Every time your event comes up, one of the biggest challenges you face is getting people to come to your event. What promotional strategy will you employ? What channels will you use to get the word out about your event? Some event makers use flyers, posters, radio and tv commercials, but one medium we all use is social media. And why not? It’s free, everybody has it, and you already have a following that is interested in what you have to say. So how do you make your social media advertising more effective, and how can you use it to reach new audiences? We have some tips that can help you out.
1. Content is King.
In case you didn’t know, quality content rules the social media world. When you look at engagement on posts, the posts that get the most attention come from the ones with pictures or videos. And while videos are the growing trend on Facebook, pictures still generate the most engagement. The truth is, people use social media to communicate and share ideas, but they also use it to show off and look good. Think about all the people you follow on social media. What type of things are they posting? You’ll find that many post amazing pictures of places they have traveled to, cool events they are attending, recognitions they receive, and major life events. As a company or organization, it’s okay to follow suite and show off your event and try and make people a little jealous. In fact, that may just compel them to come to your event.
Let’s look at a few examples companies who have done a fantastic job promoting their events through social media. First, we have a great instagram photo from Red Bull of a bike event going on in Europe. Let’s dissect what makes this particular image so great and see what we can learn from it.
- Use high quality pictures - When you look at the picture, it is clean, the coloring is appealing, and is simple enjoyable to look at. That sounds simple enough, but sometimes that is all it takes.
- Create an emotion - You can feel the anticipation of the entire crowd waiting to see how this next jump turns out in this picture. All eyeballs are focused in as the rider starts down the jump. You feel nervous and excited. It makes you want to know what happens next.
- Unique Perspective - This picture gives you a unique perspective into what it feels like to be backstage and involved in the event. Not everybody gets to be on top of the jump with the riders. People love getting that unique perspective.
These three characteristics stand out to make this an impressive use of social media to promote an event. You can bet these events will continue to be sold out in the future based on successful promotions. You’ll notice in the bottom of the picture that it has over 98,000 likes and 381 comments (not seen in picture), most of which are friends tagging their friends to share the picture. I would call that some successful event promotion. Here is another example of a quality promotional post.
This Facebook post was done by The Color Run, and it got a great response. How does this help promote the color run?
- It shows you exactly what sets the color run apart from other runs. So when you are looking for pictures of your event, find out what makes your event unique and distinct.
- The photographer captured a perfect moment of event attendees! When The Color Run posted it on their page, don’t you think the couple would want to share that photo with their friends, or make it their profile or cover photo? By involving participants, they increased shares and likes. It’s a great, feel good promotion for The Color Run.
- This picture uses love to share it’s message. When you look at this, you can’t help but feel good as you see this couple surrounded by vibrant, lively colors. And maybe it puts an idea in your head as well, that “Hey, I want an experience like that with my partner.”
This final example is done by TimeOut New York.
This event isn’t your typical event, per se. It is a free occurrence that happens twice a year in New York City, where the city streets align perfectly with the setting sun. However, there is still something to be learned from this promotion, because, they are indeed promoting it.
- Show what people can expect. This picture shows you exactly what is going to happen, and it is something you’d want to see.
- Make your tagline short and sweet. Yes, this is from a tweet, but twitter was onto something when they came up with the 140 character limit. Engagement on all social media networks increases if your text is under 140 characters. This means you need to say something interesting and get straight to the point. Don’t make people read an article to get the point of what you are trying to say.
- Include a link. Include a link to your site, to an article about your event, or something relevant that will bring them to your site or to your event. Make it as easy as possible for people to get from browsing social media to browsing your website.
Promoting on social media is different than advertising through radio, posters, or tv. In these three examples, you don’t see a single word on the pictures that says “20% off if you sign up today!” or “Share with a friend and get 2 tickets for the price of 1.” The reason these posts were so successful is because they gave people the quality content they want to see on social media.
2. Post and repost. You can use the same post more than once.
There is some room for debate here, as some people argue that posting the same post more than once isn’t good because it isn’t fresh. I would argue that this approach works best on twitter. A single tweet can get lost in the sea of tweets very quickly, and it’s possible you have followers that either live in different parts of the country, or they don’t have the luxury of checking twitter as often as they might like and they may miss your post. I don’t think that this works so well for Facebook, unless you start promoting your event months in advance, and then later (a couple months later) you post the same thing. However, even if you are reposting with the same content, you can still change what you write on each post, giving it a slight variation, even though it is leading to the same thing.
3. Post at the right time(s).
What is the right time for you to post? Well, that depends on your audience. There are different graphs and trends you can look at, like this one, or this one for the best and worst times to post.
- For Facebook, post Thursday and Friday at 1:00 p.m. to get the most shares and 3:00 p.m. to get the most clicks.
- For Twitter, if you focus on B2B events, post during the weekdays and if you are B2C post on Wednesday and on the weekends. Post at 12:00 or 6:00 p.m. for the highest click through rate, or post at 5:00 p.m. for the most retweets.
- For LinkedIn you should be posting on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m.
- On Pinterest you will want to pin on Saturday (are you really that surprised?) between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. It seems like people like scrolling through pinterest as they are winding down for the night.
- Instagram is quite unique in the fact that engagement stays consistent throughout the whole week, no matter what day you post. However, they say that Monday’s get slightly more engagement than other days, so take that for what it’s worth, but feel free to post on instagram any day of the week. The best time to post is off work hours. It makes sense if you think about it since Instagram is built for mobile and people can look at it on their way home from work, waiting in line, or anywhere on the go.
While this information is great and very helpful, remember that it isn’t perfect for every situation. Take it as a good starting point and then experiment from there. See what time of day works for you. Start off by following the tips of the best times to post, but don’t think you have to stick with those times if they aren’t working for you.
4. Paid advertising - Use it wisely.
All social media networks allow you to promote your event with paid advertising. This can be done for quite cheap if you are on budget, but allows for lot’s of advertising if you have deep pockets. But remember, people are on social media because they want to communicate and be social, not because they want to be advertised to. In fact, people really hate feeling like they are being advertised to on social media because it is a place where people talk to people, not where entities throw advertisements at you. You have to think of social media the same way as a group of friends meeting up at the end of the night at a friends house or at the bar just to hang out and talk. Don’t be the street vendor that interrupts their conversation and hands them a flyer and a business card. Instead, become part of their conversation and make them want to talk about you and invite you in. Keep the tone conversational. Make your event advertisement seem natural and like it belongs. With paid advertising, keep in mind that while you are going to get a lot more impressions (views), if you don’t fit in on Facebook, your ad isn’t going to be very effective.
5. Keep your post short.
I already mentioned this above, but I want to reemphasize this incase it got lost in the text: posts that are 140 characters or less get the greatest engagement. So, I’ll follow suite and keep this one short and sweet.
6. Use questions to get people to engage.
As you go about promoting your event, ask questions to engage your audience. However, in social media, not all question words were created equal. Studies show that questions that being with the words “Should, would, which, and who” generate the most engagement, while “how” sits at the bottom of the totem poll by a long shot. It appears that people tend to respond to questions that don’t require a lot of thought or explanation. People are willing to give short yes and no answers as opposed to answering open-ended questions.
7. Optimize for mobile.
People predominantly use their internet on their phones for social networking. What does this mean? If people have to register for your event, make it easy to navigate with thumbs. It can be tedious to do lots of typing when you have to fill out forms, enter your email address, and list your phone number all from your phone. I know I sure make a lot of typos when I have to give my email address, and I will personally stop filling out something on my cell phone if the website isn’t optimized for mobile usage. Think about it though. People no longer have to be sitting in front of their desktop to register for your event. Instead, they can do it while waiting in line at the store, while sitting on the subway, in front of the tv, etc. People pull out their phones any time there is nothing else to do and they have to wait for something. So make sure you are taking advantage of those opportunities.
Which tips would you add to the list? Comment below to share how you successfully use social media to promote your events!