We’ve noticed that many of you have been busy fostering engagement and increasing your profile with community events. We like what we see and we hope to see more of it. To that end, we thought it could be helpful to corral some ideas–from stations, reporters and elsewhere–to help you get the most out of your events with smart use of online promotion.
Please add any of your own ideas or experiences below. The more the merrier.
Before the Event:
- Create Facebook-friendly messaging and imagery for your event.
From Shannon McDonald, Social Media Editor at WHYY: “Try to find a message for your event that works well on social media instead of trying to manipulate something for several platforms… From the beginning, find a message that can work on all fronts. And to that point, make sure anything you design for the event also has images designed specifically for Facebook. That means that whatever images you’re putting out there should also be made to fit the 403×403 pixel size for Facebook posts and the 840×310 pixel size for Facebook cover photos.”
- Create an Event on Facebook.
Invite all of the people who ‘like’ your page, as well as people who you think might be interested. You’ll also want to post additional information, as you get closer to the event to keep it fresh in people’s feeds.
- Engage other stakeholders in and outside of the building.
Make a list that includes a variety of groups and individuals including: other journalists, companies, lawmakers, advocates etc. According to Axel Gerdau, KUT contributing reporter, “a quick search on Facebook and Twitter” can go a long way in identifying stakeholders you might not be aware of.
On Twitter, says Gerdau, “Tweet, retweet and thank retweeters. Follow people who you think do a good job of pushing out the story.” Ask friends and coworkers to “share the love” and Tweet it out to their communities.
Encourage anybody and everybody to RSVP to the Facebook event. If possible, have those messages, or that contact list, do double-time by previewing the coverage you are planning during the run-up to the event.
Of course, don’t forget your regulars. The KUT team says they always reach out to traditional channels within the station, including the PR (which will be able to get an event onto area event calendars, etc.) and membership departments (which can make sure to invite members and community leaders).
- Buy a Facebook ad.
They are cheap and help get your event in front of people who might not otherwise know about it by targeting not just the people who like your page, but their friends and networks, as well. For a recent event, StateImpact Texas set up a $10 limit on a Facebook ad and ended up with 33 RSVPs on the Facebook event, and about 100 people at the actual event. The app only used $7.22 of their investment over the three days they had it running.
This can be particularly useful to both create buzz and facilitate conversation during and after the event. So, stake your claim and own it!
- Ask event participants to promote the event among their own networks.
Request that they post the event on their own Facebook pages, share it on any related listservs and share the event link on their Twitter feeds.
- Share your event with groups and individuals on LinkedIn.
Post a link to the Facebook event, as well as occasional mini-promos leading up to the big day, in your LinkedIn feed (and encourage others to do the same!).
- Post occasional, brief updates in the lead-up to the event elsewhere, too!
Use all of your social networks to tease the content, giving prospective attendees a sense of why they can expect when they show up. Be careful, though, not to overdo it. Intersperse these with actual news content, so that people don’t get sick of the message.
- If possible, make sure that attendees will have access to free, high-speed wireless and that you have a way to let them know about it when they arrive.
This will ensure that anyone inspired to Tweet about the event while it is happening will be able to do so.
- Think about pre-loading some Tweets in the lead-up to the event.
Schedule them ahead of time with TweetDeck or whatever Twitter dashboard you prefer. That way, if you get busy, you won’t miss out on the opportunity to remind people and reel in some last-minute stragglers.
- Create an event on Foursquare.
Let them check in. The more buzz around kickoff, the better.
During the Event:
- Upload pictures to Facebook, or share them on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Extra points for pictures that show people having fun or engaged in lively debate.
- Announce your hashtag and encourage attendees to Tweet about the event.
After the Event:
- Upload video highlights of the event, if appropriate, and share them.
Not only will this add new multimedia content to your blog, it will also help promote future events.
- Create a Storify for your blog.
If you get a good conversation going on Twitter, or if attendees Tweet about the event, create a Storify, spotlighting that content along with images from the gathering. This will also serve to thank attendees who got in there and used Twitter or other tools to make the event a roaring success.
- Take a deep breath. Good job, you.