Only a few years ago, mailed invitations, telephone messages and print ads were standard protocol when it came to meeting planning. These days, however, paper is positively passé. From location-based check-ins to live event tweeting and online registration, rapidly evolving technology has altered the way people organize special events.
According to statistics, nearly two-thirds of online Americans use social media and one out of three Americans update their Facebook status or post tweets at least once each week. And when it comes to the modern workplace, social networking and bookmarking sites, blogs, wikis, forums and RSS feeds have played a big role in the ability to raise awareness of a message, brand or event. By utilizing these types of Web 2.0 technologies, it’s easier than ever to plan and promote meetings of all sizes.
Here are some ways to tap into social media channels to boost attendance at your next event.
Friend me on Facebook: Networking has always been a key factor in business operation and success. As audiences become more web-savvy, social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace have begun to play a larger role in corporate marketing efforts. Create an “event” page featuring detailed information on the location, time, purpose and any requirements, and invite whoever you wish to attend. Event pages can be powerful marketing tools because they can increase your event roster by allowing possible attendees to discover who else will be attending. To gain the most benefit from these event pages, provide several options for attendees to interact by offering comment threads and polls.
How tweet it is: Twitter provides the opportunity to raise awareness of your event in 140 characters or less – shorter than a typical elevator speech. Prior to any gathering, you can drum up interest by sharing engaging and fun content, posting contests and encouraging followers to to register for the event by offering early bird discounts, invites to private parties or other rewards. During the event, an active Twitter stream can help engage attendees, while simultaneously including those that could not participate.
A link to other professionals: LinkedIn is essentially Facebook for the professional community. Although you can set up public groups, LinkedIn is more about connecting with others in your field or industry. Even simply using LinkedIn among members of a single department might give colleagues a chance to discuss problems, share ideas and learn about upcoming events.
It’s time to Foursquare: Location-based applications – Foursquare being the most prominent – have been described as the next big thing in social media. Encourage attendees to check in through these services when they arrive on the day of the event. You can then reward them for checking in at different stations, panels, or activities, with items such as a free hamburger or a gift card. These attendee check-ins can help generate social media buzz throughout the event.
Leverage YouTube: Consider recording videos at your event and posting them to your YouTube channel and other social mediums. A simple Flip camera or smart phone can provide great footage that can later be leveraged for future social content and sales materials.
By using these social media channels, you can quickly and easily connect with people planning to attend your event and provide constant reminders up until the day of the gathering and beyond.