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)
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.
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).
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!)