7 Ways to Use Social Media for Community Events

Crew Club

Make sure you are all rowing in the same direction when using social media to promote events

Recently a friend asked me for suggestions for using social media for community events, specifically a local, community-based rowing crew club in which she and her children are involved. Her goals: more exposure, promote programs, increase interest in membership. Her audience, junior high and high school students and their parents. They were using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A quick review of their website and accounts produced the following recommendations.

Include Links to your Social Profiles on your Website

When using social media at events remember this, if people don’t know you have social media profiles, they aren’t going to follow you there. All social media platforms provide users with brand guidelines and downloadable icons for free. Take advantage of this.

If you’re using WordPress for your website there are loads of plug-ins and widgets that make including them simple. Please don’t go out and steal icons from Google image search, they will not be scalable, the most recent or legal. That’s true for any image you use! Here are some handy links to social media brand resources for you.

Content is King

Make sure the content on your platforms is something that will interest your audience. In this example, I encouraged them to use their Facebook page as a method of communication regarding events, cancellations, fundraisers etc. while also posting content that is interesting to the larger, potential rowing community. Of course, also use your email list to communicate in case people don’t see these posts, but many people, especially in this demographic, rely on social media as their primary mode of communication. Make sure to include your social media profiles in all your emails too.

Also, when crafting your social media posts, don’t assume your potential audience understands your lingo. Remember you are trying to stimulate interest with people who don’t know you. Explain every post clearly and use an image or video to support your content. I hate to see a compelling story or worthwhile community event get lost in translation because people don’t understand your content.

Use Facebook Events Feature

Rather than just posting about your event in a standard post, use the event feature to create an event. Facebook events allow you to add location (connects to your phone’s map app), hours, URLs for tickets, description of events and photos. They also create their own group that allows attendees and the creator of the event to post teasers, additional details and more. These posts will be shared in the timelines of anyone that showed interest in your event. Bonus: attendees can share the events AND invite their friends easily.

Make sure to use your other platforms to cross-promote the event. Each event you create will have its own unique URL which can be shared on Twitter for example.

Here’s an event as an example. Hover over that share button to choose who to invite from your friends’ list.

 

Facebook event

Facebook events allow users to share and invite anyone in their own friends’ list.

Use Facebook Live Video During your Event

Back to my friend.

She described to me a recent event that sounded exciting! People watching were cheering and clapping and the tension was palpable. Those kids were amazing with their skill and endurance!

If you’re looking for creative ways to promote an event, here’s a perfect example of where Facebook live could be a great option. Facebook live is getting more reach than any other type of post right now, so it’s a great time for brands to get on board. Facebook pushes promotions of the live event directly to people’s mobile devices, so they do some of the promoting for you. I spoke about using Facebook Live as well as YouTube to promote brands at a recent statewide conference, and here’s the link to the presentation I gave:

Use Instagram to Connect with Younger Audiences

With 700 million active users, Instagram is a fantastic way to connect with audiences, so think about including it in your social media event marketing strategy. In this example, the visual content; boats, water, happy kids, would lend itself well to the platform and to the younger demographic. A recent study by Social Media Today using Google Trends shows that Instagram Stories are at least TWO TIMES more popular than rival Snapchat stories, so use the story feature during events! I point this out because many of you will say: Junior High and High School – we HAVE to be on Snapchat!

Not necessarily.

Unless you understand the platform and how to grow an audience there, do your research before jumping in. Since, in this case, they were already using Instagram, it makes sense to leverage the audience they have rather than invest energy into growing a new one on another platform.

Hint: one drawback of Instagram, unless you are using the business feature, links in descriptions aren’t clickable. If you’re a business or non-profit, consider converting your account to take advantage of this feature. Also, make sure you at least have your website in your bio and, if you have a special event, there’s no reason you can’t change that link temporarily to point to it and tell people in the description.

Carmine Media Instagram

Business Instagram accounts allow users to call and email you directly

Initiate Social Media Account Takeovers

If you want kids and parents involved, I recommended having a participant or parent take over your accounts during an event. Not only will this get them engaged, but also give you valuable insight into what THEY think is post-worthy and exciting. You’ll be able to tell by what they posted during their takeover. Facebook allows you to easily give another user an editor role (don’t give them admin unless you want them to have full control). For Twitter and Instagram, you’ll have to give them the username and password, which you’ll then change after the event.

Some tips before you do a takeover:

Promote the social media takeover before it happens

Take a photo of the student or parent and introduce them to your audience beforehand with a descriptive post. Describe the event they’ll be taking over and why you chose them for the honor. Include their bio and how they are involved in the program. Ask them to promote the fact that they’ll be taking over the account in advance too, in order to encourage more participation.

Choose your social media ambassador wisely

Make sure you can trust this ambassador with spelling, grammar, and responsible content. Consider interviewing them and looking at their public social profiles before you agree. It’s an honor and a privilege to be trusted with someone’s brand, so treat it as such.

Use Signage to Promote your Event

Making banners or posters for your organization or event? Include your social media profiles! Is your event visible to the public, make sure your workers are wearing t-shirts that include your hashtag and put up temporary signs to follow and engage.

Include Attendees in your Social Media Content

During the event, ask attendees and participants if you can take a photo of them with their phone, then give them the hashtag you are using so they can post it. Or take a photo yourself, get their permission to post (in writing is best) and tell them where they can find the photo – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. In most cases, if people are included in a photo they will tag themselves and/or share it. This is social media gold.

Important: ALWAYS get permission before you post a photo of a person. For minors, you often need a parent’s permission to post. In a case like this, it’s a good idea to build that written permission into your entry forms and to consult your organization’s attorney before proceeding. Nothing’s worse than getting hit with problems for posting photos without permission. Buzz kill.

These are all fairly simple organic ways to promote your content and increase reach and engagement. The most important thing you can think about is your audience. What is going to entice them to engage and share? Then promote that content like crazy. That’s how you build a community of engagers.

To make sure you’re all rowing in the same direction, I’m always happy to provide reviews! Just contact me or send me a tweet @suereynolds

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Social Media Travel Tips

 

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Hydra, Greece

 

I live my life in social media, so when I’m off duty and traveling I go through the same argument in my head.

How much should I share?

There’s the school of thought that says, don’t brag about your vacations on social. You know the cliche – bare feet on the sand on Instagram.

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On the beach in Truro, Greece in March 2015. Too cold for bare feet but you get the idea.

But then, I have people tell me how much they enjoy my photos and how they feel like they’ve been on vacation with me. After years of traveling and arguably, oversharing, I’m now getting genuine requests for things my friends want to see. Under my initial post on a recent trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, I received the following request:

On this trip, I’d like to go to the Concentration Camps, see where the Berlin Wall used to be… And any other cool places you find along the way! Thanks! – Lisa

So yes, I obliged with photos from Dachau Concentration Camp, a section of the Berlin Wall and a sunlit trip to the Alps and Austria.

 

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The gates of Dachau read: Work is the path to freedom.

 

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A section of the Berlin Wall in Nuremberg, Germany

After years of traveling and sharing, here’s what I’ve learned about social media and travel.

Facebook

This is my most used platform when I travel. It’s easy to get carried away and post all day about the exciting things you’re seeing, but I find it best to use my time at the end of the day, and the hotel wifi (when abroad I don’t pay for an international service) to reflect on what I what I want to share, then post an album of the day’s photos with a detailed explanation of what I learned along the way. The fact that I don’t have international service is deliberate, in that I don’t want to have my face in my phone all day. Instead, I want to absorb what I’m experiencing, and then reflect in the hotel over a glass of wine about the day’s events. I use these posts on Facebook as a journal and it’s fun when Facebook, years later, shows me “this day four years ago” in my feed.

If you do have an international service plan you could also do the following:

Go live – stream whatever you are seeing and hearing directly into your friends’ feeds. That wonderful aria in Florence, Italy. Broadcast it. My son and I came up on this in 2016 while strolling the streets of Florence. I have no words.

Use events – if you have free time, use Facebook events to find local art, sports and music events. You might even snag tickets to that jazz event you’ve been looking for in New Orleans. Trust me, you don’t want to miss that.

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My favorite jazz club in New Orleans

Use groups – if you’re traveling in a group like I do, create a Facebook group to share logistics details and make suggestions. It’s like a message board, and it’s a great way to stay organized. After the trip, use the group to share thoughts and photos of your experiences.

Instagram

With the multitude of filters, Instagram is a foolproof way to showcase your travel photos. Keep in mind that the audience on Instagram isn’t as tolerant of multiple posts per day, so try to keep your posts to one or two a day at the most. Be generous with your hashtags though. Using up to 30 will allow your photos to be exposed to people outside your following circle and you may just discover some new experts along the way. The most underused feature is the search option. For example, type “Rothenberg” in the search window and you’ll see all the photos, most popular and most recent, posted in the results. Using this feature I discovered we could walk on the wall in Rothenberg, something I would not have known if it weren’t for the app. And away we went….

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Climbing the wall in Rothenberg, Germany

Twitter

If Facebook is your friend circle, Twitter is the world. Depending on what type of audience you’ve assembled here, feel free to post with abandon. But don’t get so caught up in sharing that you forget the other uses. You might find last-minute deals on flash sales by using specific destinations, keywords or hashtags like #traveldeals. Following experts like The Points Guy (@thepointsguy) will help you learn to maximize your awards points.

Twitter is also great for customer service for airline snafus, hotel mixups etc. When my son and I were delayed 14 hours on a recent trip to Denver, Colorado (Frontier, cough, Frontier) you can bet I took to Twitter about it. We made it, but not without a lot of inconvenience.

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My son Johnathan and I in the Colorado Rockies.

Hint: many social media agents are more empowered than their phone counterparts, not always, but it’s worth trying your luck. I received a $300 voucher for complaining on Twitter.

Flickr

Perhaps Yahoo’s last and only product worth mentioning here, Flickr gives you one Terabyte of free storage. I use Flickr to upload my best photos after I return home. You can choose the type of copyright you wish to give and allow full use or restrict. It’s up to you. Personally, I find it fun to know someone used one of my photos in a blog etc.

Check out my photostream here.

Hashtags

Use hashtags as a universal way of finding what you need. Like Hansel and Gretel in the Black Forest in Germany, use them to find your way to whatever is interesting or useful to you. I use #traveltuesday, #lovetravel or #visit(nameofcountry) to find interesting and relevant information. I also use those when posting to Instagram to widen my reach and expose my audience to what I learned.

Google Photos

As an Android user I can’t say enough about this app. Without my doing anything, Google photos uploaded everything from my recent trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, made an album, inserted maps and organized the photos chronologically. All I had to do was share the album. It also allowed me to collaborate with my son Johnathan, who accompanied me on the trip.

Check out my Google photos here.

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So use social media to enhance your trip, but be sure to look up from your phones and enjoy what you’re experiencing! I know you want to catch that Mr. Mime on Pokemon, but there’s a world out there!

Social media and travel go together, and not just for those photos of feet in the sand.

To follow my travels on Instagram, join me @offdutysocial. 

 

The Value of SEO: How to Improve Rankings on Existing Content

 

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How to Optimize Existing Content

 

“The best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google’s search results.” 

Arnie Kuehn, Vertical Measures

You already know the value of creating great, quality content that helps your customers. Putting out that content for free is part of your strategy to create a body of work that helps potential customers with decision making. But what do you do when that content doesn’t show up in search results and isn’t driving the traffic you’d hoped? Here’s a few tips to optimize your existing content so that it ranks better.

Avoid using the same title tag across multiple pages.

If you’re using a WordPress plug-in like Yoast SEO it will ding you for this. Why? Using different title tags for your pages helps to tell search engines what your page is about. Using the same one, or none at all, confuses the search engines and implies that the page isn’t as valuable as you k now it is.If you don’t know what a title tag is, MOZ has a great Title Tag tutorial here.

Reduce page load time by optimizing images

That beautiful header image you downloaded from your image provider, like 123rf.com, is probably slowing down your page load time if you haven’t sized it or optimized it. Page load time is more important than ever, and search engines will rank slowly loading pages lower. Resize that image outside of your website using a program like Canva or even Paint, then run it through a compressor like Compressor.io before uploading it.

Make sure your keywords are in the right places

Say you want to rank for “Content Marketing.” Make sure Content Marketing is in your title, your first paragraph, your header tags, your last paragraph and, if you’re really trying, your image alt tags and titles. Don’t stuff your keywords though. You’ll be penalized rather than rewarded. Including more than one keyword in your content is especially important these days, so use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to help get ideas. See what other keywords are suggested, then go back and optimize your content for those words as well. Hint: you don’t have to be running AdWords to use this tool.

While the keyword meta tag isn’t that useful now, it won’t hurt to include your keywords there either. It’s a good idea to include your keyword in the meta description too, but remember that meta descriptions are not a ranking mechanism, rather a valuable description of the content for the user.

Optimize content ranking on page 2 or 3 of the results page

Do a quick search on the keyword or phrase for which you want your pages to display. Then click through the search engine results until you find it. If you find your content on page 2 or 3, try using these tips on that content first to improve the ranking. Check back regularly to see how it’s doing.

Remember that traffic can also drop to a site redesign or a poor user experience in general. If you’ve recently redesigned your site, check all these things to make sure you aren’t being penalized.Overall, the search engines want to serve up quality, helpful content to their users. If your content is helpful, answers questions, especially niche questions, and is well written and thoughtful, you’ll be well on your way to meeting the same goals as the search engines.

Overall, search engines like Google want to serve up quality, helpful content to their users. If your content is helpful, answers questions, especially niche questions, and is well written, focused and thoughtful, you’ll be well on your way to meeting the same goals as the search engines.

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