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Why Your Event Attendees Are Your Best Advocates
...and How to Activate Them

When marketing your event, you no doubt create a multichannel seeding campaign that spans email, social, PPC, and print, to name but a few. To cover all bases, you’ll craft a diverse strategy that incorporates a range of marketing channels, portioning your budget accordingly. Sound familiar?

But there’s one marketing channel that you’re probably not making the most of right now: your event attendees.

Dozens of savvy organisers use their guests as brand advocates, capitalising on their genuine passion for their event and brand. It’s a great method to market your event and boost your brand profile in a natural, organic way. Read on to find out exactly why your attendees are your best advocates, and how you can start using them to promote your events today.

Why should I use advocates to promote my next event?

Put simply, brand advocates are customers who are so passionate about your event, product, or service, that they will voluntarily promote it to their friends, family, and their industry network.

Brand advocates are great for brands for a multitude of reasons, not least because they are the best form of social proof. They don’t need to be cajoled or incentivised into giving a testimonial. They are eager to share their praise with their peers (and other potential attendees).

On top of that, they’re effective. Digital businesses receive 60% of their sales from customers directed to them by brand advocates, and 67% of customers state that they will be more likely to make a purchase if the product or service appears in their social feeds.

Evidently, brand advocates can be a huge boon to businesses - yours included.

How can I turn event attendees into event advocates?

You know the what and the why. Now let’s run through how you can create passionate brand advocates that sing your event’s praises with pride.

1. Head to social to identify likely candidates

A great way to swiftly identify attendees who are likely to become brand advocates is by heading to social media. Search through your past guest data and reach out to those in your community who:

  1. Were vocal about your previous events and actively shared content on social media before, during, and after the event.
  2. Have a significant following on one or more social platforms.

Trawling through this data might sound arduous, but fear not: there are tools that can help make this easier for you, such as Digimind Social. Analyse your prospective advocates using this social media management tool. Dig deeper into who their followers are and what they’re saying about them through real-time data analytics.

Alternatively, HootSuite’s free option lets brands monitor mentions on up to three different social sites. It also offers some comprehensive app integrations to let you readily identify individuals who are already engaged with your brand, and who are thus more willing to advocate for your event.

2. Woo your attendees with VIP events

To quote Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come.

Rather than heading to your attendees to find potential advocates, why not let them come to you?

Create an exclusive event with a limited number of places. Remember to highlight that exclusivity, too. Offer a VIP experience with prestigious guest speakers and freebies.

But instead of selling tickets, create a competition that encourages attendees to like and share on social to win a ticket. This not only provides you with valuable social promotion, but it also sorts the wheat from the chaff by organically attracting individuals who are highly engaged with your brand.

Once you’ve selected your attendees, dazzle them with a VIP experience like no other. Make them feel adored, and they will naturally want to reciprocate.

3. Curate user generated content and build an exclusive network

Peer-to-peer recommendations are one of the most powerful marketing tools available. An impressive 92% of people trust brand advocates over social media influencers. Building brand advocates is a PR tactic you can’t ignore.

But once you’ve got your event attendees engaging with and advocating for your brand, what on earth should you do with them?

"User-generated content" is the answer.

If you have a list of followers and event attendees that worship your brand, harness those waves of excitement: Ask them to submit something of value, like their photos, videos, and round-ups of the event. Use this content in your marketing channels.

You might even want to create a forum or a Facebook group where attendees can connect with one another and talk about their event experiences.

The result? A solid group of brand advocates in one place that feel like they’re part of something exclusive. And as user generated content is more trustworthy than branded content, you’ll amplify your marketing efforts for future events through your advocates’ word.

4. The best connections happen before and after your event

To turn your attendees into dedicated advocates, wow them every step of the way: before the event, during it, and afterwards.

But it’s before and after your event that you can really build up powerful connections with your attendees and create strong brand advocates. Your communication with your guests should let them know that you value them and their attendance.

To that end, create a dazzling email newsletter that delivers genuine value to your attendees (Moosend's newsletter templates feature seasonal alternatives that can jazz up your event promo). Offer some freebies or discount codes to repeat attendees or those who engage with you on social.

It’s also worth sending out some pre-event comms asking your followers what they’re looking forward to most, as well as some post-event surveys seeking their opinions on the event. Those that respond will be far more likely to become brand advocates by vocally and voluntarily engaging with you.

The key to creating brand advocates is building up a relationship that is more than simply transactional - it’s genuine. Your advocates are your friends, and your social and email communications are key to strengthening that relationship.

Marketing your event effectively consists of a diverse strategy that spans a variety of channels. But you’d be remiss if you didn’t activate that most powerful channel of all: your attendees. Reach out to them today to create event marketing that keeps on giving.

Patrick Foster is a writer with expertise in ecommerce, marketing, and business. Patrick writes under Ecommerce Tips, an industry-leading blog delivering knowledge and insights into business and ecommerce. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.

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