Aug 18, 2015 by David Becker

How to Use Social Media to Build Guest Lists

One of the biggest trends that we are seeing in the events industry these days is targeting our guest list. While driving a huge crowd is important, event planners are becoming increasingly attuned to the fact that the quality of the audience is just as important.

We are spending more time trying to ensure that our guest lists are full of influencers and decision-makers that will be attractive to our sponsors and engaged with our content. As brands have more and more event sponsorship opportunities, having the right audience is critical to retaining the sponsors we have and bringing in new blood. So how do you curate a guest list that will impress? Here are a few ideas.

Identify Your Ideal Guest

I am always surprised to see how many events cannot clearly identify their ideal guest. We spend a lot of time identifying the right sponsors for our events, but not enough time figuring out who the ideal attendee is. Look at their demographics and qualifications and put together a profile of your ideal attendee. This will help you to reach that audience by helping you to identify who it is that you are trying to connect with.

Once you identify the audience, do your best to connect with them on social media. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter give you easy access to the people you want to connect with, and tools like Instagram and Pinterest can further help to identify your ideal guest. Doing the research and making introductions takes a lot of work, but the work is well worth it because you will find more attendees within your target demographic, which will make your event easier to sell to sponsors.

Find Influencers

“Influencers” is a buzzword these days, but for good reason. In a nutshell, an influencer is anyone in your audience who has an audience of their own. Not only will they come to your event, but they will encourage 20 other people to come to your event as well. It’s important that we identify these people because they can help pack a room full of great people, and one of the easiest ways to identify influencers is to leverage social media.

Follow key hashtags on Twitter and Instagram and see who pops up most frequently. As you start to identify people who come up often, take a look at their personal accounts and see how engaging they are. When they post content, does it get retweeted and responded to? Do they have engaging content? The combination of these answers will lead you to the influencers in your industry. As you identify them, connect with them and share your event. Don’t be afraid to ask them to help you promote your conference – but make sure that there is a reward for doing so. Offer them a free ticket to your event or some other incentive for sharing the word. These influencers hold the key to a great guest list.

Cross Promote

There’s nothing wrong with some friendly cooperation. Sometimes, it might seem counterintuitive to partner up with similar organizations or events to drive traffic to your own, but partnering is a great way of bringing awareness to the events that you do and making sure that you are capturing a high-quality, targeted audience. Reach out to similar events and find ways that you can co-market. There should be a benefit for you and for them. Of course, don’t partner with events that are happening during the same time period, but events in the same category as yours are always great partners.

Don’t expect to have a stellar lineup on your first try. Curating a great guest list is a long process that will take years to perfect. Set realistic expectations about attendees, influencers, and promotional partners, and track your progress over time.

Liz King

Liz King

Guest blogger Liz King is a NYC based event planner, passionate about technology. She works with entrepreneurs and brands to host strategic events to grow brands and deepen the relationship with their target market. She is the brainchild behind TechsyTalk, a platform bridging the gap between event tech and the event planner.