*Disclaimer* I am no expert in marketing, I am just a heavy social media user and event goer!
If you are like most event makers, you spend 80 percent of your time managing your day to day operations, 10 percent of your time trying to grow your event, 5 percent of your time looking for ways to optimize your event, and 5 percent of your time wondering where your audience is hanging out online.
Reaching your audience should be one of the major tentpoles of your event marketing strategy, but sometimes that creative energy is used perfecting the event experience, and FOMO (fear of missing out) is never generated. One of the worst things that can happen to an awesome event is a silent funeral; “RIP event, sorry I didn't come to your party, but I honestly just didn't know about it!”
So, how do you break through the noise, reach your event goers where they are, and spin an event story your audience wants to read? The channels and methods you pick to reach your audience are just as important as the message. And the good news is, since so many people want to be the first to discover and share, the odds are in your favor to create a good marketing campaign that will gain momentum. Let’s take a look at different channels you can use to reach your audience, and some tips to maximize exposure.
Instagram users are mostly millennials, both male and female, but are heavy users. Instagram makes image sharing incredibly easy. And the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly holds true for this social networking site. To use Instagram effectively, share images related to the theme of your event, use related hashtags heavily and make sure you either post often, or spend marketing dollars to buy ad space here. Don't expect users to click and purchase tickets from here, most people won't be intrigued enough to stop scrolling, lose their place, and jump to either a website or your profile. Instagram is used mostly just to create interest around your event.
Facebook is another great place to create interest and awareness around your event, but also a good place to leave links for ticket purchase, your website, performer bios, etc. Because Facebook users are generally a little older, it can be seen as an outdated social media site by younger audiences. But, that is ok, you can still find users of any demographic here, just do a good job of capturing attention with your posts. Creating a really good Facebook page that is information rich, will drive up your attendance, and Facebook users will be more inclined to leave their feed to check out your event listing if you have done a really good job with your event page and images. Don’t go text heavy and scare users off! Leave the text for the about section of your event, and let users organically discover what is interesting about your event.
Twitter works much the same way as Facebook, in that a post will show up in a timeline, except you have to create a really good concise tweet. Leave a clickable hyperlink to your website, because you never want to run the risk of a Twitter user not having a Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest account, then losing them over the sign in, or sign up page. Chances are, with that little step blocking accessibility, they won't go further to seek out your event, and you have lost them. To influence active engagement, tweet often about your event. Because Twitter moves fast, you won't be pestering any potential attendees, just hashtag your posts with relevant tags and tweet tweet tweet!
Images are a running theme here! It may feel odd to keep sharing images about your event when all you want to do is shout to the world how cool your event is, and do a play by play for every item you have planned for your attendee, but don't. Images are easy to share, and allow the attendee to imagine and create their own idea of the experience they will have at your event. This is especially true on Pinterest where your audience does such a good job crafting their board to look a specific way, creating their ideal space. If your image doesn't look great and pinnable, it won't be pinned. Pinterest users are mostly female, usually have higher incomes, and spend a lot of time actively searching out topics, which is much different than the passive message delivery system of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Unless your event is very relevant to business and networking, don’t worry about using LinkedIn. Users are on LinkedIn to network for career advancement, and they use other channels to surf for fun. But, if you do have a business relevant event, LinkedIn is a little more expensive to advertise, but you will find a very engaged audience. You can also create a good company page and share articles relevant to your event, to create engagement, but it won't be very effective, if you don't have a lot of people following your business.
Snapchat as a social networking site can be a little trickier to navigate. If you are a company with multiple events throughout the year and around the country, like themed runs, or festivals, it might be a good idea to create a Snapchat following to help build your brand. You can relay information about your events, or share clips of your events to interested parties who are already somewhat aware of your company. Announcing your company is on Snapchat and encouraging followers to add you could be a smart play, and you will be able to directly reach your followers.
While there is no magic formula for using a certain type of social networking to increase awareness around a certain type of event, these networking tools when combined will help you find more potential attendees interested in attending your event. Just remember no one wants to feel like they are being marketed to. Create a message that is attendee and experience focused, leaves enough to the imagination, and focuses heavily on several high quality shareable images.