Many businesses and organizations regularly plan and promote events. Traditionally, you might have mailed invitations, published an ad in your local newspaper or trade magazines, or perhaps even advertised on TV and radio. Particularly if you’re limited in your marketing budget, Social Media represents a tremendously effective and inexpensive way to get the word out about what you’re doing. Whether it’s a conference or fundraiser or just a party, here are ten surefire ways to promote your event using social media, plus some activities to be thinking about during and after your event to help you prepare for the next one.
Start With a Plan
Before you jump into digital marketing and quickly find yourself running out of ideas for posts and content, take the time to craft a plan. You can identify all of the different kinds of content and posts that you’ll want to use, and who will be involved. It’s probably best if you identify one person to act as the point person for your online marketing campaign.
Tip: Consider using a message calendar to schedule your activity. This will ensure that you have a great mix of content and reminders that help entertain, educate and engage your followers.
Create Event Listings
More and more social networks are supporting actual Event listings. Facebook and LinkedIn are perfect examples. You can take a few minutes to create a nice, informative Event on each network, and then invite all of your connections that might be interested or appropriate. You also need to make sure that your website has detailed information on a dedicated page. You can provide a link in your event listings on Facebook and LinkedIn for more information, and for networks like Twitter, you will be posting updates that simply link to your webpage.
Tip: Like any party, no one wants to be the first to arrive. I recommend inviting close friends, co-workers and other select people whom you know are going to attend first. Once most of them have accepted and you have a nice crowd already attending, proceed to invite more people. Each new person who looks at the event will be able to see who else is attending, and this will prevent anyone from being discouraged by seeing an event that no one else is going to.
Share Your Story
You have to do more than just tell people when and where your event is. There’s a story behind it, and you need to share that story. Whether you’re hosting a conference to educate people, or throwing a party to celebrate something, tell people why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Tip: Don’t limit your storytelling to your initial event page. Talk about your story and build on it throughout your posts. You might share details that weren’t included in the original description, or share some specific stories from past events that help demonstrate and illustrate your larger story.
Post Regular Reminders
Once you have your initial event listing created, post regular reminders for your event. These should be regular, but not too frequent as you don’t want to spam your followers. The frequency will vary depending on your number of followers and your other activity, but no more than once a day is probably a good rule of thumb.
Tip: Don’t repeat the same message each time. Change it up by using a countdown or asking questions related to the event, like, “Have you noticed how warm it’s supposed to be in Vegas for next week’s conference?”
Coin Your Own Hashtag
Hashtags are used within social networks to connect posts that are talking about the same topic. By using a Hashtag on all your posts, you can help followers check out older posts and find out more. Hashtags are currently supported by not only Twitter, but also Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Tip: Come up with a unique hashtag that is relevant and intriguing. The more interesting your hashtag, the more likely someone will be to click it to find out more. #NYFW is a recent example that was for New York Fashion Week.
Make the BIG ASK
Ask your followers to help spread the word! Don’t be afraid to be specific and ask them to Like or Share an update. Explain why their friends would be interested to know about your event.
Tip: Each time a follower Likes one of your updates on Facebook, it’s more likely that their own friends and connections will see your update. Do everything you can to make your posts “likable” and that will help the word spread faster.
Just as with normal business social media marketing, pictures are extremely important. If you’re promoting an event that’s happened before, share pictures from the last event! Don’t just talk about how great it was, show your followers how awesome the last event was! If you don’t have pictures of a previous event, look for other pictures you can use. Take pictures of event planning or setting up that’s going on. Share pictures from where the event is taking place. If, for instance, you’re planning a conference in Las Vegas, you might share great pictures from the conference location and other fun Vegas destinations to get people excited.
Tip: When posting, take advantage of Instagram to format your picture and post it to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare simultaneously. Don’t forget to describe the image and use your hashtags!
Tag, You’re It!
When you post your images to Facebook and Google+, you can tag them with whomever is appearing in the image. This will ensure that the image appears on that person’s timeline as well as your own, increasing image visibility.
Tip: Tag attendees as well as vendors, donors, volunteers, employees, and board members who appear in the image.
Tap Influencers In and Around Your Event
It’s very likely that someone involved with your event, or perhaps some of the people you expect to attend, are influential online. By influential, we’re talking about people who are active on one or more social networks have a significant following. Ask them to be involved with your event promotion and come up with a plan. They can use their platforms to talk about your event and help generate interest.
Tip: If your event has one or more speakers, ask them to take questions in advance of the event and consider scheduling one or more Twitter Chats or Google+ Hangouts for event attendees.
Consider Paid Ads
If your budget allows, consider using Facebook Ads or Promoted Tweets to help advertise your event. These kinds of paid advertising can be just as effective, if not more so, than traditional advertising. You’ll want to discuss your ideas with an experienced social media consultant first to make sure that you don’t invest poorly.
Tip: Facebook Ads can be used to target very specific demographics of Facebook users to gain more Likes for your Facebook Page and raise awareness of your event.
Once your event arrives, don’t quit your social media activity!
During The Event
Encourage attendees at the event to check-in, discuss, and share pictures, posts, and tags about the event. Include this call out within programs, with the content of informational email blasts, allow the hosts/speakers to make mention, etc.
Keep the content flowing! Keep people interested about the event and create a buzz for non-participants so they will want to attend future sessions. Asking questions is a good way to create levels of engagement here. Keep tweeting and posting to other networks, and always use your hashtag.
After The Event
Provide a recap of the event. Just because it’s over, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to talk about it anymore. Recaps can be summaries of the events, photos recovered post-event, and even thank you posts to speakers, hosts, and attendants. This is also a great way to begin hinting at the events to come. Feel free to ask questions of attendees to get feedback. This will be much appreciated by them and you will be likely to have positive remarks if you are the one requesting.
Make sure to organize all viral information for users and yourself to find later. For example, if your social media guru is posting lots of pictures via their smartphones directly to the company wall, make sure someone goes back to create specific albums to transfer the photos over from the generic ‘mobile uploads’ folders.
Try these and let me know what questions you have or what works for you. If you have a specific event that you think presents some unique challenges or opportunities, please describe your event in the comments below and we will crowdsource some ideas for you!