Cool New Marketing Technologies: Caught and Served

Using Twitter to Market Your Event

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If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, consider yourself lucky. Twitter can be an incredible time sink and it’s not clear that the signal to noise ratio can be managed to the point where it’s anything but a life-logging digression. In fact, studies will one day show that reading too many posts about menial situational updates like “I’m eating a peach” will actually make you dumber. But if you’re a marketing professional (given the nature of this blog, you probably are), you probably need to stay in tune with the “tweets” of Twitter because there is a fair amount of interesting things you can do with 140 characters or less. If you need a primer on Twitter, check out their FAQ.

I started using Twitter again recently after some previously tweet-resistant coworkers fell victim to the Twitter gravitational forces. So far, I am not hooked, nor am I leaning that way, but as I occasionally skim the posts from the various people I follow, I have found a few ideas that have inspired me among the many that have completely wasted my time. Earlier today, I received one that inspired me to write this post.

An exhibition, the New Media Expo, had started “following” me (subscribing to my twitter updates). Why? Because they want me to attend their expo. By “following” me, they expect a “follow-back” where I return the favor by following their updates (Jonathan Coulton has to write a “follow-back” song to the tune of “Hollaback Girl”.) Even if the user isn’t prone to automatically following everyone who follows them, most people will check out the new follower to see who they are. The “open rate” for twitter follow announcements has got to be worthy of the marketing hall of fame. But what I really like is the fact that the response mechanism is a subscription – they tune into you by following you, automatically, on twitter.

The New Media Expo, and many other events, are targeting influencers within the twitter community, and “following” all of their followers and followees. That’s not a word… I’m pretty sure. Example – they figure Robert Scoble is a good person to connect with for a tech event. They follow him. Then they look at his list of people that he follows, and they systematically follow all of them. Of those people some will opt to follow the expo’s twitter feed. And their friends will find out. And viro-exponentially it goes. That’s also not a word, but you get my gist. Gist is a word – a strange and miserably overused word, but a word nonetheless. GIST also stands for Girls Into Science and Technology, which is really really cool, and Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor, which is really, really not cool. My Scrabulous skills just leveled up.

Back to Twitter: So you can market your event through twitter using this viral, WOM, tap-the-sap-of-the-influencers method, and you can also do one or more of the following:

- Tweet news from the show, like Forrester.
- Automatically Tweet the RSS feed from your event blog. Don’t have an event blog? Start one now – your attendees want in on the process.
- Enlist twitterers in the same fashion that many events enlist bloggers. Give them access and privileges and ask only that they enjoy the show and post what they want.
- Incorporate mobile device features into your event offering such as mobile agendas, alerts, handle questions from text messages or tweets, and SMS polling. Using Twitter as a Q&A vehicle will naturally inspire people to tweet about the show.
- Offer free passes to influencers with many followers that align with your target demographics.

Did I miss anything?

Yup – my twitter feed

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5 Responses to “Using Twitter to Market Your Event”

  1. Tim Bourquin says:

    Thanks for the post – and for noticing what we’re doing! It’s a bit of an experiment, and I’ll be talking about it on our podcast at some point, but you definitely got the GIST of it here. There’s been a few surprises along the way and it’s been very interesting.

    Hope to meet you at the New Media Expo!

    Tim Bourquin, Founder
    http://www.NewMediaExpo.com

  2. Scott says:

    Yeah – you missed something. You forgot to give out your Twitter ID! How can people follow you if they can’t find it?

    Also, I found a new application called GroupTweet that allows messaging (that can be kept private) between members of a group. I could see this being useful for event organizers who want to contact their attendees or only segments of attendees via Twitter.

  3. Rob Everton says:

    Good point Scott. I will add. Thanks.

  4. Fran Gang says:

    Seth Godin wrote about twitter in his blog today too!
    sethgodin.typepad.com