It's been a few months since our last edition of "What We're Reading", and we thought it was high time to bring it back - especially with all the fantastic posts we've been reading and resources we've found about social media, blogger outreach and online marketing. Here are a sampling of what we've discovered, all wrapped up in a handy post for your Friday reading enjoyment:
We've created, launched and managed social media campaigns and presences for a variety of events, and that includes on-site social media engagement. We definitely have a number of tried-and-true tactics for creating buzz and interest during an event through social media, and I'd like to share some of those with you here.
Live tweet sessions. By tweeting bite-sized, but pertinent, pieces of information from sessions, workshops and keynotes, you're providing value to those in attendance and those outside the event who are watching the Twitter stream. Interest and buzz is generated from retweets.
Tips: It's important that people watching your tweets know the source of the information in your live session tweets, so be sure to include the speaker's name (usually their last name for brevity). Better yet, include their Twitter handle if they have one. Photos of speakers or panels are great session-tweeting fodder as well. Jeff Hurt has a great post on tweeting at conferences and events, which has excellent pointers and is definitely worth a read.
Retweet others. Your attendees are the most important part of your event – and your best source for relevant, insightful information as it happens. They're tweeting about what is important to them, and retweeting that information puts them front and center and gets them more involved in the event as a whole.
Tip: Thank your Twittering attendees for their insights with @ reply "Thank you" notes.
Post photos & video. Don't just tell people what's going on; show them by posting photos and videos straight from the event to your outposts (including your event blog). Post clips from keynotes and sessions, photos of popular speakers and products, on-the-spot video interviews with attendees – be creative!
Encourage attendees to post content to outposts from the event. Create a hub on Facebook or Flickr for attendees to share their own event experiences through videos and photos. Promote it through the event website and on-site signage and print materials, or even build it into an event-specific mobile app. Encourage people to tag them with your event name and hashtag for maximum exposure.
Tip: Try using Google Moderator to gather feedback as well.
Create content that involves your attendees. I love Paper.li, and I've discovered that what they offer is perfect for events. It's a great way to feature your attendees and the content that matters to them. If you gather Twitter account IDs from your attendees when they register, create a Twitter list and add them – then create a daily with Paper.li from that list.
Tip: Create similar dailies from lists of your speakers and exhibitors.
Get exhibitors involved. The expo floor can be a great source of excitement, so work through social media to build relationships between attendees and exhibitors. Bring groups together through Tweetups and demos at booths. Post photos of cool displays and swag giveaways.
Tip: Create an expo floor scavenger hunt using location-based services like Foursquare or Gowalla, or event-friendly location-based services like Scvngr or Double Dutch.
Plan & hold mini-meetups & tweetups. These don't have to be large, extravagent, intricately-planned shindigs at expensive venues with open bars and free food. Why not have mini-meetups and tweetups, planned and promoted ahead of time and taking place at a designated spot at the event, but held only for the purpose of getting people together to meet and converse. Maybe offer some freebies, hold a special giveaway or make it into a meet-and-greet for a speaker or esteemed guest – but it doesn't have to be more than that.
Tip: Suzanne Carawan tweeted an excellent idea for an on-site meetup that I wanted to include:
When it comes to community-building through social media outposts, I've seen some awesome examples of how it should be done. I've also seen some awesomely dismal campaigns that made me wonder why they were ever conceived. They could learn a lot from Yoda.
Do or Do Not. There is no try. Get it? If you don't believe in the potential of social media as a valuable part of your marketing strategy and/or you don't put in the effort needed to make it successful, then that is why you fail.
I've put together this list, hoping that it will help someone bring their social media efforts back to life or get started in the right direction!
All broadcast, all the time. Social media marketing should not be all about you – it should be all about your community members. Promote your brand and products, but above all, promote your loyal customers. Interact with and involve them. Make it a two-way conversation.
Little or no activity. One of the biggest turn-offs to someone considering following, liking, or otherwise joining a social media community is lack of activity. There's no value in them being a part of your community if there's nothing going on. It's important to keep tweets and posts up-to-date with relevant content and respond to questions and comments in a timely manner.
Nothing exciting or of value to your community members. Online communities should be relevant and offer value to community members, and successful online communities are ones in which members are excited to participate. Your social media outposts are your communities, so give your members a reason to participate by offering them content, offers and support that will keep them engaged.
Little or no promotion of your outposts. If you're not promoting your social outposts through your website, email campaigns, and offline materials, how do you expect people to know they exist? If you want social media to be a successful part of your marketing plan, you have to make your social media presence known to your existing and potential customers.
Under-utilization of available social media assets. Your "social media assets" are content items, tools and anything else you have available that will only help your social media marketing efforts. These include content like blog posts, podcasts, and press releases, as well as tools like hashtags, Twitter lists, event pages and groups. Take stock of these assets and map out how they can best be used to your advantage.