Did you know LinkedIn has an Events feature? LinkedIn Events was just made available to all Business Pages on the professional networking site.
What is LinkedIn Events?
LinkedIn Events launched last fall to a small, network-selected audience and provides LinkedIn users with a way to connect with other professionals through virtual events and gatherings. Recently, the professional networking site made the LinkedIn Events feature broadly available since so many business have shifted to a more digital workplace as the spread of the coronavirus continues.
While in-person events may be paused for now, the feature can help spread the word about your brand’s next virtual meeting, including round tables or product launches, or even employee happy hour (privacy settings are available). It’s also another event marketing tool to be utilized once life and business begin to return to normal.
Check out more LinkedIn capabilities you may not be familiar with, which could be useful as we all adapt and do our best to stay connected and engaged in these challenging times.
For companies that rely on industry events, expos and trade shows to connect with their key audiences, there is a void being created as those events get cancelled around the world. As these brands find their ability to directly connect and communicate with wholesale buyers or individual consumers limited, they need to be innovating new ways to reach their audiences. Luckily, technology companies most brands use every day already have functionality that can help overcome this gap: live streams. In fact, the recommendations below may allow brands to create an even more immersive experience for their customers than trade shows enable.
Most major social media platforms from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to Twitter and TikTok have a live mode, which allows you to broadcast live to your audience through the app.
Your audience has the ability to submit questions and comments in real-time, creating an interactive experience not unlike a traditional trade show floor experience. If your brand has been looking for a way to get customers onsite to see how products are created, produced, grown, or packaged, live streams could be the tool you’ve been looking for. Coupled with the current stay-at-home measures in place around the world and the increased demand it has created for digital content, the opportunity is there for the taking.
The best part is it can be done from the palm of your hand. While we would typically recommend brands up the production quality of their live streams a bit (streaming through an ethernet-connected device to prevent lag, using a professional camera to get the best image quality, and having a community manager on hand to address questions as they come in), shooting these in selfie mode is more than acceptable right now. As late night hosts and politicians broadcast from home, consumers are getting increasingly used to the production quality inherent in filming outside of a studio.
Most apps simply require a viewer to have an account to watch a live stream and they don’t limit the number of attendees, questions, or comments that can be submitted during a live event. But before logging on, here a few things to consider to produce the best content you can.
Also, if your brand is totally new to live streams, start with the platform you’re most comfortable on. For many brands, that means Facebook. There are several outlets that share Facebook Live How-To’s; this how-to video from Hubspot is a great start.
So, if you’ve had to cancel your upcoming trade show, consider going live on social media to hold a virtual event. If this is your first time producing a live stream on your social media channel, you may be wondering how to host a virtual trade show.
Below, we outline 5 tips to make your virtual trade show and social media live stream successful.
Choose your host wisely.
Not only will they be the face and voice representing your brand, they’ll need to be prepared to answer questions and handle the technology, all in real-time and in front of the audience. This may be a great opportunity to leverage an influencer or content partner that your brand works with who may be more accustomed to the medium. If you’re using someone not as familiar with the Facebook Live platform, be sure to study up on the basics, like camera angles and privacy settings, and engage with your audience during the broadcast. Re-introduce yourself throughout the video as new viewers join, encourage audience members to like and share the video, and ask for questions.
Send out invitations.
You’ll want to ensure your audience is aware, with appropriate notice, of your live event taking place. This can take many forms: a Facebook event, posts on other social channels, messaging on your website, communication to email lists, or even 1:1 outreach to desired audiences. Try reaching out specifically to the people who you had planned to connect with in-person at the cancelled event. Be sure you include all pertinent information, date and exact time, as well as a link to your Facebook profile for easy access.
Industry events and trade shows are great because of the multi-sensory connection they facilitate. Don’t forget the many ways you were planning to connect with your audience in-person. Consider sending product samples to top targets, along with a physical invite to the Facebook Live event. This will allow your audience to simultaneously experience the product—taste, touch, smell—and interact with your host during the live stream, just like they would have in-person.
Seize the opportunity.
While it may not have been part of the original plan, interacting with your audience in this way may present new and existing opportunities for your brand. A natural food brand could broadcast live from the farm where their product originates. A clothing manufacturer could bring in the artist who provides their most popular designs. Live streams give you the opportunity to share the people, places and things that make your brand unique in a way a third-party event or trade show floor may not.
In addition to the host, make sure you have team members monitoring the event, taking notes on attendees, questions received, new opportunities identified. As you would following an expo or trade show, follow up with connections and personalize those interactions based on their participation in the live stream.
Last week, we shared some of the ways Saltwater expects online behaviors to change as responsible social distancing and life under stay-at-home orders continues.
We know people are online more and more as they work from home, utilizing social media and technology to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues, and perhaps engaging in a little (online) retail therapy.
While marketing may not be an essential function during these unprecedented times, we do know that businesses who market through economic downturns see increased market share and ROI on the other side. So, it’s critical that businesses are in the same online channels where their customers are spending increased amounts of time. Here are a few tips any brand can implement in their social and email marketing.
Social Media Marketing:
Social media has long been a powerful, if ever-changing marketing channel. With customers turning in large numbers to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated and engaged, social can now be an even more influential communication channel for brands.
But, with increased eyeballs, now more than ever it is critical businesses are thoughtful and deliberate about their social messaging. Not all content has to be rooted in COVID-19 and the new realities we’re facing, but it must be respectful and appropriate for the current climate.
Everyone’s messaging barometer may be slightly different, but brands should err on the side of caution and be careful even with common phrases like “last chance” or “time is running out.” Traditionally used to create a sense of urgency and motivate desired consumer behavior, in these challenging times these casual phrases may come off as tone-deaf or insensitive. Try also to avoid visuals of large crowds, or other elements that have become taboo for health and safety reasons—see KFC’s pausing of their “Finger Licking Good” campaign.
Because of the interactive capabilities, social is a great place to allow your customers to ask questions and show them you’re listening. Go live on Facebook and answer community questions. Utilize polls to understand what content customers would most appreciate. Start posts with mirroring messaging, such as “We heard customers wondering about…” and be clear about intentions, saying things like, “we thought this might help with…”.
Now is the time to lead with empathy and be sure that every message you’re sending is serving your customers. If possible, utilize video on social, and, as we suggested last week, have leadership step out from behind the brand. Instead of a photo and caption, why not share a video with one of your leaders sharing information more directly? Everyone is learning how to adapt to the current situation and videos from your phone, yes, even without professional lighting, are more acceptable than ever.
Your inbox is probably exploding with COVID-19 messaging from your bank, favorite retailer, streaming services, and every credit card in your wallet. While it’s an increasingly crowded space, email engagement is up and it can be an incredibly valuable channel when used correctly.
If you’re not currently segmenting or personalizing emails, those are critical first steps. Even the most basic CRM tools provide ways to create unique audiences to ensure you’re providing the best, relevant information. Most also allow for some level of personalization, such as the customer’s name in the opening greeting.
During times of crisis, regular communication is key, especially if your business is continuing to evolve with the situation. Letting customers know they can expect a weekly email on a certain day of the week can help keep those lines of communication open. A regular cadence of emails, without spamming or over sending, is always important, but even more so during times of uncertainty and change.
As with social, not all content has to be virus or quarantine related, but it needs to be appropriate given the circumstances. And again, video is a powerful medium that can be utilized to make email communication more human, especially if there is a difficult message to be shared.
Like you, the Saltwater team is continuing to adapt and find creative solutions to best support our clients and our team. We’re leaning into technology and sending production packages to our clients to facilitate at-home video production using individual smartphones. We’ve found this particularly successful for internal videos addressing operational or process changes. We’re also utilizing audiograms when video isn’t preferred or available. Internally, we’re sharing photos of our work-from-home setups, complete with babies and pets, across our Slack channels, and enjoying a good laugh as we experiment with Zoom backgrounds during team calls. We hope you, too, are finding the good in these challenging times and continue to stay safe and healthy.