Social media sites are a great way to promote an event. It can be an inexpensive way to reach like minded people. After all, your goal is to get noticed. Plain and simple.
However you’d better be careful what you ask for.
Some people say that no press is bad press. Today, I’m not so sure if that saying is appropriate any longer. We’ve all seen those viral YouTube videos that have received tens of thousands of views. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably wished that you could receive the same amount of views for your blog or video. The key with social media trends is that things will grow organically. In other words if you force-feed it (for example blatant advertising) chances are most people know what you’re up to and will just ignore you.
For today’s post let’s take a look at two different attempts at promoting an event. For both scenarios, the purpose was to garner attention. One, a musician hoping for that big break and the other an established police force wanting to promote community involvement.
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How to Promote an Event – Successfully
The first was a story by Caitlin Corcoran, a New York City based writer and blogger. Caitlin wrote an article for the Huffington Post about her boyfriend’s brilliant idea to get his band recognized.
Caitlin’s boyfriend, Sean, is in a band called Comfort Tech. Sean heard that Pres. Obama and VP Biden were scheduled to be in Oakdale, Pennsylvania for a talk on job skills training. Sean came up with the idea to promote his band by playing outside of his house as the President’s motorcade went by. So off Sean went to his local Walmart to get the necessary supplies in hopes to get the President’s attention.
On the day of the event, Sean and his band-mates were setup outside of his house with signs welcoming the President. As planned, President Obama’s motorcade rolled by Sean’s house on route to the venue. If you’ve ever watched a motorcade, then you’ll know it goes by very quickly.
And then it was over.
An hour later Secret Service paid a visit to Sean’s house. Now you don’t necessarily want a visit from the Secret Service. In this case, however, they were there to tell Sean that the President and Vice President wanted to meet with Sean and his band-mates.
They met. The President and Vice President exchanged a few pleasantries. And bang, instant recognition for Comfort Tech. Proof? Well we’re talking about Comfort Tech, aren’t we?
How to Promote an Event – Well, Be Careful What You Wish for
The next case for promoting an event comes to us from the New York City Police Department – the NYPD. Like most police departments, the NYPD often does community outreach. And what better way to do outreach than via social media sites.
At least that’s what the NYPD thought.
They created a hashtag, #myNYPD and asked the public to post cute personal photos with NYPD officers.
Not a bad way to promote an event, you might be thinking.
Well it started out innocently enough. At first there were many pictures of citizens posing with New York’s finest. For a while it worked pretty well. Then the hashtag was used to post pictures of the NYPD in compromising positions. People started posting pictures of alleged police brutality. Now, I’m not trying to make a case against the NYPD itself here. Rather the case I’m pointing out is to be careful when promoting an event organically. It turned into a PR nightmare.
Click here to see the social media campaign (caution as you will see pictures of alleged police brutality).
If you promote an event organically, you had better be prepared. If you’re getting exposure organically, or virtually, you don’t have 100% control of the message. Now most companies or people don’t have a lot of skeletons to hide, so you should be pretty safe putting your name out there. But if there are incidences which you would prefer to remain silent, maybe think twice before you reach out to your social media sites and ask them to help promote you. They just might do it.