Not long ago, groups planning a festival or other large event had few effective ways to spread the word. And even fewer cost-effective ones.
Social media, and Twitter in particular, have changed that.
Based on work I just finished for a client that involved marketing, public relations and outreach for a major event, this post summarizes 10 steps any group can use to promote an event with Twitter.
These 10 steps lay out some solid basics for Twitterers unaccustomed to these tactics. And they would also make a good check list for those more familiar with using Twitter and related tools on the social web to influence and draw attention.
You need at least 3-4 weeks before the event, if possible.
Step 1. Prepare
In this phase, scout for the partners and people connected to the event who have the most influence online. Good indicators are the numbers of engaged and active followers they have on Twitter, as well as their scores from Kred or Klout. (I’m a fan. But both have detractors — however, that’s another post. )
The point is, you need to swiftly identify the folks to pull into the social campaign who will have the biggest impact as they promote the event on Twitter and through apps that work well with Twitter. Once those people are identified, contact them and make sure they are involved in planning the event promotion from the start.
Step 2. Pick a hash tag
This is not as easy as it might seem. The hash tag for the event is important because it will let you monitor Tweets about it and let fans and participants follow the Twitter conversations about the event.
The hash tag must:
- be short
- be easy to use/type
- make sense
And the hash tag must not:
- be used yet (check by searching options on Twitter)
- be an acronym that is, or could be construed to be, profane (checking an urban dictionary is a good idea)
My suggestion isn’t just to monitor the Tweets using the hash tag, but also to track Tweets with the name of the group or event. When responding to those Tweets, you can add the hash tag for the event to spread awareness of it. Tweetdeck is handy for monitoring those mentions, as it allows several searches to be set up in columns right next to each other.
3. Start to Tweet
Now that you’ve got your most influential partners on board and a great, effective hashtag to use in all Tweets and mentions, you’re ready to start Tweeting. This could happen about two weeks before the event. Using a tool that lets you schedule Tweets is helpful. I really like Bufferapp and Hootsuite.
4. Create conversations
Automation can be helpful — you don’t want to swamp followers with Tweets at one time. But don’t rely only on that. Engage and interact with those who Tweet about the event or share the Tweets that you and your partners send. Create catchy Tweets that refer to the event’s highlights. Mention some of the influencers, and the event hash tag, of course. This encourages responses, sharing and interaction.
5. Keep it interesting
Sending out the same Tweet (or very similar versions) will bore followers, at first, and then annoy them. Mix it up. Send out some Tweets that offer a countdown to the day. Send others that tease highlights. Send others with a map or other interesting info. Send some with a question, like “What are you doing on ____?” (fill in the date of the event) and link back to a website with all of the details.
6. Use tools to drive more influence
The technology and apps that exist now to turbocharge the effectiveness of Twitter and enable smooth, frequent sharing are amazing. Twylah is a fabulous tool for amplifying Tweets and dressing them up so they are curated and presented in a magazine style. Scoop.it is also a great site for creating a customized magazine of links and Tweets. As traditional media cover the event, links to those articles could be added through Scoop.it. Make sure to mention the Twitter handles of partners, in addition to the event hash tag, when posting to encourage sharing.
7. Use art
As you send out a mix of Tweets, include art, such as the event’s graphic or logo. A pretty easy way to create art to Tweet is to make a tag cloud of words that characterize the event, using the logo for the shape of the cloud. Here is an example I did for this client’s event. Maps, guides to transportation (or street closures, if relevant) or the lineup of bands or other highlights can also work well.
8. Build promotion to a peak
The wonderful site Storify, which makes stories from Tweets and other social posts, is often used after an event to summarize it. However, it can also be used very effectively just before the event. Here’s the one I made the day before this client’s event. With Storify, you can gather the promotional Tweets that have been sent about the event. It can concentrate the excitement. And the Storify story can be easily shared, which also ramps up the social sharing. So make sure you mention others who can ReTweet.
9. Monitor and stoke engagement
On the day of the event, keep monitoring the hash tag associated with it and the names of the group hosting the event as well the name of the event. Respond to Twitterers who are talking about the event. Keep the conversation going by asking those folks to Tweet about their favorite aspect of the event. Then share those. Monitoring also alerts you to trouble spots. Are lines too long? Are the bathrooms unkempt? People will often Tweet about that. Deal with any complaints, proactively. You can acknowledge and respond through Twitter.
10. Afterwards, take stock
Assess what worked and what to improve upon for next time. Hashtracking is a great site for providing information about impressions on Twitter that specific hash tags received. For the 24 hours surrounding Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day on June 9, there were more than 128,000 impressions of #GordonSquare!
I’d love to hear the ways you’ve used Twitter to promote an event.
This post breaks down the steps for promoting an event on Twitter, making them easier to digest. But if you’re new to Tweeting, it might still feel overwhelming. If so, pull in someone more seasoned in social media to help. You can find me on Twitter here.