"Facebook is for old people."
- 14-year-old when asked if she uses Facebook
I was recently at a board of directors meeting for the Corporate Event Marketing Association and attempted to give an overview of my recommended social media plan for the association. For the most part, I was met with blank stares. As I mentioned in a previous post, it seems that many of my high tech event marketing brethren are unschooled in the ways of social engagement. Meaning they don't know how to tweet, rarely use LinkedIn except to update their resumes, and may not even be on Facebook. Most haven't the slightest idea how or why to be on Google Plus (honestly, I'm still working that one out myself...more to come...).
Social media is no longer simply a shiny object that people use to tout their lunch plans. Social media is another vehicle in a full marketing portfolio to communicate with customers and have a two-way conversation. It's a way to share content and allow customers to generate content of their own. Social media isn't just Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. It's YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare. It's Digg, Wikipedia and Google Docs. It's Four Square, Chatter and Yammer. It's Groupon, Skype, and Yelp. Only heard of a few of those? Yeah... it's tough to keep up. Makes you feel old, doesn't it?
The thing is, if you ask "the young people," they'll tell that you they don't hang out on all of those all day long. They'd never get anything done! But here's a real-life case study of what they do:
They send a birthday party invitation through Evite, and track the potluck foods in Google Docs. They may post to Facebook and Twitter through FourSquare that they're picking up 3 dozen cupcakes from Hey Cupcake, which they bought through Groupon. They might even throw a photo of the delicious 36 cupcakes onto Flickr and post the link on Facebook and Twitter. Videos from the party are quickly uploaded to YouTube from the dozens of smartphones carried by partygoers. And finally, they might Skype their parents to get Happy Birthday greetings from 4 states away.
Even thinking about this is exhausting. But digital natives don't even bat an eye when they read that.
So how do you use this for your events?
You can use social media to drive attendance, and you might even get 2% of registrants from there. But better than just sharing registration links, you can encourage conversation on LinkedIn or Facebook groups. Put teaser videos on YouTube. Set up viral ticketing through your registration site (this encourages the event invitation to be shared by discounting registrants for every shared registration). After the event, put the full presentations on SlideShare. Edit recorded sessions down to a 5 to 8-minute clip or interview speakers to put on YouTube. Create a Flickr stream that people add their photos to and share their experience.
It's not as overwhelming as it may seem when you realize that you can use the social media content channels as they're intended to be used, and not have to assign 24/7 staff to sit around watching a Twitter feed.
Now excuse me while I locate a 14-year-old to explain Google Plus to me...