There are several ways to use Twitter in your experiential marketing program. Some are obvious (create an account, use #hashtags) and some are not. Here are some ideas on how you can use this powerful tool to build a community around your events.
1. Think in terms of community, not event. Even the best Twitter strategies would fail unless there was an audience to speak with. Just because you have a Twitter profile it does not mean people will follow you. Building a following takes time and diligence. Remember, an event is a single point in time, but relationships are long-term. Think in terms of building communities around your content using the event as a point of accentuation in the relationship.
2. Determine your niche. What is the subject matter you will Tweet about? Event updates, speaker interviews, etc., are fine, but to add true relevance to your followers, talk about the things that they are interested in – event content – the reason they will attend the event and participate in the face-to-face experience. Good content attracts the right followers.
3. Determine who you want as followers, and who you want to follow. Begin by following (potential) speakers, attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. Services like Twellow or TweepSearch allow you to conduct searches on people’ bios. These are enormously powerful tools. For example, if you want to engage in conversation with radiologists, then you can search for folks who mention this in their profile and then follow them. Secondly, use tools like TwitterSearch or Ice Rocket Twitter Search to identify folks who are tweeting about content relevant to the event. Once you identify each person, follow them. Some folks will follow back, some will not. Its OK either way. If your content is relevant you have a greater chance of getting traction here.
4. Recognize you are not the only authority on content. Understand what original content you will provide as well as what content you will target for retweets. Its important to always add value to the community.
5. Tweet Often. Keep your community engaged by participating in the conversation daily. Again, you don’t need to create original content all the time, but recognizing the contributions of others and retweeting their ideas, thoughts, links, etc. will keep you connected.
6. Follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of what you post should be relevant content that adds value to your community, 20% can be logistical or personal, giving your brand personality.
7. Think like a search engine. Use keywords and phrases that are relevant to your communities. Just as you are using search to identify relevant content and community members, they are too. Its also a good idea to keep your tweets well short of 140 characters so others can retweet your tweets.
8. Create and own a #hashtag. This gives your audiences a communal symbol to rally around as they share relevant event content. It also makes it easy for others to find you, your content and your events.
9. Give your audiences a destination (as well as multiple destinations). Your website is an easy start. What’s often more impactful are blogs about your niche subject matter. If you don’t have a blog, get one, or at the very least, post often to other people’s blogs. Sharing links to other relevant content is also a good idea.
I’ve just scratched the surface here. There are thousands of ways you can use Twitter in your experiential marketing program and hundreds of tools to help you. The first and most important is to build a community. I’ll explore more Twitter topics in future posts. In the meantime, if you’ve discovered some interesting ways to integrate Twitter into your event program, please share!