How do you use social media for event planning?

Well guess what y’all?

Today, I will be speaking on a panel at Texas State University for Mass Comm Week. It is titled “How to Use Social Media in Marketing Your Event.”

Now listen. If you are not in the fields of media/publicity/marketing, I understand why — a mere three sentences in — you are already beginning to question the benefit of this post, and its potential application to your life and/or career.  Well for you doubters, I have one response to that.

That’s right. Who else would post the most non-intentionally hilarious music video of the 1990s for the sole purpose of seizing and retaining your attention?  A considerate blogger. That’s who.

Anyway.  Today, I will be joined by a few of Austin’s most popular publicists: Jette Momant, Camille Styles, KLRU’s Laura Villagran Johnson, as well as tech tools genius, Wesley Faulkner.  We will be talking about events/social media, but what I secretly hope we talk about is offline relationships. Because those are pretty important to me.

See, the further I get along in life, the more I have come to realize that I am kind of an old school gal. Can any of you relate?  I mean, I have a blog. This is true. I post in it and I read other people’s blogs and I love my Twitter and my Facebook and etcetera.

But I am a nerd for books (for my 9-to-5, I am a book publicist), I joined MySpace and Facebook relatively late, and — this is hard to admit! — I am a Gowalla hold-out. Oh, I’m on there. Checking in about once a year, and to nowhere cool. Unless you think H-E-B is cool. Which I do.

However, for kicks, some friends and I started planning Bleet-Up parties last year. This is an event that relies entirely on social media, because “Bleet-Up” stands for blogger + meet-up, and without social media users … why, that party shan’t exist!

As everyone knows by now, the Bleet-Up is totally magical for me because I really like meeting blogger folk in person. Both those creating the content, and also those reading it. And this gets back to the offline relationships thing.

Bloggers spend A LOT of time in front of their computers.  We are talking hours, every single day.  And while much of the content that flies out of our minds and fingers is worthwhile, quality stuff, some of it is –not. 

We need our fellow human beings, in the flesh.  At least, I do.  To nod when I bring up a good point, to talk to me so that I learn how to listen, to laugh at my attempted witty asides and to make puzzled faces when I say something that doesn’t make sense.  Which is often.

Anyway, the reason I get all philosophical about this stuff is that I think young event planner or blogger hopefuls sometimes think that we folks in “the biz” do all of our work online. And it’s true — we jam here a lot. But in my opinion, the more QUALITY work happens offline, in person. Those face-to-face people are eventually going to become your supporters and cheerleaders, who gab about your event/blog in public, and who will hug you at your party and tell you you’re doing a good job.

Trust me. More so than a million Twitter followers — it’s the huggers you want.

SO. All of that being said, let me address the original question of this post: How do you use social media for event planning?

I’ll go first, and then you guys talk.

1. I create an event page that allows comments. I like blog posts; you may like Facebook or Yelp. Your preference. But commenting is a must, in my opinion, so people can anticipate the event online, and talk to each other about what specifically about the event — a band, for example — excites them.

2. I Tweet the shit out of it.  Sorry to be so blunt. But seriously. Twitter is a marketer’s DREAM. Encourage your followers to retweet (RT) the event announcement, and always always link to your event page. Use to shorten the link.

3. Sometimes I create a Facebook invite. Actually, I always do this. But I think that channel is getting a wee bit crowded now. I may 86 that option altogether.

4. But DO create an invite, and distribute it: Good ole’ email can be your friend here.  There’s a reason we’ve had it for 10 years, with few major updates. Because it works, people.

Birds Barbershop even threw a party last year using paper invitations. And the turnout was ridonkulous.

5. Cross-promote. If there is a huge event we can piggy-back on for online publicity, I’m shameless. Last year at the Bleet-Up, we gave away tickets to Fun Fun Fun Fest. Did some people show up just for a chance to win those tickets? Perhaps! Did I care? No I did not! As long as they were there, in the door, and having a good time, there was a smile on my face.

So these are some pretty basic tips. But what do you guys do to get the word out about an event?  Using social media, I mean?

(PS.  P, freaking, S! With all of this Bleet-Up talk, I feel compelled to tell you that we will be announcing the next Bleet-Up very soon here.  Gah!  Am so excited!! Stay tuned.)