Boosting Your Event Strategy With Social Networking
Social networking is a topic of many conversations these days, and for good reason. It’s estimated that 65 percent of teens in the U.S. and 35 percent of adults maintain at least one social-networking profile. Popular sites such as Facebook and MySpace connect millions upon millions of people online every day, cultivating social ecosystems that are ideally suited for organizations to recruit participants and build momentum for grassroots events.
With a few simple steps, nonprofits of all sizes can establish a presence in the world of social networking, begin building a network, cultivate new and existing audiences, and develop a meaningful community to support events.
Build event central
To position your organization for success in the social-networking environment, you first need to build a base of operations. On most social-networking platforms, this step is relatively simple. In Facebook, for example, it only takes a few minutes to create a fan page for an event. As a result, your organization is able to establish a presence that can convey key event information, drive registration, motivate ongoing involvement and maintain consistent communications.
When planning your social-network event hub, keep these easy steps in mind:
- Provide a high-level event overview. Keep it simple, informative and engaging. Include the dates, locations and promotions. And don’t forget to include your mission.
- Keep it in the family. Your social-network hub is an extension of your organization and event. Make the connections between your social network, Web site and in-person connections seamless by cross-pollinating messages and links.
- Keep the buzz alive. Maintain a constant drip of information to your fans through updates (e.g., We just reached 1,000 participants!), RSS feeds from an external site, photos and news stories.
- Extend the invitations. One of the biggest benefits of social networks is the ability to tap into your constituents’ networks. So, make sure you invite them to join you. Publicize your social-network hub in e-mails, on your Web site and in offline promotions.
- Talk amongst yourselves. Encourage conversations among your fans — the more chatter, the bigger the reach. Consider asking questions, posting polls or soliciting ideas. At a minimum, be prepared to monitor comments, respond to questions and participate.
Work the crowd
Establishing a presence in a relevant social-networking environment is an important first step when it comes to building groundswell and maximizing grassroots involvement in your event. But, a single page won’t keep momentum going on its own. You’ll need to give existing constituents the tools to connect with their networks and attract new participants on your behalf.