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So much to do and so little time.
This is the life of an event professional. We are busy trying to make everything work and things to do keep piling up.
On the other hand social media are becoming an integral part of our marketing mix. This is also the case for customer service over social networks, before, during and after the event.
I remember around 3 years ago I was having a heated online debate in our LinkedIn Group about the use of Social Media in Events. I was trying to explain to a member that social media were going to be the future.
The fellow member virtually laughed at me and mentioned that social media was just a fad. No money were to be made and nobody really cared.
Well, who's laughing now?
The numbers are staggering, the opportunities are endless and case studies of event planners using social media to market, manage or augment events are growing.
If you are in events and ignore social media, attendees will start to ignore you.
The Time Dilemma
The most frequent objection I get since I started my career with social media has been that there is not enough time to do social.
In some cases it is just a matter of being lazy, but some other times it is actually a valid argument.
I was lucky to meet event marketing managers that really understood the value of the social revolution. They got it, as we say.
Nonetheless they simply could not allocate the resources to actually build and maintain any social media asset.
The dilemma is atrocious. There is a great drive to do things, but little time to do them.
If you add that the current macroeconomic factors are having an impact on our budgets, it becomes increasingly tough to explore new marketing avenues. When human beings feel the risk, they pursue what they've tried in the past.
I must admit I agree with André Malraux when he says that:
"Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk - and to act."
A Working Solution
The objection of scarce resources and time may be valid, nonetheless I believe you can get a lot out of social media if you dedicate yourself to two imperatives: focus and integration.
My suggestion to you, dear event lovers, is to focus on a small project and integrate all your resources to execute it as an integral part of your marketing mix.
Step 1: Define the Bare Minimum
You will probably go to hate me for this answer but there is no such concept of bare minimum.
Better to think in terms of larger and smaller projects.
Projects start by setting objectives.
I invite you to concentrate on 4 types of objectives which have been proven to be the most popular focus of brands effort on social:
- Customer Service
If limited resources is your issue, just prioritize them and pick the most relevant type for your event.
Is making money the priority? Or is it driving traffic to your website? Do you want to make the community aware of what you do? Or would you simply like to engage with your audience during the event?
Step 2: Pick ONE Social Network that Matches your Audience
The most common mistake event professionals make is trying to do too much. That's possibly also the reason why we perceive the social media effort as massive when compared to the resources available.
You DON'T need 5 Twitter accounts, a Facebook Page, a Blog, a Youtube Channel, a LinkedIn Group, etc.
Different audiences tend to like different social networks. Before picking a social network, I would suggest to register with Postrank Analytics. PostRank offers a great way to measure engagement and they have recently been acquired by Google. Install it on your website and it will help a lot to make some sense out of your social effort. I want you to have a look at their Demographics section (you need to be registered). It carries a great deal of information on different social networks and it will help you make an educated decision
Google bought it and shut it down - good alternative stats are available on Slideshare
Step 3: Match the Social Network You've Selected against your Objective
Each social network needs to have a clear purpose and it must fit one of the above mentioned type of objectives.
Here is a handy sum up of how each social network stacks up against different objectives.
- Revenue: Facebook, Twitter, Social Ads.
- Traffic: Blog, Youtube, Facebook.
- Customer Service: Twitter, Facebook Tab
- PR/Awareness: Blog, Twitter, Youtube.
OK, now match objective, social network and demographics.
Step 4: Focus!
Now get down to the tactics. Read about best practices on your specific social network. You can start from this blog, I've written about all of them.
Surprise your guests with a great idea and innovative way of using the tool you've selected. Be creative and most of all stick to the objective you've selected.
Here are some best practices and examples for each social network:
- Youtube: 7 Awesomely Amazing Examples of Success Through Youtube
- Twitter: 7 Twitter Marketing Campaigns to Learn From and Lessons in customer service from the best and worst companies on Twitter
- Facebook: Need Facebook Marketing Inspiration? 20 Of The Most Innovative Campaigns
- Blog: 65 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Step 5: Integrate
Make sure to integrate your focussed social media strategy with the rest of your marketing communications.
If you use email, integrate with social icons. If you use direct mail, stick a URL Builder to measure the impact of every single click you drove from social networks to your website and the impact on your goals.
- Set up Postrank and look at the echo of your activities on social networks.
Step 6: Review
Did it work? Was it manageable? Is it something worth expanding? If the answer is no to all of the above, just scrap it. Ignore it. In the worst case scenario you experimented with social with little time and resources and you got an idea of the kind of things that do work.
If on the other hand you got positive results, try to be more creative and brave. Invest a bit more resources and money, and repeat.
I hope this article gave you some inspiration for a better social media strategy for your event. Let me know how it works for you!
Picture by birgerking