February 2010 – Special Event Promotion

Effective marketing and promotion for any tourism-related special event, festival or conference/meeting generally follows a standard trajectory:

Build up excitement and attention beforehand, keep people updated and interested – and wishing they were there – during the activities, and sustain the experience-sharing afterwards, so that those who went have their good memories reinforced (and those who missed it will vow to be there for the next one.)

Social media tools and Web communications are very effective in each of these three phases.

We’ll start with suggesting that you create Event pages on Facebook, and on LinkedIn when it makes sense.


Why Put Events on Facebook/ LinkedIn?

Event Pages on Facebook and LinkedIn are most effective in the build-up phase before your special event.

There are two reasons why they help to build anticipation….

1.  People can see who else is going.  A bunch of friendly-looking avatar faces all lined up saying that they’re going somewhere or attending something can be very appealing.

2.  It helps spread the word about the event.  When someone clicks “Attending” or even “Maybe Attending” on an event page, that information is posted to their news stream, which shows up on their Wall plus the Home pages of the people in their networks.

Not sure what we’re talking about when we say “Event Page?”  Here are two links – a Facebook Event Page for the Rocky Mountain Theatre Festival 2010 in Helena, Montana and a LinkedIn Event for South by Southwest Interactive, Film and Music in Austin, Texas.

We think that Facebook tends to lend itself better to festival-type happenings than LinkedIn, but if your event has any professional development or trade show angle, it can be effectively spotlighted on LinkedIn.

(Update – LinkedIn Event pages are no longer available)  LinkedIn is a good place to promote professional events, like conferences. Members can browse events for their industry (or see what events their connections are attending) so getting just one person to RSVP to a LinkedIn event gets you potential exposure to all their contacts.

Anyone can add a LinkedIn event. Events are part of an application on LinkedIn, so you may need to add that app before you can start creating an event. Be sure to click on “Add more details” so you can classify the event by industry, give a short description, and add keywords to make it easier to find.

Facebook Event Pages can help you reach lots of people for any community events, and everything from the trash clean up day to the arts festival is fair game.  If you have a Fan Page like we do for Tourism Currents, you can add an Events tab and from there, add your events.

It pays to add a photo to represent the event, give all the relevant details, and then invite those people you know are most likely to be interested (they will then spread it to their network of friends, growing the online champions network that we discussed last month.)

There is an excellent help section on creating and managing Facebook events.

As always, who-what-when-where applies when you’re making a Facebook and/or LinkedIn Event page.  Give people the information they need to attend your event, including physical address and directions, if appropriate. One issue to watch for with these online events is the difference between an online RSVP and a registration in your system. If you need folks to sign up with you, be sure you mention that all over your online event notice.

Here’s a example….the Facebook event for Becky’s college alumni association’s Alumni Basketball event. The Alumni Assocation posted lists of who all is actually registered. When they find someone has RSVP’d online, but not registered, an Alumni Association person can follow up with them personally to get them registered.

Finally, give your event Twitter hashtag prominent advance billing, so that people attending or talking about your event can put that hashtag in their tweets (which also helps to drive interest.)


Using Flickr Group Pools for Event Promotion

Flickr Group Pools pay off with a couple of benefits: participants get to share their photos with others and interact, and you get access to a big pool of photos of your event. (Before you use those photos, be sure to check for a Creative Commons license, or ask permission of the photographer.)

Before you create a new group, do a search. Your event may already have a Flickr Group. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has a group, created by a long-time Houston resident Ed Schipul. He is not an official, just a fan. Be sure to make good use of your description, like the Houston group does. Search engines do look at this text, so be sure to include the key words and phrases important to your event and you’ll boost your own online visibility through this SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)

Any local event is a good target for a group, like the All British Field Meet car show in Bellvue, WA. But also make sure to check out related groups, where you can submit event photos and gain some additional attention.

Continuing with our car show example:  consider regional groups that cover your area, like New England Classic Car Shows or Aussie car shows-Western Australia. Also, general car show groups like Best Car Show Photos. Then there are more general groups that cover your area: North Carolina Cars, Car Shows and Drag Racing; or Lincoln, NE: You are here. And don’t forget groups for specific types of cars, like Mopars in Motion and Exotic Cars of Nebraska.

The people who contribute to those related groups are potential new or repeat attendees for your event.


More Ideas From One of Our Members

Tourism Currents member Sarah Page with the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) put together a great presentation just last month on the subject of social media campaigns for festivals and events (that’s the direct URL in case you can’t see the embedded viewing box.)

Since she uploaded it to SlideShare, we can ALL learn something from it!

Do you have presentations from seminars or conferences? Check out SlideShare – a terrific way to share your knowledge.


Bonus Links

#TourismChat —  Speaking of following a hashtag (here is Sheila’s blog post about how to do that to “attend” conferences from afar) a brand-new, bi-monthly, hashtag-driven Twitter discussion event popped up last week: #tourismchat

You can see what’s going on with the hashtag either on Twitter Search or by the #tourismchat Twub page.

The brainchild of tourism professionals @WhosYourAnnie, @oregonkat, @decillis and @mobethann, it allows an organized, threaded chat about a tourism-related topic.  The last one focused on location-based technology like Foursquare, and the next one is scheduled for Thursday, Feb 25 at 2pm CST.

Local Search —  Great article by UK tourism consultant Andy Hayes that reinforces our discussion in the December Tourism Currents newsletter on the importance of local search:  The growing importance of local search in travel. (no longer available, unfortunately)

To follow up, go enjoy Becky’s roundhouse punch on paper directories on her Small Biz Survival blog.

How do people find things? They Google ’em. You need to be find-able on the Web these days, not so much in the Yellow Pages.


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