Promote your next event using social media

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Are you an event manager or promoter looking to use new tools to more effectively get the word out on your next event? The Social Media Club of Madison recently played host to Chris Brogan who, in the social media channel at least, is a guru and

thought leader. We had several components of the total event to promote and looked to social media channels and tools to do the promotion and word of mouth extension. I had a vested interest in making this work both as a social media consultant and personally because Chris Brogan is my go to thought leader and has provide significant guidance for me on the path to being a trust agent.

Creating an event with a twist

For the benefit of anyone thinking of some type of social media campaign integrated with traditional efforts, I thought I would relate the activities that the Social Media Club Board Members, the Madison social media community, and a few individuals did to promote this event. Over all we engaged the community, shared user generated content, and created dialogue. We had a relatively short period of time to work with – just 6 weeks. I would certainly recommend more planning and more time to promote such an event. More time would also allow the media distribution across various channels move a little more than it did. That being said, we accomplished a lot in the time we had-using primarily social media tools and word of mouth.

The kernel of thought

Chris Brogan was brought to Madison by American Family Insurance to present an internal social media related training. The date was slightly in flux from last October, as to when American Family would be able to have Chris Brogan speak. Part of their contract negotiated a separate presentation to the public. The decision was made to offer this program to Accelerate Madison, as one of the leading technology focused professional groups in Madison, to promote. Accelerate Madison in turn coordinated activities with the Social Media Club of Madison who planned and executed the free Brogan After Dark After Party (with Chris Brogan) in attendance.



Create a game plan

Some time in the first week of May, with a finalized date confirmed, the first contacts were made between Accelerate Madison and the leadership team of the Social Media Club of Madison. The SMC, which usually has Skype conference calls before events, quickly scheduled a face to face board meeting on May 15th to finalize the action plan for promoting the Chris Brogan Event. We implemented BaseCamp to provide a better resource for managing this project and the future events the club intends to sponsor. The main Social Media Club site also provides access to PBworks for consolidating notes, information, calendars etc and its has an RSS feed to allow updates to get to the right individuals.

Step 1: Planning

TIMELINE: Saturday, May 15th SM Club Board Meeting – Monday, June 21, 2010 Brogan Presentation. 6 weeks.

  • OBJECTIVES – Fill the 300 person auditorium reserved for this event.
  • STRATEGY – Develop a campaign aimed at getting a broad category of individuals, large business, Small Midsized Business and education representatives to attend this event. Ensure that Accelerate Madison members, for whom the event was free, and Social Media affectionatos in the greater Madison area, knew about and had access to either event. Decide where “home” is and have all links send back to that location
  • KEY MESSAGES – Focus on Madison being a technology savy community (think Google Fiber RFP) and ready to get a thought leader to speak. Active social media community – Social Media Club, Social Media Breakfast, Meetups and Tweetups ongoing, copious technology hardware and software groups. Share that this is thought leader presentation, social media author, special event and fun.
  • TOOLS – Email lists, Blogs, word of mouth, local calendar /event board postings, Pitchengine.com, local media resources, Twitter, Youtube, WordPress, IMBY.info, Slideshare, Event Brite, LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare, and yes picking up the good old phone.
  • MEASUREMENT – #1 – total seats filled at presentation. #2 – total attendees at After party. Planned to measure indirect and direct indicators of impact, including: Web site hits, calls and e-mails, comments, posts, pictures, video, and media coverage.
  • COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – We involved board members of the Social Media Club of Madison, Social Media Breakfast, American Family, and Accelerate Madison. Many of the team members were public relations professionals with social media skill. They provided ideas that were then assembled into a quick action plan.Members of all organizations were asked to pass along, RT, share links, digg news stories, stumble, and bookmark posts and images.
  1. Registration landing page created – Accelerate
  2. Eventbrite event page created with all details for After Party
  3. LinkedIn Event setup (Presentation and After Party)
  4. Facebook Event setup (Presentation and After Party)
  5. Use a socialcrm tool like Xeesm.com to target key invitees, sponsors or promoters of the event
  6. Plan Blog Posts ( at least 1 per week)
  7. Plan Twitter Activity (use MadisonSMC account for event)
  8. Post to all local digital and print calendars
  9. Solicit After Party event SWAG sponsors
  10. Collect questions and video interviews to drive awareness and excitement of event
  11. Create Social Media Press Release for presentation and after party
  12. Pursue interview at TV stations
  13. Pursue print interviews/stories with newspapers
  14. Create videos for Youtube promotion
  15. Use and suggest status updates out each week for connections
  16. Get regular updates out on Twitter and ask for RT
  17. Traditional word of mouth
  18. Encourage people to bookmark, Digg, Delicious, and buzz any and all efforts.
  19. Calls to Media outlets for story lines and press conference
  20. Setup Press conference
  21. Capture the event in pictures and video
  22. Make arrangements for online streaming and recording
  23. Get sign copies of Trust agent books and give away
  24. Create followup blog posts to recap event (include link to recorded presentation)
  25. Upload pictures from event – tag madisonsmc
  26. Upload video from event

STEP 2: PUT PLAN INTO ACTION

(TIMELINE: May 24 – June 21st)

1. Branding – make sure #MadisonSMC is mentioned in tweets and is used else where on events

2. WEB SITE (May 25)– the SMC site was updated for the event and two people committed to blog and post each week prior to the event.
3. Sponsors – if expecting 300 attendees, we needed 10-20 SWAG sponsors or limit bags
4. Event Calendars (By June 1)- IMBY, YourHomeTownbiz, Isthmus, InBusiness, Accelerate Madison Website, AmericanTowns, Personal websites, Plancast, EventBrite, Facebook, LinkedIn, Personal but public calendars
5. Social updates on sites (ongoing) – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Slideshare (select the ones that are most appropriate to your audience.
6. Social Media Press Release (2 weeks out) – Pitchengine
7. Blogs – Social Media Club, Examiner.com, WISocialMedia, MadisonSMC. If necessary to capture buzz and community after your event, consider creating an event blog (ie Ning or similar site)

8. Groups/Pages: LinkedIn group posting, Facebook pages
8. Involve third party stakeholders – standup at your professional business meetings and mention the event. Winning the support of other groups and community organizations can mean the difference between success and failure as they have valuable tools in the form of newsletters, e-mail lists and Web sites that can help carry messages further. For example, Disney Institute promotes their local events with non profits trade and professional associations and Chamber of Commerce groups to get the word out quickly to business owners.
9. Materials – Determined what materials would be needed to help spread event messages. List included: key messages for internal use, program, FAQs, newsletter, membership info, Web site copy for stakeholders, and media materials such as press releases
10. Call TV station NBC 15 for interview

Step 3. Execution Day of Event

Chris Brogan Presenting at Accelerate Madison/Social Media Club of Madison Event

KICKOFF – An event can be an easy way to generate news coverage and buzz. A press conference to officially announce the campaign could make an impact. We got a press release out on Pitchengine. We secured a news interview on Channel 15 the week prior to the event.

LOCATION & TIMING – The press conference on June 21 was a little last minute as we did not get final authorization until late on Friday before the event. Due to the speaking program that Chris Brogan was contracted for, the time slot of 3PM did not allow for TV stations to attend, nor did it allow for newspapers to get any details for stories for morning papers.



SPEAKERS & GUESTS – Accelerate Madison personally called key journalists and representatives in the Madison and greater Dane county area about the press conference.

LOGISTICS – Needs such as A/V, seating, parking and catering need to be determined well in advance. This was well handled by American Family who did a wonderful job with the food preparations prior to the event.

MEDIA RELATIONS – To ensure media attention throughout the campaign, we solicited attendance at event, and on-site, interview and photo opportunities.

BEST UNEXPECTED EVENT – Getting Oscar Mayer/Kraft Foods to arrange for a couple of Wienermobile Hotdoggers to take Chris Brogan to the

Chris Brogan goes first class to airport in Wienermobile compliments of Oscar Mayer

airport instead of a car.

Step 4 Assess the Campaign

MEASUREMENT – After all the hard work of planning and executing the campaign, we took stock of results to determine success:

  • web site visits – We did not do a pre campaign benchmark which I would suggest to anyone else. total traffic since January 2010 start up is 8,173 views. The highest day was 290 and during the Brogan effort we had a high of 179 views.
  • We had 300 people attend the event at American Family Training Center

Chart showing view build up on Madison SMC blog/website for Chris Brogan Event

  • Blog posts – A total of fourteen posts (that I counted) were made between 7 blogs.
  1. Social Media Club of Madison (host site)
  2. Accelerate Madison (host site)
  3. Wendy Soucie Consulting (board member)
  4. Networkmindshare blog (boardmember)
  5. Examiner/Madison Edition (national online news)
  6. Blog site for the Wienermobile Hotdoggers
  7. Miri Mcdonald blog (attendee)
  8. Miscellaneous pickups from blogs event pages (At least 4 posts were made as followup stories to the event.)

Final thoughts

I am not sure we used our member network as well as we could have. By breaking up the board members into groups focused on event setup and logistics, event promotion, member outreach, and followup, I think we could have used our members of both Accelerate Madison and Social Media Club more effectively. One thing I have found when I have been asked to buzz an event is that when I am given a list of 10 things to do, with concrete suggestions on places, wording to use and with deadlines to meet, I do at least half of what is suggested – maybe in my own way, but I do it. Just asking to help out a bit is like asking someone to write a recommendation for you. It usually happens quicker if you write a suggested framework first and let them (your recommender) edit the document.



I also don’t think we effectively used Twitter. Next time I would define a stronger plan, created scheduled tweets to drive conversations mixed with promotion for the event.

You can see by the views of the website, the blog postings did generate traffic. Next time I might do more outreach to members who have blogs and encourage them to post and link back at some frequency that they are comfortable with and one that would compliment the efforts of the main “home” blog.



There are certainly mistakes we made, but definitely a learning experience. What have you done to promote an event using social media? Please share your success stories and ideas in the comments.

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