Events are a proven way to engage with prospects and donors. How can you make sure you are making the most out of every event? Social data is a valuable asset when planning events and when meeting with alumni face-to-face.
Here are some ways to put social data into action with your event strategy:
Make Your Event More Relevant
Your alumni database can get out of date quickly as people move and change jobs. Social data from sources like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can help you stay up to date on alumni interests and create targeted, relevant events. You can also use social information on your donors and alumni to determine who to invite to which events. This can be as simple as looking at updated information on where your donors live to gain an idea of which regional events they might attend.
If social data shows you that many alumni in a particular area work in finance, you might want to create a specific event to appeal to those finance professionals. The more you know about your alumni, the more relevant your events will be—and make sure to highlight the relevant aspects of your event in your event invitation to improve your attendance rate.
Upgrade Your Event Briefing
When preparing for your next big donor event, you probably already refer to an event briefing with bullet points of information on the attendees. Ideally, an event briefing provides a succinct introduction to the attendee and draws a connection between the event, your school, and the attendee.
The event briefing is the perfect place to use social data to prepare your team to chat with donors. Information from your prospects’ social media profiles can help you fill in information on attendees you don’t know much about or help you develop deeper connections with well-known attendees. Strive to pull the most relevant and actionable social information that will help you start a conversation.
Have Better Face-to-Face Conversations
Having meaningful conversations at an event can be difficult if you don’t have a plan in place. At larger events, it can be hard to find your target attendees. To keep track of who is arriving and when, look into event management technology that can send you text alerts when your top prospects check-in. The alerts allow you to meet your most important attendees right as they arrive, before they get lost in the crowd.
Once you find your target attendees, starting a conversation isn’t always easy. Social data can provide you with a great conversation starter instead of going in cold. It can be as simple as seeing that a donor “liked” a Facebook post about a new building on campus, signalling that improvements to campus will be a good topic to cover. The conversation will evolve from there, but social data can provide a solid starting point.
Remember, Data Isn’t Everything
Don’t believe everything you read online! The same goes for social data on your event attendees. Don’t jump to wild conclusions about an attendee just based on their social media activity. Social data is an excellent way to enhance your conversations, but you shouldn’t let that information take the place of natural conversation.
Actively listen to what your prospects are telling you instead of thinking about how you can sneak in some some piece of information from their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. The best part about events is that they give you the opportunity to engage with alumni on a deeper level by meeting with them in person. If you leverage social data the right way, it will help you make the most out of every event and every conversation.
This is a guest contribution by Garrett Huddy of Attend, a Boston-based company improving the event experience for colleges and universities with event management software. Check out the Attend blog for more event best practices.