You are planning an event and the details can be overwhelming. However, the most important detail may be making sure that people actually show up! Unless you are planning a corporate event where the attendees are employees who have no choice but to attend, you have to create enough of a “buzz” for your target audience to change their normal plans to come and check out your event. Even if your attendees are “required” to attend, Social can streamline the entire communication process as well as help promote future events attendance.
Your Target Audience
Consumers today use the Internet even when locating a local business or discovering the times of movies that day. If you don’t have an active Internet presence, you probably aren’t even a blip on the radar for those living in your community. What do you do with the Yellow Pages that arrives each year? If you are like most, it either goes in the recycle bin or props a door open. Even if you don’t use the Internet for research or locating a business…your target customer does.
UNDERSTANDING THE TARGET AUDIENCE
Who is your target audience?
Many books and webinars talk about determining your target customer. I won’t repeat or try to improve on what has been written, but it is important that you take the time to identify who you are trying to attract to your event.
• Male or Female
• Average income
• Type of business: manufacturing, service, retail, etc.
Once you have identified who they are, think about what they are interested in. How does your event connect to this?
Is your event an evening out for women? A learning seminar to teach information someone might need to know such as maneuvering through Medicare paperwork or financial planning or investing?
Is your event social or educational?
Is it a lecture or interactive?
Is it a keynote or a panel discussion?
Is it a meet and greet?
Is it a new product introduction?
Think about how your event may inspire change or growth in your the target audience to entice them to come to your event. Be sure to play to the strengths of your event in your marketing, keeping in mind what your target audience would most enjoy based on your “audience member prototype” created out of questions above.
Three Main Social Media Sites
Further in this post, I will go into greater detail about the specific use of social media, but here is a brief overview of the three main social sites.
Facebook – these are the people you KNEW. Friends, family, business colleagues, college and high school friends, neighbors, and even people you’ve dated. This is a social site and although many businesses have flocked to create pages and entice you to “like” them, the primary use by Facebook fans is to stay in touch, share pictures, videos and links. So you must be careful in your advertising to not make it blatant advertising. Make it fun as, Facebook viral is very powerful, event marketing tool when used correctly and can reach hundreds of thousands of people a day for a fraction of the cost of print and other more traditional offline advertising methods.
LinkedIn is filled with people you know. Primarily a business networking site. Here you will find business professionals that you have worked with or want to work with. It is a great site to talk about and promote a business event to specific demographics and career levels.
Twitter is where you will find people you want to know. Politicians, celebrities, and movers and shakers. Twitter is best for generating buzz about your event and keeping the conversation going during the event using event hashtags.
55% of Twitter users are 35 or older.
63% of Pinterest users are 35 or older.
65% of Facebook users are 35 or older.
79% of LinkedIn users are 35 or older.
The Male Female Distribution of these sites is very similar, except in the case of Pinterest, where 79% of users were female.
For Business to Business or Business related events LinkedIN would be a good advertising avenue If you are having an event targeting women, then Pinterest would be a great choice. With Facebook being a good universal bridge to bring marketing efforts together.
With this in mind, where can you find your target audience? Remember that your audience will be looking for information in a variety of places.
DETERMINE THE FIVE W’s OF YOUR EVENT
Just like you learned in high school English class, you want to make sure you have determined, and then consistently communicated the most important information about your event. That’s where the Five W’s come into play
Not only do you need to know the answers to these five questions, you’ll want to communicate them in this order.
Who is hosting the event?
What kind of event is it?
Where will the event take place?
When will the event be?
Why are you holding an event?
Lastly, HOW should participants register or learn more information?
So as you begin to write press releases set up social media event pages and begin blogging about your event or sending Tweets to create buzz and excitement, make sure you know the answers to these questions and include the information in your marketing efforts cohesively.
HAVE ONE BILLION PEOPLE SPREAD THE WORD
Facebook is fast approaching one billion users – many of whom spend more than an hour every day sharing information and searching for companies, events and friends.
Use this social network to tap into those you know and those they know as well. Start by planting the seed in your status update stream.
Facebook Personal Page vs. Company Page
If you have created a company page on Facebook, make sure you are on that page before creating an event page.
Steps to creating an Event:
• Select Add an Event
• Complete each of the event pages with the details of your event.
• Enable all Event features so that you can show photos, videos, invite friends and show the guest list.
• Add an image or logo for the invite.
• Send invitations to all of the friends of your company page. Facebook gives you the option of inviting all of your friends of the page or just specific people.
• Once you have sent the invitation to all of the people on your company page, you will want to also invite people in your other networks.
• If you have more than 100 friends, you may need to send the invitation to your community in batches to keep from having to start over and over if mis-clicks are made.
Once you have sent the invitations, periodically communicate information about the invite to your community to keep the event on your wall in a visible location and to also have your event appear on the status updates of those in your community.
Invite your community to share their thoughts and comments about the event before and after to keep the conversation going, also be creative and fun in your marketing on Facebook!
CONNECT WITH BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS THROUGH LINKEDIN
The people you are connected with on LinkedIn are the people you KNOW. Those you have worked with over the years; currently work or network with, and those you hope to meet and work with in the future.
If you are planning a business event or a networking event, LinkedIn is a great way to spread the word.
From the main selection of tabs or under the MORE tab, you will find the Events section of LinkedIn.
Click on the “Add an Event” button and, similar to Facebook, complete the steps to add the details of your event.
Step One allows you to add the basics:
Name of the Event
Date, time and place
Upload a logo or image for your event
Step Two offers a form to include the description of the event, key words for search results and a website for more information. If you are having attendees register or pay for the event, there is a box to click to indicate this.
Step Three is a social share page – if you have Twitter or Facebook, you can link the event page to your other social sites. If you don’t – click on “skip this step.”
There is also an opportunity to add a comment, add the event to a calendar, to share on social sites and to see who plans on attending.
Sharing the LinkedIn Event information
In the upper right corner you’ll find a unique URL that has been created for your event.
• Use this link on all your social sites to refer readers back to the event page for more information.
• Reference this link in an email blast to your prospects and customers.
Additionally, once you create an event, it will appear on your LinkedIn profile page as a status update. Under the update, click on the “more” button for additional sharing options.
Click on the “share” button and a Share box will appear allowing you to invite individuals in your LinkedIn network or entire group members.
Click on the “post to groups” and you will have the opportunity to share your Event information with your groups. Groups are listed alphabetically.
Start Spreading the Word on Linked In
Once you have a personalized event invitation created you can spread the word among your LinkedIn community. Keep in mind, your community is not just the 275 people you are connected with one-on-one; it is also the people you are connected with via a group affiliation.
Hopefully you have taken advantage of the opportunity to join groups on LinkedIn. Briefly, the strategy behind LinkedIn groups is to join those that are deep and wide.
Deep: Groups that are located in your geographical area but with a depth of careers and industries.
Wide: These are industry groups that have members from around the globe. Although these groups are very beneficial for learning more about your industry, asking questions of people who are knowledgeable about your career and offer differing perspectives that can assist you at work, they are not going to be interested in an event taking place in your community.
Therefore, when you begin to spread the word on LinkedIn, confine your invitations to groups that can actually attend. There is certain etiquette about social media that should cause you to stop and think before blanketing a message to your community.
• Is this message of benefit or purely self promoting?
• Will the people receiving it find it of value or consider it spam?
• If it is an event – does the community to which I’m inviting, actually have the opportunity to attend?
Once you have decided who will receive your invitation, begin with your personal contacts. You can select 50 at a time to forward your customized invitation. Remember to include the unique LinkedIn Event URL.
Once you have completed this task, select the groups that are local and send the invitation. Go into the group, start a discussion, and include the URL and your personalized invitation.
TWITTER; TALK ABOUT YOUR EVENT IN REAL TIME
Twitter has the people you WANT to know. You’ll find local and national celebrities, politicians, news makers and news reporters active on Twitter. If you don’t have an account yet, it is still worth checking it out to see what people have to say.
Twitter is a great way to create buzz leading up to your event. Chat about the event DURING and share videos and photos of the event afterward.
To set up an event on Twitter, you actually need to visit a Twitter friendly website as Twitter does not (at the time of this writing) have an internal Twitter event page. However, you can also use the URL for your Facebook or LinkedIn event pages on Twitter and it will work just as well.
The Three Most Effective Ways to Use Twitter for Event Promotion
Twitter allows you to share status updates, comments and details in 140 character bites of information. You can use Twitter to:
1. Share a single fact or update about your event in 140 characters.
2. Lead the reader to a more detailed blog post, article, press release or video that shares in depth event information.
3. Listen to what people are saying about your event.
This last one – listening – offers great value to you before, during and after the event. The best way to organize the comments about your event on Twitter and to make listening easier is to create a “hashtag” for the event.
Specifics to Using Twitter to Promote Your Event
Following are some tips to using Twitter effectively PRIOR to your event:
• If you use a Smart Phone, download the application for Twitter on your cell phone so that you are immediately notified when there is conversation about your event. This will also allow you to quickly send an update to your community.
• Use Twitter as a teaser tool to share quick little tidbits of information.
• Ask questions or ask for comments or advice on how to make your event better.
• Respond to comments. Twitter should follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time be interactive with your community and only 20% should be promotional.
• Share up to the minute details of your event; new sponsors, vendors, prizes, entertainment, etc.
• Use Tweets to direct your followers to more information by including links to photos, videos, blog posts and press releases.
• As the event gets closer, make sure you inform your audience to use the hashtag so that the conversation can be organized and easily followed.
You can also use Twitter to communicate during your event and invite your participants to also communicate during the event.
A PICTURE IS WORTH A 1,000 WORDS
People love to see their name…and face…in lights. Use photos of your venue, speakers and participants to create buzz around your event after the fact.
If you plan to host more than one event, the more you can show the value and fun your events provide, the better attendance you will see in future events.
One of the biggest benefits to social media sites is their ability to share videos and photos.
If you plan to post photos or videos of your events, it would be beneficial to have attendees sign a photo release. Some people are uncomfortable with having their picture taken. Respect their privacy. However, if your attendees are game to be photographed with the understanding that their face may appear in your future marketing endeavors – make sure you get permission in writing.
Following are ways you can use photos (and invite participants to share their pictures) to create buzz about your company and your events.
If you have created a page for your company or a page for the event, you can easily upload pictures directly to the page.
Consider organizing your photos by creating a photo album that includes the name and date of the event so that people can quickly access the latest event pictures.
Tag the Photos
If you know the names of the people in the pictures, you might want to take the time to identify their names. This allows the picture to also show up on their personal Facebook wall.
Invite attendees to upload their photos to the fan page.
Flickr is not only a great way to share images but is also a powerful SEO tool to drive traffic back to your website.
Create a free account and then upload photos from your device or computer hard drive. Take the time to name the photos and add key word tags to assist people in finding the photos at a later date.
Include a link back to your website or event page.
If you have a blog – you can add a Flickr widget and create a slide show of images that will appear in the side bar of your blog.
YouTube is the number two search engine. When people want to learn about something or research a topic they go first to GOOGLE and second to find a video on YouTube.
Create a YouTube Channel for free. Simply sign up and click on the Create a Channel button. Upload your event videos to the YouTube Channel.
Make sure to use key words and geographical terms in the video name, key word tags and video description.
Create a live link back to your website in the YouTube video description by including the entire URL address: http://www.yourwebsitename.com.
Did everyone have a great time? As people are leaving, ask if you can video tape them talking about what they learned. You can share these videos on line as a testimony to the success of your event.
EVENT PROMOTION STRATEGY DURING THE EVENT
Twitter is your best tool for keeping the buzz going as the event is actually occurring. You may have noticed that entertainers are now using Twitter to help fans feel part of the “back stage” experience.
You can create the buzz and excitement by using following rules.
• Using the #name of your event – post comments, quotes from attendees and links to pictures or videos.
• Attendees can share their thoughts and pictures during the event.
• Use your camera to take candid videos and post them as they happen.
After the event, create a photo album and upload all of the photos to your Facebook fan page.
Keep track of what works well and what works even better so that you can replicate your promotional campaign for the next event. Remember that social media is just that…SOCIAL. Focus your attention on engaging attendees in conversation rather than just pushing information out.