Here’s the 411 on Crafting Social Strategy to Promote Events

It all sounds fairly simple, right? Just put up posts about the event on FB, tweets out the names of the speakers, make sure to do lots of blog posts, and hey presto it’s a social media campaign. Actually this couldn’t be further from the truth. In order to do any type of social media campaign you have to have a strong analytical framework to back you up. You need to know realtime conversions into registrations, who RT’d or re-posted what, and, most importantly, you need to be able to quickly identify advocates. This backend support needs to be up and running BEFORE you do any tweets or posts. Otherwise, and I speak from experience, you will be playing catch-up and wasting very valuable time.

Realtime Conversion Data  

I cannot emphasize enough how essential this is. When your marketing is in realtime, your results must be as well. It is no longer enough to get weekly or even bi-weekly reports.This may seem like a “duh” moment but the problem is that often this analytical side is simply a “well, it’s the best we can do for now” approach and takes an backseat to the actual campaign. This is backwards thinking that will soon get yourinto a world of hurt. Conversions using social media channels occur by creating buzz. But chances are a few viral memes, even if they are dead on, won’t bring you those conversions- at least no in and of themselves! Chances are what really happens is that your target saw that blog post from Monday, the Tweetchat with a speaker you did on Tuesday, the trailer video on Wednesday, the second blog post on Thursday, and then that very clever meme and finally decided that they were going to pull the trigger on registration.

Registration on the same day as the meme was created doesn’t meant that you should do more memes. Rather, it means that you are doing a good job of building up the buzz using different mediums. Of course as the weeks progress and you notice that it’s only when memes are posted that you finally get those registrations something’s probably up. The point is that there are many ways that people can end up registering. You need as much data as possible to reverse engineer those conversions. If you are getting a bi-weekly report the trail is going to be much colder and, if there are chances that you should be making (which- there always will be!) you’ll have lost several valuable days. 

Harnessing Your Existing Community 

Most companies are already using Twitter (if they aren’t then you need to check out my previous post on using Twitter for your organization ASAP). Twitter activity is very deceptive. It is the sad truth that many people do not actually read what they RT. This means that including a registration link in your tweet is really not as effective as you might think! Registration conversions in Twitter depend on listening and joining the conversation to begin a relationship. (BTW- the following is based on conversations I’ve had with Robert at IML- my total Twitter guru and go-to guy) Look for people who are already talking about your brand. Perhaps through RT’s but ideally those that contain a personal touch. Choose which ones you reach out to based on whether they fit the demographic that you want to attend the conference. Then begin a conversation with them-ideally from your personal account rather than brand account. It is here that the age-old logic of selling comes in. You don’t want to rush it-don’t push your event immediately. Exchange a few tweets about the content that they shared and look for a chance to drop event info. Sound overwhelming? Yes- but it’s absolutely worth it and it’s how you will lock in conversions.

Bottomline: Your hashtag metrics are great to see the type of buzz that you’re generating but don’t expect them to result in conversions!

Reaching Out to Advocates- Timing is EVERYTHING

 The Obama campaign had a hard and fast rule- anyone who reached out to the campaign would be contacted within 72 hours. No exceptions. The logic is pure marketing psychology. Something about your event excited these individuals enough for them to put the time into reaching out. They want to be involved and most importantly, they are excited. This is the message that you want to get out there. The Obama campaign recognized better than anyone else that when a call to action comes from a friend it is a hundred times more powerful than yet another email blast or FB post from the organizers.

But here’s another thing- you need to have something for these potential-advocates to do. Can they volunteer? Do you have content they can post? Can they host a tweet-up or participate in a tweetchat? Your initial contact with them must contain action that they can take to maximize the potential that they will become an advocate.

This is the 411 of social strategy for events. Notice that at no point did I talk about the type of content you should be sharing or how often you should be doing it. That’s what your backend metrics are for. They will give you that direction. Of course you need to also have a plan for the type of content that you’ll launch with but any seasoned social media strategist can do that with their eyes closed. Ultimately it’s your backend support staff that will get you that info you need to maximize your effectiveness and tell you your next steps. (tip: make sure they have plenty of orange soda and gummy bears. It’s the least you can do!)