If you’ve ever held an online event before, you probably already know that hosting it is only half the battle. The real work lies in the marketing. You need to get the word out to the right people, through the right channels, in the right time frame. If you’re having trouble putting together your social battle plan, check out our comprehensive social media event marketing guide below.
Social media has been around for so long. Incredibly, Facebook launched 17 years ago! You might think it would have lost some of its power by now. But in fact, social media marketing is more effective than ever. Below are some of the greatest advantages of going social.
Due to its “viral” nature, social media is a great method to spread the word about upcoming events. Some of the best ways to use social media to market an event include forming a partnership with a business that targets a similar audience; collaborating with a popular influencer or celebrity in your niche market; or investing in good old-fashioned paid advertisements. (We’ll discuss this topic in further detail later on).
Posting about your event on social media is a great way to drive more traffic to your webinar landing page, a page on your website where visitors can learn more about your event and, hopefully, sign up for it. Some landing pages can even be customized to collect specific information about registrants, like their job title or the size of their company. You and your team can then use this information to improve your marketing campaigns in the future.
One of the best ways to use social media to market your online events is to build up excitement for them. There are multiple ways to go about this, which all vary according to the platform you use. If you’re using Instagram, for instance, you could post “behind-the-scenes” photos of team members as they prepare, or share background info about guest speakers. (Again, we’ll expand on this later in this post).
With so many social media channels out there to choose from, it can be tough to take advantage of them all. If time, budget, or other constraints force you to limit your efforts, consider which platform is the best for your particular brand identity. For instance, you might choose…
LinkedIn is the primary platform for working professionals, so if you’re trying to garner the interest of other businesses, LinkedIn should be a core part of your social media event marketing strategy. Now, keep in mind that you will likely reach a smaller audience than you would on some other channels; Facebook, for instance, has 2.38 billion active users, making LinkedIn’s hefty base of 630 million seem small in comparison. However, that smaller audience is much more targeted, i.e. likely to have a genuine interest in what you have to say.
SlideShare is a public platform that allows users to share presentations, infographics, videos, documents, and more. If your work is rather difficult to explain without some visual aides, this is the platform for you. Like LinkedIn, SlideShare’s user base consists primarily of SMBs and larger B2B businesses. Therefore, you will be most successful if you share educational content that discusses niche skills and strategies.
If your brand primarily targets millennials, women, or both, Instagram should be your top pick. The platform’s latest statistics confirm that its largest advertising audience is adults aged 25-34, followed closely by the 18-24 year old age group. Additionally, way more women use the platform than men (57% versus 43%). Just remember, if you choose to focus your efforts on the ‘gram, you’ll have to produce high-quality images and video content to be successful.
By “wise”, we don’t mean wise in the traditional sense. Rather, we mean brands with a smart, witty, and perhaps even snarky personality. A brand that has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening right at this moment, and isn’t afraid to react to it. Politicians, socially-motivated companies, software companies, and some food brands have managed to run great campaigns primarily through Twitter. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re agile, reactive, and fearless, it might be for you.
If you asked most marketing experts which platform they’d go with if they could only choose one, they’d probably select Facebook. The reason? More than 2.79 billion people around the world use Facebook, which is almost a third of the world’s population! In the U.S., the platform boasts about 228.6 million members (or about 70% of America's population). With numbers like those, pretty much any marketing campaign is bound to achieve some success.
There’s no need to set yourself a reminder to schedule a post every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at lunchtime. These social media publishing tools will do it for you, automatically.
At the time of this writing, the most popular social media management tools include Hootsuite, Loomly, and SproutSocial. Other, less-dominant options include ContentCal, Agorapulse, Sendible, and Falcon. While each platform has unique benefits and features, they all work in pretty much the same way, by allowing you to pre-write your posts and schedule them at peak viewing hours. This, of course, brings up the question of…
If your customer base is internationally distributed, making time-sensitive posts can become a bit of a problem. For instance, you wouldn’t want to wish all your customers a hearty “good morning!” when it’s pitch-dark in Japan. Fortunately, most of the tools we mentioned above allow users to customize the post’s designated time zone as well as time and date. Usually, this will be presented in the form of a clickable drop-down menu.
At Livestorm, we recommend sending registrants seven emails total. One email is meant to confirm registration, three are made to remind registrants about the upcoming event and three are to follow up after. Whenever an email is scheduled to go out, be sure to schedule a social media post to match. That way, you’ll be sure to cover all of your metaphorical bases.
Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of social media event marketing, and which tools you should consider using, here are just a few specific strategies you can try.
Both LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to create a custom page for your event, which you can use to share information, answer questions, and build excitement in the days leading up to the event. Once you create your event page, be sure to “pin” crucial details like the time and date of the event to the top of the page for easy reference.
Remember the webinar landing page we mentioned earlier? When you create it, remember to add some buttons that link to your social media profiles. As an example, check out the landing page for our live product demo below. As you can see, the social media buttons are prominently displayed and easy for anyone to access.
Alternatively, you can try a more direct method, by literally asking registrants to follow your social profiles. You can do this via email, website popup, or during your events.
Creatively revealing "secret" information, like the name of a guest speaker, is a great strategy for building hype before an event. It tends to get people talking! If you decide to try this method, keep in mind that your speaker will have to be someone with a bit of notoriety. Otherwise, you stand the chance of disappointing your audience.
You can also use social media to educate your audience about your upcoming guest speaker, with behind-the-scenes interviews, notable quotes they’ve said or written, and “fun facts” about them. For instance, to help market its 2019 Retail 4.0 Summit, Luxatia International posted this interview with its guest speaker, the Research & Data Analytics Director for Formula 1. The company posted links to the interview on its social media pages, with the below graphic, and managed to drum up significant interest across the internet and social sphere.
Since your speaker (or corporate partner) stands to benefit from some event awareness, too, they are doubtlessly interested in promoting it as well. You can make it easy for them by providing photos advertising the event time and date, along with pre-written captions they can simply copy and paste. (No, Kim Kardashian probably does not write her own shampoo-hawking Instagram posts).
Custom hashtags primarily come in handy after an event, by making it easy for you (and your attendees) to locate all event-related content. But custom hashtags can also help generate more engagement before an event, too. For example, in 2018, productivity management tool Trello challenged users to post a picture of their workspace under the custom hashtag #WhereITrello. The promise of a reward (“limited edition swag”), as well as Trello’s intelligent targeting of its customer base wound up garnering a lot of engagement.
An AR filter, or “Augmented Reality” filter, is a computer-generated effect that can be superimposed over a real-life image (i.e., the infamous dog filter). You might have to commission the help of an out-of-house developer for this one, but the extra effort is worth it for one simple reason: people love taking silly photos and showing them off to their friends. This tactic has most successfully been used by food, makeup, and clothing brands, as you can see here.
Countdown clocks, like the countdown sticker on Instagram Stories, are another fun way to build hype and excitement for your event. Many countdown apps and widgets, including Instagram’s, will also allow viewers to request a notification when the clock runs out, or add the countdown to their own Story.
Social media contests tend to be very effective. Everyone loves free stuff, after all! What you offer as a reward is up to you, but remember to once again consider your audience. If you’re primarily targeting small business owners, for instance, you will probably yield more qualified leads by offering a free trial of your product, rather than, say, a new iPad. For example, a contest held by social media software company Wishpond and its partner, design platform Snappa, offered its contest winners a free year’s subscription to both platforms. The reward was so tantalizing that Wishpond was able to generate 1,263 new leads and it didn’t cost either company a dime.
On LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (and even unlikelier spots like Tumblr and Reddit), there are surely people who are interested in the type of content you’ll be offering. While most of these spaces have rules restricting self-promotion, if the event can be framed as valuable and educational, it will often be permitted. Read the rules carefully, and post away.
Sharing highlights from prior events you’ve hosted is a great way to market your upcoming event while making the most of the older ones. Posting clips of funny or inspiring moments can remind your audience of the value you’ve provided in the past, and are likely to bring in the future.
Social media is an ever-changing, many-faceted beast that can be difficult to master from a professional standpoint. But with the right planning, preparation, and legwork, almost anyone can develop a solid social media growth strategy that gets results. We hope that this blog has given you the insight and confidence you need to pull off your own social media event marketing efforts in 2021 and beyond!