By Cole Braun
Innovative Public Relations, a student-led PR firm at UCM, has organized a social media night event for five years and is more excited than ever before to launch this year’s activities. It’s funny how people believe these events are easy to execute, however, this is far from the truth. Social media is still an unrefined tundra in the last frontier of digital marketing.
Weeks of careful planning and writing are necessary to facilitate an event like this. It is much more than just tweeting about something and seeing if your audience comprehends what you are trying to say. Every sentence and word are planned for a specific reason and you have to account for cross platform posting. It requires critical strategic thinking about the choice of platforms.
Multiple publics are being taken into consideration as we prepare certain messages for the event. We want to have giveaways that will engage people in the event, so we have collected a wide variety of prizes for our multiple audiences. We think about what certain publics would like, what is something everyone would want. This is where the tactical tool of research can help. Then the next decision is, which platform is best through which to give certain prizes away.
Events can be complicated, intricate and overwhelming, so in recognizing the complexity of event planning, I wanted to share tips I have learned in preparation for this social media night. These tips can help you survive the Wild West, that is the world of social media marketing right now.
Here are 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts on hosting a social media event.
● DO: Engage your audience with fun and exciting content.
If you want your audience to engage with you then you need to give them a reason to hit the like button and respond back. You will not get far just telling people to go somewhere else online to do something. Be creative here, make a silly pun or add a goofy image. Don’t be another block of text in the news feed.
● DO NOT: Copy previous work from local similar attempts.
It looks silly and confuses the public. They are not paying attention to who is doing it, only that something is happening. So don’t embarrass your organization and step all over the work done by previous groups.
● DO: Provide a variety of opportunities for all in attendance.
Not everyone in attendance is going to be a Twitter user, or a Snapchat user. So if you want your event to be engaging, make sure to interact with all audiences in some form. Alienating one audience may compromise their engagement and your brand image.
● DO NOT: Make it an obstacle course for the audience.
Making it a hassle to participate is not how you create a successful event. No one wants to download this, click here for more or have to jump across multiple platforms for one prize. Your audience will instantly lose interest if they have to take too many steps. Make it simple such as, “reply with the answer to this question or send us back a picture.”
● DO: Plan ahead!
I know this seems like a silly thing to say, but it is important. Social media is still a Wild West world and anything can happen. So plan ahead for an inappropriate response or someone trying to abuse your competitions. Create a plan of action for any incident that could possibly happen. If something never happens, that’s great, but it’s better to be prepared.
● DO NOT: Be afraid of collaboration.
Sometimes you aren’t going to have all the answers, that’s okay. That is why it’s fun to bring in people from outside organizations to share ideas. By working with multiple individuals, you will have the chance to get tips and tricks you never would have considered. Collaboration is a key tool in the world of public relations, but sometimes it’s not the best tool. If those partnerships are not ideal, then separate. Don’t just burn the bridge.
● DO: Thank your sponsors!
If you have brought in outside groups or businesses to help sponsor giveaways or other parts of your event, thank them. Giving them appropriate acknowledgement could strengthen their future participation. Keep your side of any commitments you have made. Showing gratitude to groups that help you put on your event is essential to its success and future endeavors.
● DO NOT: Try to plan last minute.
Lack of planning creates heartache, confusion and makes for a sloppy event. So plan ahead. Last-minute work is messy work.
● DO: Keep note of all interactions.
Paperwork may be stressful at the time, but it makes life so much easier further down the road. This helps with keeping track of promises made to sponsors and what sponsors have done in the past. When you go back to them for the next event, you have record of their previous contributions, which can help make their decision in participating again easier. Essentially, you will have all the answers for them so all they have to do is decide how much support they can provide above last year’s efforts.
● DO NOT: Forget the reason for your event.
It is easy to get so hyped up about your social media event you forget the reason you are doing this in the first place. An immediate example is our event this Thursday, Feb. 16, #teamUCM Social Media Night. The purpose behind this event is to foster a strong sense of community between the University population, local businesses and citizens of Warrensburg, Missouri. Though the main audience is UCM students campus, we cannot forget the other factors. If we lose sight of that, then the event can easily fall to shambles.
Social media is a tool for all, not just college students and teenagers. It can be part of a strategy to make your event engaging. Remember this; research, critical thinking and tactical decision-making are your best tools in the Wild West-like field of social media.