You get the idea. Someone surfed and scraped up a social media campaign. And who knows? Maybe some of their ideas would have worked a few years ago, given that their punch list read like 2009.
But I had to do something different. The tactics were summarily dismissed for something more strategic, given an impossibly short promotion window of just over two weeks. Along with adding an emphasis to organic offline promotions, the revised campaign delivered approximately 350,000 first round impressions and helped sell out the event. Everyone was happy, especially the sponsors.
None of it was that big of a deal, but it did make me think. Are social media novices that naive?
Last week, social media fueled protests over Eric Garner, helped kids with with cancer find support from their peers, became a battleground against ISIS extremism, created a firestorm about free speech, and proved that participants are culpable for what they say online in some countries. None of this is really new, but the cumulative tone marks a lead story maturity that hasn't always existed.
Social media has grown up. And while there will always be a place for silly cat photos and memorable hashtag moments, the balloon popping party your organization has planned for next month doesn't stand much of a chance to win over the top trending news story. To drive attendance, you have to do better than the top ten social gimmicks that most search engine queries will turn up.
Most organizations need to think locally before they ever take aim globally. After all, no one benefits from a global social media campaign that tries to sell out a local balloon pop party. To drive local or regional attendance, the campaign model would have to reach party prospects through various outreach efforts, which may include social but would never be limited to an online environment.
For many events and offerings, social media can be much more powerful as a secondary touch point after introductions are made via mail, email, word of mouth, direct contact, or co-op or partnership solicitations. As such, the campaign objectives can be effectively reverse engineered to worry less about exposure and focus more on reinforcing the value, momentum, and excitement of the event to those individuals who have already been exposed. And then, if the value proposition is proven, they will compound exposure by sharing their intentions to attend and/or all the assets that prove its value.
What kinds of assets help prove a value proposition?
The trouble with far too many social media campaigns is that companies have been trained to click the boxes or go through the motions to garner results. Grown-up marketing adds value to the event.
• Articles and interviews about the guest speakers who will be present.
• Special demonstrations that highlight the skill sets of the presenters.
• Videos that provide an expose about the event venue or sponsors.
• Event pages where attendees can share their intent to participate.
• Twitter conversations with sponsors, speakers, and other attendees.
• New raffle and giveaway rollouts that add momentum to the offering.
• Sponsor highlights, especially if they can be integrated into the event.
• Event attendance updates that project an expected level of attendance.
• Special pre- and post-event opportunities, such as lunch with the speaker.
• The promise of live event updates and post-event recaps with pictures.
More importantly, all of these ideas provide organizations an opportunity to expand their online assets while creating a lasting legacy of successful event offerings or product launches. After all, nothing builds momentum for the next event like missed event regret — online or offline.