Use it – Don’t Abuse it

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With any topic on almost any subject, you are guaranteed to get people that think that they are the experts and know the most about said topic. Social media “experts” are no different. There are tons of online resources, blogs, forums, etc. that claim that they have the best practices that you should use – however how do they really know?However with anything related to technology, these sources are going to be out of date faster and faster as it is such a changing and developing subject.

BLOGGING

Honestly, for event planning blogging isn’t all that necessary for larger companies. Blogging was one of the first forms of social media but now it is seen as almost being too in-depth for people if they are just interested in getting a snapshot of your company, what you do and how successful you have been. For small start-up event planning companies I would say definitely blog. It is the best resume you could have and it is easier if you begin blogging when you start actually doing events, that way you don’t have to go back and add events that you have already done.

Blogging can have a deep impact on its viewers as well – but I believe that your blog is only as good as your camera is. Investing in an official photographer for each event is crucial so that you do not have to deal with taking the pictures yourselves. You can add them to a website like flickr so your guests can view it as well. In case you need some inspiration, I have included a couple pictures of some wonderful event planning blogs. Just click on their names to visit the site.

Brilliant Event Planning – Create wedding and proposal moments for couples.

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Mindy Weiss Party Consultants – Full service vent planner

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Leila Lewis – PR and event planning team

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In case you want to check out some other truly incredible PR, event planning, social media blogs – take a look here.

TWITTER

Twitter is a wonderful tool for event planners. It’s nature is to be quick, snippets of information which is perfect if you are spreading the word on a party. It is also great if you are growing your business and there are tons of tutorials like this one that can coach you are the right way to go about doing so. And in case you need more convincing, here are 10 Reasons Social Media Planners need to think about their social media strategy before meetings, events, and conferences:

1. Networking opportunities and educational content.

2. Enabling, participating, and encouraging that engagement.

3. Drives attendance.

4. Mobilize registered attendees to reach out to their social networks to invite their friends/colleagues.

5. Target the ideal attendees based on their interests.

6. Allow attendees to communicate and collaborate before and after the event.

7. Mobile applications are feeding the frenzy.

8. Speakers will be better prepared to tailor their message to the audience.

9. Reviewers or critics of events.

10. Shape the reputation of your events and your organization.

Event Planning is a Social Affair

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This may seem like it would be common knowledge, the fact that event planning is a social affair. While this term (social affair) encompasses a wide array of meanings, I am using it primarily in the fact that if you want people to attend your event, you need to be social about it. This means you need to go social with your event planning.

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Some events can survive from word of mouth, but that is usually if you are having a few guests over for dinner. To create a truly amazing event, you need to plan out every detail including how you are going to spread the word. This is of course is only applicable if you are hosting an event that is not invitation only.

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If you decide to not go the route of using apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the previously mentioned event planning apps on this blog, then it is a huge risk for your brand, image and event. There is absolutely no excuse not to go social with your event. If you don’t have enough time then seek out the help of an intern who could receive college credit and who would work for free. Social media experience is something that every single person that is working in marketing is looking to add onto their resume so you should not necessarily have to look far if you are wanting to find additional help.

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If you are stuck with what apps to use, you could use the list that I previously gave, or take a look at the video below by “Top 10” which lists the top apps for event planners, this could definitely help spark some inspiration or ideas. 

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In fact, a recent survey from Constant Contact, Inc. says that “social media marketing has become a critical marketing tool for small businesses and nonprofits planning events, with 77% of event planners currently on social media to market their events and another 14% planning to do so in the next year.” While 78% of marketers say that they create initial marketing plans on social media, only 10% they have a thorough and refined social media strategy. I would not say that this is primarily necessary and the 10% that has this strategy is most likely doing the events for large companies where it is necessary to do so in order to report back to corporate.

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The perfect quote to summarize this concept of necessity for event planning and social media to go hand in hand is from the same article about the survey mentioned above:

 “An event — be it a networking gathering, open house, fundraiser, or class — is by nature a social affair, so it makes perfect sense that social media would be a fantastic tool to help plan, promote, and build excitement. If the goal is to get as many people as possible interested in your event, social media is a perfect complement for spreading the word to your core base of customers, members, and beyond.”

Think Out of the Box, by Putting Your Event in a Box

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Large scale event planning can be extremely stressful, not to mention intimidating and expensive. There are so many large events out there whether they are corporate, restaurant openings, galas, etc. it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand a part from competitors. That is precisely why creating your own app for your event is such a brilliant thing to do.

HOW & WHO

Zerista was founded in 2009 under the belief that events are extremely beneficial for companies networking, growth and future. While most people see events are simply another place to waste your budget, they decided to do something fundamentally different and innovative by altering how people perceive social media platforms in relation to event planning. They have a list of impressive clients and previous events which were successful, along with offices around the world verifying their authenticity as well proving that what they do really works.

By creating an individual app for your event, its adds a level of depth to your event that most people do not have. The app promises to: have rich personal profiles, interactive maps, personalized schedule, networking and discussions, polling and surveys, digital collateral and handouts as well as one-on-one meetings. Clearly there are so many ways to form your event to your specifics, this guarantees that it will not be like any other event that your attendees have been to.

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WORTH IT?

The fact that Zerista leaves pricing off the website is enough for me to assume that they are most likely quite expensive. However, when you consider everything that you are getting out of it – it seems like regardless of how you look at it, it will be pricey no matter what. The website also discusses how they foresee a future where marketers are allowed and even encouraged to increase their budgets and spending on their events. Obviously the market is a factor in this, however it is ambitious of them to assume that this is what the future holds. To really determine if this is indeed worth it I would suggest speaking to one of the companies that they mention on their website to determine if it had any impact (good, negative or neutral) on their event and get their opinion on whether they would use it in the future again. This way, you are essentially using someone else’s research and experience and you are not spending a single dime, which you can use to invest in this in the future if you see fit to do so. This may be beneficial for events that have been occurring for 20 or so years, have a solid guest list of people guaranteed to attend and an event that will likely not disappear in the next year. This way you can use the app year after year.

Social Media = Free Marketing

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A lot of companies approach social media as something to be feared. It is new and exciting, but also unprecedented and unknown – meaning that companies do not necessarily understand the rules for it yet. Whether they should encourage employees to blog about their experiences, or if they should limit their social media accounts to simply one person, there is no right or wrong…yet.

In terms of event planning and social media, it is a gift from the Heavens above. Social media essentially is free advertising. You can control (somewhat) your reach on various accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and thus you can control the amount of people that hear about your events. As everyone knows, word of mouth can be very powerful and it should definitely not be undermined. It becomes event easier when people reblog or repost your original post and share it with all of their followers. Your audience quickly doubles or triples without you actually doing any work. The best way to get this to happen is to truly create memorable events that people look forward to attending. They will be more likely to share and get more of their friends to join along.

In a recent article by Convince and Convert; Digital Marketing Advisors, they suggest 7 ways to use Social Media to “create buzz-worthy events”. The first way is to engage your audience. This may seem simple and easy but finding new and interesting ways to interact with your customers can prove to have its own set of challenges.

The second suggestion is to intrigue them. Take full advantage of the various sites that have free event postings like Facebook Events or Linkedin (also discussed in an earlier post). This way, if an attendee loses their invite they can find the information through an easy google search.

The third tip is to invigorate your audience. You need to realize that everyone may not be as excited to attend your event as you are, so it is crucial to pull in those people who may be on the fence. A great tool for this is Pitchengine, it creates multi-media press releases that will definitely draw in all of the “maybe’s” on your list.

The next key is to integrate social media, your attendees and the event. The easiest and best way to do this is to pick a hashtag for your event, something that is short and sweet. You want it to be memorable as well so when people look back or want to see pictures that everyone posted they can easily search it. The best part is that you can use it on Twitter as well as Instagram. To get people using it, you can set up a photobooth with props and include the hashtag in the picture. This part truly depends on the type, size and style of event that you are throwing.

Inform is the fifth element. This is necessary if you need people to vote, or evaluate something. Perhaps its a group of close friends and this is truly your first event which you have planned start to finish. An anonymous survey would be a great idea to get their honest feedback without them worrying about hurting your feelings.

Propagate is second to last and is extremely important. During your event you need to be your biggest cheerleader. Make your own UStream video of your party and send it to people who attended. Or create a singular snapchat that everyone can contribute to so they can relive those memories – plus others who didn’t attend will see how much fun they had.

The final tip on how to use social media to your advantage during events is to aggregate. Essentially this step is the social media equivalence of a summary. You want others to visually see how awesome your event was and you need to spread it as far as you can so next year your attendance is set.  A fantastic tool for this is Session Tweets, where they create a PDF version of all tweets which used the hashtag for that specific event.

If you do all seven of these steps (even if it is the first year hosting the event) you are sure to have an amazing turn out! Comment and let me know what hashtags you decided on for what events!

So You Want To Plan An Event…

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Glamorous Gala.

Glamorous Gala.

Planning large-scale events is challenging, frustrating and almost always takes more time than anyone is willing to admit. From choosing a theme, to ensuring that all the invitations are sent out – event planning can be overwhelming. Luckily, with the invention of social media and the internet – it has become a lot easier to plan with the help of the follow tools.

BEGINNING

First, in order to begin planning you will need to meet up with your team of advisers or associates several times in order to go over the schematics of the event. Instead of going back and forth over text, there is a convenient social media tool called Doodle.com. Essentially you compile a group of people’s schedules into the program and it makes it visually easy to see what times, dates, etc. are easiest to meet up and discuss event details.

INVITATIONS

When you get to the point of inviting people, this really depends on the type of event you are having and the classification of it. For instance, if you are planning a birthday party for 40 or more people but want it to be a backyard potluck, it is not necessary to send out invitations, like you would with a black tie gala. Instead, for all casual events (and even events that you are planning last minute) it is far easier to use the Facebook Events tool. You can create event on your Facebook page, share it with friends and see how and when they R.S.V.P. This is also a fantastic tool if any of the event details change and you need to update them (like location due to weather). People check their Facebook frequently so you can be rest assured that the information will reach them.

OVERALL

In regards to a comprehensive site that will meet (almost) all of your needs, eventbrite.com is definitely that. It allows you to manage either one or multiple events as well as everything that goes along with it. It is extremely user-friendly which makes it a quick and easy decision for most event planners as their go-to tool.

ETC.

Now, let’s say that you want to create a book club but don’t know or even really care who attends. Meetup.com is a fantastic way for people to connect with others who share similar interests, even if you don’t anyone else. It does cost about $72 a year to be able to create and manage a group but it doesn’t restrict you on anything else like messaging members or how often you meet up.

Hope this helps you either spark an idea for event planning or has made your already in progress event planning go smoother!