With a rapidly growing and highly engaged user base, Twitter can be a great vehicle for driving registrations and attendance to your next virtual event. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get that done:
- Find your target audience on Twitter – first, of course, you need to define the target audience of your virtual event. Once you do, go seek them out on Twitter – you don’t need to engage with them on Twitter just yet, but you can start following them – and identify the “places” where they tend to congregate (e.g. read their tweets, click through on links they’re sharing, read their blogs, attend chats they participate in, etc.). You may find that by following folks, they’ll follow you back – and, may engage with you on their own. Next, leverage Twitter’s search capabilities – search on key terms associated with your virtual event and observe who’s tweeting about them. Sign up for a service like tweetbeep and you’ll receive daily email alerts with all tweets about your selected terms. Start following the folks who seem to know what they’re talking about, as your virtual event may be of interest to them.
- Identify Twitter users whom your target audience follows – if you handled Step #1 well, then you’ve half-way completed this step already. By researching topics (and users) on Twitter, you’ll begin to build an authority map – those with more authority on topics tend to have more followers. Identify users whom your target audience is following – then, determine which users they’re following (and so on). You’re now starting to build potential promoters who can help in the outreach efforts of your virtual event.
- Leverage prominent or active tweeters in your own company – is your CEO or VP Marketing an active tweeter? If so, them reach out to their multitude of followers to promote the virtual event. On your corporate web site, use a service such as TweepML to share a list of your company’s Twitter users – giving web site visitors a single-click option to start following every member of that list!
- Identify other prominent / relevant Twitter users – find prominent industry bloggers and start reading their blogs. Engage with them by leaving comments on their blogs or send them @replies via Twitter. Making these folks aware of your virtual event is a good thing (e.g. perhaps they’ll attend) – having them promote the event on your behalf is even better.
- Build your Twitter following – if you’ll be using a corporate branded Twitter account to focus your marketing efforts, use the aforementioned steps to start building your list of followers. For me, quality always trumps quantity with Twitter followers – I’d rather have the right people follow my corporate branded account than have 200 “non relevant” folks follow me (in the hopes that I’ll follow them back). Especially with a corporate Twitter account – make every tweet count. Potential followers will often review your last 5 or last 10 tweets – if you tweet too often about breakfast or the weather, then you will NOT be followed.
- Start promoting by adding value – first, you never want to over-promote your virtual event. Doing so will only turn users off from your corporate branded Twitter account. Each time you promote the virtual event, you want to add value. So again, make every tweet (promotion) account and give users something useful each time. Similarly, ask your fellow promoters to start spreading the word – and suggest phrases or facts they should be using in their tweets. Use a link shortener such as bit.ly and track the number of clicks you generate – this way, you can start to determine what’s working and what’s not working.
- Define (and use) your virtual event’s hash tag – make sure all tweets (e.g. from you, your colleagues and your fellow promoters) utilize the hash tag that you’ve created for your virtual event. Ask your event’s exhibitors to pitch in as well – have them tweet about their presence at the event. Once you’ve seeded the discussion with your event’s hash tag, you may see the interaction and commentary spread – if a few prominent tweeters jump in (e.g. >100,000 followers) and their tweets are then re-tweeted by other prominent tweeters, then awareness of your virtual event can spread beyond even your wildest dreams.
- Leverage other (relevant) hash tags – the hash tag can be a wildly effective means for promoting content to indirect followers – I may only have a few hundred followers, but if I post something insightful with the #eventprofs hash tag, I may have my message seen by the 50,000 (this number used merely as an example) users who monitor that hash tag. Make sure the hash tag is relevant to your virtual event – assuming it is, including that hash tag along with your event’s tag. [Addendum, 10/27/09: be careful not to over-promote to the related hash tags, as constant promotion of your virtual event will surely turn off the followers of that hash tag – you’ll even receive backlash from them]
- Think outside the box – instead of continually pointing users to the registration page for your virtual event, try to mix things up – link to other areas, such as: short video of the keynote speaker; text quote from a prominent presenter; a testimonial (quote) from a pre-registered attendee; a twitpic (image) of the event’s show floor or auditorium; a page that lists titles or companies who have already registered. Of course, on all of these pages, place a link to your event’s registration page.
- Have fun – Twitter can be an effective business tool – but remember, it’s also fun!
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How To Promote Your #Virtual Event On Twitter: http://bit.ly/n74Aj #eventprofs