Social media plan for a big shindig

Gala ReceptionOn June 22, SMU celebrated the last big bash of their Centennial year.

I started working here in January, pretty much in the middle of all the planning and events that were happening all over the place. All of my co-workers were completely stressed and the phrase “after the Centennial” was frequently spoken. I realized early on that I would never find out what “normal” is here until “after the Centennial.”

My part of the Centennial was social media coverage. I started pushing out facebook posts for the All-School Reunion and Red Carpet Centennial Gala months before the weekend arrived. The posts consisted of historical photos of campus and faculty members (these were much loved – or liked, to use the Facebook term), links to the newsblog articles regarding the events and a bunch of other status updates that described different aspects of the events. I had a google spreadsheet that I used for planning the content that would go out to the various facebook pages, and twitter.

The facebook pages consisted of three accounts that I have admin rights to. The majority of the posts went out on what I like to call the main facebook page, smumn, which has the most followers. Some of the posts were shared on the SMU.SGPP and the smumnalumni pages. A student worker was in charge of  a weekly trivia game on the alumni page which seemed to be popular. Every tweet was tagged with #smumn100. Once Facebook enabled their hashtags, I tagged every post on Facebook as well.

About a week before the big weekend, I started directing our followers to the smumnalumni page. The goal was to turn the conversation over to that page since the weekend was really targeted towards our alumni audience. I reminded the other two pages’ audience that the weekend updates would all take place on the alumni page. From the time I started directing traffic to that page and throughout the weekend, the alumni page gained 44 followers which is more than it gained in the last three months added together.

During the entire weekend, I ran myself ragged going to as many events as I could to take a few photos and post them on the alumni facebook page and on twitter. I used my iPhone to do this with the Hootsuite and Pages applications. It would have been ideal to have a team and assign a few people to each event so it could have been covered better, but that didn’t happen. I planned on using Instagram for photos, but that didn’t happen either.

After it was all over I started experimenting with Storify, RebelMouse, Scoop.it, and Tagboard for getting the hashtag story out to our followers.

Storify seems to be the most popular – it was always at the top of the list when I did a google search for aggregators, hashtag compilers, etc. I didn’t love it. It had a hard time pulling facebook posts in which is where most of the conversation took place pre-event and I wanted to get the whole story out there.

RebelMouse was the easiest – it pulled in everything. That was a problem; it pulled in everything. When I attached it to the alumni facebook page, it didn’t stop at the #smumn100 hashtag, it pulled in a lot more than that, which I had to manually delete. And, as far as I could tell, you could only attach one facebook page to it so all the posts I made pre-event were again neglected.

Scoop.it would have been the best, had I used it from the beginning. It is really easy to manage what you want scooped and it looks great in the feed. I haven’t promoted the scoop.it feed to anyone but it had views. Strange. Anyway, the downside of this is going back in time – utterly impossible. I don’t see a way to date the posts on their original posting date – it appears in your feed on the day you “scooped it” which makes things out of order. I used Scoop.it in the past and was an avid user but I just didn’t think of it in time for this event. I will, for sure, use this for the next one though, from day one.

Tagboard has a great look to the feed, but again, I didn’t love it. The free version was a little limiting, you can’t edit what gets out there and we’re not interested in purchasing anything at this time.

My experience with this event has brought me to the following conclusions:

  • Get a team to cover everything better, not just one person trying to cover everything half-assed.
  • Start compiling the story from day one using scoop.it. Don’t wait until afterwards to try and find everything.
  • The content calendar worked great – keep using that.
  • The hashtag worked great too – in fact that was the key
  • Promote the hashtag as soon as you create it and frequently there-after – don’t wait until a few days before the event.
  • Carry an extra charger for the iPhone during the event and up your data plan for the month – unless of course you can use a company phone. I had to use my personal one – which is another reason I didn’t get Instagram set up in time for it.
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