With over 65 million registered users worldwide, LinkedIn has become an essential destination where business professionals connect and network. Make it easy for attendees to connect and engage with their LinkedIn network and virtual event planners have much to gain.
The good news is that LinkedIn provides several convenient integration points – there are LinkedIn Events, LinkedIn Widgets and a full-blown Application Programming Interface (API). Let’s consider a few possibilities.
To promote your event, create a LinkedIn Event – it’s easy to “Add an Event” once logged in to LinkedIn. Complete a few input fields and within 5 minutes, your event record is created. There is a check box for “This is a virtual event” – you’ll obviously want to select that. Once created, your event will appear at http://events.linkedin.com and be searchable by all LinkedIn members.
Your next step is to generate awareness of your event to LinkedIn members. On your LinkedIn Event creation confirmation page, you’ll have the option of sharing the Event with selected LinkedIn contacts – and/or advertising the event with LinkedIn’s DirectAds advertising system. In addition to these options, consider promoting the event to relevant LinkedIn Groups, including those that your company has created – or is active on.
As LinkedIn members find your LinkedIn Event, you’ll begin to generate registrations – members can also denote whether they’re “Attending”, “Interested” or “Not Attending”. If they’re “Attending”, they can further define their role at the event (e.g. “Attending”, “Presenting” or “Exhibiting”).
Note that a member can denote that they’re “Attending” your virtual event (on LinkedIn), but will still need to complete your event’s registration page, typically hosted on your site or your vendor’s site and separate from LinkedIn.
Once a few members denote that they’re “Attending” your virtual event, LinkedIn’s sharing features kick in – as you see above, I can “Browse Events” and view all upcoming events that a LinkedIn connection (or connections) is attending. I can click on the LinkedIn Event record to view all attendees – and, I can view which of my connections plans to attend.
This could help in two ways – first, knowing that other like-minded professionals are attending may tip the scales in favor of my own registration and attendance. Second, I now know (in advance) that one or more of my connections plan to attend, so I’ll be on the look-out for them within the virtual environment. Or, I may email them on the live event date to ask for their early impressions.
Here’s a useful article: Promote Your Event Using LinkedIn Events Application
LinkedIn as Your Registration Page
Registration page abandonment is a concern for all virtual event hosts – use a form that’s too long and potential registrants may give up and never return. LinkedIn has a Profile API that can be used to retrieve certain attributes from a LinkedIn member’s profile.
The first step for users, of course, is to authenticate to their LinkedIn account, granting the virtual event platform permission to access their LinkedIn profile. Once authenticated, the virtual events platform can use the Profile API to obtain some profile attributes. This should cover 40-50% of a typical event’s registration questions.
By making it convenient for registrants, you’ll see a higher conversion rate and generate more registrations. You’ll need to balance that by collecting additional information (that exhibitors may need) once registrants login to the event (e.g. email address, which the Profile API does not provide, street address, zip code, qualifying questions, etc.).
Your virtual event’s registration page is a logical place to embed the “Share on LinkedIn” widget – users registering for your event can share it with their LinkedIn network – or, with particular LinkedIn groups to which they belong. As shown above, members can share the page via status update (on LinkedIn), via a posting to a selected LinkedIn Group or by emailing selected connections.
The registration page is the one page where sharing makes sense – the rest of the event sits behind the registration page. Thus, sharing pages from within the event are less useful, since recipients would first need to complete the registration page prior to seeing the “shared content”.
Searching for LinkedIn Connections within the event
I occasionally attend a virtual event where I come across a former colleague in the Networking Lounge or in an exhibitor’s booth. If not for the random encounter, I would have never known s/he was attending the same event. The virtual event platform ought to provide me with the ability to search my LinkedIn Connections and then check to see if any of them are registered or online (right now!).
This would be useful for:
- Attendees – have the opportunity to connect with a former colleague or business partner, right there in the virtual event. Additionally, be able to compare notes on exhibitors, sessions, etc. with folks you know.
- Exhibitors – invite contacts (connections) to visit you in your virtual booth and get them caught up on your latest product offerings. Also, be alerted to existing customers and business partners who are attending – whom you may not have known were online in the environment.
- Show Hosts – be alerted to business contacts who are attending your event – and be able to check in with them (or connect with them afterwards) to ask about the event experience.
Leveraging LinkedIn can bring many benefits to a virtual event planner – you can generate awareness and additional registrations via LinkedIn Events and the “Share on LinkedIn” widget; you can create an accelerated registration process for your users (and generate additional registrations along the way) and you can create enhanced engagement within the event by allowing attendees to discover their peers and business partners. Give some of these ideas a try and let me know how they worked out!