Using Social Media For Your Event

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No matter which channel you use to communicate to your customers, it’s best if you have a plan to reach them on their preferred channel when you want them to come to your event. For many businesses, the quickest and cheapest method has shown to be Twitter or Facebook or wherever social network the majority of your customers are.

Jay Baer at Convince and Convert picked seven of the top 39 suggestions from a speech he gave the previous week. His seven are listed below, along with a short summary with our remarks following. There’s a lot of great ideas in his published list, but everything can be improved.

Get your potential attendees interacting with you early on by enabling some measure of feedback or crowd sourcing on the conference programming.

Really great way to reward your most avid fans and even spare yourself a little bit of time with your planning process. Be sure to simplify the process so no one is confused.

Almost all events have an official Web site. But very few (except for the geek events) take full advantage of all the free event listing and event management opportunities.

Being everything often means being nothing unless you’re talking about event promotion. Get out everywhere. Post to online calendars and newspaper listings. Don’t limit the places you put your info.

As the event draws closer, you have to pull potential attendees off of the fence with content hors d’ouerves.

Start asking questions of the attendees. Don’t just present them with data to consume, allow them to share in the creation. Give them a problem to solve that can only be done with other attendees guarantees a passionate audience.

Pick a hash tag for your event, so attendees and remote watchers can monitor on Twitter. Shorter the better, please. Then, start your conference with an unofficial Tweet-up. It gets your likely content creators motivated and excited.

Enlist the help of industry insiders or local know-it-alls to get a head start on the amount of conversation you might see, based on existing sharing patterns.

I’m a big fan of voting via text message, and I’d like to see more events more toward session evaluations through that same interface.

Yes, make the information you have on hand more accessible and transparent by using efficient technology. Involve people in the process of everything.

Create your own media during the event.

I wish this could be shouted. Like Baer says, live stream your event, set up a Flickr gallery, and interview speakers, sponsors and VIP attendees. Make it short, make it interesting and make it easily shareable for your audience.

Take the conference content and spread it as widely as possible. Your goal is to get the doubters that didn’t come this year to view that content and decide to go the next year.

We’ve found that using a hash tag does much of this aggregation for you, as it broadcasts the event’s happenings to interested parties. Make it easy for people to find out what happened and be sure to post both audio and video versions of your presentations.

Anything we missed? What would you suggest?

What Event Planners Can Learn From The Gang Of Four

In the following video, Jay Baer interviews Paul Simon, author of The Age Of The Platform. In it they discuss how the Gang Of Four — Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon — have and will continue to change both how business works and how it’s perceived.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had time to read the book yet (it’s on our Kindle!). Instead of a book review, we’re going to speculate as to what the Gang Of Four’s top influences are. After one of us finishes The Age Of The Platform, we’ll come back and post our own video response.

From a consumer standpoint, Amazon’s biggest business revelations have been their vast selection and recommendation engine/algorithm. Nary a day goes by that Amazon doesn’t make great suggestions on what else to buy, and there are few things not available via their site.

Supermarkets used to be one-stop shops, but Amazon truly is a no-stop one.

Apple has time and time again proven that most consumers are willing to pay a little extra for products that look and feel good in their hands. While the quality of Apple’s products rank highly compared to competitors, this isn’t what usually sets them apart. Rounded curves, simple UIs and touch-based interfaces that make human, but not always computer, sense abound from iOS to OS X and back again.

Quick, when’s the last time you considered how a consumer product felt in your hands before buying it? Surely your vacuum, coffeemaker, teapot or even silverware didn’t get that treatment, and we bet those items are used far more than that iPod.

People want to be where their friends are. As long as the interface isn’t terrible, the price low and the crowds large, consumers will use and continue to use Facebook. Much has been said about Mark Zuckerberg’s apparent disdain for user privacy, but the mass exodus threatened with every policy change hasn’t happened yet.

Do one thing well, then use that success to do lots of other things almost as well. While not all of Google’s products have been widely adopted, you can’t blame Google for not trying. The runaway success of their flagship search products has allowed them to make a lot of mistakes in search for their next big thing.

What can event planners learn from this?

Make sure your events tie into other aspects of your attendees’ lives.
People care about how they feel when they’re at your event.
No one is going to show up if no one else does.
Do one big thing really well, then worry about everything else.

If all else fails, just be cool. Happy reading!

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Long-term impact of large conventions

The idea that events, even those that aren’t repeated, won’t leave a lasting mark on their host city is nothing but a dream. From security considerations for high-profile VIPs, former Olympics venues with nothing to host and even changes to existing infrastructure, cities and towns are seldom the same after large events roll in.

Beijing Olympic Stadium

But should that matter much to event planners? What about other stakeholders, like residents, tourists or land owners? Most will likely say these changes or improvements are a good thing, but after looking at Beijing’s unused Olympic venues and Vancouver’s little-used Olympic Village, it seems that, especially for international-scale events, it’s tough to assimilate so much.

What should go and what should stay?

With many city budgets regularly trimmed down, leftover equipment from big events like political conventions can seem like a godsend, especially for police officers and fire departments.

But these improvements come with a big price tag; who’s going to pay for the training, vehicle modifications or ongoing maintenance required? While most event planners may not have to make these kind of decisions, it’s a great idea to always keep future usage in mind when buying something that won’t be packed up after the event is over.

Labor costs eat up of ton of event budgets. From extra police officers (especially high-ranking officers and specialty squads) to civilian volunteers, there’s more to think about than simply payroll. Large amounts of people need to be able to move freely across buildings, meaning transportation needs must also be considered.

Did you know that mega churches often have Disneyland-like trolleys to move people quickly from parking lot to front door? Seems event planners could learn a lot by stopping by every Sunday a few hours before service begins.

There is always tons of small stuff needed, from pots and pans to printers and monitors. While catering or event companies likely bring their own and leave with it, smaller event planners are often ‘stuck’ with extra equipment they will need again but have no place to store.

Ask any community planner where their storage is — we bet it’s somewhere in their house. This is okay if the planner is cool with putting that next to their Christmas decorations in the corner of their garage, not so cool if we’re talking a roomful of expensive equipment.

We recommend looking toward local churches or community centers for extra storage, or working together to establish some sort of shared storage so as little as possible sits gathering dust.

Keeping good records helps here, too. There’s no reason every thing purchased for the event can’t have a tag (QR code!) of some sort, which can be easily scanned and catalogued.

Just don’t forget that you did it.

What’s the point of branded content?

In this new world of marketing, content is the currency we use to pay for eyeballs. Well, that’s not entirely true. Let’s try this again.

In marketing — especially digital tactics — content is a major part in promoting your company and attracting customers. Content allows business to solve customer problems without engaging in typical “you pay us, we produce something for you” fashion, which, for the most part, facilitates better relationships between potential customers and the business that can solve their problems.

Online Marketing

Ask most marketing professionals and they’ll tell you content marketing is about showing your stuff.

Want to be seen as a thought leader? Write in-depth thoughts about your industry.
Want to showcase case studies? Do the work, then share the story.
Want to celebrate your clients? Interview them and publish their tales.

While many companies are content in sharing their message passively, meaning the content they produce is aimed at their customers but likely wrapped in their company’s logo, many companies have taken more of an advertising route by creating content about their product/service that does nothing more than highlight its features.

Some may call this branded content. Some may think this is a happy medium between helpful content and advertising.

Those some people are wrong.

Mashable recently published an article titled 5 Reasons Your Branded Content Is Failing. In it, they detailed why branded content may not be working, with reasons such as “You Haven’t Developed a Voice” and “You’re not Using Your Content to its Full Potential”. Besides being bad advice, none of those five reasons make any mention of the most important part of content creation and its marketing.

Want a hint? It’s in the comments of the Mashable article linked above. We’ll wait.

Okay, back?

It’s context, and your audience both is and will provide context.

Content marketing is about solving problems, not selling yourself.

Are you creating advertisements or helpful content?