Monday, June 17, 2013

7 steps to social media event marketing

While on vacation I received a 2 page email asking me to help a non-profit raise $1,000s within a few days. One of their committee members who knew they were shy their target by $1,000s thought, "Social Media’s the way to go, I’ll just contact Sofie, get her help to make this happen in a few days". I could have taken her money, but, as they didn't have any followers, I suggested they move their arbitrary date out at least a month and follow the following 7 steps vs. being disappointed.   (I still hope to help them.) But this resonated with me more than the multiple other emails received while on vacation, because I really respect this specific person who contacted me, her business strategy and board governance abilities are unmatched, but, I realized that didn't mean a person with that much excellence at planning or running companies and organization for the past 30 years, happened to know how to leverage the power of Social Media as an effective marketing tool.

Aim to create your communication's schedule, have it compliment any emails or print activity you have planned.

First, as a rule of thumb, if you are planning an event, and your organizations has ZERO online followers, you need at the least 6 months to build your followers.  Just creating an online presents and posting does absolutely nothing for your event. It's like a sound in the forest when no one is there to hear it. You need to start by sharing your story, your organizations’ story, who are you helping, who is the staff... Share this about with about 3 posts, which include a vibrant video or photo, weekly, plus once a week, talk about the event you have coming up to support your organization’s goals. Paint a completing story of your organization’s mission, ask questions, and create a contest if you Can, create engagement with which will grow your followers.  Now, once you have some followers and your organization’s goals are a well-known you can create effective buzz toward your event.  I often say, if you have an annual well known event, you should start your online activity toward that event 3 months prior; again, posting 3 to 4 times away about how fun the event is, or the outcomes of the event, or the photos and videos of past events, and once a week a invite to the event itself.  Finally, if the event is a monthly recurring event, or just a month away now, you should put up the registration a month or so ahead, offer an early bird registration fee for the first week of registration, if you like, showing again, a couple times a week the compelling benefits or outcomes and stories around the event as well as inviting your target audience to the event as appropriate weekly
Before you can do the above, ie the buzz and registration or tickets sales toward the event, you need to set up your online elements for the event. In these 7 steps, I am assuming the event is aim at the general public in specific areas.  If your aim was business to business, I’d also include LinkedIn in your arsenal.
  1. Create an information webpage with all of the information for the event. The information page often mirrors printed flyers you would have once created for your event. (I call this the event’s landing page.) Branded clearly as your event and organization. Include photos, videos, registration information and location details.
  2. Create an event on your Organization’s Facebook Business Page, if you don’t have an Organizations’ Facebook Business Page, create the event on your own human Facebook Profile, in either case, linking the Facebook event to the information webpage created in step one.  Make sure the Facebook event contains link to the information webpage, the dates, registration details, cause and compelling event photo.
  3. On Facebook, post daily or three times a week, posting your organization’s stories in 80 characters or less attaching a compelling event or cause photo or video. Add a weekly contest if you can, this causes engagement from those interested in your cause. 
  4.  On Facebook Page, once a week, Share the event you created. 
  5. On Twitter, as your organization, Tweet your story, as well as Retweet or Mention relevant local Twitter Giants. (Relevant Giants are those who already have large numbers of Twitter followers who might want to support your organization, like local radio, news, tourism, and other organizations.) Those who care about your event and organization and might retweet your tweet to their followers.  Become a part of the fabric of your Twitter community.
  6.  About a month or so before the event, twice a week, post about the event itself on Twitter, again mentioning Giants, so they see it and hope they'll retweet it to their massive twitter followers. 
  7.  About a month before, invite all your relevant FB friends to the event you created, asking them to also invite their friends.

I use this process for many different clients' events. One in specific, the Bear's Lair Entrepreneur competition, we saved $10,000s in advertising costs, venue costs, and print costs.  We eliminated all print flyers, face to face auditions, and paid advertising.  The outcome was we saved $10,000s while doubling the participants, increasing the sponsorship and selling more tickets than ever before.  This is the outcome when following the above steps!  I hope this helps!

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