Using Social Media to Promote Your Event: Step 1

Podcamp Hawaii Oct 24-25, 2008We are the lead organizers for Podcamp Hawaii, coming this fall to Honolulu on October 24 & 25th. I’ll be using our company blog to share the behind-the-scenes planning process. Since it is an “unconference” there are several things that we do differently.

First off, we are making this happen over a very short time span. Part of this is my insanity to be sure, but in reality the internet facilitates the short time frame quite well. In any case, it adds a sense of focus and urgency, which I generally find helpful in getting things done.

Background
We actually bought the URL (www.podcamphawaii.com) 3 years ago. So in one sense we have been noodling on it that long, and a year aog began talking with one of our colleagues, Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central. Todd has also been active in the podcamp circuit, so it hosting an event locally was naturally on both of our minds.

Two Months Ago
We had a few meetings with the local techies who wanted to have an unconference. Planning got underway though we have had some fits and starts. As is usual, more people want to talk about than do the work, so we’ve been orienting ourselves to getting a critical mass of dedicated, reliable people. Ideas are great and we want them, so part of our initial planning involves getting the word out and letting people talk back to us.

Step One: Agree on a date and location and begin publicity
Create a logo

  • Nothing new or un about this. Get yourself a cool logo! My partner Shane created ours however you can “crowd-source this for about $100 at sites like 99Designs and CrowdSpring.

Create an event on Upcoming.org. This site lets you list your event for free.

  • If you belong to groups, it also gets listed under those (such as “Web 2.0).
  • If you have friends there, they see your new events.
  • Anyone can mark themselves as “Attending” or “Interested*
  • People can put your event on their calendars – it’s a great “save the date” tool.
  • Many people subscribe to a group’s RSS Feed. That means your event gets out to thousands of people you don’t even know.
  • The site also allows people to leave comments on your event, get a map to your event. and upload pictures related to your event.

Get a Twitter account. This lets people follow you and your progress.

  • Twitter is exponential networking. You can tap into the people who follow you, and ask them to “re-tweet” or tell those who follow them.
  • Let’s say 100 people follow Podcamp Hawaii. Another organizer, Neenz (link has expired), has over 900 followers, who each have their own followers. Get it? When she mentions podcamp hawaii, hundreds and sometimes thousands will see it.
  • Post frequent updates to keep the buzz alive among the Twitterati – some of the most verbose and connected people on the planet!

Create a Flickr account or Group Pool: Podcamp Hawaii

  • Flickr is a photo sharing site. My partner @Shane made a group for Podcamp Hawaii, and searched for pictures of the Hawaii Convention Center, the location of our event. He invoted those photos to join our group, with the iunderstanding that we could use those photos on our web site.
  • Most have accepted and voila! We have gorgeous photos without having to take a single one.
  • We agree to provide attribution, so that helps those photographers get their word out.
  • Plus, we are helping to promote the venue, who is giving us fantastic rates!

Create your official conference “tag”pch08 and PodcampHawaii2008.

  • The web is increasingly organized by tags. People in the know will add this tag to each relevant photograph, blog post, podcast, and video they create, so their media gets attached to our event. It’s a win-win for both of us.
  • Mention your tag on Twitter and on your Upcoming page, and every where else you can so people memorize it effortlessly.
  • People wanting to know more can search for that tag, and find out far more about the event than we could ever produce ourselves.
  • People will themselves use variations of your official tag, so keep an eye for those too. Notice we added the year to the official tag, in hopes there will be additional events in subsequent years. Here are the search results for the plain podcamphawaii tag.

Results
Within less than a week, we had 50 people signed up on Upcoming and we have over 90 Twitter followers (without really trying there yet). Sponsors are coming forward to us, wanting to get in before we have even finished our sponsorship package. Life is good.

Next step is getting up the web site and starting an email list. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

UPDATE: I changed the title of this post and the next one to better reflect the content. Used to be “Planning a Web 2.0 Conference.”