On Friday, I’ll be in New York City, with Julien Smith , David Maister, and Charlie Green, to hold the Trust Summit at the Harvard Club in Manhattan (proper dress requested, please- no jeans or sneakers). In getting ready for this, I realized that things have changed in the world of inviting folks to an event. I thought this might prove useful in understanding how social tools can come together to bring the physical experience onto the web, and back again.
One note of caution: go gently when promoting. In the new world, that line between “hey, good to know” and “man, you’re annoying” is pretty thin and easy to step over.
Always a URL. Always
If you’re going to wire up people and connect them to an event in the real world, you need a web page of some kind or another. People need all the details. They need some kind of intangible tangible that they can pass around to point out what’s what. Give them a web page.
If it’s just a one-off, use an event system like Eventbrite. If you’re going to do this over and over, consider setting up pages on your own website of choice, and then maybe double-up with an Eventbrite to manage the signup.
Extend onto Event Sites
Here’s where you can really get things moving. If you want this event to really spread, use sites like Upcoming.org and Eventful, to name a few. If you’ve got a Facebook group, put up an event notification there. If you’ve got a LinkedIn group, and the event matches, put it up there, too.
Status, Status, Status
Without being “that guy” (and never forget, I mean this for either gender), mentioning your event is easy across your Twitter, your Facebook, your LinkedIn status, and all the other social sites that make sense to promote. A word of caution: this gets close to what feels like carpet-bombing, so go gently. In fact, out in front of such a promotional effort, make sure you’re doing your good deeds and promoting others, and sharing other good information. People don’t like a tireless self-promoter, but they don’t mind someone who shares the good stuff, even when some of it’s their own.
Do you maintain an email list? Don’t forget to drop a gentle note of your event into there, too. Again, the goal is subtlety and just a gentle pointer to your URL.
Flickr and YouTube
Want to amp up your event’s pre-buzz as well as give it some love on the day of the event? Here are two things: use photos and videos for pre-event invites and promos. Then, encourage people to take photos and videos AT the event. If at all possible, make it easy for the folks who might be into making media to have something to take photos and make movies about. (A side note: if you’re bothering to throw an event with a lot of web presence, use a tag – metadata – to denote the event, for people’s blog posts, for Flickr and YouTube, and for Twitter. For instance, we’ll use #trustsummit for our event in NYC.)
Blog Posts Matter
You can do much worse than to find local bloggers and bloggers who care about the subject matter to cover the event, should they find it useful. If you’ve a budget to do so, invite some to attend in exchange for blogging anything that might be of interest to them. Realize that in the new world, bloggers are rarely obligated to do whatever you ask, and yet, if you make it interesting and worthwhile, folks love to tell a story.
Getting a few posts out about the event ahead of time, and/or after give you a lot more traction and appreciation before and after. Again, make sure the event’s worthy of coverage. If it’s just a straight product pitch or the like, that’s tricky to justify.
Twitter on the Day Of the Event
To me, Twitter’s the magic sauce in making your NEXT event really light up. It’s too late for your event by the time folks start tweeting about it, but it’s a great way to really warm up your future events. If people are tweeting that they’re having a fun time, that they’re learning, that there are still a few hours to get down to the event and have fun, magic can happy. That’s why Twitter’s the Serendipity Engine.
What else? How else are you promoting offline events in the online world? Share your best ideas here.