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10 Common Mistakes Event Planners Make

May 27, 2011   |   AUTHOR: Julius Solaris   |   POSTED IN: tips

Technology and social media are changing the way we produce, plan and promote events. Here is a quick sum up of common errors made by you and I when planning an event.
This post has been written by Julius Solaris for Event Manager Blog (?).

I promise I will avoid any melodramatic view. I won’t say you will be out of business if you don’t follow my advice.

However I’ve tried all the tips below and they worked for me. I have also reverse engineered some of the advice after analyzing the events I respect, no award-winning/we-are-so-great crap.

1. Too Much Social Media

Follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, Join our Group on Linkedin, Read our Blog, Watch our Videos on Youtube.

Hey, calm down!

You do not need to be everywhere. Events with a small, cared for presence (possibly in channels where potential attendees hang out) earned my respect over time.

A constantly updated and engaging Twitter account makes it for me. A vibrant, exclusive LinkedIn Group is such a treat and more than enough for my social needs. A Facebook Page with earlybirds and special offers for attendees earns my devoted ‘Like’.

What social networks should I use for my attendees? A good starting point is to sign up to Postrank analytics and check their demographics data. Update: Thanks Google for shutting it down.

Quality beats the heck out of quantity when it gets to social.

2. Too little Social Media

Nice brochure. Is that it? Is that what you can do?

‘But I don’t have the resources to support social media!’

Well you had the resources to put together a crappy website!

Why not thinking strategically, re-inventing yourself and earning the respect of your attendees. Can you do that with a Twitter account?

Yes, you can! And in a more personalized, engaging way than with direct mail.

3. Too much Control

Sit here, pee there, eat at the buffet, listen to the sponsor pitching how amazing they are.

In 2007 I started supporting user-generated events. I like the message that comes from unconferences, barcamps, but also roundtables addressed to those who assume they now better: ‘Up Yours!’.

Let your attendees decide, let them interact horizontally with speakers, bring down barriers and avoid any VIP treatment.

4. No Direct Response

I am a big fan of direct response at events. Whether it comes from Twitter through hashtags or from custom built tools.

You should think about direct response at events like comments on blogs. More comments = More Interest.

5. Flashy Websites

And by flashy I mean flash based. I hate it.

I gave you some very good examples of how an event website should be. I also talked about ready made, inexpensive solutions.

I don’t care if you have the best location in the city, attention to details is also digital.

6. No Live Stream

This is a huge missed opportunity for event planners. Offering live stream means future business. Including the fact that those who cannot attend will earn you more attendees next year.

Live streaming is becoming a huge business and Youtube recently introduced it, making it even more appealing for SEO opportunities.

7. No Pre Event Networking

If you give me a list of your attendees printed on a sheet of paper the day of the event, you are asking me to do a lot of work.

You are also ignoring services that allow attendees to do it for you and with much richer information. I covered Lanyrd and Plancast in the past – two great examples.

There is no excuse for ignoring these services.

8. 1990′s Business Model

Getting 300 people in a room for 3 days is what events looked like in 1990.

Offering webinars, organizing regular meetups, setting up virtual facilities can make your event selling proposition more substantial. You can end up realizing more money while creating a flawless experience not limited in time.

This how your start movements and communities rather than one-offs.

9. Little Creativity

‘We need an hashtag for Twitter’.

No you don’t.

In fact it is quite superficial to set up an hashtag and forget about it. It can actually result in Twomiting, the apex of annoying social media practices.

I have been heavily criticised for this view by the same people that now write about how to use Twitter at events. Not that it bothers moi, but it gives me further proof my comments are in the right direction.

Be creative with the way you set up social channels. Demand more from your attendees and encourage creative uses of hashtags rather than whacking it all over your website.

10. Poor Registration Process

It is very hard for me to come to grips with how, in 2011, most events still require faxing document to register attendees.

There are dozens of services out there to easily set up event registration. You are more than welcome to integrate simple or more complex event registration services, but please do it!