Increasing your company’s social engagement is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your brand front-and-center. After all, brand recognition is the best way to influence your shoppers’ purchasing decisions when price alone is not a factor. Event marketing can be a cornerstone to your social engagement strategy.
Regardless of whether your enterprise is multichannel, omnichannel, or ecommerce only, you can take advantage of any business-related event to increase your social engagement. You need to be organized enough to manage this collateral and push it out, using collaboration and engagement tools. Using social analytics to measure your efforts will ensure that you are laser-focused for the next event and better prepared to use the content generated by that event in the most engaging channels.
Step 1: Assign an Owner and Then Collaborate
One of the key factors in social campaign success is assigning ownership. It’s easy to assume someone else in your organization will be doing this, when in fact, nobody will be doing it unless she owns it. Ownership means that the person controls the process, and collaborates with other members on your team.
There are many good, free (or almost free) collaboration and communication tools to help. Here are my favorites.
- Google Talk; Hangouts; Groups
- Realtime Board
Step 2. Organize Your Content
Collaborating on your social campaigns is important, but content is what actually gets pushed out to the public. Your marketing content can consist of images, copy, customer testimonials, screenshots, and schedules.
One aspect frequently overlooked in many marketing campaigns is deciding where that material will reside. The collaboration tools listed above have some limited storage capabilities. But you’ll want to have much more space — gigabytes, typically — once you get going. Any of the free storage services listed below should get you through a year of campaigns.
Step 3. Designate a URL Shortener for Efficiency and Tracking
Once you’ve selected a collaboration platform and you know where your marketing collateral is going to live, the last step before actually generating the content is choosing a URL shortener.
A URL shortener will allow you to post more characters on Twitter. It will also allow you to track click-thru activity across social platforms.
You can generate URL shorteners in several ways. First, social sharing platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer (both free for the basic versions) will automatically produce shortened URLs using the original URL you push to their platforms to generate a shortened version — “ow.ly” for Hootsuite “buff.ly” for Buffer. Other platforms, like Sprout Social and HubSpot are similar.
If you do not use a social-sharing platform but just want a shortened URL with tracking capability, consider Google’s URL shortener — Goo.gl — or Bit.ly. More brand-sensitive marketers can customize shortened URLs. For example, TechCrunch uses the customized URL “tcrn.ch” for its posts.
Lastly, there are platform-specific URL shorteners. Twitter has its own “t.co,” for example.
Step 4. Generate the Content
For event-based marketing, the “event” does not always have to be a physical thing. Businesses have daily events, such as employee anniversaries. Other more obvious events readily lend themselves to social media, such as in-store promotions, community participation, and local recognition.
In-store, brick-and-mortar events could include invite-only sales, product demonstrations, celebrity appearances, a coffee or cocktail hour, door prizes, store expansions, remodeling, or new location events.
For both ecommerce and omnichannel companies, noteworthy events could include exclusive customer sales, flash sales, online giveaways and contests, and customer testimonials. All types of businesses can use their community participation and sponsorship in creative ways to generate content, including charity or church support, and even local advertising.
Remember that most every milestone of an employee, manager, or owner is cause to celebrate and therefore content to push out. Events such as years in business, work anniversaries, new hires, new family members, acceptance into professional organizations, speaking engagements, and civic awards are engaging to your customers and stakeholders. You want to protect employee privacy, but pictures with first names are still engaging enough to generate interest.
Use your collaboration tools to agree on copy, images, campaign hashtags, and timing of your event-marketing message. Keep all your collateral organized in your shared storage, so everyone has access. Now you are ready for the final step.
Step 5: Push It Out
You can push out your event-based marketing content separately on each social channel, or use a social media management tool, which allows you to post across platforms either immediately or scheduled. The most popular social channels — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ — are usually included in the free versions of these platforms.
You may be able to post to your own blog through these tools as well. But, regardless, do not neglect your own site.
Also, share your event marketing collateral with other interested parties, such as suppliers, local press, and any of the organizations mentioned in your content. Request that they hashtag your organization or the campaign itself, as well.
The list of social media management tools for pushing out content is extensive. These platforms offer free versions.
These platforms are not free, but are affordably priced for smaller businesses.
Step 6: Listen, Measure, and Respond
Now is the time to listen to the conversations generated by your content. Are your users re-tweeting or re-posting your content? Are they responding directly with questions or comments? If you’ve offered a hashtag for the campaign, many of the above tools allow you to track subsequent conversations using that identifier.
Use Google Analytics to measure the impact of your campaigns in the context of your broader marketing and advertising efforts to generate comparative return-on-investment statistics. You may find that your event-based content marketing is generating conversions and allowing you to scale back on expensive keywords. Or, you may find your efforts need to be more focused for these campaigns. Lastly, make sure you respond immediately and consistently to feedback across all channels.
The cumulative effect of event-based content builds slowly. But it can take a life of its own. Once your users create an ongoing dialogue about your brand, adding more engaging content becomes a much easier.