Social Media and Social Events: Match in Heaven

It’s Valentine’s Day, and working for one of Boston’s largest ski, sports, and social clubs has got me fired up about the power of social media and how it rocks the world of special events.

Watching Boston Ski & Sports Club (BSSC) get more and more engaged in social media – and watching it WORK for them – is like watching a young couple fall in love… it warms a marketer’s heart, and gives a PR gal a plethora of new public relations opportunities to get the word out and connect with consumers.  Social media is certainly not meant to replace traditional marketing tools like advertising, PR, or even direct mail, but if you want to reach people, you gotta go where they live, work and play.

Social media like Facebook have moved beyond hip college students and into the mainstream, reaching over 175 million on Facebook alone.  Did you know Facebook’s fastest growing demographic are curious social media networkers over 30 years of age (30 is the new 20!)?  Read this for more great stats on Facebook; Mashable.com also posted a great article about measuring social media.

So now that we know social media is wide-reaching, why use it for special events (like, say, Valentine’s Day)?

Events are ripe for social networking, obviously. People want to know what’s going on this evening fast… and want to share this information with a Valentine, a few “lonely heart” friends, or even their whole “forget Valentine’s Day” network of 100 gal pals. What better way to get social than social media, where you can not only read event details and share logistics like directions and hours with friends, but also post videos, [carefully chosen] photos, and snarky comments on February 15th showing what a great time you had – posted publicly so ex-boyfriends and couch potato gal pals can writhe in jealousy?

Larger event-oriented social platforms like going.com, yelp.com, Eventful.com, EventHop.com, EventMe.com, Events.org, Eventsetter.com, Povo, Zvents, WhoFish.org, TheInsider.com, upcoming.yahoo.com, and even about.com distinguish themselves by attracting different kinds of users (ex. food, travel, music, nonprofit, local) by offering a host of cool features.  Check them out by simply registering and adding them to your own social media list, and visit often get to know which ones are best for your organization or client. Think of social media the same you do traditional media… read, learn, take notes, but also engage!

Localized event sites offer more local user traffic and presumably better response rates (or BIS – “butts in seats”) than the national sites, and are usually hosted by your daily newspaper or major TV station affiliate.  In Boston, boston.com is the “go to” place for event listings but do not offer much more post-event than comments and occasional reader photo postings.  Using multiple – even dozens – of social media at once is the way to go to reach the most people, and don’t forget to add photos and even video if possible to your posting!

Microblogs like Twitter are great ways to connect with people before and during events, telling folks where to meet up and what is up next… and is much hipper than a P.A. announcement or a slew of cell phone calls in a crowded, noisy event.

Just like in traditional PR, social media for social events can add “bells and whistles” post-event to entice visitors and supporters for next year. I’ve had post-event comments and posts spur sponsor inquiries once they viewed the great comments, links to guests’ blogs authentically praising the event, official and your guests’ informal photos/slideshows/YouTube or vimeo or Google Video-hosted videos, and how many logos were prominently placed!

Valentine’s Day might be almost over, but the calendar is jam-packed with social events… show some love to social media and it will love you – and your clients – back, tenfold!

Posted by Julie Dennehy, APR, president of Dennehy Public Relations (Boston PRC for PRCG), co-director of the PRConsultants Group, and social media maven.

Check out my personal humor blog at www.juliedennehy.blogspot.com.

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