Event marketing, simply put, is about letting people know about the existence of the event you’re hosting, and convincing them so they’ll join the event.
We can argue that marketing has become more complicated than ever before. In the past, if we had enough budget to advertise an event in the prime-time slot of a popular TV channel, we were basically guaranteed success.
In today’s very dynamic digital world, however, we can no longer rely on just one marketing tactic or channel to spread the word, and instead, it’s about integrating the various channels, both online and offline, in a coordinated effort to achieve our marketing goal.
While our focus on this guide is how to use social media to promote our events, we’ll also need to consider the other available channels and best practices. Here are some of the most important event marketing best practices to follow:
How To Market an Event: Best Practices
1. Define Event Marketing Goals
What is the goal of promoting or marketing your event? At the first glance it’s fairly obvious: get more attendees to register for our event, but we can be more specific. For example, we can break down the marketing objective into:
- Total number of registrations
- Number of free registrants
- Number of paying registrants
- Number of discounted registrants
We’ll use these metrics (KPIs) to measure the performance of our marketing efforts.
Going blindly without first defining the objectives of promoting your event may (and often) result in a waste of money, time, and resources. So, be as clear as possible when defining your objective, but at the same time make sure these goals are attainable.
You can use the S.M.A.R.T. goal principle in defining your objective, and make sure your goals are:
- Specific: as clear as possible and easy to explain to a fifth-grader
- Measurable: you can assign metrics and KPIs to measure your progress
- Attainable: realistic, important to maintain your and your team’s morale
- Relevant: relevant for your event’s goal and organization’s goal
- Time-bound: you can attach a timeline for the goal
Use event marketing solutions to effectively track your marketing progress from start to finish.
2. Know Your Target Audience
As with any other marketing efforts, the secret here is how well you understand your target attendees.
Define who’s more likely to attend your event, and gather as much information as you can about these target attendees: demographics data, psychographic data, behavior, and so on. Ideally, you should also create a buyer persona.
Figure out the marketing channels and tactics that are effective for this specific target audience, and stick to it.
3. Effective Event Press Release
Don’t underestimate the importance of an event press release.
With a formal, well-written press release, you invite relevant media, websites, and also influencers to be a part of your event so they can spread the word to their respective audience.
Make sure the press release is well-written, not overly long, and has the right balance between being attractive and informative.
4. Effective Email Marketing
If you’ve hosted (successful) events in the past and have gathered your past attendees’ email addresses, then email marketing can be very effective to reach out to your past audience and promote your new event.
Even with all the newer marketing channels and technologies, email marketing continues to be the most effective promotional channel when it comes to promoting an event.
If this is your first event and/or you are a brand new event organizer, you can purchase email lists from various vendors. While this won’t be as effective as building your own email database, it’s worth a try.
5. Have a Professional Event Website
Even if the focus of this guide is social media marketing for your event, it’s crucial to remember that your social media profiles are not direct replacements for a well-designed and functional website.
Nowadays, there are various professional event management platforms that offers an easy way to build a professional website, and your event website should include:
- Clear information for the event (venue address, date/time, speakers/talents)
- Easy way to register and book your tickets with clear ticket pricing information
- Valuable content to attract potential attendees
- Photos and videos from speakers/talents
If you’ve already got a website for your event planning business (or yourself), it’s possible to create an event page as a part of your website. However, we’d recommend creating a dedicated landing page for SEO and personalization purposes.
6. Define Your Marketing Timeline
Something unique in marketing an event is that we can, and should, divide the marketing efforts into several phases:
- Pre-launch: you can launch “save the date” campaigns on social media, email marketing, and other channels to start generating buzz for your event
- Early bird: selling early bird tickets to build awareness and also to secure some cashflow
- Headliner announcement: announcing keynote speaker or headliner
- Additional announcement: announcing other speakers, attractive session topics, and so on
- Last call: last chance for early bird pricing
- Registration closing: end of the registration
- Post-event: evaluation, sending out post-event surveys, etc.
When discussing various social media event promotion strategies below, we’ll also use these phases as the foundation.
Social Media Event Promotion: Tips and Tricks
An effective social media marketing for an event is about reaching out to people on social media before, during, and after the event, which we can see from the marketing timeline discussed above.
Below, we will discuss different social media promotion strategies in different phases of event marketing, but let us first discuss which social networks you should focus on.
Choosing The Right Social Network(s)
You should choose the social network based on your target audience’s preferences. Also to some extent, some social platforms may be more effective for certain niches than others.
Here is a basic overview of common social media networks to consider:
- Instagram: a platform focused on visual content (photos/videos), especially popular for the younger audience, but in general very effective today with a high level of engagement.
- Facebook: still the most popular social platform with over 2 billion users. Various options to promote an event on the platform like creating an event page, organically engaging followers, and using the platform’s paid promotional tools.
- YouTube: the go-to platform for on-demand video nowadays, and you can use the platform to promote your events via short/long video content
- TikTok: has been really popular in the past two years, and you can experiment with the platform to promote your event through short videos.
- LinkedIn: especially effective for promoting “serious” events targeted at professionals like conferences.
- Twitter: can be effective for generating buzz before the event, and also during the event due to its immediate, real-time nature.
Social Media Campaigns Before The Event
Here are some tactics you can use to build awareness and attract potential attendees before the event (during pre-launch, early bird, and last call phases).
1. Decide on an event hashtag
Come up with a short and easy-to-pronounce/remember event hashtag.
The key is finding the right balance between uniqueness and familiarity: your hashtag should be familiar enough so that target attendees can instantly know what your event is about, but at the same time it must be unique to avoid confusion with other events/brands.
In general, the shorter the hashtag, the better. You’ll want to fit the hashtag in a shortened URL for link sharing purposes, and you’ll also need to consider the character limit in platforms like Twitter.
Once you’ve decided on an event hashtag, consistency is key. Keep using the hashtag on anything relevant to the upcoming event, and encourage your attendees, speakers, partners, vendors, and sponsors to also use the hashtag when posting about your event.
Also, during the event, make sure the hashtag is visible everywhere so your attendees will notice it and use it on their posts.
2. Optimize your social profiles
A key aspect of using social media to promote your event is to optimize your profiles and strengthen your presence.
Make sure to use well-taken photos and well-designed images on your profiles and all your posts to convey professionalism, and update your bio with optimized headers and descriptions.
Some tips regarding this aspect:
- Consistency is key. Make sure to maintain branding consistency across different social platforms.
- Especially optimize your bio/about us sections. Include your target keywords, but focus on providing engaging descriptions and information about your company and the upcoming event.
- Link your profiles together. For example, on Instagram, include your Facebook URL, and vice versa.
- Link to your website/event page to encourage online registration.
3. Leverage Instagram Stories
A relatively new feature on Instagram stories is the ability to use Countdown Sticker, which is actually perfect for announcing the launch of your event. You can set an end date and time for the countdown and customize the color and name according to your event branding.
You can implement this Countdown sticker in several different ways, like announcing the early bird pricing deadline to drive more ticket sales, or if you plan to run contests/giveaways, you can also use the sticker.
This seemingly simple sticker is effective for a reason: Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), by showing people the possibility that they might be at a loss if they don’t hurry, it will generate curiosity and encourage them to make their action right away.
4. Video teasers
You can post short videos on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms to help build awareness. Teasers can also provide your target attendees with attractive and useful information, which may encourage them to register.
This is also an effective way to showcase your talents/speakers, as well as VIPs. If, for example, you are organizing a music festival, then you could introduce the headlining DJs one by one each day in the weeks leading up to the event.
You can also share short interviews or behind-the-scenes snippets with these speakers/talents.
5. Host contests and giveaways
Social media giveaways and contests are popular for a reason: they boost your social media interactions and engagements. The more engagements you get, the better the brand awareness, and in turn, more of your followers will convert into actual attendees.
If you have sponsors, you can also ask them to participate in these giveaways.
How To Use Social Media During The Event
It’s also important to cover the event on your social media pages while the event is happening. While it may no longer help with increasing the number of attendees (except probably for virtual/hybrid events, it can improve attendees’ satisfaction and can help you in strengthening your brand as a whole.
Here are a few tips:
1. Live posts
Twitter is especially effective as a real-time social media platform where you can offer play-by-play coverage of the event.
Use your event hashtag with every post, and you can also use this opportunity to engage with attendees in real-time. Guests might post questions or concerns related to the event, so monitor your feeds regularly.
2. Display social media posts at the event
You can showcase relevant social media posts in real-time on your event’s main display to generate a cohesive experience.
There are many possible implementations for this, for example, you can post interesting questions from attendees on-screen, so the current speaker can address and answer the question in real-time.
Using Social Media To Promote Your Event After It’s Over
1. Post user-generated content of the event.
This is a layered tactic that can be quite complex to execute but can be very effective when done right.
First, you have to encourage attendees to generate user-generated content. This can be something simple like encouraging them to take and post a photo of themselves using your unique on-event photo booth. However, you can be creative and use more unique approaches.
Second, showcase these user-generated contents on your social media profiles.
2. Gather feedback
Reconnect with those who joined your event and especially those who mentioned/interacted with your event’s social media profiles. You can simply say thank you and wish them a safe trip home, and also encourage them to leave their feedback and voice their concerns (even complaints).
If necessary, send a post-event survey via DMs to tie up loose ends. You’ll be surprised how this can be effective in building long-term relationships. When they feel their voices are heard, they’ll be more likely to visit your next event.
Promoting your event on social media is essentially about knowing which platforms your target attendees are active in, and which types of content they’d interact with.
The better you understand your target audience, the more effective your campaigns will be.
However, keep in mind that promoting your event on social media doesn’t stop after the event is launched. You should also use social media to generate and maintain buzz during and after the event to maximize its potential.