Events are social affairs, so why not use your social media marketing to help plan and promote your events? Your followers on Twitter, your Facebook fans, and even your LinkedIn connections can provide valuable input and help spread the word about your event.
From the planning point of view, you can use social media outlets to gauge interest in various aspects of your event as you pull ideas together. For instance, you can ask when — Weekend or weekday? Day or night? — the event should be held. Asking those you want to attend what’s best for them will help maximize turnout. If your event is being held at a location other than your own — a restaurant, hotel, or another such venue — give your social media audience a few choices and go with the popular vote.
Logistics are not the only aspects that can be planned with the help of social media. You can use your fans and followers to get suggestions on caterers, music, photographers, and other services you might need. You could also use an online survey distributed via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to determine if and what type of food should be served; whether attendees would prefer free drinks or door prizes; and, for educational/informational events, what topics they’d like to see covered.
Once the details are set, social media excels at promoting your gathering. Post a save-the-date message as soon as possible to get on people’s radar. Of course, if there are specific customers or members you’re looking to invite, sending them a save-the-date via email is also suggested as people like a personal invite.
If you’re using an online registration system or have a specific webpage dedicated to the event (if you don’t, why not?) post the link to all your social media outlets as soon as possible. One of the beauties of using social media for promotion is you can post the link multiple times in a given week without annoying your audience. Of course, you’ll want to post other items in between so you’re not just promoting your event.
On Twitter, brand your event with a hashtag (a # followed by a word or phrase, such as #openhouse2010) and encourage attendees who want to tweet about the gathering to use the hashtag. Doing so makes it easy to search for all tweets related to the event and is particularly handy when attendees are tweeting from during event itself.
Social media’s usefulness does not end when the event is over. Afterwards, send pictures, videos, and other links of interest from the event out to your social media following. For recurring events, you can direct people to a signup page to receive email invites to future gatherings, which will enable you to build that coveted relationship with attendees and your email mailing list at the same time.