The Social Media Universe is Filled with Wonder and is Second Only to Email Marketing.
There, I said it. Social Media is so important that you will fail if you do not use it.
Social media allows you to interact with attendees, find new prospects, engage your sponsors, and promote your speakers. Social media can bring you new revenue streams, allow you to distribute content, and make you the rock star of whatever industry you happen to be in. Social media can open up horizons that you never knew existed.
You are the captain of your social media ship, and it is up to you to keep it out of danger.
Black Holes Swallow Stars.
Social media can also destroy your event. You can fall into the social media black hole which is a place from which few ever return and from where you will never be seen again.
The most frequent question I get from new clients is “You have to get us on that new site!”. This question is asked with such enthusiasm that it breaks your heart to stop them because this is where they get caught in the gravitational pull of the black hole, and once they are in that gravitational pull, they are in for a quick ride to the bottom; Conference Starship One is about to crash and burn unless someone gets control and guides it away from the abyss.
What is the Social Media Black Hole
Defining the scope of the black hole is different for every event and involves the number of resources at your disposal. In a nutshell, the social media black hole is relative to the vastness of your social universe.
You fall into the black hole when your event tries to be on every platform and does not have the bandwidth or resources to support the effort.
Looking deep into the social media black hole, you see Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, MySpace, Orkut, Tribe, and a thousand others twinkling like little stars. You also see a thousand little comets shooting by; FYI, those are other events falling in, never to be seen again.
The black hole is a huge and vast thing that stares back, and if you look too long, you will go insane. You will never move forward because gravity and immenseness will always pull you back.
There is always one more network.
You will know that you are falling into the black hole because your attendees will suffer frustration, anger, and eventually apathy, and by the time you discover that you are truly trapped, you will be sitting alone in the dark. Your legion of fans has gone off in search of someone who can actually serve their needs. Their butts are going to another seat somewhere else.
Avoiding the Social Media Black Hole is Very Easy
Go where your attendees are:
Stick with the social sites that your attendees frequent. Take a poll, put your ear to the tracks, or use smoke signals, but find out where your attendees are hanging out. You do not need to be anywhere else……..Period. I do not care if Becky down the street is raving about that new site “SocialDoDo”. It would be best to avoid it until your attendees ask why you are not there. A common way to get sucked in is going off on some wild goose chase that was started by a 12-year-old kid.
If 90% of your audience is on Facebook and 1% use Orkut, do the math and avoid getting trapped.
Skim the Edge of the Black Hole Constantly
Skimming the edge of the black hole requires skill and awesome piloting skills, but I am sure that you can manage because you are one smart cookie. Hop in your little starship and fly super close because there is nothing wrong with securing your events handle on every social site, including “SocialDoDo.”
What a good captain remembers is just because you have a handle, it does not mean that you have to use it. Log in from time to time to keep the account active and to prevent it from going dormant. When a new social site comes along, grab your event’s handle and then wait and see how it develops before you jump in with both feet.
Pinterest is a prime example. This is certainly not the social network for every event or conference, but so many people are getting sucked in. This proves that even in social media space, you can hear them scream.
I have only recommended Pinterest to ONE client. The reason? They are in a very image-oriented field, and it MAKES sense for them to be there. The web traffic to their conference site is up since we got them “pinning” away. Time will tell if it leads to more registrations, but for now, we are watching the traffic grow.
Don’t Forget, Social is social, and there are no friends in the black hole, only loneliness
If you are on too many social networks, you are distracted, and it shows. You are not engaging, you are not entertaining and you are certainly not educating. You are also not getting more butts in the seats of your event, and that is the true purpose of social media.
Create the best experience possible for as many attendees as possible, and you will never need to worry because they will keep coming back. Remember this: most people have accounts on multiple social networks, so if you are catering to the Facebook and Twitter crowd and ignoring Pinterest, you are probably reaching the Pinterest crowd anyway. Don’t lose any sleep over not being the first conference on that new social network.
So what if someone else beats you to “SocialDoDo”? Let them get sucked into the black hole while you keep moving forward.
Do not forget to be nimble
You will have to adjust occasionally; Do not become Captain Ahab. I have one word for someone chasing a single white whale………. MySpace.
We must all understand that things change, and “SocialDoDo” might become the next big thing and if it does, you will need to adapt and change strategies. That is just life; the trick is learning when to join and when to wait. This knowledge will only come with experience and research.
If you are unsure, ask. Ask me, ask your attendees, or ask yourself.
O Captain! my Captain! This journey is never done, but it is not rocket science, it is not hard, and if you guide your ship safely, you will be rewarded with attendees who are more loyal and engaged than you could ever have imagined, and that will lead to more people attending your event, and that is why we are all here, isn’t it?
Drive safely, captain, it is a big universe out there!