Let’s all agree that social media is not an option and that it’s an important part of your communications mix — emphasis on part. Social media is not a silver bullet, and it’s not a stand-alone answer.
For a frame of reference, I’ll assume you know about Facebook Events and some other basics. Let’s not get bogged down in the mechanics, as they very well may change by the time you read this article.
Let’s break this down into three Cs: clever, consistent and content-driven.
By clever, I mean knowledge and creativity. Knowing who you’re talking to and how you’re talking to them is critical. Imagine going to a networking event but not knowing who is hosting the event, who might be there or who you want to talk to.
Networking 101 is a different article, but you get the idea: You wouldn’t promote a leadership breakfast the same way you would an after-hours mixer.
Social media is about building relationships. Follower insight is readily available from platform administration, management dashboards and third-party software; many of these cost only time. With time and effort, you can foster strong relationships and get to know those within your social sphere and how to talk to them.
Along with knowing who you’re talking to, you need to know where you’re talking to them. Each social media platform has unique characteristics and delivers content in different ways. Be sure you’re delivering content that’s optimized for the platform. Otherwise, you’re missing valuable opportunities.
Once you know who you’re talking to and where, how will you make an impression? Use some creativity! One of my favorite phrases these days is “sea of sameness.” It’s a perfect descriptor for our business environment — you can’t afford to blend in.
Competition for our customer’s mindshare has never been greater. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, our attention span is eight seconds. That’s enough to score in bull riding but not much time to hook your audience.
You have to be creative. Don’t just inundate your followers with text-heavy posts. Integrate photos, videos or other compelling content; catch their eye, and draw them in. Just remember your audience, and make sure you stay on-message to promote your event.
You should be a fan of integrated messaging. In the Consumer Insights Survey presented by the annual MyBuys e-tailing group in June 2011, almost half (46 percent) of consumers were not getting the integrated communications they wanted.
Social media is a great way to promote your event, but it’s not the only way. How do you communicate with your customers: newsletters, websites, email, printed collateral or advertisements? Utilize these channels to deliver a message consistent with what you are saying on social media.
Better yet, integrate social media with these other channels. Embed a tweet on your website, share your event promo video through your email marketing or use your event-specific hashtag on your print collateral.
Be consistent on your social media channels, too. Use your event identity — the event’s branding — wherever you can, i.e., profile pictures, cover photos and the Facebook event name and details.
Going viral is everyone’s social media dream. Unfortunately, you can’t just click the “go viral” button. You may have heard that content is king. More accurately, good content is king. Strong content, regardless of form — text, photo, video, etc. — begs to be shared. If this is done with purpose, say to drive people back to your Facebook event or to a ticket purchase site, your attention to detail will be rewarded.
Look for creative ways to generate content around your event. Have a high-profile speaker coming to town? See if they’ll guest blog or tweet for you. Have corporate sponsors for your event? Look at creating a contest that will drive traffic to their websites or storefronts. This may provide an opportunity to support your sponsors while expanding your social reach.
Some final thoughts
Make it easy for your followers to share your event. Have social share buttons integrated on your website, especially if you have an event page. Create an event-specific hashtag, make sure to tell your followers about it and make sure you use it. You don’t need to be on every platform, but make sure you’re using the ones you are on to the fullest.