Attending and participating in an event is a great opportunity to leverage, support, and nurture your brand. With technology today, this is so easy to do. This post is inspired by my desire to empower those hosting and attending #IndieMeetup around the country this weekend to use the event as a fun business branding opportunity, but you can use these tips for any event you attend in your capacity as leader of your company.
These tips are not exhaustive — I'm necessarily leaving a lot of things out. If i didn't, this post would never end. There are so many different ways to use technology to your advantage at a live event, so this post covers several of the easiest. They are displayed generally in order of simplest (if you do not consider yourself tech savvy) to a bit more geeky (that would be me). You'll need a smart phone for all but the first of these activites. (I use iPhone.)
- Just blog it. If live photo sharing (discussed below) is not for you, then just take a bunch of photos with a regular camera, upload them to your computer, and then include them in a blog post about the event. This is pretty obvious and oh so easy, plus once you have the photos, you can do so many other things with them, including add them to your Flickr, FaceBook, and any social networking site you belong to. This option is for people who don't feel comfortable posting things live or who are not (yet) tech savvy.
- Post images to FaceBook. Live photo sharing is more effective because it's, well, live. Real-time engagement is frequently preferable to the after-the-fact kind, so why not share fun stuff as it's happening?
The easiest way to use events to support your brand is to use your smart phone's FaceBook app to share photos of the event at your FaceBook Business Page — live as you are snapping the pictures. You might want to post a status update in advance if you plan to share a lot of pictures, just to let your fans know what's coming, and to encourage them to check your page frequently during the even to see what they're missing. If you have subscribers at your FaceBook Profile Page, you can do the same to double your leverage advantage. Once the photos are added, I suggest creating a photo album with the event title, and then captioning each photo so people have a good context for years to come. You can also tag people in photos (ask first), and include FaceBook location information.
Another super nice touch is to LIKE the FaceBook Page of the location where the event is being hosted. For example, many #IndieMeetups are being hosted at local coffee shops.
What some extra credit? Like the location FaceBook Page, and use the new relationship to uplift yourself and the business that's hosting your event. I did this by using FaceBook as my Business Page, Liking Amelies French Bakery, (Charlotte's #IndieMeetup location) as my Business Page, posting this to my Business Page, tagging Amelies in the text.
Wouldn't it be nice if, by the time you read this post, someone at Amelies sees that I promoted their business to my FaceBook Fans?
See? Share what your company is doing as you also share the company you are doing it with. It's pretty awesome if you ask me.
Share your friends's FaceBook posts, and don't forget to ask them to share yours! This is sure to increase the engagement at your FaceBook Page, and may increase your fan count too. BAM Baby!!
- Post images to Twitter. Because so many photo sharing apps allow you to simultaneously post to Twitter and FaceBook, I always do this at events. Be sure to use the designated hash tag on Twitter. (For this weekend, it's #IndieMeetup) so people from all over the world can have access to the fun. If you feel like it, you can use free apps like Instagram for iPhone to give your photos some additional flair and appeal. (According to a recent CNET report, Istagram is not available yet for Droid, but you can use other apps you like, or the regular camera app on your Droid.)
to make things easier on yourself, download the photo app before the event, and set up sharing through FaceBook and Twitter in advance so you don't have to fiddle with it at the event. (You don't want to miss any good photo ops because you don't do this in advance.)
Before you start live Tweeting an event, it's a good idea to notify your followers with a quick Tweet about what's to come, especially if you plan to share a lot from the event. Remember to use the appropriate hash tag.
Bonus Points! You can tag the event location on Twitter in much the same way you can on FaceBook. Here's an example. Note from that link how Meetup and Twitter work together, not only to tag the restaurant, but also to let you know who else is attending. How cool is it that something so simple can provide opportunities to connect with Indies in your area and spread the word about the fun you are all having together?
- Post recorded videos to Twitter and FaceBook. Using Twitvid for iPhone or Android, you can take a quick video, compress it, and Tweet and FaceBook it in minutes! (Make sure your battery is fully charged!) This is super if you find someone interesting to interview at the event, or if you want to show everyone what the mango martini ice sculpture looks like while you're filling up your empty glass. People love seeing moving colors that showcase how much fun you are having — and how much fun you are to do business with.
Bonus Points!After the video is loaded to your Twitvid account, you can grab the embed code and use it at your blog. Instant blog post!
- Livestream. A little more for the geeky types, but super fun. The free Livestream iPhone app (I cannot find one for Android) makes it easy to stream a live video from your smart phone. Setting this up may be a bit involved for the uninitiated, and detailing the steps is beyond the scope of this post, so you can visit Livestream's website and get instructions here. (You'll have to check the FAQ for more details>)
During live play and playback, Livestream will embed a sponsored message before your feed, but you can bypass that if you want to pay $300+ for the privilege. This is a fun and useful app, and whether or not you use it for an event, it's one to know and learn about as you lead your business forward. Even so, I recommend it only when you've given people advance notice about how to watch the stream (what link to click) and that a commercial will be embedded. You could also use the Ustream app, which operates similarly to Livestream's. (If you want to get super fancy, you can even Livestream an event straight to your FaceBook Page. How cool is that?
Even if you don't do this, please take a moment to go to Livestream and reserve your brand name there, if you have not already done so. You might as well set it up in case you need it in the future, as you prevent others from grabbing your vanity URL on Livestream when you're not looking!
I'm just scratching the surface, offering a basic overview to get the ideas flowing. There are hundreds, even thousands, of apps you can use to support and nurture your brand at an event. Whatever you choose to use, remember to keep it simple (whatever that means for you) so you can enjoy your time networking, learning and sharing with other people.
Question: What did I miss? What apps, tips and tricks have you used to leverage your brand at live events? We'd love to hear how you use technology to leverage your brand at events!