There was a time when printed brochures, news releases and ads in trade publications were the main tools we used to promote events. Now, in addition to these traditional media, along with Web sites and email, we can add social media to the marketing mix.
Increasingly, organizations are using blogs, podcasts, Twitter and Facebook to publicize an event, and then keep the conversation going during and afterward. In some cases, organizers succeed at creating a community that thrives long after the conference or trade show is over.
Let’s take a quick look at some of these tools.
Think of a blog as a publishing platform. They’re no longer considered “online diaries.” Use your blog to publish content that builds excitement about the event by showcasing some of the key speakers and sponsors. Encourage questions and comments on the blog.
As a micro-blogging platform, Twitter can work nicely with your blog, allowing you to publish 140-character bursts of information. Many event organizers create a hashtag in advance, so that everyone on Twitter who is talking about the event uses common terminology. For example, the popular South by Southwest conference is #sxsw.
I’ve worked with many clients who’ve used podcast interviews before and during their conferences, with great results. At Autodesk University, for example, we ran in-depth interviews with organizers, speakers and other experts before the event, to build interest. During the conference, we conducted more interviews and also grabbed quick sound bites with attendees. These were used as part of the marketing campaign to promote the event during the following year.
If your story has a visual element, then use video. Keep them short, though, because editing time will eat up much of your budget otherwise.
Have you thought of using a Fan page or Group on Facebook to drum up interest in your event? We’ll be covering these in more detail in future blog posts. There are differences between the two that you need to be aware of.
One of my clients recently used Ning to set up a community for attendees, so that they could congregate in a private online area before the event, and then keep the relationship going afterward. A group like Ning also provides a safe place for people to try out their social networking skills, rather than out in the wider world.
Don’t forget about LinkedIn, which you can also use to promote your events. You can also post articles to stimulate discussions.
What are some of your favourite social media tools to promote events?