Marketing for SQLRelay – In the beginning

After organising SQLRelay for June 24th in Cardiff, as part of the national series of 8 events.  We’re gearing up for November with the aim of being able to capitalise on the growing knowledge of SQL Server 2014 CTP and pushing the Relay into a less busy part of the UK community schedule.  The difficulty is that where we had more than 6 months to prep for the previous Relay, this time round we had less than 5.  What this means for me, is not only do I want to run a bigger and better Cardiff event, but I also (being a glutton for punishment) took on spearheading the marketing efforts for the whole shebang.

Details will be released next week on the launch, but given my lack of knowledge about anything social media this has already been a major undertaking for me, and I thought it might be of value for me, future me, and my dear readers to compile information and learnings as I go along so that it’s easier to implement in future for other marketing endeavours.  It also provides an area for discussion.

What was the state of affairs originally?

  1. The events were put up on and there was some banner advertising in the run up to the June events
  2. Event publication by User Group (UG) leaders on blogs and at the UGs
  3. A great #sqlrelay hashtag on twitter that saw a lot of traffic primarily from organisers and speakers during the event
  4. A twitter account @SQLRelay2013 that had 10 followers
  5. A facebook group ( from the 2012 event that had very little activity for the June event and only 20 likes
  6. A linkedin company and group with 9 people in the group, setup primarily to enable us to advertise on LinkedIn

What is my strategy for this event?

As we have more new events, and events looking to get more people attending, we need to get more people knowing the about the Relay from before by encouraging more word of mouth recommendations from previous attendees and interacting with people in who haven’t heard about the Relay since we have a 0 to very small budget.  Based on this, the existing reliance on UG leaders promoting to UG attendees isn’t going to cut it.  The push needs to be moved away from marketing to the same people again and again and reaching out to new people.  Social media seems to be the best way to rapidly identify and target new people, and so the previous mechanisms will be maintained but significant work will go into broadening our reach.  I also want to be able to hand over to next year’s marketer an excellent base operation that can be maintained with less effort going into growth.

So what’s been done so far?


What have I been doing to try to make this a successful marketing channel:

  • Uploaded ~400 photos from the last Relay
  • Posted about caption comp
  • Started tagging key people to get them on to the page, liking it, and commenting
  • Created events that people can join

The result:

I have gained some traction with mainly prominent speakers and community leaders Liking the page (up to 48) and some comments have gone up on the photos.  Unfortunately, where the commenting and tagging activity isn’t visible to people hitting the page, the page looks like little activity is occurring.  Further, Facebook being a means for people to interact with their social network as opposed to their professional network means that when people are commenting and it appears on their timelines, it is getting little views by people who may want to attend the Relay.  Maybe half the organisers of this year’s Relay are also averse to Facebook meaning that our ability to tag and reach local people is also limited.  This is proving to be a very challenging channel for me and I’m going to need to think some more about this.


What have I been doing to try to make this a successful marketing channel:

  • Updated all pages
  • Invited SQLRelay committee
  • Posted about caption comp on Facebook (to encourage people to engage multiple ways)
  • Started inviting folks in my network

The result:

We’re up to 27 members already and I’m going to be working progressively through my network of folks who would be interested.  It’s been slow I think due to the holidays, and will get UG leaders to push membership during September.


What have I been doing to try to make this a successful marketing channel:

  • Updated the profile
  • Started following people with the aim of them following @SQLRelay2013 back
  • Posted teaser about dates… to be followed up next week
  • Welcoming new followers
  • Reading up on effective twitter marketing

The result:

So far we have 45 followers, so still very early days but this is a ~10% conversion rate from following to followers.  I’m going to be carrying on with the following system, and starting to post content from next week to interesting content.

How’s it going?

I found this neat site which compiles information from different sources to compute some statistics.  I twill be interesting to see how this matures over time along with key social media KPIs and attendee volumes.

Some KPI for marketing campaigns

Some KPI for marketing campaigns