Back in October, Jim and I tackled a similar topic relating to using Twitter to cover trade shows. In my post, I said that I found Twitter to be the most useful social media tool for covering events and I tended to use it as if I was a journalist covering the event live.
While that is still true for the most part, in the past six months I have found numerous more ways to maximize the benefits of other social media networks to promote, cover and review events I have attended. In the simplest way I know how, I’m going to share how I use various networks for events.
Promoting an event
LinkedIn: If your company has a business page on LinkedIn, try starting a group with a focus on an event you are hosting and attending. To really benefit from any discussions that might start up in the group, you’ll need to think ahead and do this months ahead of the event. However, by the time the event rolls around, you will have a tight quality group and a great list of connections. If you are attending an event as an individual, try using LinkedIn’s intuitive search option to see if a group or discussion about the event exists. You may be surprised.
Facebook: Likewise, you can use your company’s business page to promote an event you are hosting or attending. If you are actually the organizer of the event, I recommend using Facebook’s built-in event calendar to create a custom event. You can then directly invite followers and friends to the event. Again, you’ll probably want to do this a month or two ahead of the event date to give people plenty of time to RSVP. (This is also a great way to gauge your attendance.) Once the event has its own page, you can start discussions and add information as the event draws nearer.
Twitter: While I find this network to be more immediate in nature rather than an easy “save the date” tool, it doesn’t hurt to send out a few tweets about the event you are hosting and/or attending in the weeks leading up to it. You can also use Twtvite to set up an official event page in the Twitter-verse. Again, this might help you gauge your expected attendance.
Google+: Months later, I am still wavering on how to best use this network. Jim’s company ColorMetrix has a business page that I update regularly and, while I will mention when we will be attending events, I don’t know that I’ve seen a huge benefit. (If someone is using this to promote or cover events regularly, I’d love to see it!) Still, it doesn’t hurt to set up a business page for your company.
Email: Please do not overlook what is probably the oldest form of social media out there. I’m certainly not telling you to spam people; but if your company has a subscription list, use it. Here’s a secret: Jim and I discovered that sending plan text emails announcing our attendance at an event received better response. I think it’s because people who attend events tend to read their email on their mobile devices and plain text emails do two things: 1) They give the perception of a personal one-on-one email and 2) They are easier to read than those fancily designed email newsletters. (As a designer, this last sentence hurt me a bit when I typed it.)
Blog: It’s social media! It really is! Most company websites have a blog. Take a few minutes and promote the fact that you will have representatives at an upcoming event. Then use the other networks to promote the blog post which is promoting the fact that you’re hosting or attending an event. Got that? It’s promotion of a promotion!
Twitter: I still maintain that this is the best network to use for the actual “during” of an event. The immediacy of Twitter – even with its 140-character limitation – makes it a natural tool for reporting what is going on in real time. Hashtags allow users to easily find the conversation too. If you are hosting an event, create a hashtag. If you are attending one, find out what the hashtag is and follow it. Trust me, the connections and interactions will be worth it.
Foursquare: A venue can add an event to its location on a certain date. For instance, last weekend I attended a concert by the Alabama Shakes in Milwaukee before they headed down to Austin for South by Southwest. The event was held at the Pabst Theater. When I checked in to the Pabst, I had an option to also check in to the Alabama Shakes concert. It was a check-in within a check-in and added even more value and context to the event. The Pabst even had a drink special connected with the concert if you checked in. If you are hosting an event, see if the venue can add this option.
YouTube: A picture might be worth all those words but I have to think a video is worth even more of them. I’ve used video for a variety of reasons but I love taking live video at actual events and posting them on a company’s channel or website later. This more than anything gives people a real feel of what the event was like. If you don’t have a video camera, use your smart phone. If you don’t have a smart phone, get one!
Reviewing events … and wrapping it up
Honestly, you can use all of the networks I mentioned above to review the event, post photos and video and continue discussions. Throughout all the stages of an event – promotion, attending, reviewing – it’s important to remember that your connections are found in different networks and interact in different ways. Being active on many allows you and your company to reach out to more people than if you only relied on a single communication outlet.
How do you promote, cover and review events? I’d love to find new and creative ways to do so!