If you work in the events industry, you are familiar with how hard it can be to get the awareness (and resulting ticket sales) that your event needs to be truly successful. From buying radio spots or newspaper ads to local television clips or digital media, the options for getting people to your business to business or business to consumer trade show, conference, seminar or workshop can seem endless. However, when you think about it, what form of communications is going to garner the best ROI? TV can be expensive, radio can be ignored, and many believers out there think print is dead. There is a time, place and audience for every different type of marketing medium. However, we believe that social media is a valuable tool in increasing awareness, and interest in your upcoming event. If you’re looking around confused like a grandma during her first video conference, not sure where to start, don’t fear! Here are 6 easy peasy ways you can use social to promote events.
How to promote events
1. Create a Facebook Event
It may seem super intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many people have an event and advertise it on Facebook, without ever creating an actual Facebook event. Without the event page, you lose the ability for guests to RSVP and share it on their timelines. Invite your friends and people who ‘like’ your company page. For content, post marketing materials, images from previous years or live videos of you talking about it, to get people excited. If possible, include a plug-in that allows people to buy tickets through the social media site to increase direct sales. Even incorporating something as simple as the “going/not going” aspect makes your event that much more likely to show up on other people’s news feeds without you having to buy your way on there. If everything is integrated and optimized, you’ll be able to match up Facebook “RSVP’s” with online ticket sales and even an app, which makes it easier to interact with your guests before and during the event. You can also pay a few bucks to boost your post to reach an even wider audience.
2. Run a contest (before the event)
3. Run a contest (during the event)
No, not the same contest, but we already mentioned that we love running contests, right? When you run a contest during your multi-day event, you increase engagement with your audience. This makes it visible to more people, who may not yet have heard of your event, or who were on the fence about it, increasing the chances you convert them to customers and they attend another day of your event. The types of contests that generally garner the most attention and engagement are points-based contests that are awarded based on the number of times your guests take a specific action. You could have hashtag signs hidden throughout your event, and allow an entry for every image they post of the sign (or themselves with the sign, because people tend to like taking #selfies), which creates even more user generated content. Or you could just base your contest off the number of times your guests post on specific channels using your custom event hashtag. Either way, you bring out their competitive nature, they have more fun, and they inadvertently promote your event for you to their own connections.
4. Invite “Influencers”
Not every company is large enough to afford to pay what some influencers charge to make an appearance at their event. For many, it’s about whether that particular wish list of VIP’s will affect their ROI enough to make it worth their while. The great thing about influencers is that it’s not always about huge scale world renowned personalities.
Anyone can be an influencer if they have trust, knowledge and the right connections.
Picture this: someone might have 1000 Twitter followers, which hardly translates to a massive influencer reach. They may not even be what you consider an influencer. BUT, 800 of those 1000 followers are in the geographic area of your event (which seldom happens with larger digital superstars), and those people also happen to be of the right salary range and psychographic to find value in buying a ticket to your 2-day conference. This audience is educated and marketing savvy and are less receptive to traditional marketing methods, so your way in is literally through this trusted influencer. Their audience trust them and the influencer provides valuable content to them, on a regular basis. What’s more valuable to you, right now, in terms of your event? Having 5000 more followers on your social network (75% of which may love your page, but would never buy your product or use your service), or getting 200 paid tickets purchased from a smaller audience? Though there are arguments for both sides, the purpose of your event is to get attendees and you do that by selling tickets. Using an influencer can be a beneficial way to help promote events and get attendees excited.
5. Write (and promote) a blog post
Blogs are a great tool to engage your audience via content marketing, without being overly “sales pitchy” to them. If you have an upcoming event, try posting something in the realm of “the top 10 things you should get excited about at Y-event!” It’s a type of content that breaks through many barriers that exist with traditional marketing efforts, and is more likely to be read than a side bar ad, in most cases. And if you do it write (#punintended), it also increases likelihood of your audience sharing it on their own wall, because they are just as excited about your event as you are and want their friends to come with them.
This can also be an opportunity to further strengthen relationships with sponsors or vendors, or you can just advertise the stuff you think is really cool. This can sometimes be challenging as other event vendors or attractions may see this is a type of favouritism. Your other option is to request that an influencer or related brand or company publish the post as a guest blog so you can share it, and sponsor it, on your social media channels. Remember, content is gold, whether it’s original content, guest blog content or user generated content.
6. Digital partnerships
You (usually) can’t put on an event without sponsors or vendors, depending on the type of event and whether it is a B2B or B2C target. Why not take full advantage of that relationship? Chances are, if someone has committed to sponsor or be a vendor at your event, they have a vested interest in how successful the event is. You can put in your vendor communications package a link to usable logos or a request for them to write at least one social post about it, and they probably will. Which you can then share as user generated content (because you didn’t write it). This can be linked to the blog or guest blog form of event promotion, if you have a solid enough relationship with another company that you trust to write their own content about your brand or your event. You’re going to be increasing engagement with event attendees during the event by being social with them (hit us up if you need help with this!) and you’ll also be sharing content from your vendors and sponsors, which is good for their brands as well. Requesting that they do a bit of leg work to help you promote events on social isn’t a huge ask.
77% of event marketers use social media to promote before and during their event
If you are part of the minority, it might be time to integrate more social media into your overall marketing strategy, especially to promote events you’ve already poured thousands of dollars into hosting. When higher awareness, more engagement, increased ticket sales and an overall better experience for your customers are the goals, social media is a cost-effective way to achieve all of them. There are many other little ways you can use social to boost your pre-event awareness and ticket sales. What are some of your favourite ways to promote your event on social media? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Ashley Saunders, Strategist and Live Social Coordinator