By Kimberly Reynolds
Does your business conduct events?
Are you wondering how to use social media to promote those events?
Social media is a powerful tool to gain exposure, whether you’re hosting a physical conference or an online event.
In this article I’ll show you 16 creative ways to increase awareness, engagement and sales for your event.
#1: Use Facebook Ads to Remarket to Prospects
Facebook custom audiences allow you to show ads to people who have already visited your website. This is called remarketing (also known as retargeting). Advertisers can show event ads to Facebook users who left the website before purchasing a ticket.
Remarketing can be a very effective strategy because people rarely buy the first time they hear of an event or see an offer. This is especially true for big-ticket items like conferences and conventions.
If your event features well-known experts, include their likeness on your advertising assets.
Pro Tip: When you advertise to prior website visitors, be sure to EXCLUDE Facebook users who have already purchased a ticket. This can easily be accomplished by creating a custom audience from the same page you used to track conversions; i.e., your thank-you page.
Facebook allows you to include and exclude multiple audiences for each ad set.
#2: Create a Highlight Reel From Prior Events
Video provides a unique opportunity to convey the energy and excitement of a live event. Great visuals and catchy audio are a potent combination that drives registration. It also creates engagement opportunities as the video is shared with friends.
Create a video that conveys the excitement and fun of your event.
Things to keep in mind when creating a video:
- Remember your intended audience. Your video should convey the value of your event to prospective attendees. Make the benefits of attending crystal-clear.
- Host on both YouTube and Vimeo. Each platform has different strengths, so take advantage of that. YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world and the most used video platform on the Internet. Vimeo, though smaller, offers more control over your brand and no distracting banner advertisements.
- Leverage it everywhere. Video can be shared almost everywhere: your website and/or event landing page, in your newsletter, in articles, with affiliates and on social media, including 15-second clips on Instagram.
- Facebook loves video. Uploading native video maximizes your exposure in the news feed. In fact, Socialbakers reported that “Facebook videos achieved a 10 times higher viral reach than YouTube links did.” You can also set your video as Featured for maximum visibility on your Facebook page.
Remember to include a registration link in the description of your video, preferably near the top.
#3: Harness the Power of Visual Testimonials
Do you have great comments in the exit surveys from previous events? Maybe you’ve interviewed attendees or speakers and captured statements of excitement about specific sessions, speakers or your event in general. Don’t let those nuggets go to waste!
Create a template with branded images and a consistent color palette to help unify your marketing efforts and make it easy to share testimonial quotes.
Create simple graphic images with these quotes and comments. Share these visuals in your email marketing campaign, social platforms, blog posts and email signatures.
Be sure to give attribution to the commenter. People love to see their comments used and they often share this type of graphic. Also, having these third-party statements lends credibility because they provide positive word of mouth about your speakers, sessions and event.
Bonus: Create a testimonial video. Video is an extremely effective medium to showcase the passion and enthusiasm your event inspires. A well-done testimonial video builds trust by allowing viewers to see and hear words of praise, rather than simply read them.
estimonials from presenters are especially effective because they are generally considered trustworthy and credible sources of knowledge.
#4: Empower Affiliates, Fans and Attendees With Shareable Assets
Make it easy to share your event. Provide a web page with branded downloadable resources that fit any platform.
For attendees: Capitalize on their excitement! Provide a button to immediately share a tweet or post when they land on your thank-you page after registering.
Tip: ClickToTweet makes it super-easy to create a simple, pre-crafted tweet.
For affiliates/fans: Make it easy for them to share your event by providing a variety of downloadable content: audio, video, an article, graphics, updates (Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+), email/blog posts and blurbs/newsletter updates.
Provide options to accommodate different posting styles as well as the image requirements of the various social networks. For example, rectangular images work best on Twitter, while square images look best on Instagram.
Rich media assets like audio clips and short videos ensure there is something for everyone to share.
#5: Use Photos of Attendees in Social Updates
If you have a repeat event, leverage those fun photos you took at previous events. Even better, share user-generated content on your social accounts.
Take a flattering, fun picture of some of your attendees and create a status update. Identify the people in the picture and be sure to tag them if you can. This gives people an opportunity to comment and talk about how much they learned or what a great time they had and how much they’re looking forward to attending again.
Have a photo booth at your event to capture fun photos of attendees to use in marketing future events.
Photos of attendees look great in posts and they also make for creative ads!
#6: Create One Unified Hashtag for Use Across All Social Channels
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many events skip this vital step. Create, use and market your event-specific hashtag. You should be using this hashtag well in advance of your event dates and it should be included on EVERYTHING. Every digital image you create, every piece of collateral, your email signature… Anywhere you can think of—share it!
By using an event-specific hashtag, you’ll make it really easy for people to find not only what you’re sharing, but what other people are saying, too!
This is also a great way to create and participate in an engaging conversation with attendees and interested parties.
#7: Mention Your Event and Hashtag in All of Your Bios
Now that you’ve created your hashtag, don’t forget to add it to the Bio (About) section of each of your social accounts. An event hashtag in the Bio section is an often-underused tactic, but it has the potential for big gains. Once you have a link to your event, update your Bio section, and then people have a very simple way to find out more. They just need to click the link!
Not only does this create an easy way for people to see the event, it also ties that event directly to YOU. Ultimately, people connect to people and this is one way to give authenticity and transparency to you personally, not just the event.
Bitly links in your bio are a great way to track the effectiveness of your event marketing on Instagram (shown here) and other social media sites.
#8: Share Pictures of Speakers With Quote Overlays
It’s almost impossible to overemphasize the importance of using visuals in your marketing. Donna Moritz of Socially Sorted explains, “In this fast-paced, noisy online world, visual content is the best way to not only capture the attention of fans, but also to have them take action on your content.”
While a headshot of a speaker might excite some people, it’s important to share something worthwhile from that speaker as well. Take one powerful statement from each of your speakers and add that to a graphic containing a headshot of the speaker. This gives people something to tie to that speaker, a glimpse into his or her personality or presentation.
This also provides another opportunity to give your speakers additional exposure. (And for them to share with their own audiences, providing exposure for your event.)
Make sure the images are compelling and enticing enough to share.
#9: Create a Group Post Featuring Event Speakers
Odds are, you selected your event speakers because they’re thought leaders in their fields. What better way to highlight the caliber of talent at your event than an expert roundup blog post?
Asking your presenters to contribute to this type of post has several benefits:
- Your speakers will feel appreciated when they are afforded an opportunity to display their expertise to your audience.
- Prospective attendees get a preview of the excellent content shared at your event.
- Your readers gain the wisdom from multiple experts in one post.
- This type of post is often one of the most shared, providing you valuable evergreen content.
Some ideas for roundup posts are marketing tips, favorite tools, blogging tips and marketing predictions. You can also do niche roundup posts such as Facebook advertising tips, Twitter tools, etc.
A blog post featuring your event speakers doesn’t need to “sell” the event to be an effective marketing tool.
#10: Share Behind-the-Scenes Visual Content
A LOT of work goes into pulling off a fantastic event. Give a glimpse into this exciting and sometimes chaotic experience by sharing images and videos of the preparations going on.
Share stories of how you’re pulling everything together and don’t forget, mistakes and challenges happen. Be authentic and share the challenges you face and what steps you took to resolve them. It humanizes your brand and makes you more relatable.
Posting behind-the-scenes photos and videos is also a great way to generate buzz and boost engagement. It builds an emotional connection by fostering a sense of being an insider to the event, a “glimpse behind the curtain.”
Share important steps in the planning process—like this tasting at the caterer—to build excitement about your upcoming event.
- Venue and surrounding area
- Route to important local sites/attractions
- Closest place to get a good coffee
- Event signage and goodie bags
- Fun things to do in the area
Convey the scope and attention to detail of your event at a glance with behind-the-scenes visuals like this photo of the staffing schedule.
#11: Create a Facebook Event Page
Most people log into Facebook at least once a day. Make it easy for them to keep up with event news by creating an event page listing. Your event page is also a great place to encourage networking before the event. The convenience of an event page also encourages sharing by attendees.
To help make your event a success, Facebook has added new tools such as targeted news feed ads and event insights to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
As the big day approaches, don’t forget to send out reminders to encourage people to RSVP on your event page.
Check your Facebook event page regularly to answer questions, share tips and delete spam.
#12: Welcome New Instagram Followers With a Video Invitation to Your Event
Instagram has made it very easy to offer a warm welcome: direct messages with video. You have 15 seconds to say thank you to your new followers and invite them to your event. This is especially effective if the person making the video will also be at the event to greet attendees. Who doesn’t like to see a familiar face when in unfamiliar surroundings?
You don’t need fancy equipment to make a quick video—just a smartphone!
#13: Mention the Event in Your Podcast
Whether you have your own podcast or you’re a guest, seize the opportunity to discuss your upcoming event. Be sure to talk about your value proposition—not just who the speakers are, but what your listeners can gain by attending.
Remember, you’re asking people to invest time and resources to attend—highlighting important takeaways is a great way to pique interest and get more registrations. And don’t forget to talk about the fun stuff, too!
Erik Fisher, community manager for Social Media Examiner and podcaster at Beyond the To-Do List, suggests, “Make sure to mention the event consistently across multiple episodes, mention it multiple times per episode without being too ‘salesy’ and use a clear call to action for your listeners.”
- Mention the event as a “sponsor” of the podcast.
- Interview presenters and mention that they will be at the event.
- Make it part of the conversation.
- Use an easy-to-remember URL when you mention the event.
#14: Create Special Graphics in a Variety of Sizes for Your Speakers
Make it fun and simple for your speakers to promote their presentation at your event. Be sure to use a great photo of the speaker and keep the image consistent with the branding for your event.
Since different social media platforms use various sizes of images depending on the type of post, take the time to create graphics in a multitude of sizes. This makes it convenient for your speakers to optimize the images on whatever social network they use.
Encourage your speakers to share, share, share the graphics on their social platforms, blogs, email signatures and more.
Square graphics work well on Instagram, Facebook and Google+.
Rectangular graphics look awesome in tweets and they can also be used as Facebook Open Graphic images.
#15: Leverage Facebook’s Call-to-Action to Drive Traffic to Your Registration Page
You’ve already (hopefully) updated your cover photo to showcase your event, so why not take it a step further by adding a Call-to-Action (CTA) button?
Facebook recently rolled out its new CTA button for pages, said to “bring a business’s most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence.” What could be more important than generating event revenue for your business?
Different call-to-action options provide a variety of choices to draw attention to your particular event.
You can also specify different destination URLs for desktop versus mobile traffic.
#16: Add Your Event to Your Email Signature
Have you considered how many emails you send and receive on any given day? Each one of those is an opportunity to spread awareness for your event. Simply add a hyperlink and/or graphic to your signature line.
An eye-catching graphic in your email signature is a non-invasive way to spread awareness.
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