By: Shelly Sobol
In two months, I’m getting married. After 16 months of planning, researching every element, and working with family and friends to make it all happen, we’re just 60 days away. To say that my fiancé and I really utilize social media is an understatement. We use it to share our adventures, our quirky interests, and connect with loved ones. And sometimes, like it or not, social media is the quickest way to disseminate important information.
In these last 16 months, our wedding planning has taken a similar approach to branding as your next important event, product roll-out or association milestone. Branding isn’t just creating a logo and slapping it on a few napkins and signs and calling it done. It’s really about cultivating a theme and feel (based on consistency) and making that part of the story. More importantly, it should be a way to get OTHERS connected and be part of the dialogue.
But how do you create a social media branding campaign with limited staff resources? You don’t need a graphic designer, social media manager, or thousands of dollars in advertising.
Spread the joy. Whether it’s considered delegation, volunteer committee responsibility, or finding those with the most enthusiasm, you MUST find others who are passionate about your organization or event. Some organizations ask board members to promote events online. Another tactic is to try finding vocal members on social media who aren’t part of the board yet and encourage them to get involved. They may become future board members who are valuable, but they may also just be great advocates for your event and may help with getting new attendees. Simply ask these people to share information, post photos, and build interest.
-We’re lucky enough that many of our friends and bridal party members appreciate social media enough that they’ve jumped on our bandwagon and have already started using our wedding hashtags and documenting the past year (during engagement parties, showers, planning, etc.). It gives another perspective and voice to the event so it isn’t so one-sided.
#AwesomeAnnualEvent. You can’t have a social media campaign without hashtags. This is the tool to string all of your items together, so don’t go with the bland #AcmeAnnual2016. Take a moment and schedule a meeting with those creative social media loving members to cultivate a creative and attention grabbing hashtag. If there is a theme for your conference or product roll-out, use that as inspiration. But most importantly, make sure that it isn’t currently being used by anyone else. There’s nothing worse than trying to see how your event is going and seeing someone else use your hashtag for a very different purpose.
-I’m a huge fan of the free http://www.rhymezone.com/ site and using it for inspiration. Type in key words for your event (date/year/location/theme/industry) and you may be surprised which direction it can take you in. Going for more eco-friendly products this year? #PIAMGreenin2016. Planning a Mardi Gras themed event? #PIAMMardiParty
Bottom line branding. Whenever possible, branding MUST remain consistent when coming from the association. If you have the opportunity, when developing your branding story for the next big thing, keep social media in mind. Consider not just how to roll out the information with postings or favors, but think about opportunities to connect with people. Try putting a conversation starter on your cocktail napkins instead of a plain sponsor logo! Being consistent from the beginning will help others develop an opinion on your product or event – which should be positive. Generally, the more consistent you are the more professional you will look and you’ll reflect that you’ve planned for every aspect.
-We worked hard to build and create a steady theme for our wedding- which includes certain fonts and magnolias. Those elements were in the save the dates, formal invites and will be part of the on-site décor as well. Using the same font and colors throughout your event will help establish your organization and get guests excited for what is to come next because they feel that they are part of your world for that time.
So the next time you feel like your organization (or your poor friend who is planning a wedding) doesn’t have enough resources to pull off a creative marketing feat, think again! Keep it creative and keep it consistent. With a few invested parties, you can share the word and build the hype while keeping your sanity.