May 10, 2010
11 Lessons Learned: Social Media & Event Marketing
Here at Tuvel Communications, we have executed conference and expo social media programs for clients like the NAB Show and 1105 Government Information Group. We've learned several lessons along the way, and I thought it would be useful to get these thoughts down on digital paper to share with you so can be better prepared when it comes to social media marketing at events.
- Start early. It takes time to build a relationship. You don't want the first communication from your event to be about passing a promo code along! We always try to keep in mind the old Internet adage to give and then take. We typically like to begin outreach efforts 6 months prior to an event.
- Create excitement! Content doesn't create excitement, people do. We were recently charged with driving attendees to an expo. People love to win, so we created Twitter raffles and contests. People got really excited about winning a conference ticket. We also ran a recent Facebook promotion where 'likes' (aka: fans) were asked to post photos from past shows. People got excited about posting and seeing each others photos (especially the ones from shows 15 or more years ago).
- Don't underestimate the power of face-to-face. This is really a lesson learned from Netpreneur/Coffee & DoughNets days. Developing an online relationship can be cemented by a face-to-face meeting. Nothing beats the interaction we see at client events. Strong online community building and networking done prior to the show complement offline meetings. Even better is if attendees are located in the same market as the event and you can bring them together before and after the show.
- Feedback and buzz are huge! Our company is metrics focused. Whether it's 'ROI', attendee increases or exhibitor traffic, we look to the numbers to partially determine our success. Other program metrics include size of the communities and how well they're engaged, profile traction, website analytics, and promo code tracking.
Having said all of that, don't underestimate the importance of feedback from conference organizers, attendees and exhibitors. It's easy to feel excitement in the air when you hear comments like "you guys are doing something different this year" or "there really is a lot of activity, I notice it."
- Think through, take a deep breath and consider implications before acting. We recently identified a potential conflict when an attendee at a client event set up a blog that was inadvertently being mistaken for the 'official' show blog. We took a very deliberate 'honey vs. vinegar' approach of not reacting in a negative or aggressive fashion. Instead, we began building a relationship that eventually led to shared traffic. It would have been fool-hardy on our part to do anything else.
- Don't be afraid to try new things (or, you never know unless you try). At a recent client event, show organizers were nice enough to offer us a vacant booth, which we turned into a Social Media Suite. We got some perplexed expressions and strange questions for sure. Traffic was light, so on day two of the conference, we made a CVS run, dressed up the booth and held a Tweetup. We produced a Twitter chat for another client, unsure if anyone would even show up for the party. We ended up doubling registrations as a result of the hour-long chat.
- Beware of technology (or, the best laid plans...). We had a great on-site social media plan for a recent event, only to find out that lack of stable wifi prohibited us from uploading any photos, tweeting or posting. On another occasion, we were all set up for a Twitter chat only to have chat tools slow down to a screeching halt. Moral of the story: don't be surprised when inevitabilities of technology happen.
- Be patient. It takes time to get traction. We 're big on momentum and were dismayed when a couple of recent promotions didn't get off to a quick start. It took time for the word to spread and traffic to build up. But, we soldiered on and both promotions ended up going well. Thankfully, we didn't pull the plug before they took off.
- Always follow best practices. This goes without saying, but I figure it's worth repeating. Following best practices in terms of transparency and communication isn't only the right thing to do-- it's just good business.
- Its not just the numbers, it's who they are and where they're doing it that also count. We'd trade larger groups of passive readers for a handful of passionate supporters any day.
- Ask for referrals. We execute word-of-mouse campaigns. As soon as someone posts or passes our message along, we ask for referrals - bloggers, moderators, social networkers and list owners in their network. These folks might be interested in our communication and nothing beats an introduction!
What lessons have you learned from your event social media marketing efforts?
TrackBack URL for this entry:
The online world of advertising is all pretty intimidating and also alarming to the old man. I'm trying to figure out the best way to employ web sites like twitter in addition to zynga in terms of selling your local business. I have read a great deal but we still don't think I have gotten to some full comprehension precisely what can be done as well as how.