5 Online Tools for Promoting Real-Life Events

Laura Austin runs the BookMachine website and tweetups with Gavin Summers. Follow them on Twitter at @book_machine.

Do you organize real-life events? Social media can help you promote them – and save time, says Laura Austin.

Image © Toby Rhind-Tutt

How do we organize our bi-monthly BookMachine tweetups alongside full time jobs? Well, doing this has only become possible in the last few years, and all thanks to social media. We spend just two to three hours a week on promoting our events. Here are the top five free tools that help us out:

1. Twitter

Twitter works best if you use it little and often – that way you get to follow the trends and keep in touch with your followers, but without losing sight of the rest your life! In other words, it’s extremely addictive but equally extremely effective.

We have been using it for a year and now have over 1,150 followers, many of who come to our parties. We have learnt so much by following interesting people and also extended our network and knowledge of the industry by reading the constant stream of articles on our timeline.

BookMachine’s Top tips:

  • use DMs for more personal contact
  • always thank people for RTs
  • use Tweetdeck to schedule your tweets so you can get on with the rest of your life.

2. Mailchimp

Mailchimp software is ideal for starting out with email campaigns. We send out weekly newsletters to our distribution list. It enables us to easily monitor response rates. The best feature is the mobile app which allows you check data on the move. Using the app you can also add new contacts to your distribution list as-and-when you meet them.

It is very intuitive and provides an array of pre-designed templates to get you started. From the easy-to-follow analytics we can check which campaigns are most read and which articles are clicked on. It’s interesting to see how many people might read the same email up to 18 times!

BookMachine’s Top tips:

  • carefully analyze your stats so you increase click through rates
  • don’t add folks without asking permission first – if you do they’ll block you and if you are blocked too often you will be blacklisted by anti-spam software
  • take the app with your everywhere so you can always add contacts.

3. WordPress

WordPress makes building and updating a website much easier. Previously only a platform for blogging, WordPress has become a fully-fledged web content management system, used by some of the biggest sites on the net. Using free plugins, it is easy to integrate feeds from all our social media profiles, and create a real ‘base camp’ for BookMachine. Once set up, we just add our articles weekly using the handy management tools, and hit ‘publish’, no fancy coding involved!

BookMachine’s Top tips:

  • there are a multitude of high-quality (and free) themes available for WordPress, pick one and give your site a more polished look
  • don’t buy an expensive web hosting package if you only want a simple blog, host for free using wordpress.com
  • use Google’s Analytics code with WordPress so you can track visits to your site (in terrifying levels of detail)
  • be sure to add social links to your posts so your content can easily be shared on social media sites.

4. Eventbrite

We have just started using Eventbrite for event sign ups and so far it seems to fit the bill very nicely. It enables you to set up a few events at once and event-goers are then sent invitations, which you can customize. For example, Atwood Tate are sponsoring the drinks at our next event, and we’ve been able to personalize each and every invitation with their logo on it.

You also have the option to insert a map of the venue and attendees can either sign up with their name and company, just their name or anonymously, depending on the type of event you’d like to hold.

BookMachine’s Top tips:

  • link up Eventbrite with your Mailchimp account, and easily send out event invitations to your mailing list
  • do something interesting with your tickets – we might hold a raffle at the next BookMachine event using them. Maybe.

5. Facebook

We are also quite new to the world of Facebook brand pages. When we first signed up we started an ads campaign so that people who were interested in publishing were enticed with BookMachine adverts. The response rate to this was good, and we made some interesting contacts this way, although we found it to be too expensive to be continued long term.

We have many contacts whose only regular social media usage is with Facebook, so it’s really important to be present here, even if your updates are less frequent than with Twitter or LinkedIn. It’s also a good way to share great content from your website as people can ‘like’ and comment on your posts.

If you do wish to feed your Twitter posts into Facebook, make sure you only do so for tweets marked with #fb. This way there won’t be a content overload.

BookMachine’s Top tips:

  • set it up so your WordPress articles feed automatically into your Facebook feed so it runs itself in terms of new content
  • similarly set it up so that there are no more than two updates a day – no one wants their Facebook homepage overloaded with posts from one contact
  • make sure you like other interesting pages via your Facebook page so that you are able to follow and support others with their marketing too.

Find details of the next BookMachine event on their website, or follow @book_machine on Twitter.

About Laura Austin

Laura Austin has been working in educational publishing for nearly five years, firstly in editorial and more recently in sales. She is co-founder of BookMachine and is behind the sales and publicity linked to the site and events. She is also a regular contributor to the site and is also a blogger for the Oxford University Press ELT blog. Follow her on Twitter at @lauraaustinnow.

View all posts by Laura Austin →

3 Responses to 5 Online Tools for Promoting Real-Life Events

  1. Thanks for the helpful information, ladies.I think I haven’t been using Twitter to its full advantage. I get bored with it too easily. But, man, is it a great way to make new contacts – and help others spread their news, too.

  2. Haven’t used eventbrite yet but thanks for these especially on the tips.

  3. Ian Adams says:

    Your insight in “Top tips” is what makes this article great Laura. I think adding a 6th “Event Listing Sites” would be a good add (Eventful, zvents, etc.) These are free channels of promotion!