online journalism

How effective is advertising via Facebook and Twitter?

This past year I have been the Publicity Chair of the student-organization, Colleges Against Cancer, on the University of Iowa campus. I was a part of the group last year but only as a committee member rather than in the leadership position.

While I have worked in retail and have had to advertise for the store I worked in, I have never really been the top head of publicity/advertising before. I’m learning that I’m actually pretty decent at it (thank you countless years in retail and business advertising father). I’m also learning though, that it is hard as HELL to get people to listen to what you are publicizing, ESPECIALLY to young adults.

I’ve had this conversation with many members of the executive board of CAC and my parents but I just don’t know WHAT has to happen for people to be intrigued and excited about the events I am trying to get them to come to.

American Cancer Society Relay for Life logo
Last night was our Relay for Life Kickoff Event: 80’s Movie Marathon at the Old Brick, and while it was snowing a lot, only about 1/5 of the 80 people who said they’d “attend” on Facebook, came.

Other members and myself advertised for this event like we were getting paid to pass out flyers (which we aren’t). I created a powerpoint slideshow to send to teachers to put up before lectures, I created posters to be hung in businesses, I created little flyers to be placed in mailboxes, tables, and pockets, I created a Facebook event, and also constantly tweeted about it leading up to the day. So why is it then, that barely anyone came?

Who isn’t enticed by classic 80’s movies, fighting cancer, and free snacks/pop/candy?

Is social media, perhaps, actually not as helpful as it seems? Do people just click “attending” or “maybe attending” absent-mindly? Do they really plan on attending? Do they even look at the events column to the right of their page?

THE ULTIMATE QUESTION IS: What is it, that causes some events to be complete successes on Facebook and Twitter but others seem to fail?

I have a few theories of what are key factors between success and bust:
• Alcohol v. non-alcoholic
• How many people are already “attending” when one is invited
• Is there a “FREE” aspect?
• What is it that’s “FREE”?
• Can I do this on my own time?
• Is this better than what is already happening that night?

While it was discouraging to not receive the turn-out that was expected, the silver lining is that did sign up 4 new teams for Relay! Plus, us college students did it all on our own without any adults help, but then again we’re used to that. So it was a mild success and a mild bust, mais c’est la vie!

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