Get your tweet on!
Imagine if there was a secret business tool that acted as a Swiss Army knife for meeting planners. What if its many functions included the ability to grow your clientele, build your brand, even act as a secret research weapon...plus, it could position you as the “go-to” source for helping your clients fill their events quickly with little cost to them. Would you want to know more?
Here’s the great news: This multipurpose and you may already be using it!
The “not-so-secret” tool is social media marketing, and when used correctly, it could quickly become your new marketing weapon of choice. But the key word here is “correctly,” because unfortunately, there really is a right and wrong way to engage in social media. And here’s another “not so fun” reality: social media takes time. You won’t see big results overnight, and it actually takes some serious work to get it going. So why invest in social media? Because the payoff is big and the return on investment can far exceed the time and energy you put into it.
Your Social Media Toolkit
As you likely already know, there’s no shortage of social media information online. There are hundreds of blog posts, articles, e-newsletters and videos on social media how-to and advice. The challenge with so much feedback is that you can easily get lost in all the chatter. To ensure you don’t go down that road of serious overwhelm, here’s a simple social media toolkit—one that has all the essentials to get you started down the right path today.
For a social media newbie, sticking with three core social media tools is a smart way to go. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are three of the most popular social networking sites online, and each serves a unique role for your business.
Twitter moves fast—real-time conversations are happening 24/7, and you can pick and choose which ones you want to get involved in. The most powerful benefit of Twitter is digital proximity. You have access to millions of people you normally would never have the opportunity to reach, and one-on-one conversations with your ideal clients or potential members are much easier to start via this powerhouse social networking tool.
Facebook has moved beyond personal profiles, and its main attraction today are business pages. Business pages (also known as Fan Pages) are essential to building your brand and consistently engaging with prospects, clients and members. The level of customization on Facebook pages allows you to build mini-website hubs right inside the networking site.
There’s no doubt that online video marketing is on the rise. If you do a search for just about anything, you are likely to see video entries on the first page of Google. Online video is attractive to many businesses today for numerous reasons. Making videos and posting them online is fairly inexpensive; plus, online videos stay online forever. If you spend the money to record once, your video could still be getting views a year from now. YouTube plays an integral part in today’s online video distribution.
Build Your Brand and Wow Your Clients
As a meeting planner, you have a unique advantage when using social media marketing—by increasing your social media savvy, you will not only build your own brand, but you can also offer tremendous value to your existing clients, your company or your association (above and beyond what your competitors may be offering).
There are specific social media strategies you can implement to build momentum and quickly increase your clientele, attendees or members. Social media is extremely powerful in showing off your expertise and, in turn, attracting these ideal clients.
However, your social media savvy doesn’t have to stop there. One way to thrive in today’s tough economy is to add value beyond your clients’ expectations. As a meeting planner, they expect you to be the expert in the best locations, hotel relationships and money-saving tips for F&B. However, to keep one step ahead of your competition and prove your expertise, it pays to also know the latest trends and opportunities in social media event marketing.
Specifically, social media is an effective tool to attract new participation for your events. Smart marketers are using these networking tools to attract potential participants by creating a viral buzz in all the places it counts most. By knowing how to use social media strategies to get the word out, increase participation and collect attendee feedback, you have just added another way to add exceptional value for your clients.
Let’s take a closer look at Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, to find out how you can use the social media power tools to grow your business, maintain your memberships and ensure success for your events.
Building Your Business with a Tweet Plan
If you’re looking to grow your client or membership list, Twitter is an extremely effective tool to get the attention of the people you want to reach most. However, it is easy to get lost in all the Twitter chatter, and without a solid plan, your time and sanity could be easily compromised. One effective way to get organized is to create a tweet plan.
A tweet plan is a series of pre-written tweets that you carefully craft to attract the attention of your ideal client. Each tweet is written in a way that will add value, encourage engagement and create brand awareness.
A well-orchestrated tweet plan not only ensures that your Twitter activity will be consistent, but it also allows you to save time by having a solid strategy in advance. Also, by putting a plan to your tweets, your messages tend to stay on track and your audience can easily identify your topic of interest.
6 Easy Steps to Start a Tweet Plan
Here’s how to do it:
- Target Audience | First, you will need to identify whom you want to connect with on Twitter. Current clients? Potential high-end prospects? Members? Industry leaders? By defining your target audience for Twitter, your communications will be more streamlined to produce real results.
- Number of Tweets | Then, decide how many tweets you want to pre-plan per day. On average, most people send about 15 tweets a day. Because you do not want to plan all your tweets (spontaneous, in-the-moment tweets are also important), perhaps start out with just five pre-planned tweets per day. Once you have your number, dedicate a time each day to sit down and craft the tweets. If you plan this time in advance, you are more apt to actually do it.
- Tweet Topic | Now you are ready to decide what you will tweet about: I suggest a mixture of industry news and trends with a bit of personal conversation to show some personality. Remember, your clients want to see your expertise as well as the real you—give them both!
- Mix Up Your Delivery | Once you are clear on your overall content strategy, think about the different ways you can deliver it. You want to make sure you mix it up to grab the attention of different readers. You can link to images, videos, blog posts and articles that are related to your industry’s best resources, trends and current news. Tweets that ask questions, give business tips and have a little fun mixed in are always popular, as well. When crafting your tweets, pay close attention to your keywords. Choose keywords that your ideal audience is using—this will allow your tweets to pique their interest quickly.
- Choose Your Tool | Use an online tool to schedule your tweets in advance. If you use online tools such as SocialOomph, TweetDeck or Hootsuite, you can schedule your tweets to be sent out at specific times throughout the day.
- Real-Time Tweeting | Once your tweets are scheduled, you also want to make sure you plan a little time in your day to tweet in real-time. As mentioned, the power of Twitter is the real-time conversations that are taking place at any given time. By jumping in on these conversations, you can connect with people you normally would not have access to in the offline world. Engagement on Twitter is extremely important to get you noticed by the people you want to connect with the most.
Spread the Word on Twitter
Just as you can use Twitter to attract your ideal clients or membership prospects, it is also an outstanding tool for spreading the word about an upcoming event. You can use Twitter as a communication tool to encourage participants to share their experience of an in-person or online event—and the conversations can get started even before the event begins. These early conversations can help boost event sales.
A very popular Twitter strategy for events is the use of hashtags. A hashtag is a word you create that will identify your event as people talk about it on Twitter. An example of a popular event with a current hashtag is the World Cup. If you do a Twitter search for “#worldcup,” you are sure to find hundreds of Twitter conversations all about the games.
Why Create a Hashtag?
By creating and promoting a hashtag for your event, you are creating a trackable, viral buzz about the program. When Twitter users begin to see your hashtag pop up regularly in Twitter streams, they start to ask, “What’s all the hype about with X?” When people start asking questions, they are more likely to seek out information about your event. Also, by creating a hashtag, your meeting becomes more easily searchable. In addition, for those in attendance, the hashtag allows participants to be a part of a group and easily identify themselves with other event-goers online and for future networking.
How to Make an Event Hashtag
- Search on Twitter for a word or phrase that best fits your event name. If the word you want to use is already taken, try variations of the word. When you find a word that is not taken, you can claim it as your own.
- To claim that hashtag, send out a tweet right away using the hashtag and linking to an event sales page, registration page or any other site that you have created to promote the event. There are no rules for hashtags on Twitter; therefore, once you send out a tweet using that hashtag, you have essentially claimed the name.
- To ensure other Twitter users adopt the hashtag, make sure to let your audience know about it. Feature it on your event website, include it in e-mail communications, place it on your tangible marketing materials and use it often when talking about your event on Twitter. Here’s the secret to success: Integrate social media into your event marketing plans early; don’t just let it be an afterthought. When you plan your overall social media event strategy early, you are sure to see success.
Another great Twitter tool that encourages event participation is TweetChat.com. By using a hashtag as described earlier, you can go into a TweetChat room and interact in real-time with other people discussing your upcoming event. The TweetChat rooms allow you to ignore all the other Twitter chatter and only focus on a specific topic. This tool can be used during the event as well—live tweeting will create greater engagement and conversation.
Facebook Pages Can Build Your Brand Equity
Facebook is undoubtedly a leading online social contender and a key tool that is continually changing the landscape of how we do business. Facebook profiles put this popular social networking tool on the map, but since then, its ever-growing popularity has been due to its customizable Facebook pages.
Businesses and individuals who want to showcase their products and services create pages, also known as fan pages. As a meeting planner, a Facebook page may be a great way for you to position yourself as the “go-to” source in your industry. You can create a page as a way to build relationships with potential clients as well as increase your interactions with your current clients. You can provide content about meeting planning, popular hotel locations and cost-saving strategies, and also give tips to help your clients understand the benefits of working with a meeting planner.
Facebook pages can be an extremely useful tool for meeting planners; however, one thing I hear repeatedly is that Facebook page owners are frustrated with their lack of fans and low engagement levels. They work hard to create the page, find content, add the bells and whistles, but no one comes.
3 Ways to Attract More Facebook Fans
Here are some tips to get you started.
- Use Facebook Apps | One of the major benefits of Facebook pages is the ability to brand your page and make it interactive. You can do this by using the Facebook app “Static FBML.” This app allows you to use code similar to HTML to customize your page, embed video and even create an opt-in feature to collect your fans’ names and e-mail addresses for future use.
- Invite Others | Draft an e-mail and invite your e-mail subscribers to join your brand-new Facebook page. One simple message to your client and prospect list could dramatically increase your Facebook presence.
Include a Facebook “Like Box” Widget | By adding a special widget to your website homepage and blog site, you will instantly increase awareness. This widget will show your website viewers that you are active on Facebook, and it’s an easy way for others to become instant fans.
Create Viral Buzz with Facebook Events
Facebook is one of the best social media tools in the marketplace to promote an in-person or online event. By using the application “Facebook Events,” you can create an online hub to encourage participation. What makes the application so powerful is the online interaction that takes place on the events page. Not only can others see those who RSVP to the event, but fans can also post photos, videos and links related to the event. In addition, anyone can leave comments on the event page, and these comments get virally pushed out to friends’ pages, thus spreading the event details to thousands of people instantly. Plus, the Facebook event application allows you to post messages about the event with one quick click, making it easy to let everyone know about it.
How to Use Video to Become The Meeting Planner Expert
Online video marketing is quickly becoming one of the hottest ways to increase social media engagement. With the cost of video recording and editing equipment becoming increasingly affordable, it can be cost effective and easy to make your own videos from the comfort of your home or office.
Using online videos as part of your social media plan is a smart strategy for numerous reasons. First, video allows people to get to know you personally. When they see you on their computer screens, it is easier for them to build a relationship with you online. It is more personal and inviting than other means of online communication. Also, video allows you to position yourself as the leading expert in your industry. You can create videos around topics that interest your clients most, and by adding value, you are seen as an expert source. In addition, videos can become viral, and when they end up on the first page of Google, you are sure to see some serious traffic to your website or event registration page. This advertising can be extremely powerful!
After getting beyond the initial jitters of seeing yourself on camera, the next common obstacle is finding the best topics to talk about. When you have a solid plan around the topics of your videos, the process becomes seamless, and videos can quickly become an important piece of your social media plan.
Five Ideas to Spark Your Video Creativity
You don’t have to be a graduate of the UCLA Film School to produce successful videos. All it takes is a little time and a little strategy.
- Educate | Tell people about your services. If you’re an independent planner, give the details on features and benefits of working with a meeting planner. The more you educate them, the more they will trust you.
- Answer Questions | What do you get asked most about your niche? Most of us can think of a list of at least 5–10 questions we get asked often. Make short 2- to 3-minute videos clips where you state the question and then the answer. These are easy to make and extremely valuable to your prospects.
- Do a Product Review | Find a product or service that would be of interest to your niche and your audience, and do a review on its benefits and features.
- Grow Your List | If you have a business, you need a list of potential clients. Make a video to encourage your prospects to give you their name and e-mail in exchange for something you will give them. You can give away an eBook, an article (tips, strategies and how-tos are always popular), a tutorial video, a free consultation, a type of assessment, etc. Figure out what your prospects would find most valuable and create a giveaway around that.
Debunk Myths | Talk about the top three myths in your industry, and give real examples to show why they are truly myths.
How to Create Buzz-Worthy Event Videos
To promote your client’s or your organization’s events, you can create videos that explain the benefits of your event, highlight the location and/or interview some of the speakers who will be presenting. To make sure your video stands out above all the noise on the Web, here are a few key strategies that will give your videos an extra boost.
- Create a Campaign | To get noticed, think beyond stand-alone videos. For greater reach and exposure, create a series of content-rich videos that you publish regularly. Not only will this create a great synergy around your event, but it will also allow you to build upon your brand identity as each video is released.
- Always Include a Call to Action | Never miss the opportunity to ask your viewers to take some type of action at the end of your video. You can ask them to register for your event, sign up for future event updates or go to a specific website for more event details. If your video is good, you’ll likely have their full attention; make sure to take advantage of it!
- Don’t Make a Sales Pitch | There is a lot of sales clutter on the Web, and you want to make sure you come out above this. There is nothing wrong with selling your event online, but use your video to add value in the process.
If you are new at video, make the commitment that you will record a video in the next 24 hours. Just dive in and try it! The longer you wait, the faster your competition will claim their video space and run with it.
Keep a Balance
As you can see, there are a lot of social media strategies and tips to maximize and monetize your sales and marketing efforts. You obviously will not be able to implement everything all at once. To make sure you take action and don’t get stuck in overwhelm, choose just one strategy and run with it right away.
The key to successful social media marketing is to keep a balance between your online activity and offline communication—it’s not all or nothing. Both matter, and both can serve as extremely valuable tools.
Catch up with Smart Meetings on the social media side. You can find us on three platforms: twitter.com/smartmeetings, facebook.com/smartmeetings and youtube.com/smartmeetings. We hope to hear from you!
Amy Porterfield is an online marketing consultant who has worked with heavy-hitters such as Harley-Davidson and Peak Performance Coach Anthony Robbins. She has mastered the art of engagement and community using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and so much more.