techsytalk

Making a New Event Social Media Action Plan by @JCNess

(Since You Threw Your Old One Away)

So we’ve decided that maybe scrapping social and digital communication altogether may not be the best course of action, even if plugging our ears and singing out loud could be marginally better than ripping our hair out in frustration while simultaneously disappointing attendees all at the same time.

Is there a better strategy for putting social media tactics to work for us instead of making us work for them? The answer lies in the event playbook you’ve used and updated since 1994. The solution is buried deep in the marketing section on the single piece of college-ruled notebook paper that an intern haphazardly shoved into the 3-ring binder with the word “SOCIAL MEDIA” scribbled at the top in ballpoint pen. You know, the one that says “Create a Twitter account” as a bullet item with “…and actually use it!” hastily written underneath.

The solution, my friends, is to rip that piece of paper out and throw it away. We’re going to replace it.

Take out another sheet of college-ruled notebook paper, and write “WHO IS MY AUDIENCE?” at the top. Now comes the hard part. You must determine the mode of your attendees. What is the common factor among them? Who are they, and what do they spend their time doing? You must identify them, their interests, and their motivations for attending your event. You’ve got to create a target persona (more on that in future posts).

Now take out another piece of college-ruled notebook paper, and write “HOW DOES MY AUDIENCE COMMUNICATE?” at the top. (Look out! We’ve just doubled the size of your event marketing and communications plan!) Now comes the easy part. You’ve already established a persona for your attendees, and your new task is to find out how those attendees use social and digital media. You may need to spend some time thinking about it, but it might be as easy as finding someone you know who fits that target persona and asking him or her how they spend their time interacting with the world.

If you can rule out right away that your audience isn’t so cutting edge that they’re actively using the new 6-second Twitter video app called Vine, then hooray! You don’t need to worry about it (yet)! But if you determine that your target attendees spend a good amount of time on Facebook looking at pictures of their grandkids, then you might invest in a solid Facebook communications campaign and actually devote some time to learning more about it. There are resources everywhere. Both Liz and I can point you in the right direction if you need some advice.

The point is that Twitter isn’t your end-all, be-all social media solution. As Liz pointed out in her recent article on Cvent’s Event Planner blog, “If people are tweeting, tweet. If people are using Instagram, you use it too.” There is no silver bullet for social media and event community success. The determining factor is YOU and the effort you choose to apply to being an event planning super hero.

So toss your old methodology. Break out a fresh sheet of paper and create a new section in your event playbook. Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes and figure out what’s important to them. You’ll have to keep up with the trends (after all, Bob Dylan told us “social media, it is a-changin’”), but you don’t need to do it all at once.