This weekend I was supposed to be traveling to Atlanta to once again teach at Leather Leadership Conference but with the current fallout from COVID19 LLC and many other kink/leather conferences have canceled or postponed. The class chosen was "Social Media and Online Oopsies for Conventions." Since we're not able to get everyone together for the event I'm sharing a few things from the class in this article in hopes that it can still help kink conferences shine. Please remember that this isn't the full class but if you'd like to see it or get additional help with your conventions social media and online presence, please don't hesitate to reach out.
You're the proud owner of Kinky-LeatherCon, you've got your venue all picked out, top of the line vendors ready to sell their hearts out, and big name educators and performers that are sure to wow, but when it comes to ticket sales Kinky-LeatherCon is starting to look like Kinky-LeatherCan't. In this article we'll cover the common online oopsies that conventions make, preventing them from pulling in the big numbers they desire. Whether it's keeping up with the latest social media trends, getting lost in a sea of hashtags, or getting your timing just right, we'll take Kinky-LeatherCon from "ain't nobody got time for that" to "Yaaaas Honey!"
1: Sign Up For Social Media Accounts And Use Them
The first mistake many conferences make is not grasping the full effect social media can have on your ticket sales. While having a website is vital for getting information out and selling the actual tickets, social media is how you get people to your website to begin with. It also gives people a regular way to stay in contact with your event and what is going on in a format that literally notifies them the second updates happen; your website doesn't do that.
There have been studies that talk about how social media helps feed the reward centers of our brains, so imagine setting things up so that your event is also triggering those wonderful neurochemicals telling the brain "hey! A good thing is happening and we're excited about it!" This is where using your social media accounts instead of just signing up and letting them sit can really boost your sales. As people see things they enjoy coming from your event page they will share those posts with their friends, those friends will share it with their friends, and before you know it your following begins to soar. The more engaged followers you have, the more likely your ticket sales will boost as well.
So what does utilizing social media look like? Here are some of the top platforms and what they're for:
Fetlife: Fetlife is likely the one social media platform you're currently on. It's the "kinky Facebook" where you can post events, host group discussion boards, comment on profile photos and so on. Plus side: You're guaranteed to be directly content to kinky people. Downside: The anonymity available tends to make people a little carefree about what they say or how many events they RSVP to.
Facebook: The platform that everyone uses, and I mean EVERYONE. Having a Facebook profile or page means you can connect with the people who haven't quite found Fetlife yet. You can post events, photos, articles, discussions, and anything else related to your event in an attempt to pull attention. With Facebook the analytics work a bit better than Fetlife which brings us to... Plus side: It's an easy to use platform that allows you to connect with people all over the place. You also tend to get people's more authentic selves because to an extent their profiles have to be "real." You can also target ad campaigns with some scary accuracy. Downside: Everything has to be pretty PG which may cause you to not connect with people whose profiles are vanilla.
Twitter: The land of the hashtags! Twitter used to be the social media platform known for only giving you 140 characters to get a point across, something that's definitely harder than it seems, but now-a-days you get 280. The main thing Twitter seems to be the best for is essentially stream of consciousness types of posts, or "Live Tweeting" where you recall details of different things as they happen. Use the platform regularly and with proper tags to gain the most followers, the more engaged the better. Plus side: The site works best by constantly engaging with others which means that you're likely to get engagements back which just help boost your brand. Down side: If you haven't quite grasped what your brand is or what kind of content your followers will be most interested in it can be difficult to grow.
Instagram: Grab their attention with stunning photos. Instagram is full of influencers to be who are always looking to grab your attention. As a kink event this can become as simple as making sure you've got event photos from each year that you can share each day, or whatever interval works for you. Take photos of setup, tear down, checking out the hotel, locations of activities, vendor gear, presenters, and event entertainment. Nudity and lewd acts are your limit so keep the content PG13 and you should be fine. Plus side: If your event allows photography you can end up with tons of photos to last you until the next event. Downside: If your event doesn't allow even a professional photographer then getting content to last could be hard.
2. Don't Wait Too Long To Post
Once you've got your website and social media accounts up, make sure you keep up with posting. If you're putting together an application for vendors and presenters, make sure it's up in time to accommodate your application period and still have at least 2 months (the more the better) for people to ask for needed time off and/or save up funds that might be needed. If you wait until 2 months out to post the application and take a month to choose, you end up putting applicants in a tight spot. In that situation you're also only giving your attendees one month heads up on who is going to be at your event for them to see. It essentially becomes asking people to buy concert tickets but not telling them who is playing until a few weeks out which can cause ticket sales to stagnate until information is announced.
Another benefit of getting information out early is that you can stretch out the release of said information and use it as timed information goodies for your followers to look forward to. Imagine releasing the information of one presenter or vendor per week. You create an anticipation effect that leaves people coming back to your profiles again and again to find out who is going to be announced next.
Speaking of timing, did you know that there are better times to post during the day and week than others? Thursday tends to be one of the best day for Instagram because of #ThrowbackThursday posts where people post old photos of themselves, Twitter tends to be best around lunch time, and Facebook tends to spike around the weekends. Understanding a bit of these time-frames can help make sure you get the best engagement to your post, but trying to remember those times can be daunting task which is why a quick Google image search for social media posting times can lead you to infographics that can help break it down for you. Signing up for social media management services like Hootsuite and Sprout can also help. You simply take some time one day to set up your posts for the week at the best times and then don't worry about it until next week!
Lastly, don't wait to post the information needed for people to plan ahead for the event. Things like dates and the city and state where the event will take place should be one of the first things they see on your website as well as on your social media pages (along with a link back to your website). So often we run into pages where the information is missing which leaves people choosing another event to go to since they can't figure out where or when the event takes place.
3. Don't Be Shy About Using Hashtags
I know what you're thinking "what's a hashtag anyways?!" Don't worry, we've got you covered.
Hashtags are essentially mini Google searches that link your content with any other content that has the same tag because it has a "hashtag," the symbol formerly known as the "pound sign" or "number symbol." So if you were to type in #Kink in the description of your Instagram photo, anyone who clicks on "#Kink" in any other photo in the world will be curated a list of other photos that all contain that tag, including yours! This little tool is basically how a Google image search knows how to give you photos of an apple if you search for them. Google itself doesn't know what an apple is, but when enough other people tag their photos of apples with #apple, Google can pull them all and create that list for you.
How do we best use them?
When you create content on social media most of the platforms now allow for the use of hashtags to help ensure that other users can find material that they're looking for. We can use generic ones like "#kink" or "#bdsm" to try to reach as many kinky people as possible, or we can create specialized ones like "#kinkycoexist" which will reach a specific group of people who know that hashtag and use it (the latter being a hashtag for some of my artwork, go on try it out). The benefit of targeted hashtags is that you can offer hashtags specific to your event so that anyone who is at that event can all share content with each other. Or you can get more specific and offer them for specific classes at your event.
Remember that in order to reach the most people you need a good mix. You want generic tags that will reach the masses in hopes that they'll follow it back to your event and then you want specific ones so people can carry on the conversation about it directly. Finding the right hashtags for you and your event can be as simple as doing a Google search for "best kink hashtags" or something similar. You may get some that don't fit, so just add and remove as needed.
There you have it. 3 tips for avoiding social media and online oopsies for kink conventions. While these are by no means the end all be all list I hope this helps shed light on how to better your events' online presence. Did we skip a tip that you think is important? Let us know in the comments below and keep the conversation going!
Ignixia is an international kink and alternative sexuality educator. The following blog entries range from educational information and resources from her classes to daily musings had on things occurring in the world.