As one of Cialdini’s six principles of influence, social proof is an undeniable force of human psychology. According to this principle, individuals ‘view a behaviour as correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it’ (Cialdini 2001).
Humans are pack animals, and our decisions are subconsciously influenced by those around us. A personal recommendation from a credible source is infinitely more powerful than hearing from the brand itself, and people are much more likely to take action if something is recommended by someone they know, like and trust, or someone who is considered an expert.
Any smart marketer knows the important role social proof plays in building a loyal event following that keeps numbers growing year on year (or event by event). FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real, and leveraging your existing audience to grow followers is both an effective and budget-friendly way to build hype around your event and sell more tickets.
Here are our top tips for leveraging social proof in your event marketing in 2020.
BEFORE THE EVENT
- Create and monitor a dedicated hashtag that people will instantly recognise. Pick something easy to spell and remember.
- Engage with your followers, encourage and stimulate interaction through social media and create a sense of excitement around the event.
- Reply to all comments and event enquiries as soon as reasonably possible and try to personalise each response.
- Engage influencers or experts (these could also be your speakers) to take over the event on socials (Twitter chats, Facebook or Instagram Live etc), or ask them to send you a short video promoting the event and their involvement. If working with an influencer, make sure you offer them a free ticket or incentive to come along.
- Use testimonials from past event attendees or sponsors in your email and digital marketing. Create visually appealing quotes that people will want to share with friends. Use feedback from event surveys or reach out to attendees directly.
- Use attention-grabbing video footage of past events in your promotion.
DURING THE EVENT
- Display screens around the event with a hashtag feed.
- Curate insta-worthy environments – a selfie wall, photo prop, pop-up activation or anything relevant to your event that will get people snapping and sharing. Make sure your hashtag and social handle are easily visible so people can tag you!
- If your event is based around food and beverage (like a cocktail reception) make sure every element is aesthetically pleasing and creative, both as a talking point at the event and online. Make it grammable, people.
- Engage with your community: thank people for coming, ask questions, get real-time feedback and show attendees you are listening.
- Use stories or go live to spark virtual engagement and generate FOMO.
- Hire a videographer or photographer to capture content for your next event.
AFTER THE EVENT
- Get professionally edited event footage to use for marketing your next event.
- Ask for testimonials, surveys and reviews (especially by influencers or credible industry experts).
- Leverage your power users and reward engagement directly after the event, e.g. running a social media competition to encourage people to spread the word.
- Don’t let your hashtag go dormant – ensure you monitor and maintain posting to keep the event alive.
- Have a strategy ready to go for the next event, including a post-event website (holding page) where people can view your past event and register for updates on the next one.
Remember, attendee experience is everything! In the same way that a positive user experience can work in your favour, a negative shared experience can ruin you (just take Fyre Festival as an example of how never to ‘plan’ an event). So, while enabling attendees to spread the word, make sure your focus is on delivering such a brilliant, attendee-focused experience that they only have positive things to say!