Friday, July 18, 2008

Social Marketing for Event Promotions

Yesterday, I posted about doing annual reports. I mentioned another client we are doing promotions for who has an event coming up. Today's post will talk about the aspect of this project I'm working on.

Social Marketing

We have another client who is essentially a local center for the performing arts. This client has a new event coming up in the next month, so we're trying to promote it heavily to get the word out. It's an exciting event, and I'll probably try to post some information about it on the blog later, but I don't want to directly tie the client to my internship learning post.

I've been given the task of working on the social marketing aspect of promotions for this campaign. This is good because I've become increasingly interested in social marketing in the past few months. Social marketing and search engine optimization have been covered heavily by all of the PR news sources recently, and I of course have done a lot of my own research and become hooked on Web 2.0, which is the foundation of social marketing campaigns, since I started writing this blog. Because I have accounts already on Facebook and Twitter, and because I have a blog and extensive Web 2.0 knowledge, I felt this was an ideal assignment.

The client already has a MySpace and Facebook account. Though I personally can't stand MySpace and deleted my account long ago (too many spam wall posts and invites from fake porn stars), I did have an account and recently set up one for a friend, so I understand how everything works there. Facebook is probably my forte, as I've been involved with it from the beginning. (Actually, before the beginning, anyone remember the now-defunct CollegeFacebook or MarshallFacebook?) Twitter and blogging I've only been doing for a little more than a month now regularly, but it's been an everyday thing, involving multiple hours of tinkering. So far, I've worked on streamlining and updating the client's MySpace and Facebook sites. This also involves prepping events and groups on each site to enable e-viting guests to the upcoming event we intend to promote. Also, I created a Twitter account for the client and began growing their network in the targeted areas.

One thing I found very important and noticed right away was that our client did not show up on Wikipedia searches. That's right, no Wikipedian had ever created a page for them. Now, Wikipedia of course does not allow personal blogs or promotions of any sort, as it's strictly an online encyclopedia. However, I read a research study that concluded Wikipedia is the number one Web 2.0 site right now for finding organizations like our client. I felt that creating an article on Wikipedia just so that the client would be "established" on there and show up in searches would not be promotions, just education for anyone who happens to do a search. I've got a nice little Wikipedia page created for them now, and I plan on experimenting by updating it with a section that explains what events they have, etc., and hopefully finding a way to work in the show we're promoting without actually promoting it.

I still also plan on fiddling around with Yahoo! Answers, which was highly ranked in the study I read also. I feel like I would be spamming consumers and just drive them away from the client if I randomly posted information on Yahoo! Answers, but if I can find relevant questions related to the event we're promoting, then I'll give it a try. As you may have noticed, well-written answers are few and far between on Yahoo! Answers, and ones that are get ranked the highest by readers. It should theoretically be easy to get the client ranked at the top of pages related to their events.

I realize how much work social marketing, if done correctly, is. It takes a lot of hours to actually produce results, but I think the results are great if you do things the right way. What's the right way, you ask? Well, you have to have recent updates and look current to your networks on these Web 2.0 sites. If you don't reply to comments, send out new tweets once a day or so, etc., then I think you will easily lose the interest of those in your network and start losing members online who may have showed up at an event if they had seen that reminder tweet, e-vite, news feed item, or wall post. It seems like some of the previous stuff going on with some social marketing campaigns just wasn't followed up properly. Log into some organization's Facebook accounts and you may see 10 unanswered messages sitting in the inbox. That's not good social marketing — it's all about the community and interacting with them, getting them involved and including them in the conversation.

I have two questions I'd like feedback on:

  1. How do you feel about an employee at an organization using, say, a Facebook account for the organization dually as a personal account, to include sending personal, unprofessional messages to friends and disclosing the employee's name, etc.? Or, do you think a more professional approach where the account is "the organization" speaking, sending out only official messages about related topics and events is the best approach? What are the benefits and disadvantages of each?
  2. Do you think including a call for user-created content would be beneficial in a campaign to promote a specific event? Would this generate buzz and encourage attendance? For example, what if the group was hosting an Election 2008 event and asked for video submissions of people impersonating candidates and other political figures? Do you have any other ideas?

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