If you plan to run events in 2011, whether they are virtual events such as webinars or tele-seminars or good old fashioned live events, you’ll be pleased to know that if you tap into some of the excellent social media tools on offer, things will come together a whole lot easier, and you’ll more than likely experience better results in terms of 'bums on seats'.
Here’s my top tips for planning and promoting events using the best of social media technology based on lots of experience:
Phase 1: Plan It!
Skype is an excellent tool to get the conversations started. Use Skype's conference call and chat technology (free) to speak to key stake holders about the proposed event.
Once key details like date, time, venue, topic and speakers are sorted, I’m a big fan of using an online project management system where you can add notes, edit information, and organize content related to the one event - especially if you are running multiple large scale events and/or projects at the one time.
We use PBworks (formerly PBwiki) as our intranet, recording all procedures related to a project and also Google Apps, specifically Google Calendar and Google Docs to schedule meetings, and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations relating to the event. We also couldn’t live without Basecamp, a business project management solution, and the to do lists and milestones we set up within this system to manage any given project.
Phase 2: Organise It!
Forget preparing hard copy invites and emails and then managing the onslaught of RSVPs thereafter via phone and email - this is WAY TOO HARD!!! Cut yourself some slack and use a solution such as Eventbrite to invite guests and manage RSVPs WHILE YOU SLEEP.
It’s super easy to use and offers lots of features including the ability to run affiliate programs so you reward people for selling tickets to your event, quickly shooting a message off to those who haven’t RSVPed (or those who have), printing name tags on the day and even downloading an iPhone app which will allow you to seamlessly process people who have brought their QR code or bar coded ticket, auto-generated upon confirmation.
Phase 3: Promote it!
Let’s face it, if you don’t promote the event properly you won’t have an event. I would always seek ‘strategic alliances’ or affiliates as they will be your best source of big numbers. If you’re using Eventbrite, offer them a cut for every ticket they sell to incentivize them. Apart from that, I’d make sure you set up a Facebook Event, a http://tweetvite.com/ and for business events, a LinkedIn event.
All of these should point back to your previously set up page on your website to bring your site traffic and perhaps other business benefits!
Phase 4: Share it!
Once you have set up the social networks and told your own networks, get your networks sharing the news! Get busy, and encourage others to retweet and use hashtags: be sure to have an event hashtag and promote it, and ask for retweets of the most important information. Schedule regular reminders to people about the event and to share the event using social tools such as Hootsuite, Ping.fm and Social Oomph.
On the day of the event, continue the sharing. Consider giving someone the task of constantly updating tweets live from the event or even setting up a live stream using video services like Ustream and Livestream.
Step 5. Wrap it!
Don’t forget the post event activities too which are hugely important. This might be where you seal a business deal, solidify a relationship, or sort a niggle that could have gone viral. Suggested wrap activities include uploading event photos to a Facebook photo album, Twitpic (for Twitter), a Flickr account as well as posting videos on YouTube, Vimeo or Viddler, not to mention the numerous conversations you should start and participate in. Thank people for attending, encourage them to share their positive experiences of the event, and tell those who missed it what a great event they missed.
Then when it's all over, start promoting the next event! :)
Is this article helpful? Do you already use some of this software? Tell us what you think. And if we can help you set up on the social media tools mentioned above, let us know!