You go through the painstaking process of putting on an in-person event for your business.
And then on the big day, the worst happens:
Nobody shows up.
Not only do poorly attended events feel like a punch to a gut, but they're also a major drain on our wallets.
And as it should come as no surprise, social media has become a staple of encouraging people to show up to whatever you might be putting on.
Looking to sell tickets? Build up buzz? Mingle with your attendees?
Yeah, social can help with all of those points in a big way without breaking the bank.
What Does Social Media Event Marketing Look Like in Action?
Here’s the deal: the success of any event or conference ultimately boils down to promotion.
And mastering the art of social media event marketing is a smart move regardless of your industry.
Massive conferences. Pop-up shops. Meet-and-greets. The list goes on and on.
In this guide, we’re going to break down the essentials of social media event marketing from A to Z. These tips combined are key for getting more eyeballs on your event and as many attendees and possible.
And with that, let’s dive right in!
1. Focus Heavily on Your Facebook Event
Facebook reigns supreme when it comes to event promotion.
While other channels like Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn have their place as part of in-person marketing, Facebook should be considered your central hub for hype.
Why? For starters, it’s where your attendees are most likely to be.
Beyond that, notifications via Facebook Events provide constant touch points with your audience. Consistent reminders and alerts help build buzz and ensure that your event doesn’t go unseen to relevant attendees.
Now, the key is to create an event on Facebook that people would actually want to go to.
And doing so isn’t as simple as filling out a few fields and calling it a day.
Some of the overlooked aspects of Facebook events that ultimately determine your reach. For example, highlighting the location of your event notifies people who nearby or fans of that location’s page.
Also, it’s key to select a host (or hosts) for the event who boast big follower counts. The more relevant hosts with big numbers, the better. Notice how PAX Australia used multiple hosts to promote their 2017 event:
To further ensure that your event doesn’t go unseen, Facebook allows brands to run dedicated Facebook event ads. Using the platform’s laser-targeting to your advantage, you can hone in on potential attendees based on their location and relevant liked pages.
No matter where you’re promoting your event, eye-catching cover photos that detail your event are a must-have. These do double duty of grabbing your attendees’ attention and letting them the specifics before clicking through. Below is a good example from the Australian Business Forum.
And with free tools such as Canva, you can create high-quality covers specifically optimized for Facebook.
Allowing for discussion on the page also create a steady stream of notifications for attendees. If nothing else, it’s within Facebook’s best practices to allow people to ask questions and get in touch with whoever’s running the show.
Facebook is just one piece of social media event marketing, but it’s arguably the most critical.
2. Hash Out Your Event-Specific Hashtags
Hashtags via Instagram and Twitter are a close second in terms of how to market events on social media.
Having an event or conference-specific tag provides you something you can plaster all of your promo materials like maps and timetables (hint: perfect for encouraging attendees to follow you on social media).
Ideal for curating user-generated content that you can use in ads during your next campaign, people love to show off a good event via hashtag when given the chance.
As an added bonus, you can also use your hashtag as an incentive for attendees to get featured on your social accounts or as part of a promotional giveaway.
Oh, and hashtags make it possible for people to live Tweet your event. Again, attendees want the opportunity to make “wish you were here” posts and show off what they’re seeing in real-time. This also makes your conference seem like more of a tight-knit community.
When coming up with your hashtag, just make sure to keep it simple and relevant to your event. Whether or not you tack on a year (think: #event2018) is up to you, although this is usually reserved for larger conferences.
Having your hashtag handy well before your next event gives you enough time to get it printed on freebies and drilled into your attendees’ heads.
3. Prime Your Event for Promotion
Now, let’s dig into the meat of how to promote a conference on social media.
The obvious first piece of the puzzle is pushing your event-specific landing page on Facebook, LinkedIn and everywhere in-between.
And the more employees, industry players and advocates you can get hyping it up, the better.
Speaking of which, influencers can play a huge role in getting more outsiders interested in your event. For example, you can give away free tickets to a group of relevant influencers in exchange for coverage. Hello Social’s own influencer platform is a great place to find folks who might be willing to do just that.
Of course, you’re going to want to post much more than variations of “Hey, check out our event!” for weeks on end. That’s where your user-generated content such as positive attendee stories and photos are going to come into play.
Perhaps one of the best ways to hype an event is via video. Providing hard proof of attendees having an awesome time or seeing great results from your conference is advertising gold for first-time guests.
Additionally, montage-style videos like this one also serve as social proof that your events are up to snuff:
In such cases, it pays to hire a professional videographer to make your event look like a million bucks.
Outreach is another important yet overlooked aspect of social media event marketing, too. For example, you can reach out on Facebook to fellow local businesses for offers and discounts to get more feet in the door. Doing so is infinitely preferable to emails or cold-calls that would otherwise go ignored.
4. Roll Out Bots to Help You Sell Last-Minute Tickets
The days immediately prior to an event are easily the most stressful, which leaves you with less time to deal with direct inquiries from attendees.
Don’t sweat it. There are tools out there to help pick up some of the slack for you, such as chatbots which deal with customer queries at the last minute.
Maybe someone has a question about the event. Perhaps someone wants to score some extra tickets for their office.
Bots such as Prime.ai and Morph.ai are great for dealing with such concerns without having to lift a finger. Having bots in place can help you squeeze more sales out of your event minus chasing new attendees yourself.
And that concludes our how-to on social media event marketing!
Is Social Part of Your Event Promotion Strategy?
Given the blood, sweat and tears that goes into any given event, maximizing your attendance is a must-do.
No matter what you’re hosting, understanding how to effectively promote an event on social media will encourage bigger crowd numbers and avoid no-shows.
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