Thursday, July 23, 2009

Social Media Events - How things have changed!

Last week thousands gathered via WOM to see Dave Chappelle in my own hometown at Pioneer Square. The Chappelle 'show' was a total success - by accident - purely by the instantanous word of mouth tools like text messaging, Twitter, and Facebook.

While Mashable has done a great How-To Article, and there's a good Slideshare presentation on how to do this, but here's my Social Media event planning playbook on how to create and market an event using social media.

1. Create the killer event. Let's face it - in this economy, WOM won't work if it's just...blah. Create a topic that gives immediate answers that your audience is facing right NOW, or a unique challenge to traditional thinking, or bring in a speaker that is real buzz worthy is critical in stretching out that event message. Who is well... your Dave Chappelle? This is the most critical step in spreading WOM. Ensure you can spread the word- it's worth going!

2. Use your existing network - or find one. Whether you own your own business or market for one, where is your network? On Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Do you have Maybe your target audience isn't in your digital or social rolodex, - can you find that subgroup in an existing social network? Are they talking on Twitter? How can you reach them? Keep in mind - you want a wide net, not just to send your message to one network, but to many.

3. Prepare your message. Get a consistent message and brand it. That means putting the event out on Upcoming, Eventful, Facebook events, messaging in your blog and creating event ads and emails to reachout with your peers to spread awareness. A consistent memorable message about your event can really aide WOM marketing. Get ready with widgets and links including hashtags for tracking - all in a one page 'play book' for your sales team and collegues to link to the event.

4. Set up incentives. You can start messaging early with hashtags and twitter by offering free event for the first volunteers, discounts for early birds and exclusives for coming through particularly popular bloggers, and more. This will help you fill the event and gauge how effective your different social channels are doing at attracting attendees.

5. Align your players. By now you have brainstormed on all the ways you can build word-of-mouth about your event. That means you+at least a dozen people who will spread the word on our behalf- in multiple social channels. Match the players with the channels they are best at spreading the word (including blogging, email, and even phone). This may likely mean, you are doing old-school networking - sitting down and selling your event- to have them get the word out for you.

6. Spread the word. Communicate what the event is, why you should go, what the offers are and how to RSVP, and communicate go-live dates for invites and reminders to your network.

7. Show the play-by-play. At the event make sure you have asked people to live tweet and blog your events - in advance. Chances are you may be too busy in the AV details and event itself - and capturing the event details are great in creating buzz around the event.

8. Capture post-event highlights. You can also ensure you've captured the buzz with pics on Flicker, and video highlights on YouTube. These help keep the energy and momentum of your event going even after the guests are out the door.

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