I was reading an article on “How to Promote an Event Using Social Media“, and it inspired me to put together my own views on how to incorporate social media tools pre, during and post event.
With the UK IBM SOA Architect Summit on September 9th, 2009 fast approaching, I have been incorporating various social media vehicles to help promote the event, drive registrations and encourage dialogue. Based on some of the campaigns that I’ve run, I’ve identified some tools vehicles that can be used, and how to use them.
I’ve broken my blog posts up into pre, during and post event, and the following post explores pre-event promotion.
Use tools such as Google Adwords to identify relevant keywords that relate to your event. It is useful to create paid Search campaigns to drive to your website, particularly if you are using 3rd party media vehicles to generate your audience, so that people who have seen your event advertised will be able to search on Google and immediately be taken to your event landing page. You should also look to optimise your event landing page for Search.
Listen to your audience using social media tools and engage with them to understand potential agenda items, or to identify potential speakers. Tools such as Google Alerts, Technorati or Google Blog Search will allow you to search on your company/product name or the topic area that your event is covering so that you can understand what is being said on the web about these topics. Once you’ve identified key blogs/websites, you can import RSS feeds into tools such as Google Reader or Netvibes , allowing you to create a portal into conversations on the web.
Create your event web page and include links to social media sites to encourage visitors to your page to join these groups and participate in the conversation. For example, for the IBM SOA Architect Summit, I have created a LinkedIn group and a Twitter profile to encourage dialogue. It’s also a good idea to incorporate RSS feeds for event updates (e.g. updates to the agenda/speakers) so that your audience is given a reason to revisit the event site.
As mentioned above, you should either look for existing social networking forums that you can join to engage your target audience, or create your own groups to encourage dialogue – e.g. Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter profile. Use Twitter Search to identify people who are tweeting about subjects relevant to your event agenda and follow them, promote their tweets, and provide useful information that would encourage them to follow you back, thus building your community. A warning note on this – building a community is time-consuming and requires serious commitment. Because you need to ensure that you’re community sites contain rich content that is relevant to your audience, I don’t feel this is something that can be outsourced to an agency, unless they contain the subject matter expertise relevant to your event/company.
Ensure assets are identified and distributed on plaforms such as Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare, etc. This should be done pre and post event. I’ve included some examples here of sites created on Flickr and YouTube that were set up pre-event to drive awareness and interest in the IBM Virtual Forbidden City tours, and the IBM SOA Architect Summit.
If you have identified someone that can blog about your event and you have the ability to incorporate this into your website, it’s a great way of ensuring fresh content is regularly posted to stimulate interest. If you can’t incorporate this directly onto your website, you can use the functionality of LinkedIn, or create a separate blog on WordPress. Additionally, you can create widgets using tools such as Widgetbox which can be embedded on your blog or Facebook profile. As with Flickr, YouTube and Slideshare, your blog can be utilised pre, during and post event.
In my next two blog posts I’ll include ideas for incorporating social media during your event, and post event.