The audience at the Crowdsourcing panel at SXSW 2010 (photo by JD Lasica)
Target audience: Nonprofits, cause and community organizations, foundations, NGOs, businesses, brands, government agencies, conference organizers, educators. Second of two parts. See part 1: 5 ways to use social media to build a crowd for your event.
Guest post by Tamara Mendelsohn
Director of Marketing, Eventbrite
Social media is becoming an indispensable means of promoting any event these days. Think about what are the best channels to reach your target audience: blog, Twitter, Facebook or something else.
In part 1 we covered five guiding principles on promoting events, from choosing the proper platform and defining success metrics to inviting friends and stakeholders. Below are five more tips that will make your event a success.
Use Twitter to generate buzz and allow your attendees to connect
6Create an event hashtag and promote it. Encouraging dialogue with Twitter hashtags is an excellent way to build buzz around an event. However, it’s important to step in and designate what the event hashtag will be as early in the process as possible (if you don’t, others will do it for you and there will most likely end up being multiple ones, diluting the effect). Then publicize the hashtag in advance across all channels — put it on your registration page, website, and use it in every single one of your Twitter posts.
Once at the event, plan to promote it repeatedly: in signage, in printed programs, and from the stage. Your goal is to get every tweet about your event to contain your hashtag. The hashtag will aggregate all Twitter conversation around the event and help attendees connect and spread the word. Some events run contests — for example, asking trivia questions on Twitter related to the event topic, and requesting that all responses contain the Twitter hashtag — to get traction for the hashtag early on. TechCrunch50 did a random drawing from all people who tweeted with their hashtag and gave away free tickets to their event.
Engage your attendees with a profile on Twitter
7Create a Twitter profile. Because Twitter is automatically more public than Facebook (you don’t have to be friends with people for them to see your tweets), using a personal profile to promote your event on Twitter is totally acceptable (as opposed to Facebook where you might not want to do that if you reserve your Facebook profile for more personal communication). In fact, attendees might like to see the face behind the event and connect directly with you as the organizer, and Twitter is perfect for this.
However, for larger or frequently recurring events, creating a dedicated Twitter profile is a great way to engage attendees if you have reason to engage with them year-round. Whether it’s your name or the event name in the profile, use it much like the Facebook fan page: to share event information as it unfolds as well as engage with attendees.
Find the right influencers
8Reach out to stakeholders and influencers to help spread the word. It’s really easy to search for people on Twitter, and most influential people keep their profiles public. Reach out to them over Twitter to let them know about your event and encourage them to help spread the word. If they think it’s a great event, they will most likely share it with their followers because sharing valuable information is the best way for them to stay relevant with their followers. Get people that are involved with the event as talent or speakers to engage as well. Call them out in tweets and they will often retweet what you have to say, adding a personal note of their own.
Use LinkedIn to leverage business communities
9Post the event to LinkedIn. At a bare minimum, you can create an update that includes a few words on why you are excited for the event and a link to your Eventbrite page. We’ve seen this drive some traffic for event organizers, especially for professional events. Posting the event to LinkedIn can generate additional traffic and interest for your event. It’s relatively easy to set up: just go to the events section of LinkedIn and click on the “Add Event” tab. Enter in your event details, including a link to the Eventbrite page where they can buy tickets. When you publish the event, it automatically sends it out to all your LinkedIn connections. Seek out LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your event and let them know about it as well as sharing the event with specific contacts, which LinkedIn easily lets you do. If enough people respond that they are interested or attending, your event will bubble up to the top of the Events area and drive additional traffic.
Create your own community to provide a more branded experience
10 Build your own community. For the biggest and most complex events (typically conferences), building your own community may make sense. However, you really need to consider the value that you are bringing when you ask people to set up a profile and participate in a new community. SXSW built a community where members can nominate panel ideas and vote on them, put a custom schedule together, and participate in different event-related discussions. There are solutions like Pathable that let you brand their pre-built community platform and integrate it into your site so that you don’t have to build the functionality from scratch. This strategy is only for those committed to putting in the time and effort needed to encourage participation and build a community that brings value beyond just threaded discussions.
Have your own suggestions? Please share in the comments!