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In my first blog installment, we addressed the question of how to build a stronger audience and expand community engagement practices through creative programming. As I mentioned, events are the gifts that keep on giving, but not without a little planning and TLC on your end. Now another complimentary question to ask is how do we successfully get the word out? Keep reading to find out different types of platforms for outreach, social media and other marketing strategies to target your audience.
Connect with local bloggers and Meetup groups
In our current digital media and marketing sphere, there are numerous places to deliver and receive information. I sometimes feel as though it can be a daunting task to stimulate engagement but nonetheless, if you want to be noticed, you have to make your move strategically. So, why not tap into the blogging communities in your area to help spread the word for you? For me, researching the local Meetup.com community was one of the smartest moves. I knew that being in the greater Boston area had its advantages and that there was a budding creative community… I just had to find out how to tap into it! I found this one Meetup group called Boston Film and Video Production, a perfect resource to help promote upcoming media centric events. I contacted the Meetup group organizer and shared information with them and they agreed to cross promote!
I knew that they would be instrumental in advancing our cause and spreading awareness. Not only was the group diverse artistically, but it had a built in following of members who were hungry for more networking opportunities. It was a win-win. We had programming to share and it helped keep their group’s engagement alive. Essentially, by using an existing Meetup.com group, I didn’t have to rely on creating a whole new audience.
Our successful promotions using Meetup.com include:
Additionally, if you are in any Meetup groups or know people who are, suggest your venue as a place to hold their next event. We have hosted local gamers, writer circles, entrepreneurs and more! This has been a great way to do larger outreach initiatives and to expand your visibility to a greater media making and creative community.
Navigating social media to your benefit...
Depending on your experiences, social media algorithms are either the bees knees or the bane of your existence. We must accept that algorithms change frequently and roll with the changes. The more people like, share and click on your posts, the stronger correlation social networks will make between your brand and those users. Whenever I finish planning an event or a program, I take to Facebook first. Here are some key ways to utilize Facebook events to your benefit:
After I create a Facebook event, I also create an Instagram post with the essential event information as a teaser to find out more by visiting our IG profile bio! According to FastCompany.com, “[Nonprofit] cause groups can now share sizzle reels with images that prompt immediate action.” Storytelling has so much power and oftentimes, with compelling media, people will want to keep reading, listening or watching. Maybe you’re a novice to IG or a seasoned user, either way below are some reminders on how to best utilize Instagram...
Last but not least, the most obvious solution to gain visibility is to run social ads. It’s one of the best ways to guarantee your content will at least be seen. This social algorithm world is dominated by money and power… you will have to invest some money in order to see some return on your investment (ROI).
Other low-cost ways to distribute information…Mailchimp, local media, listservs, oh my!
Aside from Meetup.com groups and social media platforms are good ole fashioned listservs, traditional media outlets and online calendars! I am a subscriber to dozens of local and regional listservs. Make sure to research the “posting guidelines” as many have their own policies but tap into these social forums to share relevant programming. Use a similar style to the Facebook post but direct folks to a website for more information. For example I am a member of the Somerville Arts Council, Somerville Activities, YNPN (Young Nonprofit Professionals), and many more…the key is to find what makes sense for you and join the conversation!
In addition, utilize your local media contacts for sharing press releases and even information for both their online and print editions. They are hungry for content too so make sure to create a media contacts list. The more outreach the merrier and the greater chance your programming will be seen!
Of course make sure to take advantage of using Mailchimp or Constant Contact as well to share your event information - their user friendly templates make it super easy and are free to users under a certain number of subscriptions!
You might be feeling overwhelmed at the work it takes to get found online, but don’t give up, you got this and it is all worth it!
Stay tuned for my next blog installment on ‘3 Tips for Sustained Connections with your Community.’ You had an event, you met people, collected their info, now let's talk about strategies to stay in touch and bring them back. Subscribe for PEG Experts Blog updates here to be notified when that post is published!
Erica Jones, Director of Outreach & Membership at Somerville Media Center, an award-winning community media center and maker space in Somerville, MA, the most densely populated city in New England. Erica is also the Chair of the Alliance for Community Media Northeast. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!