HOW TO: Attract New Customers through Social Media Events

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 Attract New Customers through Social Media Events windmill networking photoIt all started with a secret social media event that was actually held for the publication of my LinkedIn book: the “Hush-Hush Surprise — Networking Mixer, Charity Event & Book Release Party.” 157 people came out for a networking event to celebrate, well, networking! I stood amidst a crowd of people, many of whom I knew, but all of them I met purely through engaging in social media itself. It was at this event that Christine Weijland, Sales & E-Commerce Manager of Hilton Orange County Costa Mesa met Debbie Miller, Information Systems Coordinator for the Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau.

After the event, Christine approached Debbie to see if they could hold a similar networking event in the future in the lobby of the beautiful Hilton in Costa Mesa. Debbie contacted the organizer of the social media event held for myself, Paul Tran. And through the volunteer help of Paul, Debbie, Christine, Marieke Hensel, Courtney Thurman, Tanya Salcido, Diana Wei, Justin Moore-Brown, Ted Nguyen and the OCTA, and yours truly, a new non-profit movement to bring businesses, non-profit organizations, government, and professional community together in Orange County, California through free networking events was born: “ConnectOC.”

The story doesn’t end here.

The Hilton Hotel makes no money from this event. Just as I wrote in my blog post entitled How Businesses Can “Share” and be “Social” in Social Media, the Hilton decided to share what it could to be social: the entire lounge of the hotel and a free drink and appetizer to the first 200 people. In fact, the Hilton hotel is even going as far as waving the parking fees for the event and donating proceeds from parking ($5 a car) to the local Share Our Selves non-profit organization.

As the volunteer group reached out to the community in hopes of getting other local businesses to contribute a product or a service to the goody bags to be distributed or the silent action, proceeds to benefit Share Our Selves, 40+ businesses have now committed contributing something to the event.

This blog post was really written to spread the word about the event and thank each and every sponsor of the event, none of whom are making any money off of the 200+ guests that will be coming but offering to share their products and services without asking anything from the participants. But you can imagine the tweets that will be coming out of the event that night, talking about the many sponsors and the Hilton hotel itself. And the products that the guests will be taking home will only help the conversations continue into the future.

Social media events provide a unique way for businesses to engage with local customers. Rather than putting an ad in the newspaper or sending out a direct mailer, why not utilize social media to actually physically host a networking event and bring people together? All it takes is some creativity and reaching out to those that are active in social media to make it happen.

ConnectOC will continue to grow and are already looking for sponsors for our next event. If you are interested please contact me!

Have you been to a local tweetup or networking event sponsored by local businesses? Has your business sponsored a networking event? Please do share your experiences!

And, last but not least, here is a list of the sponsors for the event at the time of this blog post: (for an up-to-date list with links to each company’s home page, please visit the Notes Tab of the ConnectOC Facebook Fan Page)

(goody bags)

Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau

Coworking Fullerton

Genki Living

GrammaBettys

Innovative Results

The LAB/The CAMP

Salon Cashmere

South Coast Plaza

Ultimate Gifts

Yard House Costa Mesa

(silent auction)

Antonello Ristorante

Case Crown

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza

Claim Jumper at South Coast Plaza

Costa Mesa Marriott

DoubleTree Doheny Beach

HIDEit Mounts

Hwy Auto

Hilton Anaheim

Hilton Costa Mesa

Holiday Inn Express Costa Mesa

Innovative Results

Maggiano’s Little Italy

Old Vine Café

Royal Khyber Fine Indian Cuisine

Salon Cashmere

South Coast Plaza

Tercero Wines

Tranquil Tea Lounge

Westin South Coast Plaza

Windmill Networking

Wyndham Orange County

Yard House Costa Mesa

(donations of items or supplies for the event itself)

Design Action Studios

Fountain Valley Dippin’ Dots

Genki Living

GrammaBettys

Hilton Costa Mesa

OCFOODPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

OCTA

Portola Coffee

Smart Levels Media

XT Patisserie

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