© 2017, Emily Taylor, Digital Marketing Manager, Tradable Bits

Ever wonder how events like Lollapalooza manage to sell out so fast? Analysing social data from hundreds of events reveals much insight into how best to market conferences.

Typical conferences go like this: hardly anyone talks about you before event day except your team, so many people talk about you during your event that you’re completely overwhelmed and then you return to radio silence just days after it’s all over. Sound familiar?

Turns out, the most successful sold-out conferences do two things differently. First, they acknowledge and collect data about everyone that shows interest in their conference - not just ticket buyers. We call these people “fans”. Second, all of the sold-out conferences use social CRM technology to execute the same five stage marketing cycle, seen below. We’ve called this formula “fan-based marketing”.

When you launch, attract, prepare, attend and amplify with fan-based marketing, you:

  • Generate organic excitement and qualified leads, even months before event day
  • Sell out before event day by ensuring every dollar spent on advertising reaches fans
  • Triple your organic engagement during your event while maintaining complete control
  • Extend organic engagement with your fans and their friends long after your event

Five Stages of Fan-Based Marketing for Sold Out Conferences:


Seven to eleven months before your conference, buzz about your existence is your lifeblood. Don’t blast brand content and pray it’s heard; connect fans with an engagement campaign that creates organic activity.

Goal: Generate awareness for your conference

Typical conferences: Create and pay to push tons of brand content to your own properties

Fan-based marketers: Incentivize fans to create their own content about you and collect contacts with a user-generated contest

Result: More reach for far less effort and spend; more authenticity and credibility


Five to eight months before your conference, your speaker lineup launch should generate leads. Using the audience you’ve built, segment fans by interest and personalise your launch - ensuring a positive response.

Goal: Educate your fans about your lineup

Typical conferences: Pay to tell fans about your lineup through brand content and print/online advertising

Fan-based marketers: Directly email fan networks and amplify organic fan content about your lineup

Result: Higher email open rates because subscribers anticipate you reaching out to them; more organic reach


One to three months before your conference, you’ve launched your schedule and are preparing your fans for a stellar experience. If you sell out early with optimised ads, you’ll have more time to plan surprise fans with personalised offerings.

Goal: Generate excitement for your event

Typical conferences: Promote your schedule on brand assets, starting with an app-only launch to drive installs

Fan-based marketers: Encourage fans to share their own personalised schedules with their friends on social

Result: More organic awareness for less effort and spend; fans introduce you to their networks


During your conference, you’re making sure fans have a good time while solving any potential issues. When you have a pulse on fan social content, you can relax while staying in control and ahead of any crises.

Goal: Amplify the activity at your conference

Typical conferences: Post about event day to brand assets and ask media to promote your live stream

Fan-based marketers: Use your app to interact with fans via push notifications and connect them with speakers

Result: Tons of brand mentions in press and social from genuinely happy fans who had a great experience


After your conference, keep the brand buzz going for longer. Don’t start from scratch again next year - use previous years’ data, audiences and insights to make your next conference bigger and better so you’ll sell out even faster.

Goal: Keep engagement going beyond event day

Typical conferences: Repost live stream and brand content to your own website and social profiles

Fan-based marketers: Put fan experiences (user-generated content) on your website and socials, inviting fans to share

Result: Enjoy year-long engagement; use past fan data to personalise future campaigns, increasing ROI


When event marketers are overwhelmed with disjunct data on social, e-commerce and ticketing platforms, they must connect with their individual fans.

Profiles on social media are more than just follower numbers - they’re digital representations of the everyday identities of your attendees. Connecting with them through social login campaigns and social aggregation provides an unprecedented opportunity for your event to reach the humans behind your online sales.

Successful marketing starts with identifying who your fans are, ensuring they have excellent experiences and then using their influence to generate awareness, engagement and sales.

For a complete breakdown of fan-based marketing tactics for sales, marketing, organisers and sponsorship within each stage, download the complete Tradable Bits Fan-Based Marketing for Events white paper here.

Tradable Bits helps events know their fans and market smarter. Their marketing platform is your all-inclusive solution for sponsorship activations, social aggregation and ecommerce-integrated Fan CRM. These tools combine fan data across networks, giving you a complete understanding of your audience so you can provide awesome experiences while optimizing spend.

Pin It

What The Audience Is Saying

  • Your session blew me away. I could easily listen to your information all day. This was incredibly informative.
    Michael McNutt Human Capital Manager
    Information Experts
  • Amazing! I have not learned so much in such a short time ever! I want more!
    Rafael Olivares Sales Executive
    Finnish Tourism Board
  • "On a scale of 1 to 10, your session was a 20!"
    Joanne Langevin Manger of Meetings and Events
    College of Family Physicians of Canada
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3