How Facebook Can Boost Conference Attendance

First, let’s get this out of the way, if you do not believe in the power of Facebook or just think that it is for kids, you are misinformed, living under a rock or have been locked in Carbonite, but do not fret! We can fix this, really we can.

Facebook has come to dominate the social sphere like nothing before it and unless there is some massive data breach or really bad shit, this is not going to change anytime soon. Meeting and Event Professionals should be paying attention to Facebook because it is one the best places to look for new conference and event attendees by simply engaging current fans and attendees.

That being said, Facebook has the potential to boost your conference attendance like nothing else and here is why:

Facebook is networking on steroids. People pay attention to what their friends and colleagues are doing so perhaps it is time for your conference or event to get in the game.

The power of Facebook is in the network; let’s have a look at some stats from Facebook:

  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

Holy Network Batman… that is a lot of people and they ain’t all teenagers y’all.

More stats to wet your whistle:

  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.

This is pretty amazing stuff and we can take this down to the ground level and look at one of my meeting and event planning friends and see how they are using Facebook. One particular friend:

  • 243 Friends
  • Connected to over 100 pages, 57 are MEETING AND EVENT INDUSTRY RELATED

To see how this could translate into a boost for your next event, let’s head down the rabbit hole and see how I interacted with my friend and a particular conference.

A few weeks ago, my friend signed up for a meeting industry event, the next day, she “liked” the conference on Facebook. The next day, I logged in and saw on my Facebook wall that “Edith” liked this conference so I went to the conference page and clicked the “like” button and from there I scampered over to the conference website and I signed up to attend as well….

You would think that it ends there but it does not.

The next evening, I logged in yet again and two more meeting planner friends had seen that we “liked” this particular conference and they also “liked” the conference so now the conference was pushing information out to 4 people, in the span of 24 hours and this does include all of the other times that this was happening with people that I do not know…. Come back the following day and 3 more people had liked the conference… that is the power of the network.

Is your conference or event working for you like that? Is it? If not, it should be.

You are probably thinking… no, Facebook is not for us or our group because our industry is “different”. Stop thinking so much because you are dead wrong.

In a post the other day, I mentioned that I had been speaking with a client over the weekend about social media and the fact that they poo-pooed some of the ideas that I was tossing out. The same person (he knows who he is) also claimed that Facebook was all about social and that it did not have any relevance to “their business” and to that I say, “Whatever dude”.  Think about this:

  • There are groups related to librarians with thousands of people
  • There are pages devoted to Machine Tool Companies
  • There are groups about Firemen and Women
  • There is even a group for Air Traffic Controllers for God’s sake

I think that you and your group have a niche on Facebook, if not then create one, people will come.

Work is the new social; it is how most of us spend the majority of our days and nights. We are checking our crackberries at 10:00 pm and our Facebook pages at 2:00 pm. The divide between what is business and what is social has fallen faster than the Berlin Wall and there is no chance that it is ever going back to the way that it was….never.

This is it folks, your social and business lives are now intertwined and the smart meeting and event marketer would realize this and get on board before someone else does and steals your thunder.

Another point that must be made is the fact that Facebook is FREE… why are you all getting all worked up about having a Facebook page when on a basic level; the only cost is…… TIME AND EFFORT.

You already have a marketing plan (you do right?) and you already have someone in charge of implementing that marketing plan, why not have them delegate the Facebook responsibilities. Unless you are the TED conference or SXSW, it is not going to require a cast of thousands to get a good, solid, Facebook presence off the ground.

YES, it requires planning, thought and effort, but it will not break the bank and it is not too much to handle, I have faith that you can make the leap and survive.

Everyone can find 15 to 30 minutes a day to interact with the very people that will be ATTENDING your event can’t you? Or are you so busy planning and producing the conference or event that the attendees and their interaction doesn’t even matter?

You can do it and you should start today.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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