If you are over 30,
you might wonder why or how a social networking site like MySpace
can enhance your event. Above and beyond their attractions for
teens and young adults, these and many other web networks touch
virtually every demographic and, if leveraged correctly, can
accelerate the attendance, and/or increase revenue for your
meeting. More importantly, the benefits can be reaped at little or
no cost, and with minimal effort.
In simplest terms, social networking
sites are online communities that enable individuals with similar
interests and pursuits to meet, connect, share ideas, and get
information and tools. They are easily accessed by any electronic
device that has Internet connectivity and the right software.
Individuals use these sites to enhance their lives in every
conceivable area, from romance and education to finance and
Social networking sites fall into three
sites aim to bring people of like interests or “psychographics”
together. Examples are MySpace and Facebook.
sites help people find jobs, post jobs, plan their careers and
network. Examples: LinkedIn and KIT List.
* Miscellaneous sites
serve a range of purposes, perhaps offering calendar listings,
resources and topical forums. Examples: Craigslist, industry blogs
(web logs that invite users to post commentary) and wikis
(collaborative websites allowing users to contribute content).
ways to use them
How can meeting planners take
* Borrow a virtual
community. Creating an online community from scratch that
supports your event and/or company takes time and resources. The
MySpaces of the world are ready for you to tap into their built-in
networks of potential attendees and sponsors.
These virtual communities, often
referred to as wikis or blogs, are varied enough to enable you to
reach out to a broad general audience or drill down to target very
* Leverage viral
marketing. This refers to marketing that has a momentum of
its own and is passed along from person to person, much like a flu
virus is spread.
First, you must create a catalyst, such
as a sponsored banner plugging the event, with a link to your
website, that is compelling enough for other people to broadcast it
to their network and then on to their network’s network, etc. The
audience and viral aspect of the space already are in place; you
just need to jump on board.
When to Steer
Social networking sites are not
appropriate for meetings in the following instances.
* The event is
proprietary. You might get pressure from stakeholders to
add social networking to your marketing plan simply because it is a
hot commodity. But if the event is by invitation only, you don’t
need or want the added exposure.
* Your audience won’t respond
favorably. Know the makeup and preferences of your group;
social media sites aren’t for everyone.
The Right Outlet
Determine which blogs are of interest
to your stakeholders, sponsors, exhibitors and members. You can
poll them or, for future use, ask their preferences in your event
Once you determine the right site, the
next step is getting onto it. Entry is simple:, Join the site,
create enticing content and then post it.
Some social networking sites charge a
fee to join, some have a separate fee to list items such as events
or calendar entries, but generally they are quite reasonable, with
costs ranging from nothing to a few thousand dollars.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,