Dawn Crawford

This week, four guest bloggers are teaching us a thing or two about event marketing.

Guest Post by Dawn Crawford, BC/DC Ideas

Events are fabulous for the supporters in your immediate area, but what if your supporter base reaches far beyond a reasonable car ride? Social media can be the connection point to push your next event into the virtual space that brings in more donations and awareness for your cause.

Adding social media based activities to an event can make your whole supporter base feel included. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing a really great event to attend, just to find out that it’s half-way across the country. By adding ways for long-distance guests to get involved, everyone can be part of the party.

Finding time to attend an event can be a challenge for many supporters. Invite people to come as they are—slippers, PJs and all. This can also be a way to incorporate donors who don’t like to go to big events or can’t because of physical limitations. Offering a way to get involved at home or in-between their kid’s soccer practices is just good donor development.

Including your social media base is low cost. With minimal equipment like a laptop, digital camera and a webcam, you can bring the party to your supporters. All you need is some imagination, a few social media friends and a lot of fun.

The fun factor is incredibly important with these tactics. If it’s not fun, people will lose interest quickly. Ask your supporters what they’d like to do, you might find inspiring ideas. 

Tips to make it a success:

  • Prime the Pump – Make sure you promote your social media event activities and promote it often. Remember to send out reminders leading up to the event. Recruit a few active supporters beforehand to make sure you have a successful online event. Ask supporters who are active bloggers or Facebook users to write a post about how they are participating in the event and recruit people to join them.
  • Dedicate Someone to Each Activity – To do live tweeting or even stream an event online it takes one dedicated person to make sure it works seamlessly. If you going to live tweet and stream the event you’ll need two people, one dedicated to each activity. This can be a responsible volunteer, but make sure they understand that this is a big job for the evening.
  • Set Up Analytics Before Hand – Using a Twitter hashtag or a dedicated link shortener, like HootSuite, can help you measure the success of your activities. Setting up a specific extension on your donation page can help you evaluate if your activities are successful.
  • Test Before You Go Live! – There are a lot of things that can go wrong when pulling off social media engagement during an event. It’s all live; there are no re-dos. Do a trial run with a few close supporters before the event. Check the internet connection speeds at the venue. Have a Plan B if it all falls apart.
  • Experiment – Your first social media event idea might be an amazing success or it could be a total bust.  It’s okay either way. Learn from it and grow the idea next time.

Ideas to engage your social media supporters at your next event:

  • Live Tweet – Create a play-by-play of the event on Twitter. You can combine highlights of speeches, great quotes, participant reviews, along with photos and videos to make the experience dynamic for your audience. Make sure to have a few pre-written donation asks to tweet so you can meet fundraising goals.
  • Live Stream the Event – Use UStream.com or another live streaming site to let your online supporters be part of the event. With sites like UStream people at home can chat and have their own online party. Have VIPs come to the camera and interact with the online audience throughout the night. Again, make sure to ask people to donate.
  • Twitter Live Auction – Since Twitter is time stamped and in real-time, set-up a hashtag and have your Twitter followers participate in a Twitter Live Auction. They can bid just like you do in a regular live auction with bid increases and last calls. Keep this separate from a regular live auction, as combining the two could be very complicated. This can be a fun, fast-paced way to raise some dough.
  • Host Virtual Parties – Have web savvy supporters throw a slumber party instead of attending your next black-tie affair. Have them pay for special tickets that include a party package sent to them before the event with fun items like lawn signs, microwave popcorn or other themed swag that reflects your event, maybe even a sample music playlist to get them in the mood. Then the night of the event, connect your virtual partiers together through Skype into a giant video party with other virtual parties across your supporter network.

Whatever activity you choose, remember to include your social media audience at your next event. They want to celebrate your organization, all they need in an invite.

Dawn A. Crawford is a Nonprofit Social Media and Communications Consultant for BC/DC Ideas. Dawn has dedicated her career to nonprofit communications and marketing. Before becoming an independent consultant for BC/DC Ideas, she served in various communications leadership roles for the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, Exempla Healthcare and the Kempe Foundation. A true communicator at heart, Dawn found her niche in social media where she’s a weaver of words and a passionate community builder. She gardens to make the world a more beautiful place and loves living in the South. Claim to fame: Dawn is the only non-Star Wars character followed by the Death Star on Twitter – yep, your assumptions are correct. See it here.

 

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