Blurry Event Space

How to Engage at an Event When You’re Not Invited

October 15, 2019

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the good news: You just stumbled on a great event in the daily clips that’s tailor made for your organization. The bad news: The panel for the event is already full, and even if you could get a ticket to attend, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to pose a question to the panel. And even if you did get the opportunity to ask a question, who knows if you’re going to like the answer?

It’s clear to you this event is a slam dunk for your organization—it’s about a relevant topic with a captive audience of journalists, policymakers, and key stakeholders.

What isn’t clear to you is how you’re going to get your foot in the door and make sure your organization has a meaningful SOV. That means it’s time to get a little creative with paid digital.

Here are a few tactics we use to make our clients’ presence felt at a wide variety of events without any boots on the ground.

Blanket the event with geo-fenced display advertising

These online billboards are generally the best way to raise awareness online, especially when geo-targeting narrows the scope of the campaign. Depending on the size and timeframe of the event, we don’t need more than a $500 budget to blanket an event space with our client’s content. As an added bonus, display ads can be no fingerprints. If you don’t want to put your logo on content or send users to your website, we could ostensibly promote an op-ed or content from a third-party validator that advances your cause. Either way, your organization and the issue at hand will be top of mind for event attendees – most of whom you can assume are important folks to reach and influence.

Retargeting = Increased ROI

Just because the event is over doesn’t mean we can’t continue to reach attendees with ads. Allocating 20% of budget to a retargeting campaign allows us to target the audience pool gathered at the event long after they’ve left. We typically recommend retargeting users for one week with content – and ideally, including a few new fresh creatives – to maximize ROI and avoid over-saturating the audience pool.

Condition the environment via targeted social campaigns

Hyperlocal targeting capabilities give display a comparative advantage for promotions on the day-of and during an event. Targeted social, on the other hand, presents an opportunity to weigh in on existing conversations around an event and target a relevant audience pool based on concentric circles of relevant interests. Event-specific campaigns are a little broader in scope on social and should start a few days in advance of the event to condition the environment for success and increase your organization’s SOV online and on-the-ground.

In some cases, these campaigns can be used to support events where our clients do have a presence, but want to drum up support for their organization in advance and capitalize on their participation with real-time content. We recently had success with promoted tweets and Twitter ads optimized for awareness at a healthcare conference to support one of our clients who had a tent on-site. We started our campaign the Monday before the weekend event, targeting followers of relevant interest groups, geo-targeting the event’s zip code, and utilizing the event hashtag to generate a buzz around the client’s presence at the event. This strategy included promoting content from both the client’s main account and the account of a woman in leadership who would be representing the client on-site. Informative content from the client’s primary account increased the likelihood attendees would visit the client’s tent, while real-time content featuring their team on the ground from the woman in leadership personalized their presence and helped further establish her as a thought leader in the space.

This case study shows the value of planting your stake in the ground on Twitter around events. Twitter is the platform of choice for real-time content, and utilizing event hashtags allows us to quickly gain a piece of the SOV pie for our client via organic and promoted social campaigns.

These tactics can help you consistently position your organization for success at relevant events, whether you can attend in person or not. We recommend you create a calendar of events to identify opportunities for digital campaigns well in advance and plan accordingly. Each event is an opportunity to obtain a meaningful SOV and increase your online profile via small-dollar, targeted campaigns that reach key audiences with relevant content.

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