How Human Is Your Company?

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There are few things worse than being late when doing something for the first time. Whether it’s your first day on the job, first meeting with a client, first event in a new city or your debut as a BBQ judge, there’s no doubt we all feel terrible if we don’t show up on time.

In the case of Jay Baer’s recent story about being replaced as a BBQ judge because he misunderstood confusing directions about when he was supposed to show up, he admits it was his own fault. But, like Jay wrote, the reaction to his mistake and the instructions that led up to it could have been handled far better.

It’s been said multiple times that social media can help humanize companies, but just as often, people have warned companies that if their social media efforts are stunted by a lack of human understanding in how they operate, they’re wasting their time.

While we can’t fix your company, we can tell you what we’ve seen that works for event planners.

Type Like You’re Talking To One Person, Not Several
Like good copywriting, communication via social media is best when it’s directed at one person, though hundreds and thousands may be listening. Try looking at yourself in a mirror when you type, or ask a colleague to read what you’ve written. Does it sound awkward? Edit until it doesn’t.

Give More Information Than Necessary
While cliffhangers and big reveals are exciting, anticipation is highly underrated as a way to increase interest in a new product or service. Statements like “check back in a week to see what we’ve been working on” fall flat to most people, while “in a week we’ll be revealing our new way of doing business” gives listeners something to look forward to.

Market Inclusively, Execute Exclusively
There’s no question exclusivity feels special, but exclusivity for the sake of being exclusive seems arbitrary and boring. We’ve seen event planners require codes to register for events, with those codes being good for multiple uses. This gives attendees a special feeling without locking out those willing to make an effort to attend.

Business, sales, events and marketing will always be about people. It’s far past time we all started communication like actual people do.

Using Social Media For Your Event

iPhone pals

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.

Engage
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.

Intrigue
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.

Invigorate
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.

Integrate
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.

Inform
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.

Propagate
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.

Aggregate
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?

Social Media Experimentation

In the tech world, new reigns supreme. Shiny is better than boring, re-imagined is perceived as better than the original and there’s always a InsertExistingProductOrServiceHere for InsertYourMarketHere.

Garden Coffee Cup

Garden Coffee Cup BlogPic from WinePress of Words.

Be Free
And because most of these new things are free (as in money) of charge, there’s always a rush to be first, and an even more important race to be the best. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn dominate the social media landscape, but now that relative newcomers Pinterest, Google+ and a host of niche networks have shown up, there’s at least perceived competition to master every one.

Social Media Presence COMPLETE
We’re not alone in this. EventDay and sister company LoopLogic have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Google+ Business Pages, LinkedIn presence, Pinterest boards and their own blogs. Are we doing it correctly? Sure, if being everywhere is part of doing it just like everyone else, or at least companies with enough time and resources, does.

Syndication Works For TV Shows!
As such, we’ve found that too much of our content is no more than syndicated across these networks. We have some short content and links to longer pieces on Google+, but because Google’s APIs tie in with nothing, we can’t easily adapt and share that content without recreating it.

Tweet Me
Twitter is useful for real-time feeds of conferences and industry news, but not so great when you’re looking to get the word out about one specific thing.

twitter_Good_Bad

IPO Away!
Facebook is powerful and delivers clicks, but how interested are people going to be when they switch between posting vacation photos, talking to Grandma and reading posts about the future of the events industry?

Notice I haven’t yet said anything about LinkedIn.

Not That Serious?
That’s because LinkedIn is scary. LinkedIn is for serious business people with serious issues, like finding jobs or building companies they can one day sell. It’s for marketers who like to spam, unemployed who like to share tips and power users that treat it as a mobile focus group.

Scary Is Good
But for startups and other small companies, LinkedIn can be intimidating. The breadth of features and services we DON’T offer makes many think twice about jumping into such a SERIOUS place, fearful that we’ll be overshadowed by those with far more time and resources.

Jumping Like A Platformer
We’ve tried of jumping on every new network in hopes they will somehow surpass what we’re already using. No one wants to be a social media guinea pig, and even though establishing a presence on every relevant network certainly can’t hurt, overspending resources on networks that aren’t working is a wasteful practice we’d rather leave to our competitors.

Hey, did you know people still use email marketing? And that it’s really effective?

Perhaps it’s time to rethink our approach.