When it comes time to tell the world about your next big event, social media provides many low-cost opportunities to get the word out there. And, like any aspect of event planning, having a social media strategy can help you be more successful as you start sharing your vision with the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest of the social media universe.
Put resources into crafting your message.
Just because the platform is free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a little money into the actual content. Those big companies that spend millions on a Superbowl ad? That’s just for the airtime, not the actual production of the ad. It is ALWAYS worth it to make time to figure out your value proposition and the way you want to communicate that to the masses. Give yourself time and budget to craft a message that can be explained clearly, in many different formats: in 140 characters, with great images, with a clever hashtag, and in longer form, like press releases, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and more. People need to hear things a lot of times in a lot of places for the information to work into their data-soaked brains. So, take the time and spend the money on good creative to hone a message that you’ll be proud to proclaim over and over and over and over in the months, weeks and days leading up to your event.
Find your audience.
You wouldn’t waste your time promoting your event in an empty auditorium, right? Even worse would be handing out flyers for your Bacon Festival at the Vegetarian Conference. The best way to share your message is to get it out in front of people who will a.) come to your event, and b.) share it with like-minded people so that they will come too. Spend a few hours finding the influencers who could really make an impact on the attention your event receives: media, bloggers, local celebrities, political leaders, even the local schools and retailers. All of these people have email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more. Make yourself a list and fill in as many of those pieces of data as you can for each person. Then, as you begin to share your message you can reach out through shares, follows, email campaigns, media events and more. This list will also reveal the ways that your desired targets spend their time online. If they all are active on YouTube but none have Instagram accounts, then a video might be the way to go.
The longer you look at your message the more ideas you get on ways to share it with your desired audience. Ideas are the hard part. Executing is even harder (and more time consuming). So, if you only start a few months or weeks before your event, all of your big ideas will come when there isn’t enough time to execute. And, is there anything sadder than putting these rock star ideas into the dreaded “Let’s remember this for next year” file? Also, larger publications have editorial deadlines that can be months in advance, so start planning a year ahead and get coverage in Southern Living, not just your local newspaper weekend section. As soon as the last of the chairs have been stacked and stowed from this year’s event, it’s time to start looking to the next one.
Make some contingency plans.
The two days before an event, and during, is NOT the time to figure out how to handle a complainer on Facebook. What if your event is impacted by weather, an issue with an attendee or even the good problem of selling out? Spend time beforehand thinking about how you will handle the unforeseen developments. Make sure your team has assignments for keeping tabs on social media regarding your event, and that there is a plan in place a chain of command when things hit a bump. Because even with the most perfect event, the chance that something unexpected happens isn’t an “if” but a “when.” And, how you handle it could make a world of difference. You’ve worked too hard to pack the house; don’t blow it by letting an inaccurate online commentator get the last word.
And, if all this seems like too much to handle, put your ideas and goals together and hire a team. Just like ad agencies can do everything from developing a campaign to negotiating your ad buys; digital media marketing teams can execute your social media strategy for an event. No one person is good at all aspects of event planning, and having a solid social marketing group on your team means you can focus on the event, letting them execute the best way to share your vision with the digital world.