event marketing

Event Marketing and Social Media

I’m working right now on a website for an event marketing company, so it’s probably natural that when I attended an annual women’s holiday marketplace last night I thought about event marketing.

It’s not a new concept for me — I used to manage a bookstore, and one of my primary jobs was to organize events. I gave teacher workshops, dressed up for preschool storytime, organized food drives with slates of local musicians, and wore those stupid costumes with giant heads (yes, they are as uncomfortable as they look). It was worth it because it made our customers love us, got us press coverage, and kept the cash register ringing.

But the latest marketing reports are announcing that event marketing is on a lot of companies’ list of approaches to reconsider or cut back on. Along with newspaper and TV ads, it’s being thought of as an expensive method whose ROI you can’t measure. As we squeezed through the laughing crowds last night, it seemed to me that event marketing has a real place in an overall marketing plan — but only when it’s connected with online marketing.

Here’s how the holiday market used social media to get the word out:

  • They created a Facebook Event page and invited all their friends.
  • They blogged about the event, posting their flyer.
  • They emailed their mailing lists with personal notes.
  • They announced their event in local online publications and calendars.
  • They used pingg.com to send email invitations.
  • They tweeted and posted at Facebook to remind people, linking back to the pages they’d made.

Here’s what they could have done, and didn’t:

  • Asked all the vendors and the venue to announce and link the marketplace at their websites.
  • Created a hashtag at Twitter to encourage more tweeting and discussion.
  • Used other social media sites, such as Google+ or Pinterest.
  • Asked local bloggers to write about the market (since there was a charity element, they could have asked freely in a good cause).
  • Blogged about it extensively at their own blog.
  • Posted photos of the event at Facebook or FlickR — in real time to bring people out, or afterwards to keep the buzz going.

Obviously, social media is more cost effective than the same amount of coverage in traditional media or direct mail. It’s more directly targeted, and consumers trust it more than advertising. It also has more staying power: the newspaper ad your business places will be gone forever — probably before the event itself. The blog posts and photo albums you create for your event will continue to show what a fun/ community oriented/ active place your company is for years.

Events do something key for your social media, too: they give you something to talk about. The event marketing company we’re working with offers child safety seminars, rodeo trivia events, sports stuff — a company presenting one of these events can chat about child safety, the rodeo, and sports as well as the event itself. This gives you a chance to say things that benefit your company without actually talking about your company all the time.

Event marketing and social media make a great partnership.


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