The world of live presentations has changed drastically since the days of the one-way conversation from podium to audience. No one has done it better than Lady Gaga. Today’s audiences respond in real time to live presentations, sharing their thoughts not only within the venue but all over the world. (Think of the Twitter stream during a concert or election, for instance).
How well you engage your audience before, during, and after an event can make difference between a social success and being booed off the stage. Event marketing is an art form, part P.T. Barnum and part old-fashioned planning and organization. You still have to deliver a great show, but thankfully there are lots of tools that can help with the show, the logistics, and including your audience in the conversation.
Here are some apps, tools and networks that can help turn your event into a social experience.
Location-based check-ins haven’t exactly lived up to all the hype. Though people are sharing their locations through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, dedicated check-in applications like Gowalla and Whrrl have been dismantled and mined for talent. Right now, only 5% of the adult population is using location based check-in. Nevertheless, check-ins can still do a lot to engage a community around an event, and today, there’s only one place to go: foursquare.
To get started, create a page with the address of your venue.
Set the location to the city where the event is taking place.
Select Add Things, and add your new venue.
Then think about planning for group engagement. Foursquare’s “Swarm” badge is something you get when 50 people check into your venue at the same time. You might want to incentivize the check in with a free donut, trinket, cup of coffee, etc. Foursquare also has a great API, allowing for all types of cool integrations. Matthew Shadboldt of The Corcoran Group has done a great job in the real estate space of integrating foursquare into their community engagement and event marketing, successfully branding his agents as the definitive ambassadors to New York City living.
Ticketing and Event Logistics
Eventbrite is the current leader in online event ticketing, allowing for everything from wait-lists, RSVP, and name badges. They also have great mobile apps for check-in.
Some other great event organization options include:
Custom Event Apps
Customized apps are also a good way for you to provide lasting engagement before, during, and after your event. While you could build your own or outsource to a development team, there are some good white-label apps out there that you can buy off the shelf. Grupio.com, for example, has a great offering that allows you to create event guides, agenda, networking, surveys and more. While it’s not free, it’s considerably more affordable than building your own.
If your event has reached a critical mass, you might consider creating a group or “fenced” social network. Facebook Groups is perhaps the best known option, but there’s also Pathable, an off-the-shelf social network specific to your event. These fenced networks can ensure you stay connected to your network and help your audience interact and network with each other. Just remember that a fenced group requires a lot of work. It’s not a one-and-done endeavor. You’ll have to moderate the conversation and add fuel to the dialogue.
Finding a good way to engage you audience leading up to and following your event is low-hanging fruit. Mounting a Twitter campaign and using #hashtags unique to your event ensures everyone remains involved in the right conversation.
Beyond Twitter itself, there are other tools out there that can help you make the most of the service. TweetWall Pro is a web app that lets you project your Twitter stream live during an event. Just beware of #hashtag hijacking. To get around this and still promote the social dialogue, you’ll just need to pre-moderate.
Other Tools to Consider
Lanyrd is a social event directory that lets you know what events and conferences your Twitter community is attending. If you’re speaking at events, this is a great way to let your followers know where you’ll be, and when. It’s also a good way to get up to speed on any materials or talks you might have missed at the podium.
For further reading on social media tools for viral event marketing, be sure to check out Cliff Atkinson’s book, Backchannel, which explores how social media and Twitter are transforming live presentations.