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Event Planning

I recently had the opportunity to briefly meet Lixin Fan, director of the film, I Am Here, at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival.  A documentary film maker, he described the challenge of condensing 400 hours of content into a 90 minute movie, as he followed his subject matter over a six month period.

Lixin Fan, Director of I am here, talking to Randall Craig at TIFF“Selling” the movie to distributors and driving public demand for the movie was his real challenge… or was it?

Lixin Fan’s ulterior goal was to show the real China, and particularly the younger generation, to foster an understanding of the country on an international stage. At the same time, the movie’s goal was to introduce the Chinese public to the documentary film genre – an important channel of communication for a non-democratic country.

With these goals, how might social media and the web be used? Too often, the answer to this question revolves around developing a channel-based strategy: the Facebook strategy, the Twitter strategy, the YouTube strategy, etc.  (Or, in China, perhaps strategies for Qzone, Weixin, and Sina Weibo.) While the strategy might ultimately be executed on these channels, the strategy itself needs to be set at a higher level. 

For example, instead of seeing social media as a promotional tool for the movie, the movie should be seen as a promotional tool for a social media community. Doing so successfully requires two key activities:

  1. Slight changes to the movie to drive people to social media. For example, the end of the movie might include an additional what happened to person X scene, or at least an overlay with a teaser pointing to web-only content.
  2. A robust social platform, anchored with relevant content and special access to the director. This is where the 400 hours of film comes in. If even a fraction of this content is exposed, it will serve to promote the movie to new audiences while at the same time capturing the attention of existing movie-goers with bonus content and “back-story.”  It will also build the director’s profile, making it easier to attract backers for his next project.

This week’s action plan:  While you might not have your “product” screened at TIFF, you can use this same concept within your organization. Do your events build your Social Media community, or are your events stand-alone… events?  This week, grow social legs onto your next event – not just to promote it, but to build a powerful community.  (Here’s how:  Read Social Media for Event Planners.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


How do you organize your Social Media activities?  Most people have a system – whiteboards, excel documents, Google Calendar, or often, scraps of paper.  Unfortunately, none of these are particularly effective, nor are they efficient.  And they certainly don’t help you share your activities with your colleagues.

Our take on scheduling and planning:  Social Media activities can be planned either cyclically (every week, month, year), or keyed to a planned event.  Of course, great social media should also respond to external stimulus – client queries, news events, etc – but this is more reactive than pro-actively planned.

Planning for Cycles:  The traditional way follows a monthly calendar, where specific activities are calendarized to occur on specific dates.  Blog on the 4th, 7th, 9th etc.  Tweet daily.  Change LinkedIn Status on the 1st, 6th, 15th,  etc.  Each specific day has an action plan.

A slight variation is to calendarize by week, and then list any month-based activities.  For example, a new blog post every Monday and Thursday, LinkedIn is Wednesday, Tweeting is daily.  Then list month-based activities by date: New pictures loaded on Facebook on the 1st of the month, review LinkedIn connections on the 15th, add to Pinterest on the 30th, etc.  Doing it this way saves time: the one document can be reused each month with little or no change.

Planning for Events:  Social Media for events happen before, during, and after the event.  Responsibilities are sometimes delegated to committee members, and they have deadlines.  The event planning document must reflect this.

Finally, a planning calendar should help connect the initiative’s overall goals to the specific tasks, and then to the results.

This week’s action plan:  Can you do better with your Social Media tactical scheduling and communications?  If you’re using the scraps-of-paper approach, you certainly can.  But if you have the problem under control, try a slightly different approach anyway: it often can yield better results.  If you don’t have a copy of our our planning calendars and worksheets already, download them (no cost), and give them a try.

Download Social Media Calendar three-pack.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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