Using Twitter to Promote and Publicize an Event

As more and more people find their way to Twitter, the social network is becoming an important part of promoting and publicizing a local event. While many people think you would only reach the early adopters of Twitter, many others, including journalists and community leaders, who can help you promote your event are also part of this community.

I recently helped organize Raleigh Twestival fundraiser, and since we planned the event in less than 2 weeks, we focused our efforts online. Based on our experience, here are 11 things to do to use twitter as part of your promotional strategy for a successful event.

1. Create a new twitter account
As soon as you are committed to holding an event, establish a new twitter account, unless one already exists for the event. If the event is a local version of known event, there may be protocol for the naming of your event and twitter ID. The name needs to be both unique and obvious and properly identified with your local area. In our local area, events could be called Triangle, RTP, Raleigh or even RDCH for Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill. You want your event to be inclusive, so the local naming choices are important.

2. Create an event email address
This is actually step 1 1/2 because as you are creating the new twitter account, you will need a unique email address. Gmail is usually a good choice, because it is easy to set up and forward to your main email address. If your twitter account is unique (as it must be), in all likelihood, the gmail address is available.

3. Create a hashtag
One of the easiest ways to track conversation about an event is with a hashtag. This is a usually pre-established, but sometimes spontaneously created, abbreviation for an event that starts with the # symbol. Many twitter client recognize hashtags as a clickable and searchable word. By establishing the hashtag from the beginning, there will be no confusion about how to tag content from the event to be part of the conversation. This is an important part of branding on Twitter and establishing a digital footprint for your event.

4. Create a blog/website
Put details on your event blog as they are confirmed. This allows you to tweet with some details, or even a sense of mystery, and still provide a link to provide more information or answer questions.

5. Start to create a network
Begin by following influencers who will help spread the word. Don’t neglect your friends because they will be happy to tweet about the event too.

6. Start tweeting details of the event
It is never too soon to start seeding the twittersphere with information about the event. People have busy lives, so the sooner you can get on people’s calendars, the better. Make sure every tweet has the established hashtag, even if it is the same as the twitter account name. This means that people will see the name of the event twice in every tweet. Repetition builds brands.

7. Think of re-tweeters
Lots of people like to re-tweet, so keep your tweets short. Don’t try to cram all the information in one tweet. Two or three tweets are better than one because of their impact on the twitter stream. And remember that most people don’t see every tweet, so it’s okay to over-tweet.

8. Create a tweet team
Since you will not create a large enough network to generate enough twitter buzz for your event, you need to enlist the help of other volunteers to operate as a tweet team. Divide these volunteers into groups and give each group a rotating schedule of tweet topics. Don’t give them canned tweets. Let them write whatever they want about the event so long as they use the hashtag. They can tweet about the date and time, venue, sponsors, presenters, food and drink, prizes. This gets a large flow of original tweets out to the volunteers’ twitter networks. Even just 2-4 tweets a day from 10 volunteers can create a twitter presence.

9. Create a sharing meme
Develop a fun reason for attendees to share event information with others. For the Raleigh Twestival, we created the #RTMe hashtag and encouraged everyone to invite five people they follow on Twitter. It was a good excuse to meet someone you admire and see them at the event. RT stood for Raleigh Twestival and re-tweet, but it was another way to ask people who had decided they we coming to make sure others knew about the event.

10. Tweet your press release
Create a post on your blog that is an official press release for the event. Share it with journalists either with @ or DM, but also put it out in the general stream. People will read this as another piece of information about the event and may pick up some details that they missed elsewhere. They will also re-tweet a press release to help distribute the official event information.

11. Watch for tweets about the event or hashtag
Keep a tab open in your browser with twitter search at all times so you see references to your event, including the use of the hashtag. You can respond to people who ask questions or discuss with their friends if they want to go. Engaging with potential attendees and giving them specific details will encourage them to attend. You have already succeeded in the first step by making them aware of the event, now you need to get them to attend.

These are things you can do on twitter to generate awareness for your event, but unless you event is only geared towards twitter users, you will want to do all the usual event planning activities like following up with press release recipients, getting listed on all local calendars (online and print), joining groups to share information about the event (online and in person), and telling everyone you talk to that you are planning an event.

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