In this monthly series, EM brings you tips and tricks from pros and experts who’ve been eating social media marketing for breakfast. So eat up, and check us out on Twitter @eventmarketer and Facebook.com/eventmarketer for more.
This month we’ll be delving into a bit of a hot button issue. Not everyone likes it, a lot of folks are afraid to try it, and yet many others are dipping their toes in to see if social staffing might work for their events. There are upsides and downsides to selecting your brand ambassadors through social media. On the upside, it’s usually much cheaper and easier to find staffers online than through the usual channels. The downside is that you are trading speed for tested and vetted employees that you know have experience and evaluations behind them.
Whatever the reasons for or against, however, this trend is happening. So we went to Eric Schwalbe, a viral recruiter at Clutch Media Group, one of the many recent startups that are shepherding brands through this social staffing territory, and asked him to help us help all of you who might be considering staffing your next event from Facebook or LinkedIn.
1.) Begin with community. Schwalbe says the best way to minimize your risk of getting some duckfaced, fist pumping crazies in your brand’s polo shirt is to start by building an online community of loyal fans that you can later tap into for staffers when you need them. And because you’ve got some history with the community, you know who will and who won’t be a danger to your rep. If you build it, they will fist bump.
2.) Specialize. Look, a general group full of fans who might be interested in working at your next event is cool, but how much cooler would it be if you knew which of them knew how to drive a truck, or run a Wi-Fi network, or twerk it like it’s hot? So set up mini groups by interests, hobbies and skills that you might find useful.
3.) Join groups. There are a ton of staffing-centric groups online, and if you want to get a feel for the scene, go out and join them. Get active and get to know some of the peeps who run the groups, and get work from the groups. They know a ton about what you can and should do in this world.
4.) Skip Twitter. For these purposes, Twitter’s just not a full enough experience to get the job done, Schwalbe says. Stick to Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn for full profiles with rich backgrounds on prospective people. Twitter is useful for screening and weeding out the crazies, creepies and crappies once you get a pool of possible applicants together, so be sure to check out their tweetstreams. If it seems off, stay away. People often put more truth out there when they post quickly. And the truth will set them free—from your brand.
5.) Be ready to move fast. Response times are as little as a day between listing and hiring in this social environment, so be ready once you pull the trigger. These people expect to know your answer quickly and might take another job while you dillydally around.
6.) Consider the contingency plan. Social is especially helpful in difficult-to- staff and obscure markets. Your staffing agency might not have a local person in Mojave, CA, who can work at the drop of a hat because your tour got stuck there for a day and you’ve decided to do a spontaneous activation. But Facebook probably will have someone for you. Or someone will know someone. Anyway—this is a solid advantage for the social approach.
7.) Check your work. This one shouldn’t even have to be here, but what the hell. Don’t forget to screen. You’ve got their Facebook feeds and Twitter handles anyway, so do some digging. If they really like the writings of Ayn Rand, you might not want them at your hippie music fest sponsorship. Just sayin’.