Not long ago I got an email from someone trying to promote some musical events. As part of the promotion, she’d posted things that seemed interesting — questions to answer, videos to watch — on her group’s Facebook page, hoping to get some discussion going. But there wasn’t much response.
And again that didn’t surprise me. If you want to promote something on a website or a blog or on Facebook, the first question you should ask is how you’re going to get people to look at what you put online. And why, in fact, should anyone look at it? if your problem is that not many people as yet know or care about your events, how is posting anything online going to fix that? Because if they don’t know or care about you, why are they going to go to your blog or website?
If, of course, you’ve got an active blog or Facebook page, that’s another story. People already are visiting you. So you can add something new, and they’ll see it.
But if you’re promoting a new organization, or trying to attract a new audience, then putting things online is probably a waste of time, at first. Or rather it’s a waste of time if you don’t have a strategy for getting attention to what you put online. And if you have a strategy — if (at a university) you go into the student union to make noise about what you’re doing, or if you recruit a small core of people to promote your project (actively!) to their online networks — then the best use of that strategy would be to promote the event itself, not its online adjuncts. Unless, of course, the online stuff is so delicious that it stands completely on its own — like, let’s say (in a slightly different realm), the Aflac commercials with the duck, or the Geico commercials with the gecko.
But now I’m getting into the advanced course. So let me repeat the basic lesson here. If you don’t already have a following for what you’re trying to promote — and don’t already have a web presence that lots of people pay attention to — then don’t start off promotion for your project by putting something online. It just won’t work.
(What you need to do is take some initiative — go directly to people who might be interested in you, or else create excitement in some very public way. Which you can do even if the nature of your project means that it’ll always have a small audience. You can create excitement in whatever niche your project fits in. Let me repeat this — you have to go to people. And the problem with putting something on the web is that you’re expecting people to come to you — which is exactly the reverse of what’s required.)