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Convert Facebook Fans to Attendees or Registrants in 3 Steps

This is a guest post by Jeff Molander who the is the author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell, adjunct professor of marketing at Loyola University Business School and a social media keynote speaker. He blogs at www.offthehookblog.com and can be reached at jeff@jeffmolander.com.

Meeting Planner Social Media
Jeff Molander

If you’re like most planners, you’re trying to turn Facebook fans into attendees or registrants. Today, getting it done is easier than you think. After a year of interviewing planners and businesses experiencing remarkable success using social media I found the common thread: They’re giving attendees a reason to offer more than a “like.” Here’s their trick: Using Facebook to generate questions that your in-the-flesh or virtual meeting gives answers to. Converting social media leads to conference attendees or Webinar registrants is as easy as solving your audiences’ problems, but in ways that create desire or entice them.

Step 1: Solve Attendees Problems

You’ve probably heard that posting a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days is the key that unlocks success with Facebook. But it’s simply not true. Technical skills are essential to have, but making a sale demands focus on needs of attendees, not “secret sauce best practices.” The true secret is getting back to basics and that means solving their problems.

For instance, grocery store Harris-Teeter pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or you—do that? Because helping customers put out a fire is powerful. Answering questions in an honest, bold way opens the door to make a suggestion. It can be a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outlining benefits of becoming a member or attending a conference or summit.

Step 2: Be a Thought Provoker, not a Thought Leader

Solving your audience’s problems on Facebook works, but only if you do it in ways that addict your target audience and let them share insights on their intent with you.

For instance, let’s say you need to generate new, inbound inquiries about your conference. Or you need to convince an already attentive audience to turn out to the meeting. In either case, you need to provoke responses from the audience. The key here is sharing useful, original (previously unknown) knowledge with them on Facebook in exchange for understanding their intent to attend—what’s holding them back, for instance.

In other words, give your audience something valuable and generate insight on a qualified lead. Then nurture it to fruition.

Many of the B2B (business-to-business) businesses and conference planners I’ve been interviewing are “ethically bribing” attendees with opportunities they’ve never seen before or providing solutions to problems they don’t yet know they have. That’s the candy. That’s how you can become addictive. The trick is showing attendees ways to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems that ultimately connect to your meeting. Think of it like making everything you do on Facebook scratch attendees’ itches.

“The key is to leverage your speakers’ in ways that reveal what they’re seeing that most people are not right now,” says Gunnar Branson, CEO of marketing and innovation consultancy Branson Powers. “For instance, what do your keynote speakers know—right now—that’s relatively unknown and revealing? Think in terms of a risk or opportunity that your audience will react strongly to,” he says.

“The formula is something like this,” says Gunnar Branson, “and it can be applied in any selling scenario: ‘Most people think A, but it’s actually B. Here’s why I say that (so some sort of proof—an observation, trend, anecdote, a statistic). Therefore B.’”

“That’s it,” says Branson. “That’s the way to plan or ‘map out’ stories or insights that will draw people in.”

Step 3: Take Action

The final step is to align your behavior on Facebook in ways that help attendees solve problems or aid them in getting something important done today.

Here are tips on getting started:

Talk to me: Give attendees a reason why they need to think about something important to them in a powerful new way that gives them a reason to talk to you… so they can more clearly understand what you just provoked.

Make it easy: Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction and make it easy for customers to qualify themselves as leads.

Re-purpose content: Are you already helping members or audiences put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using simple, accessible tools like a blog. Consider ways to prompt customers within Facebook to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.

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