A survey released in February 2012 from engagement marketing firm Constant Contact finds that social media has become a critical communications tool for small businesses and nonprofits that plan events, with 77% of event planners currently using social media to promote their events, and another 14% planning to do so in the next year.
While the survey also reports that event planners still rely heavily on e-mail, online event marketing tools, Web sites and print advertising to promote their events, 78% of survey respondents believe that social media is an important marketing tool for their events.
“Event communications has evolved. It’s no longer just direct mail invitations, phone calls and simply hoping that people will come,” said Chris Litster, VP and general manager of event marketing for Constant Contact. “Now it’s social media conversations, real-time communication and online video—true engagement across platforms to create a holistic event experience from start to finish.”
Social media is certainly firmly integrated in Pollock Communications ’ event efforts for clients, says Marcie Klein, senior VP at the New York-based agency. The key to social media, says Klein, is that they extend the life of an event, as “everything lives forever online,” she says.
Pollock often will deploy an event-specific blog, Twitter account, YouTube channel and Facebook page to generate pre-event excitement and buzz for a client’s event.
During an event, Klein recommends deploying a location-based service like Foursquare to show friends and their followers exactly where they are and what they’re up to. Integrating Facebook into the mix, giveaways and/or coupons can be offered. And then there’s the specific Twitter hashtag associated with the event that aggregates event buzz and feedback in real time (a tactic that’s regularly executed at PR News events).
The study also asked respondents about their event/social media goals for the future. Two-thirds of respondents would like to use social media to reach more people, 65% hope to gather feedback from past event attendees, 63% would obtain new/more event attendees and 62% look to remain engaged with past event attendees.
TRADITIONAL RULES APPLY
Whatever the goals may be, Klein offers a couple of tips to make social media efforts seamless for event campaigns:
• Be respectful of your brand and consumers’ social media space. “Brand ambassadors and guests can tweet fun, interesting updates to followers during an event,” says Klein. “But don’t forget, the same offline media rules apply to social media channels: Be interesting and relevant and don’t overdo it.”
• Ensure your social media activities serve the overall brand strategy and personality, and that they are all linked together seamlessly to support your brand story.
“The combination of social media with other event marketing platforms can be powerful, and today’s tools make it easier than ever to integrate them together,” says Litster.
Just make sure you use these platforms judiciously.