Contributing author: Chip Stockman Good news travels slowly if at all, while bad news travels quickly, but the key to remember: “news does travel”. We all know that bad news travels quickly; “Really poor service at that new restaurant last night…”, “Delayed on the runway for 3 hours before my trip to Germany last year…”, “OMG, the price of that hotel was out of line…” I know you’ve either heard comments like these or maybe have made a few your self to friends or associates. The problem is that these comments take on a life of their own seeming to stay alive forever – crushing reputations, killing businesses and creating havoc, whether true or not. If you are using social media in your business or event marketing you actually might have a chance to repair damages done by comments like the ones mentioned above or at least you give your happy customers a chance to add their two cents of support. The keys: Be Aware, Be Fast and Be Honest. What follows is a primer on using a few Social Media outlets to both keep your subject matter out there and to use as a listening device to learn what your customers are saying and keep the voice of your company alive and active not only to spout your success to others (Outbound Advertising), but also to let your online fans help boost your image and exposure via the wonder of social media. Having one or more social media outlets and an event website lets attendees connect before,during and after your event to discuss meeting themes, presentations, location, sponsors and even allow folks to connect with each other. This amazing connectivity can even be exploited to generate online events for periodic webinars, presentations, face-to-face gatherings and more. Facebook The king of all things social networking due to ease of use, addicted users, and a possible brain-trust of smart folks making daily improvements, Facebook is where you need to start if you’re interested in marketing a social for any public event. The way that Facebook lets it’s members connect via friends of friends and lets you start groups and create online events is amazing. But if the occasion is more of an association event, private function or has a more select group of possible attendees you really should use a system that lets you limit the exposure to potential attendees to the private circle. Linkedin The largest business and professional site for connectivity, LinkedIn to me seems to be mostly professionals posting resumes and head hunters reaching out to find prospects – but they do offer a Groups function in their paid LinkedinPro version (19.95 per month) that you might consider for managing a Group of your own. Through privacy and group functions you can have the group open to all or have it set to Moderate which will let the group be public but require you to manually accept each new group request. This moderate function is a great way to let you personally welcome each new member and screen out Group Applicants that might not meet your group’s profile. More on using Linkedin to promote events: http://events.linkedin.com/ Twitter I must admit, in the early days I wasn’t sure how Twitter would help business, but I’ve learned it really is effective distribute short bursts of information (and a website URL) about your topic of interest. But just like the joke about a tree falling in the forest producing no sound – YOU need to create a nice or insert your Twitter comment into your own group of interested followers or send it to people who might be interested by using what the Twitter world calls “Hash tags”. Hash tags are simply a way to make a word or two appear in Twitter searches based on keywords such as #Meetings #Events or a specific event such as #IMEXAmerica group such as #MPI. The key to Twitter – Followers. You need to attract or build an audience that will be there to listen when you Tweet your precious news. Set up an account and search for organizations or events similar to yours and see who follows their accounts. Find the “Followers” button on those accounts and you will get a birds-eye view of the people and organizations who are interested in that account. Follow them (they will get a notification that you are now following them). If your Twitter profile is clear enough to understand who you are they might very well follow you back and automatically receive each one of your future tweets! I manage marketing for five separate Twitter accounts right now with followers numbers from 2,000 – 26,000. The amount of followers you will receive will vary based on your profile, content, frequency of tweet and how much time you spend mining for followers of similar accounts. It takes time (My 26,000 follower account took over 18 months to reach its present level) but it will be worth the effort in the long run. You MUST embed the Twitter Widget for your account in your website. This little window shows all of your Twitter posts and acts like a little billboard to your website viewers offering a simple “Click to Follow” button that will help you build your account followers. More information on using Twitter: http://support.twitter.com Twitter Widget: http://support.twitter.com/homes/search?query=widget Twitter Search bar: http://search.twitter.com/ Looking to market with Twitter? There a many tools that offer you the ability to create un-manned Twitter Marketing Campaigns. Simply search “Twitter Marketing” in your web browser and you will see. Want to produce a Twitter “Newspaper”? Read more about Paper.LI (http://paper.li/) where you can publish a periodic email newspaper that will pull in content based on keywords you choose. It’s an interesting new tool to automatically pull and distribute content that helps to support your interest, event or organization. YouTube If you have the time to shoot and edit your own video, putting material on YouTube can be very rewarding too. As the second largest search engine next to Google, I’ll bet that YouTube even offers videos of your competition – see for yourself. If even only an introductory video about your event (public event of course) a posted YouTube video can be inserted on your website, and email or other online location to help promote your project. If the event is annual you can even go into your YouTube account and remove or edit the video to promote the next years event with details and web link. i-Meet I would be remiss if I did not mention i-Meet.com. To offer full disclosure I do provide marketing services to i-Meet, but urge you to join (free) and see this online community for meeting professionals for yourself. On i-Meet.com you are free to search our database of supplier of services for any facet of the meetings, special events, destination, CVB, DMC, Golf Resort or Meetings Transportation industry. You are free to connect with the employees, rate the supplier, “Follow” and/or “Like” the listing as in Facebook, request information for a project, join or start you own theme, interest or regional interest group and much more. Your personal profile even lets you share photos and videos of your work and give you the opportunity to apply for Project Based meeting planner work. It will be worth your time.