How to use Whatsapp to market meetings and events

The messaging app can be a useful tool for connecting with attendees before, during and after a business event

Sixty billion messages are sent on the platform every day.

NEW YORK - Whatsapp can be a useful tool for event planners, particularly those marketing to international attendees.

Here's how you can leverage WhatsApp to bolster your events:

Gather Leads and Connect With Prospective Attendees
Once you set up a WhatsApp Business account you can add use its "application programming interface" (API) to install a "WhatsApp us" widget to your event website or social media pages, encouraging prospective attendees across the world to establish a more direct connection to you and your event, whether to answer their questions or send them a link to register.

"WhatsApp has a high open and response rate, and hence is a useful way to engage with prospects," explains Renjit Philip, CEO of technology startup Explain.Care Inc., which develops intelligent bots that can be used on messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is especially well-suited to sharing video and multimedia content, so using it to send preview clips about the upcoming event, a short welcome from the keynote speaker or an eye-catching image file is likely to have more impact than just sending out a text message.

Build Community

WhatsApp Groups can work well for creating a sense of connection between several attendees. While the service allows for as many as 256 individuals to be added to the list, generally this avenue works better for communication between a handful of people with shared interests.

For example, a meeting planner could set up a WhatsApp group of panelists who are going to be at presenting together, to share information or check in prior to the event. Or if a few dozen attendees are all coming in from the same city or company, they can be connected in case they want to figure out transportation or schedule a meet-up for after-show drinks. If someone feels like the information is not relevant to them, they can be removed from the list, ensuring those who remain want to be there, forming stronger connections with fellow attendees and enhancing their experience of the event or just making it easier to plan their time while there.

Connect With Attendees During an Event
The direct, conversational tone of WhatsApp makes it a more casual and engaging means for communicating with prospects before an event as well as during the meeting.

"You can give your event attendees a WhatsApp number that they can turn to when they have a question," says Olga Mykhoparkina, chief marketing officer at Chanty, an AI-powered team chat that uses messaging apps in its marketing. "You can then use that same channel to create a group chat to promote your event and send out promotional materials as your event is getting closer."

If you expect the platform will be used primarily for logistical questions, such as schedule questions or wayfinding, AI-powered bots can be set up that can respond to most questions attendees would have. Philip of Explain.Care notes that this tool was used recently at the Fast Company Innovation Festival.

Keep the Conversation Going
After the event is over, continue messaging with the individuals who reached out before and during the event. That might mean answering post-event questions from attendees, using the Broadcast List feature to send out surveys or notify the list when registration opens for next year's conference, or sending tailored invitations to specific attendees.

Planners can create targeted lists depending on attendee preferences, ensuring messages are relevant to those receiving the information.

Dos and Don'ts for Event Marketing
Explain.Care Inc's Renjit Philip offers these tips for using WhatsApp when promoting an event:

• Don't do anything to violate the trust of the individuals on your lists. You should not send messages without their consent or swamp them with "sales" messages.

• Don't write copious answers to questions. Keep them snappy and to the point.

• Don't skip the WhatsApp fair use terms and conditions. Abuse of these policies will mean your business will be banned from using WhatsApp.

• Don't send information that could be mistaken for spam. Avoid sending information without customer consent.

• Create separate customer groups and send out useful news, upcoming services and special promotions. You can create a group with up to 256 members in it.

• After getting their consent, you can contact your customers through WhatsApp to see if they will attend your event. You can send event invitations to seminars, or workshops using this channel.

• Be creative with the use of pictures, emojis, gifs and videos. Make sure your messages are clickable and ready to be forwarded to help make your next event a viral hit.

This is an abbreviated version of the article first posted on Northstar Meetings Group.

Source: Northstar Meetings Group

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