New Media Haters Anonymous

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Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the regular Tuesday meeting of New Media Haters Anonymous. We’re glad you’re here.

New media, also known as digital media, includes websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social platforms as well as email. I see some of you were shaken by hearing those names. Take a moment to compose yourselves.  

Look around the room. Many of us have successfully overcome our aversion to technology and conquered our social media phobias. Others are works in progress. Wherever you are in your journey, we will help you get control of your digital assets too, one step at a time.        

First things first. You’re not alone.

Not everyone is comfortable with technology. There are organizations and even some businesses that don’t have websites. Others pay huge amounts of money to maintain sites they can hardly stand to look at, sites that are little more than static digital brochures that haven’t been updated in years. 

Others shy away from social media. They say they don’t “get” social. It seems intimidating, time consuming and overwhelming. 

Still others resist participating in the online world because they have privacy concerns and don’t approve of all the sharing. They think social platforms cater to the self-absorbed and desperately wish it would all just go away.

That's not going to happen, but there is good news. You do not have to become a smartphone obsessed automaton to use the Internet to your advantage. Let's talk about how you might use new media to promote a local tour, presentation, lecture, fundraising event or any other program you're thinking of offering.

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 A Dedicated Page on Your Website

You need an attractive, fully functioning website that you can update whenever you like. If you’re thinking, I can’t afford that, you’re wrong. You can. Read our post on building your website.

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As soon as you have the details of your program nailed down, create a new page devoted exclusively to the event.

Be sure to include all the information your potential customers need. Encourage them to ask questions via your comment system and/or contact form. Include a telephone number, too, even if it appears elsewhere on the site. Don’t make people search for basic information.

Help potential customers find the page by writing a short, clear and appealing description of the program, approximately 100 characters (not 100 words). Either add it to the SEO (search engine optimization) section in your site’s administrative dashboard or use it as the lead sentence or sentences on the page.

Select a dramatic image to use as the thumbnail. Google and other services like Yahoo and Bing will pull the thumbnail picture into their search results, which will make your event information stand out.

Every time you post about the program on social platforms or on other websites include a link back to the event page, not to your home page.

If you have a blog, write a post about the program. Talk about what people will get from attending. If it’s a tour, go into detail about some of the stops. Raise some intriguing questions. Ask readers what they’d like to know about the part of town the tour covers or about the topic of your lecture or presentation.  

When your event is over, don’t delete the page. Hide or unpublish it. When the time comes to promote the next event, pull the page up, update the information, add a new photo or two, hit publish and boom! You’re back in business. 

Email List

If you don’t have an email list, start one. Now. Our post on building an email list will tell you how to do it. It’s mind-bogglingly easy.

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Once you get your list up and running, you can email program information directly to your subscribers. You don’t have to include every detail in your message. Use the short description you wrote for SEO purposes, add an interesting photo – not the same one that’s on your site – and a link back to the web page for full information. Add social share buttons and encourage your subscribers to share the information with anyone they think might be interested.

You will probably get new visitors to your site this way so make sure you have an email list sign up box on the tour page. Invite people to subscribe by saying something like, “Be the first to know about programs and events in downtown Evanston.”

Social Platforms and Networks

Social media is not that complicated. If it were, billions of people wouldn’t be using it. You can learn how to use it too. And you don’t need to become an expert on every platform, network and channel. You just need to be where your target audience is. If they are on Facebook, you need to be there too.

If you’re not sure what platforms your audience uses, ask them. Ask people who come to your attraction, those who serve you in restaurants, store clerks, people in line at the bank. This isn’t a scientific sampling; it’s informal information gathering.  And don’t make the mistake of assuming older people are not using social media. They are. In droves.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube are built for sharing. Here a few tips that will help your posts, tweets and updates about your event attract more interest and reach more people.

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  • Include pictures or video.
  • Don’t try to cram all the program details into a post or tweet. It will be too long and no one will read it. Say enough to raise interest and link back to the event page on your website.
  • Ask people to share your content and thank them when they do.
  • Respond to any questions or comments as soon as you can.
  • Post frequently and at different times of day. Social media feeds move very quickly. Not everyone sees every post. You can use the same text, but change the picture as often as you can.
  • Do not spam. Individuals, groups, organizations and businesses may be happy to include information about your program on their sites or pages, but you MUST get permission first. If you suspect you may be spamming but aren’t sure, assume you are and stop it. End of story.
  • After the program, create a post or tweet thanking people for coming. Include a picture of the actual event. 

We’re almost out of time. There’s coffee and tea in the back and Harriet brought some of her famous oatmeal cookies. Let’s give her a hand.

Take a few minutes to socialize and get to know each other a little better. And if you’re ready, consider becoming Facebook friends. No pressure. One step at a time, folks. Thanks for coming and I hope to see you all again next Tuesday.