Social Media presents a fantastic boon to anyone planning an event, whether it's large or small, online or off. Below are tips for what to do to promote the event, what to do during the event, and post-event activities. Follow these bits of advice, and you will attract new and very engaged prospects as well as build loyalty with your current customers and clients.
> Create a website, a single web-page, or blog as your anchor for the event. You will be sending all of your links to this URL.
> Use Meetup.com Ð if yours will be a live event. Meetup.com is a fantastic site that can be searched by location and subject category and will help build attendance.
> Use Twitter, and Tweet frequently and consistently. Six weeks in advance, you might Tweet 2 or 3 times per week; as you get closer to the event, Tweet several times a day; on the day before your event, really increase the frequency. Be sure to vary your Tweets, always talking about different aspects of the very valuable content of your event.
> Blog about your event, with at least 2-3 posts before event. Talk about the speakers, topics and overall content, and how it will benefit the attendees.
> Create "Events" within LinkedIn and Facebook. Email as many of your connections as you are allowed initially, and then email them again closer to the actual date.
> Post the event in the Discussions section of all of your relevant groups in LinkedIn, and on the discussion section as well as the wall in Facebook. Update those walls frequently with more info on the event to keep readers' interest.
> Use event-announcement sites like Eventbrite.com, Eventful.com, and Upcoming.yahoo.com to promote your date/time.
Engage participants during the event
> Have the keynote speaker or kick-off speaker incorporate references to the Twitter hashtags, Facebook page, and blog for the event.
> At the event itself, use the signage and printed program to promote Social Media aspect of the event.
> Set up an event-specific blog or wiki (Ning) for posting while the event is going on (this would be different from your blog or promotional pages)
> Create a Twitter hashtag to aggregate comments and engage attendees with each other.
> Be sure to cover the event with live blogging, Tweeting, video, and podcasts from the event floor. You may want to consider hiring an outside resource just that purpose.
> Get feedback throughout - be sure to engage with all social media posts and comments soon after they appear, to create a true dialog with the attendees.
Post the event
> Remember your sales training; the secret is in the follow-up. Be sure to contact all registrants with follow-up offers for downloads, white papers, podcasts, special offers on speakers' books. Anything to keep attendees interested and engaged.
> Invite registrants to sign up for your company's Facebook page, to register for your blog, sign up for your newsletter, connect on Twitter, anything to keep the connection ongoing.
> A month after the event, follow up multiple times to keep those leads warm!
Follow through on all stages of the event with strategic and creative use of Social Media, and your event will be well-attended and talked about for months afterwards.