyond. If you’re creating valuable content on your company blog, Pulse is a great way to syndicate that content and extend its value. You can then create custom articles related to your event and it’s target demographic, ending each one with a call to action to buy tickets.
However, perhaps even more powerful than publishing your own content on Pulse is your ability to access influencers. Because each member’s’ Pulse account is directly tied to their LinkedIn profile, Pulse is an incredibly personal and intimate channel. Even the most powerful and well known industry leaders will read the comments and activity taking place underneath their articles. Let’s face it, publishing articles to a wide audience can be scary and make you feel vulnerable, whether you’re Richard Branson or Cesc Riera (that’s me btw).
Therefore, take note of who in your field can really draw a crowd. Who are the movers and shakers that have a lot of pull with the audience you’re looking to reach with your event? These are the people you want to follow and engage with on LinkedIn Pulse. Like their articles, ask them questions and share their content with your own followers. It’s just one more case of give first, ask second – well really it’s give, give, give, give, then ask, but you get the idea. It pays to provide value upfront.
Playing the Long Game
Don’t go into this exercise with only your next event in mind. LinkedIn is a powerful tool, but if you misuse it, people will remember. It’s not about reaching the most people or making the most new connections, it’s about creating mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with people that have the same professional interests as yourself. This approach is key to getting the most value from LinkedIn.
We’re always on the lookout to find new ways to use our social networks and bring value to our professional networks. What are some other best practices for increasing awareness for your events on LinkedIn.