Monday, July 27, 2009

Social Media & Event Marketing Part IV: Video, Pictures, Presentations

There are a myriad of other Social Media platforms that can be used in the course of Event Marketing; previous posts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter were a look at the larger Social Media sites driven by community. There are also portals which provide plenty of opportunity to make your Event Marketing initiatives to viral – and which should be used to work hand-in-hand with the above sites – to build a well-rounded environment to attract and convert prospect and retain and engage attendees, enhancing your overall Event Marketing initiatives:

Blogging: There are a variety of options in this area, including WordPress and Blogger. There are enough articles debating the merit of using each one, but from what I have read & understand, WordPress is suggested for corporate blogs. (I originally signed onto the Blogger and have not had issue to switch.) There is, of course, also the option of a proprietary blog, pending your internal resources.

Presentation sharing: the SlideShare portal affords the opportunity to upload and share a variety of documents – PowerPoint, OpenOffice and Apple Keynote presentations, Microsoft Office Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, iWork pages and PDFs. While you of course do not want to give away an entire presentation's worth of content prior to an event, much like a pre-event Webinar (see below) this is an avenue by which to show off the great content you are providing attendees through summarized presentations. You can also set up SlideShare to share documents with a proprietary set of individuals, for example to be used for onsite or post-event sharing. This is also a great opportunity to share presentations for sponsorship marketing initiatives.

Photo and Videos: Flickr and YouTube have exploded in popularity for photo and video sharing (Flickr handles both). Onsite pictures and videos of networking, keynotes/presentations, etc. certainly fall into the “a picture is worth a thousand words” category in communicating the feel and value of an event. As video is dynamic, it can (and has) been used in a couple of ways – both as a produced video creating buzz about an event, as seen for in TED event clip, and providing content, as the Gartner video demonstrates. In either scenario, brevity is important, keeping the viewer engaged and showing the depth and breadth of the event with either tactic is the goal. And of course ... do wind up with a call to action!

The real key to success to all of this is planning and execution: integrating the above, plus the previously discussed channels, into an overall Event Marketing communications strategy and stream. Specifically, you need to ensure there are plans and people in place to link and integrate video, blogs and pictures from your event Facebook and LinkedIn pages, that team members are tweeting about these, and that these links are prominent on the Event Web site. As well, links and call-outs should be included in your traditional direct marketing channels when utilized (email and direct mail), encouraging prospects to engage and follow wherever possible. This also provides the benefit of these communications shifting form a straight push for event attendance to promoting the Social Media option as this becomes part of the marketing mix.

And as previously discussed, a secondary element will be leveraging the communities built post-event – scheduling and executing regular discussions, blogs, notes, etc. – to ensure the attendee (and prospects) are, in fact, part of an ongoing and thriving network, not individuals on a promotional cycle spoken to in the context of a campaign. In short, work to utilize Social Media as the unique tool set leverage your Event Marketing prowess.

Good luck!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Social Media & Event Marketing Part III: Twitter

The latest craze in Social Media is, of course, Twitter. I’ve been asked (and have been known to offer unsolicited opinions...) on my take regarding Twitter for Events Marketing - in brief, it is that once the dust settles, Twitter will develop into an important medium for pre-event, on-site, and post-event marketing. The novelty of Twitter will wear off, people will cease Twittering about combing their hair, and businesses will utilize it as a key business marcom tool.

[Update] - Part 1 of the series (LinkedIn) can be found here. Part 2 of the series (Facebook) can be found here.

I envision using Twitter for Event Marketing in three phases: Pre-Event, Onsite, and Post-Event – each with a different strategy to support the event overall.

The first thing to be done (if you haven’t) is to set up a Twitter profile. The suggestion here is to make it event-specific (not an overall organizational Twitter identity): @JavaOneConf, @heath2con and @etech are a few examples worth checking out (and following). Make sure the profile is complete and descriptive, the URL to your site is included, and that event logo, graphics, etc.

Pre-Event - Set up and gain followers:

  • Establish a team of Tweeters (!) – Ensure there are individuals in your organization who have signed on and who agree to provide regular content-based tweets (this can include related articles, etc – not content specifically related to the organization. Twitter is, after all, about sharing good information.)
  • Establish a hash marks for your tweets and use them.
  • Using the search function for keywords of titles, content, etc. keyed to your event and see who is talking about them – and follow them.
  • Join … or form … a Twibe . A Twibe, simply, is a site of Twitter groups.
  • Ask attendees, during the registration process, for their Twitter IDs and encourage them to follow yours for updates, information, etc.
  • Include your Twitter identity in all communications – emails, the Web, collateral.
  • Most of all – Tweet. Putting out consistent, quality tweets will build up quality followers.
  • As you build followers, include event-specific information – both content and promotional – in the flow of Tweets. Twitter isn’t a promotional channel, but including a tweet about hotel blocks closing in the mix of a link to a podcast, keynote interview, etc. is certainly acceptable.
  • Ask questions – and solicit responses – from followers as a way to engage.
The overall aim is to build and maintain follower engagement and provide you with a voice to both demonstrate your value and communicate about the event as an integrated stream.

Onsite - It's a party and you're the host:
  • Make sure your “Follow us on Twitter” message is well publicized: signage, collateral, screens, agendas, and session slides.
  • Encourage attendees to Tweet their experience/thoughts in real time (and that they reference your @name!) This is a key way to gauge thoughts, address challenges, and proactively ensure the experience is top-notch. [There is software available that provides feeds of people Tweeting about your company, making the tracking of this easy – see note below]
  • Keep attendees informed by Tweeting information on sponsor receptions, keynotes, networking opportunities – in short, use to quickly communicate with, and add value to, every attendee in real time.
Onsite, the goal is the conversation – a real-time conversation between you, attendees, sponsors and speakers. I’ve heard (more than once) Twitter described as “a conversation at a party” – which I don’t particularly subscribe to; this is one arena, however, in which such a utilization would – and should – apply. Do keep in mind – you’re the host of the party, so use ultimately ensure Twitter is used to make sure the guests go home happy.

Post-Event - keep the engagement going.
  • In short, Twitter should be a continued communication tool – continue the pre-event content Tweets on a regular basis as a continued dialogue with your followers.
  • The event itself has provided you a ton of new content which can be packaged into video and audio clips, PowerPoint downloads, and white papers – which can be small content plays to Tweet.
  • And of course, as planning for the ensuing event commences, Tweet about it, solicit questions re: content, surveys - in short, use it to help build content and momentum from the outset of the event planning.
One thing to remember about Twitter is that is not something that can be up and running overnight…in other words, it is not a tool to incorporate four weeks prior to an event to combat lagging attendee numbers. You need a Twitter presence, and you need perseverance to gain good qualitative and quantitative followers.

The Wall Street Journal recently posted an article detailing key software that enables you to fully leverage Twitter through tracking links & Tweets, as well as scheduling posts and managing tweets. A good summary of what’s out there to augment your Twitter efforts.

Good luck!


P.S. And please do follow me on Twitter!

NEW INFO (6/19) - B2B Media Business just wrote an article on companies incorporating Social Media into Events - check it out here. Includes a quote from my friend and colleague Mark Fissell from Gartner.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Social Media & Events Marketing Part II: Facebook

To follow up on the recent LinkedIn post, Facebook is a social networking tool to consider and evaluate in the Event Marketing arsenal. Honestly, while I am not fully sold on it as a B2B and events medium - it strikes me as a site that has gone through one continued “identity crisis” after another – given its size it is an avenue to evaluate in developing your social media marketing strategy.

Facebook provides three separate features to be utilized by Events Marketers to develop communities around events: Fan Pages, Groups, and Events. A synopsis and some examples [before proceeding - you need to have/be logged into Facebook to access most of the following links]:
Simply put, the Event app details an upcoming event, and affords individuals to indicate if they are attending – similar to the events area on LinkedIn. [Note – Events can be added from Groups and Pages – if your intent is to utilize all features, you don't need to create a stand-alone event] The similarity to LinkedIn ends with the basic setup, however; the Facebook Event app is more communal, offering areas for visitors to post links, video, and discussions. An example of an Events page is The Conference Board’s Organization Design Conference. Do note TCB’s use of a discount in association with Facebook – a method to track response through this page. In setting up an Event, some quick thoughts:
  • Similar to LinkedIn, use it to gain business intelligence from individuals who both indicate they are planning to attend AND are not attending – this is invaluable knowledge.
  • Use this area for pure event news and updates (and use Fan Pages and Groups for content delivery)
Regarding Groups and Fan Pages, one issue to note up front: there is an ongoing discussion and, frankly, confusion, regarding differences between the two and when to utilize each – Howard Greenstein covered this quite well in Mashable; I’d suggest giving it a read. In the end, my suggestion would be to them in conjunction with each other.
Incisive Media uses both Facebook Groups and Fan Pages as SM channels to promote events. As Christian Georgeou, a Marketing Manager of Interactive Marketing at Incisive's Search Engine Watch explains, “social media remains a great way to simply communicate.”
Their Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo group page includes areas to post comments, videos and discussions, as ways for individuals interested in the topic to interact. As Georgeou notes, “Ahead of and after shows Facebook is a good way to let our audience share their experience... the good, bad and the ugly. Also they themselves become a great source for others who are interested in learning more.”
A specific advantage to establishing a Group is its email capability – the group administrator can email to up to 5000 members, which can be a key channel for marketing communications. (Fan Pages do not have this capability). A challenge with Groups, however, is that its structure is rigid in comparison to Fan Pages: there is not the capability to add other applications. As well, as Greenstein notes, a Group is linked to an individual – so communications and updates are linked to individual activity. Given this, my suggestion would be to:
  • Have a Group administrator be a key, recognizable name –a key content provider/speaker – to enable messages to come from a known name (similar to “from” lines in email communications
  • Establish Groups for key audience segments – Event Alumni, for example – to engage and interact with individuals who have a key, shared experience.
  • Post content key to the sub-segment – do not just replicate what is on the Fan Page.
Fan Pages:
The Fan Page is the key feature designed to communicate event value to a larger audience. Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo series launched a Fan Page two weeks ago, and currently has almost 400 Fans. Georgeou notes the Fan Page “acts as a resource for people looking to learn more on Search Engine Marketing ... and includes daily/weekly tips and suggestions, and articles out to people hungry to learn more.” As noted, Fan Pages can add applications (i.e. this Fan Page has polling, lead generation through email collection, and a You Tube video box.)
The challenge is there is not outreach capability associated with Fan Pages – the intent is building and developing a Fan base (virally) by joining your Fan Page, ensuring your team joins as well – so their friends see and join, etc.
A big advantage (not in Groups) is that Fan Pages are indexed by external search engines, Groups are not. And, otherwise:
  • Use a Fan Page to deliver solid content around the event – video, blog links, interactive polling, and discussions – all with an eye on building Fans (making the event more visible in Facebook search.)
  • Of course, invite people to JOIN and become a fan!
  • Link your event to the Event through the Fan Page (and Group).
In short, utilize Facebook for the three-tiered communication channel it offers: to communicate specifically about the Event, to develop and offer value to key audiences and Groups, and, in building a larger community, Fan Pages as a key vehicle for demonstrate the terrific experience and content your event will deliver on site.
Good luck!
PS - I'll be covering other SM areas for event marketing - do reach out to me directly if you have stories, tips, best practices, etc. to share (or things to avoid!)