Friday, December 17, 2010

How to Plan Your Next Event Using Social Media -- Notes from #SMBMSP 32

Just returned to the office after attending this morning's Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis/Saint Paul (SMBMSP) seminar, "Events: Management, Planning & More."

It was billed as "a roundtable discussion with folks responsible for events of all sizes to talk with us about how they use social media, the tips and pitfalls they’ve found, and how it may relate to YOUR business."

If you missed it, you missed out.

Or did you?

I took notes furiously throughout the two-hour event, so you might benefit from my unedited observations, below. Or not ...

Overview: Three Twin Cities social media experts shared their best practices and ideas on event planning and promotion, in a panel discussion that included questions from the 100 or so attendees.

  • Jennifer Kane, social media marketing and PR strategist, consultant, trainer, and writer for Kane Consulting
  • Mykl Roventine a designer of web sites, WordPress blogs and social media strategies.
  • Brienna Schuette, Marketing & Communications Manager for the Minnesota State Fair.

Here's a quick collection of ideas that I took away ...

  • Key: Think of your attendees as a virtual programming committee. Get their input ahead of time via social media. They will be more likely to attend an event they helped design, tell their friends about it, and stay with you for the long term.

  • Your ability to collect real-time information from attendees via Twitter can head off problems during your event! Example: when numerous people tweeted that it was cold, Jen Kane showed their comments to on-site staff, who QUICKLY turned up the heat.

  • Which social media tools work best for which uses? Twitter is best for crowdsourcing (gaining feedback pre-event); Facebook can get large numbers of signups for your event (but actual attendance will be lower); Linkedin generates fewer signups than Facebook, but they are more likely to attend.

  • Be proactive on Twitter -- create a clever hashtag for your event and promote it ahead of time, so you can corral tweets and have ownership over them.

  • When promoting your event, the earlier you start, the better. You need to give promotions time to filter through all social media channels.

  • Old School Tip: Don't forget email! Not only can you target your audience with timely promotions, but people still forward emails to others, which generates more attendance.

  • Older School Tip: Don't forget snail mail! A clever postcard or well-written sales letter has more heft than an ephemeral email or tweet.

  • Eventbrite is an excellent tool for backend logistics -- ticket sales, social media promotions, generating name tags, etc. (My own addition: as a direct-response copywriter, I track customer response religiously to know what works. Eventbrite lets you use Coupon Codes so you can track where attendees found you online. Example: Use code "FACE" in your Facebook ad, "LINK" in your Linkedin Group announcements, etc. Very cool.)

  • Never abandon attendees after the event. Treat them as members of your community. Stay in touch with them and give them another reason to connect with you. The cycle can and should last a lifetime.

If you were there and have more notes or ideas to add, please comment below.

For more ideas like these, download Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.

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