Social Media Makes Us Lazy

empty_conference_roomThis summer has seen an increase in startup, business, and social media related conferences, yet a downturn in attendance and increase in last minute cancellations.   I think there are a variety of reasons for why this is, including choice of location, topic, and team.  But I’d like to focus on one that I feel like MANY of my colleagues are getting wrong: Social Media.

Social Media Is Making Us Lazy

Yes, that’s right.  On the one hand, there is even more to do now, especially with events.  I have to make sure we have a Facebook Event, an Upcoming Page, a Plancast Listing, a Going spotlight, a Twitter handle…the list feels endless, and certainly not for those lacking work ethic.

But I feel like many people see what I do (or Brian Zisk, or Myles Weissleder) and assume just my social media outreach sends me attendees.  So they set up these pages…and are surprised when their show isn’t selling out.  People assume that if they create a Facebook Fan Page and invite 500 friends, they’ll get 300+ people at the show.  Or if they tweet a few raffles, they’ll sell dozens of tickets.  Few people realize the personal outreach and relationships, the follow-up and engagement, essentially everything else that is behind every event I do.  Events – as with most products – are not a case of “If You Build It, They Will Come.”  Far from it.  You need to convince people that this content will be valuable, that these speakers will be experts, and that it will be worth their money.

5 NON-Social Media Things To Increase Ticket Sales

1)  Email every SF NewTech and TechCrunch demo company. These pre-funded through Series A funded companies are my primary audience, so I send a personal email inviting each and every one of these people to attend, and include a discounted rate just for them.  I mention something important about their company and they could apply the show to their business.  This results in a few hundred emails.

2)  Attend Similar Industry Events. The people buying tickets to those shows are the people who might come to mind.  I don’t obnoxiously pitch them, but I do try to mention what I do in the conversation, I find a way to ask about their mistakes, I discuss the state of failure in the industry.  Then I get a card so I can personally follow up.

3)  Contact Past Attendees Who Haven’t Registered. I don’t hound them, but I want to know why.  I want to know if they just forgot, or if there is something I could do to change the show so they come back.  I want them to know I truly do care about seeing them, and making the show a better experience than the last one.

4)  Form Media & Event Partnerships.  I find people with similar groups or lists and ask they if are interested in co-branding or promotions.  I’ll share their logo and event info on my list and website, and ask that they do the same.  This is an incredible way to make new connections.

5)   Invite VIPs. I create a list of about 50 VIP guests who I think, with their help, can secure more additional registrants.  I ask that they sign up so their name is on the Eventbrite page.  I ask that they promote to their colleagues and networks in exchange for the pass [okay, thats KINDA social media related].  These are people who are not only well-connected in the industry, but are also well-informed who I know will be a valuable addition to the show itself.

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