Leveraging Social Media to Plan Events
March 2, 2009, 7:28 am
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A variety of social media forums that can be used to promote events. Image courtesy of Google.

Our Society is continuing to become more dependent on the Internet and Web-based communications, and event planning is no different. Many event-planning professionals are learning to leverage the Internet to plan successful events.  When planners use social media effectively, they have the ability to create excitement, build a brand, launch a product and generate leads through viral and buzz marketing.  But — I think the coolest part about social media is that, because of the low-cost and ability to customize information, anyone can do it.

Sending Invites on the Internet

Sample Evite.com invitation for a child's birthday party. Image courtesy of Microsoft.Why spend money buying invitations and waste time sending them through the mail, when you can do it for free and send them online?

From birthday parties to corporate events, Web sites like Evite, Mypunchbowl and Pingg make it possible for anyone to create invitations and send them out over the Internet. 

According to a recent post by Peter Cohan, because of the poor economy, more people are using these sites to save money when planning events. In 2008, more than six million events were planned using, Evite.com, and that number continues to increase.

These Web sites allow users to invite guests via email, SMS/texting or even post them to Facebook or other social networks. The sites simplify the task of managing all event communications including; follow-ups, reminders and last-minute changes by enabling the user to customize, create, schedule and track RSVPs from a single event management page.

By resorting to the use of Internet invitations, are we moving away from a personalized touch when planning events or just finding a more convenient and efficient means of communicating? 

Creating a Buzz Before an Event

Promotional Poster for Toni&Guy Vancouver fashion event. Image courtesy of Toni&Guy Vancouver.

I recently read a blogpost by MarketR, about how his company worked with Toni&Guy Vancouver to plan a successful charity event by leveraging the use of the Internet for a fashion event using a blog, email newsletter, twitter account and Facebook page to engage online contacts and get people talking about the event before it actually happened. 

How they used social media tools: 

  • Blogging- The blog allowed Toni&Guy to position its brand and tell a story while planning the event. It also had a mini-site widget to create buzz, and it gave away free VIP tickets to online contacts.
  • Email Newsletter- The letter engaged clients and kept them up-to-date on chances to win tickets or other prizes, as well as revealing the behind-the-scenes preparation for the event to make its audience feel more informed and involved. 
  • Twitter Account- The twitter account helped drive more followers to read the blog and created an ongoing dialogue about the event.
  • Facebook- The use of this social network also encouraged people to read the blog. In addition, it created an event group to update people on the latest developments and activities for the night of the event. 

When social media is strategically used to in an event campaign, there is the opportunity to reach a large audience and build hype at a low cost. I think this form of event promotion is most effective when target audiences are actively engaged, and the use of social media contributes to making the event unique and newsworthy to earn  media attention.