In the classic movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner hears a mystical voice tell him, “If you build it, they will come.” The meaning is that if Costner builds a baseball field in the middle of a massive empty cornfield, people will come in droves. And so Kevin builds it, and the people come.
Wouldn’t it be great if things worked like that in real life? If you could simply create an event and have attendees sign up en masse?
Of course, that’s not how it works. If you want people to attend your events, you need to promote them — a lot!
In this article, we’re going to talk about why social media is effective for promoting events, as well as 15 different ways to use social media for promotion.
While traditional press releases and media placements are still useful promotional tactics, social media is a much faster and more authentic way to reach your target market.
While you may not necessarily produce direct sales from social media marketing, you will increase your audience, expand your reach, and establish brand recognition — all of which will lead to increased sales over time.
Social media is an excellent way to grab attention for your event long before it happens. Using social platforms, you can build excitement and anticipation through conversations with your customers, prospects, and fans.
When your audience begins talking about the event, it increases your reach to their fans, followers, and colleagues as well.
Because of social media’s live conversation aspect, using it allows you to gain instant feedback from potential partners and attendees.
Just gauging the reactions — or lack thereof — to announcements, posts, event information, and so on will help you see which areas need improving and which are of the most interest.
For example, if you post about an upcoming event and your post is seen by many people but gets very little engagement, it might be a sign that the event doesn’t resonate much with your target audience.
Actively engaging with customers and prospects through social media channels establishes your brand as an authority in your industry. It allows you to build trust through the authenticity and transparency inherent in social platforms.
As you answer questions, provide helpful information, and develop a rapport with your followers, they come to see you as an expert in your particular field.
Now that you know why social media is such an effective tool let’s talk about specific promotion strategies.
Put your event front and center on each of your social media bios or about pages. Create branded headers to promote the event and boldly showcase the event name, dates, locations, and event-specific hashtags.
Link to the event’s webpage so prospects can get more information and create a pinned post as another way to share event-specific details. You can even pin an event countdown timer at the top of each profile page to help build anticipation.
To get people talking about an online masterclass she was doing, Gabby Bernstein created a branded header specifically for her Facebook page that contained all the details:
Ensure that every one of your contact points with prospects and customers has links to your social media bios. Add these links to email marketing campaigns, newsletters, thank you pages, and throughout your website pages as well.
The more opportunities you give prospects to find you on their chosen social platform, the better your chances are of turning them into leads and customers.
User-generated content (UGC) can be a goldmine for your events. Invite your audience to share something on social media that pertains to your company, products, or event.
Maybe they’ll simply share a selfie of themselves at a previous event, or perhaps they’ll share a screenshot of how they use your service. Content generated and shared by your user base inspires others to do the same, creating an active conversation around your brand and spreading advertising far and wide.
Each time a user generates content for your event, be sure to repost it and credit that user. They’ll feel appreciated and inclined to create additional content about you in the future.
You can invite your followers to interact with you in the online event room or on social media during the event itself. Post questions or polls related to your event’s content and ask those in attendance to respond in some way.
Doing this keeps attendees engaged with the content and makes them feel like they’re making a meaningful contribution.
Create event-specific hashtags and use them across all of your social media accounts.
Even social media platforms that do not use hashtags officially can benefit from their use because users are in the habit of using them everywhere.
Encourage your followers to use the hashtags as well when they participate in the event.
Adobe encouraged attendees to use the code #AdobeSummit whenever they posted anything related to the event:
Customer questions can be a goldmine for content marketing and social media interaction.
If you receive a question that is somehow related to an upcoming event, post the question on your social profiles and make the connection to your event. This shows that you’re listening to your customer base while also giving you an easy way to promote your event.
Influencers can be tremendously helpful when it comes to event promotion. By teaming up with relevant influencers in your industry, you can gain exposure that you wouldn’t otherwise.
If you want to generate buzz, giveaways are a great way to do it. When it comes to your giveaway, you’re only limited by your creativity.
You could give away free subscriptions to your SaaS product, tickets to the event, behind-the-scenes access, or some kind of event swag. When you run the giveaway promotion, collect the entrants’ email addresses or ask them to follow your social media. Both strategies build your prospect base for future promotions and exposure.
Showcasing happy customers in your social media posts builds a sense of trust between you and your followers. You demonstrate that your product or service really works.
Plus, when you publicly promote customers, it creates a sense of pride and reciprocity. They may be inclined to help promote your event because they feel you’ve promoted them.
Videos tend to perform well on most social media platforms and are a very effective way to promote your events. Your videos don’t have to be particularly long or look like the trailer for a blockbuster movie. They just need to be relevant to your audience and relate to your event in some way.
You could share short clips where those who will be presenting at the event give a teaser about what they’ll be sharing. Or you could answer common questions people might have about the event.
Another way to build authority and use the power of reciprocity is to share content from other experts and influencers in your industry. Share helpful videos, relevant infographics, or simply comment on an article or piece of content they released.
This strategy works particularly well if these influencers or industry experts will be participating in your event in some way. When your followers see the influencers’ valuable content, they’ll be more inclined to attend your event.
The Art Institute used this strategy to promote an upcoming virtual event they were hosting:
When applicable, make use of current events and news to spread your message. Your event, its participants, and its activities often relate to specific things happening in the industry.
When you time your messages to specific moments, it helps you ride the trend of the moment while also associating your brand name with the buzz that moment creates.
Cull through every asset you have from previous events and put together some of the most memorable into a highlight reel. Post these as stories or short video clips on your social media channels with information about the upcoming event.
When your followers see how good your past events have been, it will make them more inclined to attend upcoming events.
People love to share content on social media that’s unique, amusing or makes them look good in some way. You can leverage this by creating event-related images, infographics, and video shorts that people can share on their social media feeds.
Images are versatile because you can create some that are useful to your industry, memes that contain inside jokes relevant to your audience, or something that is simply inspirational. Videos can also be funny, quirky, or educational, and infographics are an excellent way to pack a lot of information into one image.
Be sure to add your social media profile handle and event hashtag to each piece of media so that as it is shared around, your name and event information are shared too.
People love seeing what’s happening behind the scenes. As your event approaches, share photos and videos that take people “backstage.” Show your followers things that they wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Make them feel like they’re part of an exclusive group of VIPs. This will make them more inclined to attend the event and share it with others.
Gallery Poulsen used this strategy to highlight an exhibit that would be opening soon:
To make the most of these promotion strategies, start using them well in advance of your event. Don’t wait until the last minute to try to drum up interest in your event. As soon as you nail down the primary details of your event, start promoting it.
And be consistent in your promotion. You can’t just post every now and then and expect to gain much traction. The more consistent you are with your efforts, the more momentum you’ll gain, and the more successful your event will be.