12 Ways to Market Your Event With Social Media

social media how toWhether you’re planning a real-world event (like a conference, tweetup or political gathering) or a virtual event (like a webinar or teleclass), social media can be an inexpensive, cost-effective way to build buzz, fill seats, and turn a one-off gathering into a recurring event.

The trick is to know which social media tools to use and when to use them.  This article contains 12 useful social media tips designed to help your events shine.

Before Your Event

The first step is to make people aware of your event, to mark it on their calendar, and to

register. Here’s the game plan:

#1: Market Your Event Through Twitter

There are many ways in which you can use Twitter to raise awareness. Many conferences and events have their own hashtags, such as #smss10 or #metweetup. There’s no magic to creating one—just start using a hashtag in all your related tweets and encourage other people to do the same when talking about your event.

To encourage people to tweet out your hashtag and spread the word, sweeten the deal with a free pass, door prize or other giveaway for one lucky hashtag-er.

If your event is large enough, give it its own Twitter account such as @Blogworld or @socialmediaFTW, which serves as a customer service “hotline” and adds credibility to the event.

Mix up your event tweets by varying the message.

Mix up your event tweets by varying the message.

Constantly tweeting that your event is coming will annoy some of your followers, so mix it up: use tweets to announce new sponsors, speakers, an open bar, or to ask questions that might help shape the event.

Finally, ask for people to share your event with the simple phrase, “Please RT!” You’ll be amazed at the results. Just don’t overdo it; you don’t want to look desperate, do you?

Be sure to check out Cindy King’s post How to Use Twitter Events to Grow Your Network for more ideas.

#2: Market Your Event Through Facebook

Certainly you can update your status with news of your event, but don’t overlook Facebook Events, which Facebook guru Mari Smith calls “one of the most powerful tools on the platform.”

A page for your event attracts fans.

I’ve found success by first creating a page for the event, and then creating a “Facebook Event” from that. This is especially helpful if you have a recurring event, such as an annual conference or a tweetup, as it helps build a fan base over time.

A page for your event attracts fans.

Other benefits of creating a Facebook page include:

  • You can add a “Like Box” to your website, blog or other web presence to promote your clambake.
  • You can invite fans as well as friends to the March on Washington.
  • You can take out targeted Facebook ads to reach people outside your network who would be interested in your Save the Whales Sit-In.

Mari Smith delves deeper in her post, 10 Tips for Creating Buzz with Facebook Events.

#3: Market Your Event Through LinkedIn

Promote business functions with LinkedIn Events to reach your professional network. As Lewis Howes points out in his excellent post, Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business with LinkedIn, “once someone RSVPs to your event, it shows up on the home profile of everyone that person is connected to, spreading the message for you.”

It’s simple and straightforward to create an event on LinkedIn. Once you’ve completed that task, it’s just as easy to invite up to 50 people from your LinkedIn network. It also shows up in the events search.

#4: Market Your Event Through Your Blog

Whether through an existing blog or a blog created specifically for your gathering, be sure to create posts announcing the event, calls for presenters, and sponsorship opportunities. Follow up with guest posts from presenters who should welcome the opportunity to reach a wider audience (and steal people who might have attended competing events!).

#5: Other Places to Market Online

There are plenty of online calendars, and you should list your event in any that seem appropriate.

Local papers, TV channels and radio stations’ websites often host a calendar of events that offer free postings. Tweetvite is a site for promoting and learning about tweetups, and Eventful is one of many sites where you can list all types of gatherings.

#6: Event Marketing and Registration Tools

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when handling online registration for your event. Eventbrite is a highly popular tool for the social media crowd, and Constant Contact, the popular email marketing company, has recently entered the market with their own competing product.

With these tools you can create and market your event, and even collect payments with registration. Registration forms appear on the event marketing company’s site and can be embedded into your website or blog.

Sharing tools let attendees post to Facebook and Twitter, which builds buzz and generates more registrations.

During Your Event

Just because your event has started doesn’t mean the marketing has ended! If you’re promoting an all-day affair like a boat show or arts in the park, people will be milling in and out all day. Keep the excitement and foot traffic high by leveraging social media well into the night.

#7: Foursquare and Gowalla

Events on Foursquare will encourage attendees to share.

It costs nothing to create an event in Foursquare or Gowalla, and attendees who are hip to location-based apps will want to check in to your event for the extra points!

Since many people link their Foursquare and Gowalla activity to Twitter and Facebook, check-ins reach well beyond early adopters of location-based apps.

Events on Foursquare will encourage attendees to share.

You can greatly increase the number of check-ins by adding signs and table-top displays reminding people to check in, and even sweeten the deal with a giveaway or random drawing.

#8: Use Those Hashtags!

Hashtags make your event more findable, searchable and memorable.

People will tweet out memorable lines from your event, so make sure everyone knows the Twitter hashtag: put it in your literature, on name tags, and announce it during your keynote.

Hashtags make your event more findable, searchable and memorable.

For more on how to leverage hashtags, be sure to read Adam Vincenzini’s post Live Events Need Twitter #Hashtags ‘Built-In’ Not ‘Bolted-On’.

#9: Live Blogging

If you’re putting on a conference, it might be worthwhile to have someone “live blog” the sessions. Instead of just taking notes, have them take notes straight into a blog post and publish it as soon as the session ends.

#10: A Picture Says a Thousand Words

Although Twitpics and iPhone photos are great and shareable, hire a photographer for the day. If you can’t afford one, consider an in-kind trade of a free pass. Make sure you come to an agreement on who owns the photos and how they can be used online to promote this and future events.

#11: Thoughts on Video

There are so many ways to use video at your event: quick interviews with attendees and speakers on Flip cams, recorded sessions, or live streaming the event with UStream.tv.

#12: After Your Event

After the glow of a successful comic book convention, bean supper or Tri for a Cure fades, it’s time to get back to work.

Create a blog post of your reflections on how the event went, what you learned, and even how the next one could rock even harder.  Ask for feedback and suggestions in the comments field. Post something similar to your Facebook page and encourage fans and friends to leave comments there as well.

Upload your photos to Flickr and other photo sharing sites and be sure to give them appropriate titles, descriptions and tags. Use the Creative Commons license to let them be shared as far and wide as possible.

After you’ve finished uploading your photos to Facebook be sure to tag everyone you know and ask them to “fill in the blanks” by tagging anyone else. This can have a viral effect as people love seeing photos of themselves and their friends, driving them all back to your Facebook page.

Post video to YouTube, Facebook and other video sharing sites. Ask your presenters to share their slides on Slideshare, again with appropriate tags, titles and links.

Wrapping Up

Undoubtedly, there are more sites and techniques to promote your event through social media. What platforms do you use, what techniques have proven especially effective, and how did you generate excitement and fill the seats at your last event?

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About the Author, Rich Brooks

Rich is president of flyte new media, podcasts at The Marketing Agents, and founded The Agents of Change conference. He helps small businesses succeed through search, social & mobile marketing. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.missiondrivenbrand.com rpene

    Rich,

    Very nice posting! I especially liked the idea of using LinkedIn as I don’t spend much time on it, but I certainly will now :)

    “People will tweet out memorable lines from your event, so make sure everyone knows the Twitter hashtag” this is awesome as well, always trying to have that moment where people can remember and be quick to share with…it’s kind of like the movies- ie “did you see that part in Eclipse when Jacob and Edward were gonna kill each other while Bella was sleeping” LOL

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Thanks, Rob! Since LinkedIn is such a business specific tool it will work better for some events than others. I don’t know that I’d promote a family picnic on LinkedIn, but anything business oriented will find an audience there.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Rich,

    Please reply directly to rpene by clicking the “reply” button under his post. I will then delete this. You can copy and paste your old response.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Thanks, Rob! Since LinkedIn is such a business specific tool it will work better for some events than others. I don’t know that I’d promote a family picnic on LinkedIn, but anything business oriented will find an audience there.

  • Wendy Snyder Soucie

    I have recently done several events and have learned new things from each one. I have the honor or being the project lead for the #SMTW Social Media Tools Week 2010 – 2nd Annual Virtual Conference Nov 29 – Dec 3. We are coordinating a global event with presenters, meetups and many time zones. Social media was used exclusively last year to generate over 3000 attendees. If anyone has creative ideas to help or would like to do a Meetup to support the event in your town, let me know. Here are some of my ideas from other events.

    Planning on video interviews before an event of people who are the right demographic you want to reach is very helpful – I ask them questions and post in several places.

    Google Search Stories are easy to share

    Take your info and make PDF single sheets and post on Slideshare

    I brainstorm with the team on possible public calendars we can post to and then have them link to main site.

    Do a press release on pitchengine.com

    Offer promotional partner special things like a free ticket if they send out emails, Tweet, and blog post with print screen documentation of the live postings.

    Wendy
    xeesm.com/wendysoucie

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Wendy, those are some great ideas! I like your idea of offering promotional partners special deals. One thing we did for http://www.socialmediaftw.com last year was to give discounts to local organizations for them to share with their members. They got to look like rock stars for securing special deals and provide value for their members, and we were able to reach new audiences.

  • http://twitter.com/ReferralCircle Referral Circle

    How about adding a referral program to that social media marketing to encourage people to talk about your event? This way, you’re actually encouraging a user to generate chatter about your event instead of sitting back and crossing your fingers. It’s important to give your audience a reason to talk about it as word of mouth is truly the best form of marketing.

    Matthew Dorian
    http://www.referralcircle.net

  • http://nehalkazim.com/social-media%20/accidentally-hiding-your-business-online/ Nehal Kazim

    Solid points! The power of #6, 8, 9 (Event Marketing and Registration Tools, Use Those Hashtags!, Live Blogging). Personally, I follow hashtags and engage with the attendees during presentations and breaks. It definitely adds value to the event experience and with an event with 400+ people, it feels much smaller.

    Also, if you’re live blogging during that time, there are many people following that hastag which will immediately go to the website, look at what’s going and if the content is compelling enough, they will comment and interact. The methods above are solid ways to create high level of engagement and get people talking!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    That’s certainly a good idea; I’ve seen the benefit of sweetening the pot. You just have to make sure that you don’t go overboard: if it looks like you’re only getting buzz because you’re bribing people that can have a negative impact within social media.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Agreed. If I find myself in a lackluster session I’ll often check out the event’s hashtags to get feedback on which session I should jump into.

  • http://virtualmissfriday.com/ Michelle Dale

    Don’t forget article marketing! Write articles on the general topic of the event, and insert a link back to a dedicated page on your website, or the bookings page, then once the event is over with, add the highlights to the page or a link to the next event. Great Post! Thank you Rich.

  • anitacrawfordclark

    Fantastic comments, Outstanding post. Eventbrite is amazing as are all the suggestions listed in the comments and psot. I am the marketing coordinator for Women Entrepreneurs of Greater Sacramento. I recently conducted a social media training session with the ladies to bring them up to speed on things like #hashstags. A bit of an uphill climb to get them acclimated, but we’re getting there.

    Thanks for all your great ideas.

  • Adrienne

    Great stuff! It always makes me happy to know that I am actually AHEAD of the curve instead of behind it! I did most of this for my last event and will definitely be doing all that apply for the next one! Thanks!

  • http://www.freelancefactfile.com Freelance Factfile

    All these suggestions are excellent. Thanks, guys.

    I have one more to add to the pot: I use http://schmap.it/ for promoting physical events, as opposed to online ones.

  • Charlene

    Fabulous article, thanks! I’m excited to learn about the new event sites. I’m signing up now!

  • natashaattal

    I recently interviewed Lucas Shaffer from Stand and Stretch about a Foursquare event he promoted using various social media sites. It is an interesting case study that you may be interested in: http://composuremarketing.com/2010/07/19/promot

  • http://www.arkayne.com pkenjora

    Pretty good suggestions, these are comprehensive enough to tack on a wall and simply check off as your event date draws nearer.

    I was hoping for more on the blog section (#4). here in Phoenix TEDxPhoenix and IgnitePhoenix both had tremendous blogger support. They simply wrote articles and used their blog as engaging content instead of just event information. The rules of marketing aren’t that different between events and websites. Content is still king.

  • http://twitter.com/strawberrygrove Cariel

    Great post! I did not know that Constant Contact had even added event marketing! Thanks so much for sharing such useful information

  • Gokhanozekici

    Great post! I did not know that Constant Contact had even added event marketing! Thanks so much for sharing such useful information very good http://www.kervanambalaj.com

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    That’s great to hear. For the social media conference we’re putting on we’re using some of the same tools and techniques we used last year, but also adding video and Foursquare this year. It’s all about building on previous success.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Thanks. I’ll have to check that link out.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Great; I’ll check that one out.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    What…you didn’t think my blog post was long enough? ;) There is a lot to be said about blogging and event marketing; many recurring events like BlogWorld, SXSW or Social Media FTW have blogs that are specific to the event, keeping interest stoked between events.

  • AngieVanDenzen

    Really good article! We recently realized another benefit of using Facebook events is that attendees can now export Facebook events into their Outlook, Google Calendar or Apple iCal. That’s a big win!Angie VanDenzenSocial Media Coordinator at Circus Communications

  • http://www.emotionalintelligenceaus.com/ Jenni Wright

    um… can anyone help me with what a hashtag does on twitter? Still a novice there…

    Good article and I’m off now to get to work on them!

    Jenni Wright
    http://www.emotionalintelligenceaus.com/

  • http://www.reportcontentwriter.com/ Rachel Agheyisi

    This is one of those articles/posts I like to clip & save in my “reference folder” cos there’s a lot of actionable tips here to use over & over again! Thanks, Rich.
    I’m enjoying my networking on LinkedIn and I can see how it’ll make a great place to promote an event — especially an online event. Speaking of which, I hope Mike Stelzner gets to this post sometime and shares his amazing success with marketing his online summits using a number of the tips described here.

  • http://EllieYamane.com/ Ellie Yamane

    Nice article. I actually didn’t know what the hashtags were for but now I’m getting a better idea.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Rachel,

    What did you have in mind?

  • http://twitter.com/bsak Barbara R. S.

    Totally agree. I would also market the event on Meetup, love the integration with Facebook. It is also interesting to know which and how many locations are participating in case of global events like the #smday and/or attendees via live streaming.

  • http://www.staciechalmersinboundmarketing.com/blog Stacie Chalmers

    Hey Rich, Nice to read one of your great blog articles here on Social Media Examiner – you always have wise words to share. Taking one step back. All this is great advice but you need to have the reach and credibility, when you want to start promoting something, especially an event. As time goes on many people already have a good reach across these popular social sites but for those who don’t. Think about the topics of the event and who should attend, the value they would get out of it and start building a network around these topics and with these people. Share a lot of information (Like Rich has done in the past) about the relevant topics so you can build credibility with your reach (audience). This way you’ll get a much better ROI when you start to promote your event.

  • http://www.visionweb.com.gt Sergio

    Very useful article.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Jenni, a hashtag is a community-created way of organizing information on Twitter. You can make #anything a hashtag just by adding a hashtag in front of it. Most Twitter clients will then turn the hashtag into a search result. It’s great for conferences so you can monitor what’s going on at a big event or follow a thread of conversation. It’s also used for comic effect…it’s the “rim shot” of Twitter. (@justinNXT and @djnorequest taught me that.)

  • http://twitter.com/howardcshen Howard Shen

    Good post Rich!

    This is surely one WHOLE step of a process that can also generate brand.. not only your event :)
    Thanks for some ideas I can use…
    Shared this one on my blog..

    Keep it up,
    Howard

  • gameglide

    We are going to launch our new product soon, so I will definitely try sone of these!

  • http://www.emotionalintelligenceaus.com/ Jenni Wright

    Excellent, thank you Rich, much appreciated :)

    Jenni Wright
    http://www.emotionalintelligenceaus.com/

  • http://www.reportcontentwriter.com/ Rachel Agheyisi

    Hi Mike.
    I seem to recall you talking (& making a presentation) about how you generated the buzz around your first social media summit in 2009 using Twitter and Blog posts directly and through select rainmakers. I thought it fits in this current SME article. I hope I remember correctly.

  • http://www.outsellyourself.com/ Kelly McCormick – Biz Expert!

    Hi Rich,

    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing so many great ideas and resources!

  • Steve

    In a former life, I worked with many of the Top 100 trade shows in the U.S. by creating a branded online community around their event. Social Media was a great way to not only generate buzz, excitement and conversation… but it proved to be a great way to increase their prospective attendee database.

    For some reason there is still question about the ROI tied to Social Media and how to monetize it. I presume these questions exist because some marketers are looking for a 1:1 relationship between a single event (social compaign) and the ringing of the cash register. I don’t think it works that way.

    The 12 suggestions above are a must. But if you tie these to other marketing initiatives/vehicles you can generate real revenue from them. For example, many events are paid attendance – access to sessions and session content. If you record the session, capture the Tweets via Twapper Keeper, and create add-on content like survey results, case studies, white papers, etc, you can create paid subscriptions for post-event access.

    If you missed it, SME had a nice post on how to use Twitter for live events. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/3-new-ways-to-use-twitter-at-live-events/.
    Great tools and concepts to consider.

  • PhilMershon

    These are all great suggestions. Thanks, Rich.

    I have found there are event registration sites (like EventBrite), but then some pure event listing sites. Eventful is surely the largest event listing service, but more cumbersome for online events. You might check out some of the following, depending on what kind of event you are doing. These are especially helpful for conferences.

    http://www.prlog.org (more of a PR site)
    http://www.zvents.com
    http://www.eventsetter.com
    http://www.eventsync.com
    http://www.allconferences.com
    http://www.confabb.com
    http://www.myeventguru.com
    http://www.eventlister.com
    http://www.fullseat.com

  • http://dinodogan.com/ Dino Dogan

    Solid advice on Marketing Your Event With Social Media.

  • Dorothytyndall

    In regards to #1, “To encourage people to tweet out your hashtag and spread the word, sweeten the deal with a free pass, door prize or other giveaway for one lucky hashtag-er,” do you recommend a free service to monitor the RT’s of hashtags. I use Hootsuite and find that sometimes Hootsuite does not list all my @mentions, which make me nervous to use it to track RT’s. Hootsuite blames it on twitter when @mentions and hashtags do not appear. I had the same issue when I tried to search for the hashtag history on http://hashtags.org/. Any advice on this would be greatly apprieciated.

  • http://twitter.com/mneuropa أحمد عبد الحميد

    Thanks for sharing!!

  • http://twitter.com/ugureskici Uğur Eskici

    Hi rich, i just wanted to say thanks for sharing with us.
    Ugur.

  • http://twitter.com/ReferralCircle Referral Circle

    Very true. The key is to dip into your raving fans (such as people already in your email club or past customers) and ask them to market for you, just like a traditional referral program.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Absolutely, Howard! Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    Great list, Phil. Sometimes the amount of options we have available to us is almost overwhelming. I guess that’s why God made interns.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks Rich Brooks

    It may also be that some of the people who use hashtags or mentions have their Twitter on private…I sometimes forget that some of my favorite tweeps are keeping their own tweets to a small select group of people.

  • jbaron41

    This was a very cool post. I was not aware of all of the tools and resources out there for working an event. Thanks for this information.

  • http://www.mycashtoday.co.uk/ Fast Cash

    Nice share I like this great advice i like this tips of marketing.
    thanks for save us time in marketing.
    Nice blog.
    keep updating us.

  • ravekrishna

    We have a new client for whom we are creating a proposal for marketing his business summit – this is awesome info (and timley too!) to have. Thanks again Rich

  • http://twitter.com/milkshakehq Milkshake Commerce

    Great ideas!

    I think EventBrite has an extensive guide on how to market events online: http://www.eventbrite.com/t/how-to-promote-your-event-online

    Check the sidebar navigation to the right.

  • Cheryl Mclaughlin

    Excellent article. Like always, the tips are so helpful and practical. They help me and my clients navigate through this social media jungle with more knowledge and ease.

  • Mercy_njiru

    Great article..Thanks for sharing

  • Rob Donatelli

    A lot of useful tips. Here are two others that we at netSpray use for our meetups. Meetup.com is a great place to get liked minded individuals together and a great place to communicate from. We also livestream our meetups which a lot of people enjoy since they can’t make all the events. Thanks!

    Rob Donatelli
    http://netSpray.com
    http://http://netspray.com/blog

  • http://www.seoconsult.co.uk Steve

    eventful.com is good site for events and infact few more which i think can be used positively…thanks for the post….i used http://meetup.com/ many times

    If you have any big event or events which will occur each year, its best to create dedicated twitter account, facebook, foursquare etc for that event. This will help to build fan base over the time period and will also help to make it historical event.

  • http://www.graphicmail.co.za Shu-aib

    Thanks for such an informative article Rich – Keep up the good work! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/ASmashHit Smash Hit Displays

    Social media is becoming a must-have for events because they will drastically draw in a large crowd. You brought up some great points! With billions of people using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it only makes sense to incorporate them into your trade show marketing plan. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.promotion1.com Pro Motion

    Thanks so much for sharing this information. We use a lot of these tactics to promote events for our clients, but there are some new ideas in your article that we are excited to use. We will do anything to spread the word for our clients’ events!

    Megan Zeik
    http://www.promotion1.com

  • http://www.triinu.ee/ pliidid

    Thanks for such awesome recommendations and i would like to recieve most of them in meantime.Thanks
    http://www.fanbullet.com/

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  • http://twitter.com/iMotivateU i Motivate U

    I must say that these are great ways t market your event! Internet Marketplace is connected to most of the above site! http://internetmarketplace.biz

  • Alessandra Ceresa

    Great article. I love the point of using hashtags, and encouraging others to use them. Hashtags are such a cool/ useful tool that twitter has, and a lot of people do not understand them. Trends can be started this way. All the other points are really great, and just shows how easy it can be to spread the word quickly and efficiently through the use of social networks. I recently wrote a blog post about social media for events, and how you can use it to drive a crowd. You can read it here: http://www.mysmn.com/how-to-build-a-comprehensive-social-media-strategy/

  • Vikas Nagavelli

    Great article Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.socialnetworkmd.com/services/atlanta-seo/ Atlanta SEO

    Thanks for your post! I’ve used similar strategies when marketing for a few events in Atlanta, but definitely picked up on some good tips I wasn’t thinking about through your post! I look forward to reading more of them! 

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  • Boomer

    Stephanie – you mention in the article to “Follow the company pages of industry peers, vendors, current customers and prospective customers”.  Do you mean as an individual or as a company? I was envisioning this as Facebook’s “Act As” feature where I could follow company pages as a company. However, this feature does not seem to be available…

  • http://globayhr.com/ Globay HR Consultants

    Social networking sites like twitter, linkedin, facebook have great marketing value and great potential that can be helpful for you to advertise your event or business. You can make a fantastic video for the event you’re going to organize and show it on youtube, facebook and other social media network. There are thousands of online communities out there, by interacting to different people you come to know about world and acquire knowledge from them.
    The future of marketing is Social media, If you want to stay ahead in marketing, you have to learn it and understand it.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Seraiah-DeMontag/100003797450981 Seraiah DeMontag

    But where would we post these articles?

  • http://virtualmissfriday.com/ Michelle Dale

    Blog networks, article directories etc…

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  • Ali

    Excellent Post. Need expert opinion/advice on promoting/popularizing server troubleshooting website/tools/pages/forum etc. using Social Media Network.

    Thanks.

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  • http://www.TheArtofDiscipline.com/ Craig Desmarais

    We used a live feed of all the approved tweets that contained our event’s hashtags.  Its important to be able to filter out the junk that may be intentionally or unintentionally tagged with your hashtag.  

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  • Shane Barten

    This article is a bit old, but apps like Suaree, Foursquare, (even Google) now make this process a bit easier.







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