Guerrilla Social Media Marketing for Events

With over one billion people using social media globally it has become a communications and marketing channel we cannot afford to ignore. Because most social media tools are free or nearly free there is an attitude that there is not any real cost to using the tools. The truth is you will invest time, energy, and your reputation in your social media efforts. Have a guerrilla approach is vital to driving results. Guerrillas measure success in profits or net positive results – not in likes, tweets or traffic. These things are important but they must lead to an eventual profitable outcome.

The term “guerrilla marketing” was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson and popularized by his best selling book that was released in 1983. Guerrilla Marketing uses unconventional means to achieve conventional goals, it relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. Jay and I added community on-top of time, energy and imagination when we wrote Guerrilla Social Media Marketing because of the vital role community plays in social media success.

When you are marketing and producing a major event you can apply many guerrilla tactics to gain exposure, broaden your contact base and leverage your marketing efforts.

Here are 3 ways you can use social media before, during and after your event that will cost you very little and garner big results:

#1) Socialize your whole site, even the registration process. Make sure you have sharing buttons that allow people to share interesting elements of your site to their networks with one click to Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn. If you make people cut and paste the whole url, write a headline and submitted it to their networks you will lose most of you potential viral opportunities. In addition to this, if they have to leave your site to share your content they may not come back.

In the registration confirmation page for your event don’t just have a thank-you message. Also ask them if they would like to share what they just registered. Also do this for individual event pages and tracks. If you have several hundred people register and even 25% of them share it with their network that can translate to literally thousands of more people becoming aware of your event.

#2) Twitterize your event. Make sure you develop a conference hashtag for your event well in advance and have it displayed prominently on your site. By searching for this tag in Twitter Search ( attendees and possibly several thousand other people on Twitter witness the conversations, links, photos, videos etc. that are shared about the conference. The more that people share great quotes, ideas or even photos of their favorite booth or activity the more other people become aware of what you are doing. This is crowdsourced branding.

At a book launch event organized by Marc Smith of Amuse Consulting, Marc fielded questions from Twitter and had the speakers reply during question period. Many of the best questions came from people that were not in the room. The conversation about the event online carried on for days and Marc was also able to find new connections online that were interested in attending future events on the same topic.

Another easy to implement strategy is to have a Twitter contest at the event. Get attendees to take photos tag them with the conference hash tag and upload them to Twitter. The best photo wins a prize of some sort. This worked so well for an annual party we throw in Vancouver that the event became a trending topic on Twitter nationally.

#3) Get your sponsors to use their reach in addition to cash sponsorship. My business partner Anthony Caridi and organized a fundraising event and 24 hour online campaign for Make-a-Wish BC Yukon. Our strategy was simple. There were a lot of companies out there willing to write a cheque to this great cause. But beyond money these major corporations and influencers had thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook fans and Linkedin connections.

We asked them to do one simple thing, make a donation and share it with their contact base. These executives and some local bloggers were invited to a pre-campaign event at a local pub where we showed them how to easily share the information on major social networks. A few days later we launched the 24-hour online campaign and in less that 14 hours over $12,000 was raised with the average donation being approximately $40. The Ceilis pub donated the beer and the space and the campaign cost was close to zero. This same principle can also apply to conferences and major exhibitions. Search out sponsors who don’t just have cash but also have a large social footprint and reach that they could share.

There are dozens of other guerrilla tactics you can use in combination with social media that are free, easy to implement and garner big results. Take the time to integrate social media into your event marketing and production. Often a simple email request to your attendees, sponsors and exhibitors is enough to create some real online momentum. The key message here is there is massive marketing leverage at your fingertips that you can easily tap into. Just get social!

Shane Gibson (@ShaneGibson) is a sales and social media speaker who has addressed over 100,000 people on stages on three continents over the past 15 years. He is also co-author of Guerrilla Social Media Marketing and Sociable! How Social Media is Turning Sales and Marketing Upside-down. When he’s not speaking or Tweeting he is in the social media trenches working with his clients as Chief Social Officer for Socialized! Ltd. social media agency. Visit for information on Shane’s speaking, training and books.

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