8 must have techie tools for event professionals

Events and social media might as well be relatives. At first glance it appears they have nothing in common, but they share the same parent: interaction. Its no wonder that social media is a no-brainer for events. I’ve picked out my favorite techie tools for event planners and tossed in some practical event planner suggestions.

The needs of “event planners” vary. I’m going to cut up these recommendations in the for the following types of event planner:

(R) Retail/Restaurant location: your hosting events regularly at your location primarily to drive traffic. Event planning is just one of the many hats you wear.

(T) Tradeshow/Convention/Event Marketer/Festival: You hold a large event regularly. Driving attendance is of primary concern for you.

(S) Special Event Planner and Producers/DMC: Companies call on your expertise to develop memorable events for corporate purposes.

(N) Nonprofit/Fundraising: Most of your events are designed around fundraising or cultivating donors.

(P) Promoter: You host events regularly, perhaps in different locations. Clubs and venues hire you to create buzz around their location.

(N/S/T/R/P) EventBrite: One of the best web-to-mobile applications out there today for event planners. The Iphone app makes check in a breeze and automates into reports and tracking for later analysis.   Semi-custom event widgets are available for your website and for supporters of your event. The system is free to nonprofits, but fee-based for others. Eventbrite also integrates with your Facebook page and has other event promotion tools like SEO. I particularly love that you can see attendees. When determining whether to attend an event, I often look to see who else is going. To that end, if you have high profile attendees, speakers, guests, make sure to register them too.

(R/P/T) Facebook Pages: Not a profile. Facebook keeps the event front and center on a user’s page and the date info can even be exported to the calendar. This is ideal for Event Marketers and Promoters and Retail planners, particularly with a specific area in mind. Event Marketers could have a page for each stop or a tab for each stop.

Everyone should have a custom landing page for new visitors. It encourages fan growth, brand reinforcement and even email collection. Just remember – give them a compelling reason to give you their email and don’t make it a requirement.

Tradeshow planners: For those people who “like” the event, consider custom communications, updates and rewards. Shout-outs to fans who interact with your page should be on-going. Facebook also creates an opportunity for Tradeshow organizers to stay front and center with attendees throughout the year. Offer your speakers a chance to interact directly with your fans and friends by allowing then to post about recent topical blogs. Facebook chats with speakers the month leading up to the event are a great way to energize your attendees and capture the imagination of some who are on the fence. Ongoing offerings create advocates out of attendees.

(R/T/N/P) Twitter:

Events can use Twitter in thousands of ways, but for all of you, remember, Twitter is NOT a blow-horn, its a conversation starter. Engage, engage, engage and do it all year long, not just in the 3 months before your event.

For tradeshow organizers, are your speakers tweeting, using hashtags? Are you holding tweetups at the conference? Are you partnering with your sponsors on Twitter for co-op promotions and mashups? Don’t forget the value of having screens with your #hashtag throughout the event. It encourages your attendees to tweet, and gives them an additional way to meet up. Tradeshow organizers should also consider ways to engage influencers on Twitter, there are many ways to do that, be creative!

For retail and promoters, are you doing more than blasting your information, do you provide contests and offers? Are you using pictures and humanizing your location or event? Again, creative and fun use of #hashtags can create some energy around your event.

Nonprofits should consider Twitter as a primary engagement tool and volunteer recruitment. Using ad-ons like TwitPic can be a fun way to encourage volunteers to engage on Twitter about their volunteer experience. Using Twitter #hashtags for your fundraising events is a great way to keep the event in front of your audience. Keep people updated on fundraising goals and volunteer recruitment and consider running a Twitter campaign in conjunction with your events for people who can’t attend.

For everyone: Respond to your RT’rs and engage them, everyone likes to be acknowledged. You could even consider some kind of VIP treatment for supporters.