Go Beyond 280: Hold a Tweetup

Every time I hear the word tweetup, this classic dances into my head.

 

What’s a tweetup? It’s a face-to-face meeting of people who are on Twitter. That’s it. The concept is simple, but it’s not always easy to pull off. If you’re thinking about holding a tweetup at your next event, keep these tips in mind:

posing for the camera

At a tweetup? Have fun and talk to people!

Location, location, location. Just like in real estate, it’s all about the location. Pick a spot that can accommodate the expected number of attendees and is accessible, but not in the main drag, so to speak. If everyone’s already in the lobby or at the hotel bar, then don’t hold your tweetup there. It will be too difficult to figure out who’s at the tweetup and who’s just hanging out there. (p.s. It’s helpful to pick a location with strong phone service and/or WiFi so people can actually tweet at your tweetup.)

It’s all about the plan. It may seem like everyone just shows up, but that’s not the case — especially if you want everything to run smoothly. Besides scouting the location, you need to figure out the other aspects. Prizes and special guests will help draw a crowd while hors d’oeuvres or snacks will be appreciated. You can also have a theme for your tweetup; raise money or collect canned goods for a cause or tie it to your overall event (i.e. recharge at your tweetup at a racing-themed event with snacks, seating areas & phone chargers)

Hello, my name is… Yes, you’ll probably have some type of badge or name tag if you’re at an event, but it won’t showcase your Twitter handle. Remember, Twitter handles aren’t always people’s names, so it’s helpful to have name tags (and pens/markers) for people to write their handles on. It also gives attendees something to do when they first arrive and serves as an ice breaker. You can design a custom template for your event or offer different colors of name tags to differentiate between attendees (i.e. green for exhibitors, blue for staff). Whatever route you go with the name tags, make sure you can see the Twitter handles. That’s what you’re there for!

Tweet about it! Let people know the tweetup will be happening and then fill in the details once they’re available. You don’t have to promote the exact details too far in advance either. In fact, some people wait until the night before or morning of the tweetup to tweet the exact time and location. Keep other promotion to a minimum. A tweetup is specifically for people on Twitter, so there’s really no need to promote it on Facebook or Instagram (that’s an InstaMeet, anyway). Onsite promotion isn’t necessary either. While you need people to find the location, you don’t need to attract interest from the passing traffic. (p.s. Creating a specific hashtag is your call. If you already have an event hashtag, it may only cause confusion.)

The tweetup day’s here! Arrive early to make sure everything’s ready to go and begin welcoming your Twitter followers. Introduce yourself to attendees and remind them about the name tags and snacks along with any prize giveaways or special guests. Encourage them to check in at your tweet up or tweet pictures and updates.

Have fun! You’ve done the work, now enjoy yourself. Go beyond 280 characters, and get to know attendees beyond their Twitter handle. One last thing… don’t forget to stop tweeting long enough to actually talk to the people in front of you. 😉

Tweet about it

Have you attended or organized a tweetup?

What tips would you add? Is there anything you tried that did not work?

Would you recommend a specific tweetup hashtag?

Rockin’ Robin video courtesy of Buddha Mist YouTube Channel

Tweet, Tweet, A Tweetin’,
Jaime

Until we meet at a tweetup, let’s connect online:
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Wristbands: Carrying Your Message for Miles (and Years)

When the Livestrong Foundation (formerly known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation) launched the iconic yellow silicone wristband in 2004 as a fundraising initiative, I hoped it would raise some money for a worthy cause. I had no idea that it would catch on across the country — and around the world — as one of the hottest promotional products around. To date, over 80 million Livestrong bands have been sold, inspiring countless other charitable organizations, companies and brands to share their message in this popular manner.

silicone wristbands

Silicone wristbands are so popular even Elvis has his eye on them.

 Like so many others, I thought this trend would never last. Who would want to wear these promotional wristbands? Nearly everyone, it turns out. From young to old and red to blue, people of all ages, nationalities, genders, political beliefs and lifestyles want to rock a wristband. That’s one of many reasons the silicone wristband is here to stay. Ten years later, this staple promotional product is produced in a plethora of colors promoting metro parks to marathons and everything in between.

If you’re interested in promoting your company or brand with a reminder around the wrist, keep the following variables in mind:

  • decoration method
  • imprint location
  • imprint colors
  • band sizes
  • band colors
  • packaging options
  • quantity
  • in-hands date

All of these factors can affect your pricing, and different options make sense for different objectives.

In addition to exposure, silicone wristbands are also helpful at events. Hand them out to attendees at concerts, conferences and sporting events to easily identify who should be admitted and who shouldn’t. They’re durable, easily spotted and can be kept long after the event for continued exposure and as a keepsake.

Whatever your message is, it’ll go far on a silicone wristband.

Weigh In

What silicone wristbands are in your collection?

Are you surprised at this product’s staying power or did you think it would be a hit?

When did you get your first silicone wristband?

Have you promoted your brand, company, cause, organization or event with one?

Rockin’ the wristband,
Jaime

We don’t have wristbands, but we do have social networks. Connect with CCC!
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#Hashtags: Big Business or Bust?

Hashtags

Hashtags — love them or hate them? Are they good or bad for business? Photo courtesy of Michael Coghlan via Creative Commons License

Let’s take a closer look at the world of hashtags…

On the positive side, hashtags open up your social media updates to a whole new world: non-subscribers, non-fans and non-followers. Searching hashtags brings potential fans, followers, subscribers — and customers — to your doorstep. Whenever I use hashtags, I always receive more traffic from those outside of my network. I’ve also come across brands — both personal and corporate — on Instagram and Twitter that I probably never would have found otherwise.

Hashtags are also a wonderful way to have a conversation online. Stay up to date with webinars, events, ad campaigns, sporting events, etc. by searching for the hashtag and participating in the conversation. As a marketer (or event professional), designating hashtags for your campaigns and events is a great way to invite attendees to join the conversation, build momentum pre- and post-event, involve those unable to attend and integrate your online and offline marketing efforts.

#Olympics hashtag search

The #Olympics hashtag: insight and insanity

For example, Twitter noted that the #SuperBowl hashtag was used 3 million times over an approximate 5-hour time period. As a marketing professional, you’re probably excited to jump in! But slow down — and do the math. That breaks down to an average of 167 tweets per second. And remember, anyone can use a hashtag — not only brands, companies or excited fans talking positively about your product or service. Someone complaining about a sideline reporter’s outfit or a celebrity that’s spotted in the crowd will show up in that hashtag search as well. As Oreo showed us, hashtags don’t make the tweet.

Power outage? No problem says Oreo.

Oreo stole the show on Super Bowl Sunday. No hashtag needed.

Another negative aspect is what I like to call ‘overhashtagging.’ I’m pretty sure that’s not a word, but it is in my dictionary. #Have #you #ever #read #a #tweet #like #this? #Probably #not #because #its #so #annoying. I’ve spoken to Twitter users regarding hashtag use and come across research that noted readership (and engagement) drops after 2 – 3 hashtags. Of course, it’s not just on Twitter; we’ve all seen photos maxing out the 30 hashtag limit on Instagram. As my mom always says, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. #justsaying

In summary, hashtags have good and bad qualities like most things in life. They can be used correctly or abused as some of the pros and cons below show.

Pros

  • gain new followers, fans, subscribers and possibly customers
  • have a conversation online
  • bring event attendees into the conversation, including pre- and post-event
  • integrate online and offline marketing efforts
  • help a campaign go viral

Cons

  • new followers may be temporary or fake
  • aesthetically unpleasing
  • overuse is distracting / hard to read
  • overuse lowers readership / engagement
  • get lost in the sea of popular hashtags

I came across an insightful comment by Daniel Victor, social media staff editor at The New York Times, which sums up my opinion of hashtags well.

“Here’s where I’ll join the rest in unquantifiable hoodoo: I believe hashtags are aesthetically damaging. I believe a tweet free of hashtags is more pleasing to the eye, more easily consumed, and thus more likely to be retweeted (which is a proven way of growing your audience). I believe for every person who stumbles upon your tweet via hashtag, you’re likely turning off many more who are put off by hashtag overuse. We need not banish the hashtag, but let’s start putting more thought into when we’re using it.”

Your Thoughts

What do you think? Are you a hashtag user or recovering abuser? Refuse to use them?

Have hashtags been beneficial to your business? Or hurt your online brand?

Please chime in with your thoughts on the wonderful, wacky world of hashtags! Feel free to link to articles, blog posts, studies, etc. (including your own) on the subject in the comments as well.

Additional Reading

#EnjoytheWeekend!

Jaime

p.s. Sunday, June 30th, is Social Media Day 2013! Join CCC as we celebrate (virtually) the power of social media in our lives. View the event invite for details and social media resources.

Join the conversation: 
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I’m grateful for… “I have an app for that.”

Save anywhere with Pocket

I recently read a blog post by Lifehacker asking readers what free apps they are most thankful for this year. That’s when I realized how much I utilize apps to make my life, both personal and professional, run smoothly. What are your favorite apps (paid or free)?

Here are 7 apps that have become a part of my regular routine (in alphabetical order):

  •  Dropbox — this awesome app allows me to access my files anywhere from any of my devices. Also, it’s an easy way to collaborate on projects due to its sharing capabilities. Dropbox was a life saver when I was working on a printing project with a customer in China earlier this year and working with large art files that needed several revisions.
  • Evernote — my favorite note-taking app! I use Evernote daily for work and play. From keeping a running shopping list to making note of possible gift ideas, this app is easy to use and share with others. In fact, it’s my app of choice for gathering quotes, successful case studies and ideas from events that I work for clients.

  • ING Direct — I love banking with ING, who was recently bought by Capital One and is becoming Capital One 360. I’m crossing my fingers that they, and their app, won’t change for the worse (which I’m sure it won’t). I love being able to check my account balances, pay bills, transfer money, find an ATM, cash checks and more from the convenience of my phone — anywhere at any time.
  • Mint.com — my financial snapshot at my fingertips. Plug in your accounts so you can easily keep an eye on your finances — loans, investments, checking and savings, mortgage, etc. If it affects your finances, it’s there. Budget, see where you spend your money and save for those goals, like that vacation on a tropical island.

mint.com app

  • MyFitnessPal — this app allows me to track calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc. and view a snapshot for the day, week or month. Enter your exercise as well, so you can see your net calorie intake and stay on track fitness-wise. The database has thousands of foods already entered, or you can enter your own, like my legendary peanut butter cream pie. Remember, a sound body means a sound mind too.
  • Pocket — I’m always coming across interesting headlines or intriguing websites right as it’s my turn to check out, a lunch appointment shows up or the light turns green. No problem, I just save it to my Pocket. This handy app lets you save favorites for viewing later on any device and share easily to social networks or non-social friends as well (i.e. text messaging, email).

Save anywhere with Pocket

  • Pulse — It’s 2012 and my newspaper is now on the Web, customized to me. Stay up-to-date on the latest news anywhere via any one of your devices, and easily share what interests you to your social networks or save for reading later when you’re stuck in line. Create pages so you can flip through content similar to the sections in a physical newspaper; only now, you create the sections, specify the content and don’t have to recycle the paper later.

So if you run into me in the real world while I’m on my phone, I’m probably using one of these apps. They’re game changers, and they have improved my life for the better.

What apps have found a permanent place in your life? I’d love to hear your favorites! While you’re at it, remember to be thankful for some other things in your life too.

You might also like: 50 Things I’m Grateful For…

Image credits: Evernote, Mint.com, Pocket

Be Thankful,
Jaime

“We’re getting the band back together.”

Just think how much easier it would have been for Jake and Elwood Blues if they had social media to help their cause. Of course, it wouldn’t have been nearly entertaining for us if they did.

Blues Brothers car

The getaway mobile that got the band back together!
Photo courtesy of Stig Nygaard via Flickr

Are you getting the band back together? Here’s four ways social media can help:

  1. Create an event on Facebook. This works for a public event or one where you’d only like to invite your friends or specific individuals. Get a head count and discuss details to make sure your event is a big hit. Post highlights and pictures/videos during and after the event to continue the momentum. Encourage attendees to snap their own pictures and shoot videos while tagging your company’s or brand’s page to spread the word.
  2. Google+ Events is a helpful planning tool for in-person or virtual get together’s (Google+ Hangouts). You can even invite people not yet on this social media platform via email, so check it out for your next party. Create a ‘circle’ of attendees to easily disseminate information to them.
  3. Finalize details and locate attendees as they arrive on Twitter. No, there’s not a specific ‘events’ function, but this micro-blogging platform is perfect for promoting your event, asking others if they’re attending or to find out if someone your meeting for lunch is already at the restaurant. You can also ‘live tweet’ an event by tweeting updates while they’re happening. Create a hashtag (#myevent) for your event so virtual (and even in-person) attendees can easily follow.
  4. Blog about your event to raise awareness and create excitement. Ask others to guest blog so attendees can get multiple viewpoints and learn more about specific activities, panels, etc. Engage attendees by asking for their feedback via comments and polls. Your event’s story can be continued during the festivities to update those who couldn’t make it or fill in the blanks for attendees who missed a specific session or interesting point. Add pictures, videos and links to follow-up content to pique interest and continue the conversation.

How have you used social media to plan, promote or follow up for your events? I’d love to hear about your ideas below. Feel free to ask questions you may have about upcoming events on your schedule.

Enjoy today!
Jaime

5 Ways to Spice Up Employee Appreciation

Most of us know by now how valuable it is to keep good employees. Knowledgeable, happy employees are valuable assets to a company, helping to reduce costs, maximize productivity (and revenue) and enhance your company’s brand or image.

There are a plethora of ways to thank valuable, hardworking employees. Following are 5 ways that you may not have thought about.

1. Bowl them over — A bowling outing can be a great way to boost morale and encourage bonding. Furthermore, many alleys also offer other perks, including a variety of food options to whet nearly any palate, arcade games, bocce, billiards, happy hours, karaoke, transportation to/from the event and variations to the standard bowling experience — black lights, special rules, etc.

cosmic bowling

A bowler enjoys the atmosphere of cosmic bowling.
Image courtesy of m4tik via Flickr

2. Cycle tours / special rides — A group bike tour or specialty ride can add some fun and memories to an otherwise typical day. These experiences can be turned into a team building event on their own or inject some serious fun into company picnics, appreciation days or a thank you for hitting key goals or metrics. Employees won’t forget getting out on the open road in an entirely different way anytime soon.

Rocket Ship Car

The Rocket Ship Car
“The Happiest Ride on Earth”

3.  A spa-like experience — Reward hardworking employees for pulling off a complex, last minute        project, crushing their quarterly goals or successfully making it through a crazy time of the year (i.e. tax deadline for accountants, a national convention). Various packages are available for many different budgets, and your staff will enjoy being pampered and waited on. From express massages to full service pedicures (yes, gentleman too), your relaxed employees will be grateful and energized.

4.  Casino night — Bring the thrill of Vegas to your staff! Employees will receive chips and move throughout the casino to play a variety of games. Friendly dealers will show less experienced players how the games work and bring an air of excitement to the festivities. Players redeem chips for raffle tickets and use these tickets to win prizes. Everyone has a chance to win, and best of all, there are no losers because no real gambling is involved. Hit the jackpot!

5.  A breath of fresh air — Nature has amazing restorative tendencies and employees will relish an opportunity to get out of the office. Thank your staff with a special trip to a zoo, an amazing retreat at a national park or a day trip on a scenic railroad. Attendees can unwind to a beautiful backdrop and rejuvenate for the next big project.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

Hocking Hills State Park is a great place to soak in the beauty of nature.

Remember, a fun experience can be had by all in a number of settings. Employees will appreciate your efforts to recognize their hard work and dedication and be inspired to continue to give their all to your organization.

What’s the most memorable employee recognition

experience you’ve had?

Enjoy your weekend,

Jaime

Sponsorship: Your Name Here

I was sitting at an Akron Aeros (AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) baseball game the other night when a hitter broke his bat. Shortly after he was thrown out at first (and the pitcher danced out of the way of the jagged bat head), the PA announcer said, “That broken bat was brought to you by MDF Bats. For major league quality bats…” Seriously.

Your Name Here!

Sponsorship opportunities are virtually limitless.

Sponsorship opportunities abound around nearly every turn, from sports to events and beyond. Some companies will do anything to see their name in lights while others question the ROI (return on investment) of such a commitment. Does your company utilize sponsorships as part of your marketing mix? How do you gauge success?

My association with sponsorships started young although I didn’t realize it at the time. No, my parents didn’t sell my forehead space to a company for $XXX. As most t-ball and little league players, my team was sponsored by a local company (which basically meant paying for the shirts. If they splurged for ice cream once in awhile after a game, that was a bonus). Of course, I didn’t think of the company as a sponsor; it was just a name on the front of my shirt (which was usually covered in enough mud or dirt to wipe out any exposure on my end). Hey, I was a catcher.

In high school, I became seriously interested in racing, especially NASCAR. Anyone familiar with the popular racing series knows that sponsors are essential to the sport today. That led to seeking sponsors for charity and/or non-profit events which eventually spilled into my marketing and event planning position where finalizing sponsors for our events was vital.

Can you measure the ROI of sponsorship?

Companies measure the ROI (return on investment) of sponsorships in different ways and some don’t measure them at all.

So maybe I’m biased, but I believe that sponsorships can really pay off if they’re a good fit and are marketed correctly, preferably on both sides. Speaking of the Aeros, I became familiar with my current HVAC company, Blind & Sons, due to their sponsorship of the team. Also, I recognized at some point that I patronized sponsors of NASCAR drivers I liked without even realizing it. Apparently most NASCAR fans do… According to studies, NASCAR fans buy over $3 billion of licensed products annually and are 3 times as likely to try and purchase sponsors’ products and services. In fact, NASCAR fans are considered the most brand loyal in all of sports. [Source: Race Day Sponsor]

As someone who solicited sponsors, I always tried to ensure the companies I worked with received as much value and exposure as possible. I also tried to target companies who were a good fit for a particular opportunity and would market the sponsorship on their end as well. To me, those were the sponsorships that made everyone happy.

So, have you worked with a company you noticed through sponsorship? If so, what were the results? (As the saying goes… you can have the best marketing in the world, but if the product or service doesn’t live up to expectations, ultimately it doesn’t matter.) I have worked with companies found via sponsorship and sold companies successful sponsorships, so I’m a believer in the process, if handled correctly. Besides, who can resist their name in lights?

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on sponsorships as a buyer or sponsor.

Cheers,
Jaime

Event Planning: You Need to Have a Plan

Have you ever tried your hand at event planning before? Even the most basic party or get-together (in your mind, at least) can turn into a stressful occasion when you’re in charge of all the details. Now think about putting on a conference or tradeshow for 500 or more of your closest friends.

No matter the size, the key to event planning is having a plan.

The most mundane details can pop up to haunt you onsite if you haven’t tied them down ahead of time. Trust me, I’m as spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants as they come, and I’m serious about having a plan for any event I’m putting on. Masking drape color, onsite inventory and task lists, personnel schedules and dress all need to be thought of before the big event.

Dress as in the clothes you’re going to wear? Yes, the last thing you need to worry about while running around onsite is not having appropriate shoes or forgetting formal clothing for that big Awards Dinner. Think about each day or event and what you will be doing in order to avoid wishing you had packed a whole lot differently (or any embarrassing moments).

Don’t assume that you’ll remember anything onsite. If you do, it will be a bonus. If you’re giving a speech, at least have note cards on hand in case you draw a big blank when looking out at the audience.

Another reminder that applies to any event you’re throwing… have any contact information you could possibly need on hand (preferably in your phone). Then you’ll be able to quickly get a hold of your hotel contact, colleague, caterer or sister-in-law when something comes up — or goes down — that you need help with.

Events can be fun to plan and rewarding when done well, especially when you plan to perfection.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend, and a sincere thank you to all who have served, and continue to serve today, to protect what makes America great.

Jaime