HOW TO: Promote your next event using social media

14 May

Whether you’re releasing a product, opening a shop or launching a new venture, a great event can create buzz for your business. As someone who has had a foot in both media and PR camps, David Binning has learned a thing or two about what it takes to host a successful event – and one of the most important things to get right is your guest list. Think about what draws you to an event: ask yourself what it is all about and who will be there. Now think about how you can answer those questions for the people you want to attract to your event.

Use Social Media to Promote Your Events

Challenge 1: Who should you invite?
1/ People that already know you
Let’s assume you’ve established an online community, or network, of people with an interest in your organisation and its activities. The mainstream social networking channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have evolved features which make it easier for people to form and register online communities, with other users able to search, find and join these groups. Users of LinkedIn, for instance, can do a search and find different networks based on things like profession, qualifications and industry. You could, if you were inclined, simply pick the best of the bunch in your network. However, you need to consider what kind of ongoing exposure and promotion these people are likely to add to your marketing efforts.
2/ People that will talk about you
Samir Balwani from New York-based digital marketing specialists Morpheus, believes a better place to start developing the core guest list is in the blogosphere. “Find out which bloggers cover your products and services; with their help you can identify who should be there,” he says. “Most bloggers are really sociable.” So are journalists most of the time, especially if free drinks and food are involved. But if you’re after genuine media coverage, make sure you convey the importance of your event from a news point of view.
Again, smart use of social networking sites can help you gauge new trends and popular opinion relevant to your particular markets. If you’ve been in business for a while, then you’re probably already familiar with the key journalists and editors who cover your industry. Their decision to attend your event will likely be made in a flash, so your invitation needs to grab their attention immediately. Not so long ago, the most novel media invitations usually involved the delivery of rather expensive gismos via courier or express post. However, an email with a punchy subject line above a link to a Facebook page flagging the event, or digital media such as a video presentation can be just as effective, if not more, and at a fraction of the cost. Of course, well-run events can be a great opportunity to foster new commercial opportunities, so it pays to have a few key members of the business community on the guest list.
Ross Dawson, director of events company the Inside Exchange, says more and more organisations are turning to DIY networking tools to better hone their message and target their audience. One such service gaining in popularity is Ning (ning.com). Of course, the more ‘sociable’ your delegates are the better, and new products are emerging to help delegates more easily find and get to know each other. Large events could benefit from technologies that help attendees connect with relevant information and each other. Large events could benefit from technologies that help attendees connect with relevant information and each other. While WiFi access is pretty much a given at launch events, handheld communication devices such as Spotme (spotme.com) take things further, by offering many of the tools a netbook or smartphone-equipped blogger might need, designed to keep attendees tuned in to all the goings on while allowing them to upload their own comments and content. This and other products allow people to locate each other almost like blips on a radar screen. Of course, for anyone who’s felt the shadow of a fellow attendee a little too closely, this might seem somewhat scary, but it does present some exciting possibilities for organisers.
Challenge 2: Getting the word out there
Social networking tools have changed the game considerably. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and their countless clones and adaptions, give businesses new ways to sniff the mood – the zietgeist if you will – of just about anything.
What can you do to help people pay better attention to you?
1/ Make your message matter
According to Samir Balwani from New York-based digital media specialists Morpheus, while social media is an invaluable tool for promoting events, it needs to be used very carefully. “In some ways you need to be like that quiet kid at high school who never says anything, and then one day when he does speak everybody says, “Wow!,” Balwani says. This is especially important when managing events as there is a much smaller margin for error compared to when promoting products. People who are turned off simply won’t turn up.
Using the hashtag (#) facility in Twitter you can determine quite quickly who is saying what about a particular topic, making it easier to create content that is fresh and relevant. You’ll also be able to get a feel for what people are saying about your brand, which can often inform how you approach your event. In fact, new services are beginning to emerge specifically designed to help companies closely track what is being said about them. Among the leaders in this space is Brandtology’s Digital Conversation Management System (DCMS).
2/ Keep it personal
Jennie Bewes from Sydney-based digital marketing company Razorfish says it is crucial how you present your company and your brand. The look and feel of your Facebook page should reflect your own website and be consistent with your presence on Twitter and other locations. Your message should also be as personal as possible: “Your company should present itself through a particular individual with a picture of that person,” she says. “You put a face there and it allows your organisation’s identity to come through more effectively.”
3/ Maintain momentum
Daniel Young, a director with Burson Marstellar Australia/New Zealand, says that social networking has evolved into an important tool for maintaining the buzz or momentum, leading up to, during and after an event’s conclusion. “Keep feeding information out about delegates – whether it be through research or new people added to the agenda – to continue that momentum,” he says, “Social media allows you to do this quite inexpensively.” Usually, the more conversation around your event, the more interest and possibly controversy you will generate, all of which is good for ensuring that it sticks in people’s minds. Also conversations can provide a great source of potential content. Razorfish’s Bewes says providing a live video stream of an event, featuring key moments and vox pops is a good way to connect delegates and generate conversation. “It all comes down to making people feel as involved as possible – making them feel special.” This can be done either as a webcast or via services like YouTube. HP’s Gabble launched last year, allows users to post videos in the same way, except you can control who has access, a useful feature for organisations who are charging for their event and therefore loath to give content away for free. Bewes also recommends that information such as slides be posted online, which can be done at sites like
slideshare.net, while using Flickr and Picasa to post pictures before, during and after the event.
4/ Follow Up
Chatter is usually at its most intense immediately after an event, and social networking provides a great opportunity to tap into numerous channels to gain a clear and accurate sense of people’s reactions. Again, use hashtags in Twitter and read carefully what appears in the blogosphere, as well as on your own Facebook wall. Finally, as it’s unlikely that all of the people who attended your event will necessarily belong to the same online networks, it’s a good idea to create a full mash-up of all the content from your event on your company website. That way, anyone considering coming along to your next event will be able to see immediately whether it’s their thing or not..

Case Study: The White Party

The White Party, run by Sydneybased digital recruitment specialists La Volta, has become one of the most anticipated events for the Australian digerati. Some years ago, someone came up with the clever idea of recording a video to promote the event, which was then distributed via YouTube. The result was viral marketing at its most intense. According to La Volta co-founder
Sally Mills, the release of the invitation has now become something of an event unto itself. “Within about 30 seconds we’d
have like 10 RSVP’s, then it goes around like wildfire,” she says. “The activity is huge.” Last year’s ran with the theme of James Bond and Casino Royale. The main distribution method is through Traction, a multi-channel relationship marketing tool
developed by Mass Media Studio. Traction allows La Volta, as well as recipients of the invite, to see in real time who is signing up to attend, which in turn generates more buzz leading up to the event. Mills says that the RSVP page is now usually closed just two days after the video goes out. People are invited to comment on the company’s Twitter page throughout the night, while  attendees follow with interest the results of the best-dressed competition which is decided by an online poll some days later.

Source: Nett Magazines May 2010

How to make this work for your Business Seminars:
1. Build a clean, professional profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
2. Develop a relevant network of potential prospects in each.
3. Engage in communication with business is your local area through Social Media.
4. Use these Social Media sites to build your profile as a business leader and educator.
5. By posting regular links to relevant articles and business tips, this will be value add to current clients in addition to attracting new clients.
6. Offer a special promotion to your online Networks to attend your event.
7. With permission, showcase testimonials of the event through the social media sites.

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