In 2019, social media is no longer just a mere “option” when it comes to promoting your event. Social media is a must in your event marketing mix. And although from time to time there are voices out there proclaiming that “the end of Facebook is near”, or “the end of Instagram is near”, or “users are leaving social media” we are still far from any of that happening. Social media is still a major space where people spend their time online, so, as event organizers, we cannot afford not getting our event out there. But when it comes to promoting events on social media, with so many networks catering to so many types of audience, how do we know what to do first and how to do it?
In this article we have developed a step by step guide to using social media to leverage your event visibility online and drive ticket sales. So read on!
1. Assign a budget for social media marketing
For years, social media was praised as being a free marketing tool. In 2019, this is no longer the case. Most social networks base their business model on selling advertising, which is why it is now extremely hard, if not impossible, to gain organic visibility and growth as a brand or business.
It doesn’t matter how much “viral” potential your content has, how unconventional and catchy your pictures and videos are. Your content will not be seen without at least a minimum initial investment in sponsored posts. Be it on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or even Pinterest, you can start with as little as let’s say $100 per network per week. Start your campaigns early, refine targeting as precisely as possible, and use the first couple of weeks or even the first month as a test period. Analyze results and adjust campaigns and audiences accordingly.
Content production budget
Again, gone are the days when you could get away with just a smartphone to produce content for social media. In today’s social landscape, especially when we’re talking about business and brand accounts, increased competition pushed the stakes for quality content very high. Ideally, you should be able to invest in professional photography and videography. If you really can’t dedicate a high budget for this, you should at least invest in photo and video editing platforms and apps.
The most professional and complete creative suite for photo editing, video editing, design, illustration and stock photo purchase, starts at $50 per month. It does take some skills to be able to use Photoshop, Lightroom or Premiere but as an event professional you can expect to need to use them quite frequently so learning to use them would be a time investment you won’t regret taking. Bonus, most of these also come as apps so you’ll have the benefit of being able to create and edit professionally looking content straight from your smartphone.
If anything with the Adobe name on it still sounds a bit intimidating, there are plenty of other services or apps that help you edit photos and videos and create graphic designs on the go.
Canva is a great option for creating graphics combining images and text, it’s very simple and straightforward to use, and its professional version Canva for Work comes at just $12.95 per month. You can choose from a wide array of templates for anything from Instagram visuals to Facebook covers to presentations to A4 posters, or create your own designs from scratch in custom dimensions.
This is another service we liked, it combines photo editing tools with a graphics creator. It is significantly more expensive than Canva, with the basic payment plans starting at $50 for 10 graphics, charging an additional $1 for each new graphic above the initial 10. Prices can reach as high as $1500 per month for a professional plan allowing up to 750 graphics and additional features.
Apps for creating content on the go
Most of these apps have a free version for basic features, and a very reasonably priced paid version that offers extra features. Some of the most well known are:
- SnapSeed (a photo editing tool by Google)
- Hyperlapse (a time-lapse video tool)
- SloPro (creates slow motion videos)
- AfterLight (photo editing and correction tool)
- VSCO (photo editing tool featuring a wide array of cool filters)
- A beautiful mess (a photo editing and collage app)
Social media management budget
Most likely, you’ll be promoting your event on more than one platform, and you have to do it strategically and consistently. There are several ways to manage the social media editorial calendar and ad campaigns, and, if you want it done well, it comes at a cost.
If you manage social media promotion yourself – get the right management tools
Posting consistently across several platforms may eat up huge amounts of time, and, as the main project manager or creator of your event, you most likely don’t have all this time. So if you insist on managing the social media activity yourself, you’ll need to use a social media management tool, that helps you schedule posts beforehand, so you can work in batches, several posts at a time, and not have to stress every day about what you’re going to post that day.
Here are some of these tools:
- Hootsuite: one of the most widely used content planning tools on a global level. It allows you to manage your Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts from one dashboard. With Hootsuite you can plan content and automate posts. Moreover, you can manage ad campaigns for these social networks, directly in Hootsuite. Payment plans start from as low as 25 euros per month for one user with up to 10 social profiles and an ad spend limit of 500 euros per month to boost posts.
- Edgar: what makes Edgar different from the rest of social media scheduling tools is the fact that you can schedule posts to repeat at certain intervals. This works great for those kind of posts that you have to publish repeatedly, like those key event information posts or reminders about ticket prices. Edgar also offers an unlimited content library, native video support, and auto-expiring content. You can manage content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest, with pricing starting at $49 per month that allow you to manage up to 25 social accounts.
- Buffer: Buffer comes with a few strengths such as enabling replies to messages from all the connected social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest) from just one inbox that is accessible to the entire team. Pricing starts from $15/month for up to 8 accounts, but there’s also a free version which allows you to manage up to 3 social accounts.
If someone in your team manages the social media marketing
Ideally, you will have a designated person in your event planning team who will manage all marketing operations, so this person will do the social media marketing too. In this case, you will have to budget the staffing cost, although it won’t be for social media marketing specifically but for marketing in general. As an alternative, you can assign the task of promoting your event on social media to an intern or volunteer, but make sure that they have the necessary skills and at least some minimal experience. And, you will still have to invest in one of the social media management tools that we described above. If the job is being done by an intern, make sure you supervise the process closely, which means you need to choose a payment plan that allows for more than 1 user, for most of the social media management tools.
If an external agency is in charge of promoting your event on social media
You may want an external agency to handle the entire marketing process for your event or just the social media marketing. Either way, there is the obvious cost of paying the agency. The up side to choosing the agency route is that they are highly specialized professionals, and they’re supposed to know what they’re doing, and, if you chose the agency well, they will achieve great results in promoting your event across social media. The down side is, of course, the cost, and the fact that you may feel like you lost control. Make sure you choose an agency with proven experience and results in promoting events, and have meetings with them at fixed intervals to check up on achievements.
2. Create your event website
“What does this have to do with promoting an event on social media?” you may ask. The thing is social media can’t work by itself. Social media is a part of the overall web marketing strategy for your event, and you can’t have web marketing without an event website. Your event website will be a hub and web communication should flow from and towards it. Your potential attendees will indeed find out about your event from social media, but they need to go somewhere to get the full event info, and to buy tickets!
A time and cost saving alternative to building an event website from scratch is using an online event management platform. For example, if you use Metooo as your event management platform, you get a series of features that help you build a solid online presence for your event:
- an intuitive, easy to use event website builder. Your event website will be ready in a few minutes, you can personalize it with custom images, insert your event info and schedule, speakers, sponsors, embed YouTube videos, add a picture gallery and insert your contact.
- sell tickets through secure transactions and have your attendees pay for tickets directly by credit card or PayPal
- send email invitations to your potential attendees and import mailing lists from Gmail and MailChimp
- create and manage waiting lists and discount codes, embed the ticket on external websites, manage invoices and check-in, create custom badges, and analyze statistics.
3. Choose the right social media for your event
It’s a fact, we can’t be everything to everyone, just like we can’t be everywhere at the same time. There are so many types of events, and so many social media platforms. Depending on your type of event, it will make sense to promote on one or two social networks in particular. Let’s see below what distinguishes the main social networks and what kind of events they are suitable for.
This one seems like a no-brainer. With over 2.32 billion active users as of December 2018, it seems like despite the voices saying that Facebook isn’t “cool” anymore, every market segment you can think of is (still) on Facebook. Check out this Hootsuite report on the latest Facebook stats, for a more in-depth look at what this social network has to offer in 2019. There has been a shifting in demographics though, for example only half of American teens use Facebook. Moreover, the age group between 13 and 17 years old only makes 7% of Facebook users. This doesn’t mean necessarily that the Facebook audience is “old”. According to the Hootsuite report, 35% of Facebook’s ad audience is under 25%. But if you do want to find older people on Facebook, you can do that too: 41% of Americans 65+ years old are users of the platform.
What makes Facebook a great choice (a must, we might add) for promoting any kind of event is the the capacity to offer highly targeted advertising. So whatever the type of your event, even if you can only manage to have a presence with it on two social networks, Facebook has to be one of them.
How to get the best out of Facebook for your event
Start by creating a business page for your event. You can also manage events from your personal profile, but apart from not looking professional, you would be missing out on a series of benefits that come from using a business page. If you own a business page already, personalize it with the visual elements of the upcoming event. Then create the event from the page itself.
When you create the Facebook event, make sure you include a link to your event website. This way people finding the event through Facebook can actually go and purchase tickets.
As far as Facebook advertising is concerned, you can approach it in two ways. One way is to create sponsored posts on your Facebook business page. In these posts you share updates about the event. You can even create ad campaigns about the event. Moreover, from your business page on Facebook, you can actually create ads linking directly to your event website. This way your potential attendees are just one click away from being able to actually buy tickets. The other way is to promote the Facebook event itself, by creating an event ad. Check out this article by Facebook to see exactly how to do it.
This goes for any type of social media, but make sure your partners, sponsors, speakers, instructors and artists promote the event to their Facebook following too.
Once you have attendees to your Facebook event, make sure you interact with them by posting relevant information or behind the scenes facts on the event page to keep them interested and active on the weeks and days leading to the event. Also, encourage them to post their own posts on the Facebook event wall as well.
With over 1 billion users and over 500 million daily active users, Instagram has seen a rapid growth in the last few years, and as of early 2019 it is used by 72% of US teenagers. Moreover, in 2018 35% of US adults and 71% of young adults were using Instagram, according to this report by HubSpot. In this age when organic reach looks more like a vestige of history than current reality, Instagram remains the platform with the highest rate of organic engagement on posts.
Also, if we add the fact that 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business account on the platform, Instagram appears as perfect for promoting any kind of events. Judging by the platform’s latest stats, the events most suited to draw the most from promotion here are the ones targeted at a younger audience. Also, events that are in the entertainment field are very likely to draw attention on Instagram. Moreover, events in fields with a strong visual and creative component (like fashion, wedding business, or the beauty industry) are the ones for which Instagram should be the main focus when it comes to social media promotion. But, if it’s used strategically, ANY event can benefit from Instagram.
How to get the best out of Instagram for your event
No matter the industry that your event belongs to, there is a number of ways that Instagram can be useful in boosting ticket sales and in creating engagement with your potential and current attendees.
- Optimize the account. Put efforts into creating the Instagram account of your event, and set it up as a business account. Make it clear, from the category and bio, what the account is about. Make sure your bio includes the event type, the target audience, where and when it’s taking place, and add a link to the event website. If you created a custom hashtag for the event, add it to the bio.
- Use the power of storytelling. Start telling the story of your event right when you start planning the event itself. Include behind the scenes photos and videos, depicting office meetings, venue hunt, and snapshots of the chosen venue. Present your speakers, artists, vendors and/or attractions. If yours is a repeated event, post on a consistent basis, keep your event brand alive throughout the year, make people grow affectionate to it. Don’t make the mistake of just posting when you need to push ticket sales.
- Ask your partners, speakers and artists to promote the event on their Instagram accounts. Make sure they tag the event account and use the event hashtag in their posts.
- Use ads and sponsored posts. As said before, organic reach can only take you this far. Luckily, you have already allocated a budget for this (you did, right?). Ads can be set up from Facebook (when you set up a Facebook ad campaign, you need to select the option that makes the ad run on Instagram as well). Sponsored posts can be set up directly from Instagram.
- Post frequently, with real time updates, during and immediately after the event.
LinkedIn is by far the most well known professional social network out there. So it appears obvious that it will be a perfect choice to promote your professional, business, scientific or educational event. As of early 2019, 560 million professionals worldwide use LinkedIn. The LinkedIn user has twice the buying power of average web audiences. Moreover, 4 in 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions, and LinkedIn is the #1 platform for B2B lead generation, rated by marketers.
How to get the best out of LinkedIn for your event
Use your company profile to communicate the event
By this we assume you do have a company/business profile, and if you don’t, make one right away. Make sure you fill in all the information (website, company size, industry, year founded, location, and company type). Add your logo in high resolution and a cover image that conveys the essence of your brand. Then grow your page by creating (and following!) a consistent posting schedule (ideally, post twice a week). To always get a supply of fresh quality content, add RSS feeds to your content inbox.
Also, from time to time, republish content that did well in the past. Another effective way to increase visibility for your page is to encourage your colleagues and employees to add your company as their latest work experience and to engage wit the content you publish to your company page. And last but not least, add a “Follow” button for LinkedIn on your company website, and a link to your LinkedIn company page in your (and your employees’) email signature, newsletters, and blog posts.
Join groups that are related to the industry of your event
LinkedIn is THE place for professional groups, and there are lots of them for any industry you can think of. But there’s also a golden rule to respect: don’t just join the group to start spamming your event. Join the group, interact and contribute with useful information, make yourself a respected voice. And only then start communicating your event, in a moderate manner, which means only from time to time, when you have important updates. Groups are very reluctant to self promotion and spam so it’s important to not exaggerate, or you risk being banned.
Make use of LinkedIn advertising
The great advantage of LinkedIn for advertising is that targeting can get very precise. Since professionals are encouraged to make their profiles as complete as possible, you have access to targeting information that is more scarce on other social media. On LinkedIn, you can define your target audience based on job title, company, industry, seniority, and more.
There are 3 types of advertising you can use on LinkedIn. First there’s LinkedIn Ads, that are displayed on the right-hand column on a user’s page. These ads though tend to have a low conversion rate, because, given their small size and position, they are easy to miss.
The second type, which we believe to be more effective, is the Sponsored Updates, which look like actual posts that appear directly in users’ news feeds. To make the posts more effective, try your best to narrow down the targeting by creating a very specific profile of your ideal attendee . Also, make sure you use images in your sponsored updates, and not just text. The images should be striking, attractive to the eye, and should “speak” about your event. Avoid the use of stock photos, as LinkedIn is full of them, and your post won’t stand out as much. The text of the post should be catchy and include a call to action.
And finally, the third type are the sponsored messages (sponsored InMail). Sponsored InMail is great for promoting events, for a number of reasons. Firstly, you can boost registrations with personalized invites to webinars or in-person events. Secondly, you benefit from the mobile-responsive design of your messages. And, since Sponsored InMail messages are only delivered when members are active on LinkedIn, you can reach your target audience when it’s most engaged on the platform.
With 326 million active users as of late 2018, out of which 80% use it mostly on mobile, and over 500 million tweets sent every day, Twitter can definitely be a winning card for your event promotion through social media. Moreover, 79% of Twitter users are based outside of the United States, which makes it great for promoting international events or, in any case, events that take place in other countries. Last but not least, according to this report, 74% of Twitter users say they use the network to get their news, and in Q3 of 2017, Twitter live-streamed more than 830 events.
How to get the best out of Twitter for your event
- start with a pre-event strategy. Begin communicating your event early on, mostly through visual content, to allow enough time for a recognizable event brand to be developed. Rely on photos and videos to tell the story of your event, from the early stages of planning. A mix of behind the scenes posts, visuals related to the venue, and interviews with speakers and artists, should be what you’re aiming for.
- use hashtags wisely. Develop an official hashtag for the event, to be used on all platforms. On Twitter this hashtag is even more important, because you will want it to become a trending topic.
- post intensely on the days leading to the event, as well as during the event and the days immediately after. Have one or more dedicated team members handling on-site event promotion on Twitter. It’s important to document the event as it’s happening, and you won’t have time to do it personally.
- work with influencers. We will cover influencer marketing for events below, but you need to make sure you actually include Twitter in your influencer marketing strategy. Many times nowadays influencer marketing efforts focus on Instagram or YouTube, and Twitter is overlooked. So when you choose your influencers, make sure you project actions for their Twitter following too.
- involve your team members and partners. Have your team members, partners, sponsors, speakers and/or artists retweet your posts about the event. This can accelerate news-spreading since all these people also have their own base of followers.
- use Twitter ads. Twitter ads are not talked about much, but they do exist and are a great way to generate ticket sales. There are two types of Twitter ads: sponsored tweets (which can generate sales directly) and sponsored accounts (perfect if you’re trying to grow your company or event brand’s Twitter account).
Pinterest is another overlooked social media when it comes to promoting events, but for some event categories it makes a great promotion tool. There are currently over 250 million active Pinterest users around the world, more than half of them are located outside of the United States, 80% of them use Pinterest mostly from mobile, and there are more than 175 billion pins saved on the platform.
What makes this social network ideal for marketing is that its users come to the platform to get ideas from businesses to figure out what to do or to buy next. Whether it’s planning their wedding, getting inspiration or searching for tutorials to nurture their passions and hobbies or learning a new craft, planning their wardrobe for the next season or figuring out what to do for their next vacation, there’s a Pinterest board for anything visual that you can think of.
How to get the best out of Pinterest for your event
1. Use Pinterest for the right type of event
There’s no “rule” saying that you can’t use Pinterest to promote any kind of event, but this network is better used for events with a highly visual component. Here’s a list of ideas for types of events that would benefit the most from Pinterest promotion:
- courses, workshops and seminars in the creative fields (fashion, sewing, make-up, beauticians, nails, photography, drawing/painting, cuisine, wedding planning/design)
- tours, retreats and getaways
- fairs and trade shows related to industries that have a high visual impact or a DIY dimension (wedding fairs, home decor, sewing and needlecraft, graphic design etc.)
- fashion shows and fashion brand launches
- conferences on parenting themes
- holiday themed parties, shows, seasonal markets and events
2. Build brand authority for your event way before it takes place
An authoritative Pinterest account takes many months to build. You want to become an “inspirational authority” in your field before you start the actual promotion of your event on Pinterest. So, if you decided that Pinterest would be a fundamental pillar of your event marketing strategy, make sure you create lots of inspiring Pinterest boards on themes related to your event, and pin regularly (5-30 times a day, with pins spread during the whole day).
3. Use drop-dead gorgeous content
The more top-notch the quality of your images on Pinterest, the more they will be repinned and your brand awareness will grow. Pinterest content displapys better in a portrait layout, so make sure your photos are portrait, ideally at a 2:3 aspect ratio. As far as video is concerned, Pinterest recommends using short videos (under 20 seconds) for a maximum impact, and since videos play with audio off, the powerful elements of the storytelling should be visual (if words are needed for telling the story beyond the moving visuals, the best way to do it is by using captions, text overlays, and title cards).
To make the most out of your branded Pins, respect these recommendations that Pinterest makes for businesses: make your brand the focal point by placing your product or event theme front and center; give context, by showing people why your product or idea is the right fit for them; include your logo on every Pin you put out there, but be wise and place it in a discrete position while also avoiding the lower right corner; add text overlay on your images from time to time, to communicate a stronger message (keep this text concise and catchy, and adapt it in multiple languages if your event is international).
4. Use Pinterest Ads
Yes, Pinterest too has an ads system, and we strongly recommend using it, if you really are taking Pinterest marketing for your event seriously. Pinterest ads are basically promoted pins (photo or video based) that will look just like “normal” pins in your audience’s feed. You can set up the ads based on the objective that you are trying to achieve with your campaign (brand awareness, video views, website traffic, app install, or conversions, which in your case will be ticket sales).
We recommend starting with a brand awareness campaign as soon as you have at least the date of your event confirmed, and continue with a conversions campaign as soon as tickets go on sale or pre-order. You can target your audience based on various variables such as gender, locations, languages, devices and interests. Moreover, targeting based on keywords (terms people use to search for items on the platform) is also available. Check out this guide to make sure you get Pinterest ads right.
4. Define your content plan and editorial calendar
It’s easy to get lost in the myriad of things to do when it comes to promoting events on social media. And, even if you’re only using one or two platforms, it can still get overwhelming. The key is to have a well defined content plan and editorial calendar, and to schedule your posts and ad campaigns ahead of time.
The starting point of your content plan should be the fact that your social media presence should tell the story of your event, what makes it valuable for your target audience, what makes it cool and not-to-miss. Simply publishing posts that say “get tickets now!” just won’t cut it. Use the 80/20 rule, that means, 80% of your posts should be storytelling, and only 20% posts in which you push sales.
Here are some content ideas that you can incorporate in the editorial plan for your event:
- initial event announcements (you need to at least have the event date when you do this)
- venue reveal and venue details
- behind the scenes from the planning process (office meetings, brainstorming, getting new partners on board)
- posts showcasing your event speakers, artists, instructors, exhibitors and sponsors
- industry facts that are relevant for your target audience’s interests and/or the topics related to the event (links to blog posts, articles, videos)
- highlights from past editions of the event
- inspirational quotes related to the industry your event belongs in
- announcements when tickets are up for sale, countdowns until prices are going up, flash discounts
- social contests
- user generated content before, during and after the event
- event highlights and behind the scenes while the event takes place
- event highlights and behind the scenes after the event
Best times to post on social media for events
To get the most out of your social media marketing efforts, your content plan and editorial calendar should take into consideration when is the best time to post on various platforms. This is especially valid for posts outside of ad campaigns, since your non-promoted posts will be organically visible to only a fraction of your followers.
According to this report by SproutSocial (which we recommend you study because it breaks down data for various sectors and industries), the overall best times to post on social media are:
- Facebook: Wednesday at noon and 2 p.m. and Thursday at 1 and 2 p.m.
- Instagram: Wednesday at 3 p.m., Thursday at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., and 3 to 4 p.m., and Friday at 5 a.m.
- Twitter: Friday 9 to 10 a.m.
- LinkedIn: Wednesday 3 to 5 p.m.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you will ONLY post in these time frames, but that you need to make sure that you include these time frames in your plan.
What about post frequency?
Another “eternal dilemma” that social media marketers face is related to the ideal post frequency across platforms. And after years of seeing articles and studies showing conflicting results, and as algorithms change every few months, we can conclude the best frequency to post is the one that works for you and your brand. And most of all, only post if you have high quality content that makes sense for your event, and not for the sake of posting something just to reach a target number of posts.
But if you still feel you need a guideline as far as post frequency is concerned, according to this study by SocialReport, the optimum post frequency across the most important social networks is:
- Facebook: 1-2 posts a day
- Twitter: 3-5 tweets a day
- Instagram: 1-2 posts a day
- LinkedIn: 1 post a day
- Pinterest: 3 pins a day
5. Create an event hashtag
With most social media platforms making use of hashtags to categorize and help find content, having a custom hashtag for your event is of utmost importance. Having an event hashtag not only makes it possible to track social media activity and user generated content about your event. It also gives a sense of community for your attendees and make them feel like they’re special and part of an exclusive group.
In order for your event hashtag to serve its purpose well, it needs to:
- be relevant for your event. You can achieve this if the hashtag is created around the event name, main topic, or is an abbreviation that’s easy to remember
- be unique. Run a check across social media and make sure the hashtag you have in mind hasn’t been used before. Also, make sure your hashtag is different enough from what is already out there, as to not have it confused with other hashtags.
- not be too long. When in doubt, concise is better, because at the end of the day your hashtag must be easy to remember. An simple formula is to just abbreviate the name of the event and add the year.
An event hashtag only is effective if people know that it exists. So make sure you promote it in all your event communications. Include it not only in social media posts but also on event posters, signage, on your event website, in presentations, and in your email signature. Moreover, encourage your speakers, artists, sponsors and partners to use it in their own social media activities and whenever they communicate something about the event on all channels (before, during and after the event).
6. Work with influencers
As with every marketing tool ever invented, influencer marketing has known, over the last years, a rapid growth, a boom in popularity, and then had to face voices of naysayers dismissing it as no longer efficient, or even “fake”. But, at least for events, influencer marketing is here to stay for a long while to come. If not for other reasons, at least for the fact that events are about people and experiences of people, so what else can be better at promoting them, if not… well… people?
However, while in its beginnings as an industry, influencer marketing focused mostly on high-caliber internet celebrities with extremely high numbers of followers, in the last year we saw a shift towards micro-influencers (with a few thousands up to a few tens of thousands of followers). And while large scale international events like music festivals will always benefit from the endorsement of a mega-influencer, micro-influencers are a more sound choice for smaller, more niche events, for a number of reasons.
Why it’s better to work with micro-influencers for event marketing
- targeting is more precise: the follower base of a micro-influencer tends to be concentrated on a specific geographical area, which makes them great for promoting local or regional events. Also, followers of micro-influencers tend to be interested in more clearly defined, even niche, topics.
- higher engagement rate and a more measurable ROI: it’s a fact, smaller influencers are perceived as more authentic (just think about it, how many times did you see an influencer with 1 million followers actually respond to comments on Instagram, or do you really think they manage their accounts themselves, all the time?)
- a closer relationship with followers, based on trust: smaller influencers tend to maintain a closer, more intimate and frequent communication with their fanbase, which means people will hear about your event from a source they actually trust.
- lower cost: campaigns involving influencers with a huge follower base will, of course, be very expensive. If your budget wasn’t high enough to afford placing an ad on TV in the 90s or early 2000s, you will probably not afford an influencer with 1 million followers in 2019. With micro-influencers, the situation is different. Some of them will accept to promote your event in exchange of VIP tickets/passes or access to exclusive after-parties. Others will charge an amount starting at as little as $100 per post.
How to get the best out of influencer marketing for your event
As with all promotional tools we listed so far, influencer marketing can be highly effective for your event, if done right. Here are a few best practices:
Choose the right influencers
Do your research and discover who are the influencers in your city/region/country (depending on the scale of your event) whose follower base is closest to your ideal attendee. Don’t only look at their numbers of followers, but consider the engagement rate per post, and how often do they actually get involved into conversations themselves. A high engagement rate might mean a lot of comments from followers, but if the influencer never replies to comments, it should be a red flag.
Don’t avoid agencies
Yes, there are agencies dealing with influencer marketing exclusively. If you decided that influencers are an important part of the overall marketing strategy for your event, working with an agency will be worth it. It will save you large amounts of time you would otherwise put into finding the right influencers. Moreover, an agency would also develop a strategy with you and monitor the ongoing campaigns, so you don’t actually have to sit there and refresh each influencer’s Instagram page to see what people are commenting. If you feel lost as to how to find an influencer marketing agency, this list is a good place to start.
Build durable relationships with influencers
If your event has more than one edition, or if you regularly plan different events on similar themes, it is in your best interest to build durable relationships with influencers, and turn them into brand advocates. This means meeting them at least once outside of the event itself (even if you work with an agency), asking for their feedback after the event, and keeping a PR list so that you can periodically send event related merchandise for them or for their followers, or just the good ol’ Christmas gift.
Don’t get stuck into just Instagram and YouTube
It’s true, these are the platforms that first come to mind when we say the word “influencer”. And while on Instagram and YouTube you can find influencers in the most diverse fields, from beauty to lifestyle, from parenting to entertainment, if your event is in a more “technical”, you might have to look for your influencers elsewhere. For business, educational and professional events, LinkedIn might actually be a better platform to look for influencers. A CEO, CMO or scientific personality endorsing your conference on LinkedIn will be effective because their followers on the platform will be more directly interested into the topic than if, let’s say, they saw an ad about it on Instagram.
Choose the right activities
There are several ways in which influencers can promote your event to their followers and you need to choose the right ones, starting from your marketing objectives: do you want to build brand awareness for your event? Do you want to boost ticket sales? Here are some examples below:
- have the influencer announce his/her participation at the event a few weeks (or even months, depending on the scale of the event) before
- have the influencer post a few countdown posts at pre-determined intervals before the event
- offer tickets and merchandise so that the influencer can organize contests and giveaways for his/her followers, related to the event
- have the influencer organize meet-and-greet sessions with their followers at your event
- if your event is a more complex experience involving travel (ideally to a place with touristic potential) and accomodation, have the influencers document their journey to the event. This would be best done as a travel vlog, Instagram stories, or even outfit posts and “getting ready” posts
- have the influencer document the event while it’s happening. You should have an area at the event venue, that is “instagrammable”. You can achieve this with eye-catching event decor and good lighting. Influencers keep a certain aesthetic to their feeds and they just won’t post photos if the setting is below a minimum quality. Other ways of documenting the event are live Facebook videos, live YouTube videos, and Instagram Stories.
- offer press kits and goodie bags: more opportunities for content creation for your influencers!
- have the influencer share content about the event even after it ends. Don’t limit to just pictures. A wrap-up post or even a kind of “review” video in which the influencer actually expresses an extended opinion about the experience at the event will be a precious asset for the next edition.
Always disclose a paid collaboration
This is a no-brainer, as, per national and international regulations, influencers are obliged to disclose paid collaborations with brands. Don’t be that brand that asks influencers to hide the disclosure of a paid collaboration under a mountain of hashtags! Here’s what to keep in mind about how disclosures should be made if you’re in the USA, Canada or Australia, and Europe. The bottom line is that the disclosure of a paid collaboration with an influencer must always be placed in a highly visible position no matter the type of post (video, foto, blog post etc.).
7. Set up social contests
Social contests are a great way to promote your event, if you use them wisely. You can basically set up a contest on any social media platform. Of course, your contest(s) will take place on the platform(s) that you decided to dedicate your overall event marketing efforts to. Social contests can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be, depending of your objective.
Some ideas of social contests that work for events
Tickets for likes/follows
This one is as simple as it can get. If your goal is increasing brand awareness for your event, you will also want to increase your follower/fan base. And a way of achieving this is to offer a free ticket to a randomly chosen winner among those who liked/followed your event page in a certain span of time, let’s say a month.
Tickets or other prizes for engagement
This is another great way to raise awareness for your event, but your followers need to “work” a bit more for the prize. You can ask them to like/follow your page, like the contest post, comment (ask for meaningful comments such as why they want to attend the event) and share it (or retweet, or regram it). This type of contest is also awesome if you have sponsors or partners to whom you agreed to offer brand visibility at the event. In this case, you will ask the participants to like/follow not only your page/account but also that of the sponsor/partner, in order to enter the contest. Ideally, part of the prize will be offered by the sponsor/partner.
Tickets and other prizes for user generated content
Ask your fans to post photos, videos or even essays related to the event. There are two ways to assign prizes for this type of contests. One way is to establish a jury to judge the best photo, video or essay. It can be someone in your team or an authoritative figure in the industry that the event is related to. The other way is to award the prizes based on the number of votes that each entry receives. This will incentivize participants to share their entries on their personal profiles and ask their own friends/followers to vote, which will help spread the news about your event even more.
8. Get your speakers, partners, sponsors and artists on board
Even if you’re the project manager, your event is a social enterprise in the true sense of the word. Depending on the type of event, you will have speakers, instructors/trainers, partners and sponsors, and artists involved in making it happen. All these people can and should help with event promotion, since a sold-out event would be beneficial to all parties involved. Each of these people or brands has their own social media following, so teaming up with them to promote the event can make a huge difference in results, both for awareness and ticket sales.
How to get the best out of teaming up on social media event promotion
Here are a few ideas of activities you can do to get your partners on board with social media promotion:
- create a media kit. This should contain official event layouts, maybe even personalized with the name/brand of the partner, going from Facebook covers and Facebook ad images to Instagram post layouts, and even to informational materials that they can use to create posts and blog articles
- keep them updated on the ticket price offers. Whenever you are planning to have a flash discount, a promo, or even prices going up, your partners must be informed so they can communicate this information to their social media following
- establish a common social media calendar. Agree beforehand with each of the parties involved, on what is the crucial information to be posted across platforms, and which posts of yours they need to share/repost.
- offer tickets or even VIP passes to each partner so they can plan contests for their own fans/followers. This goes both way, so negotiate prize packages and see what they can offer too.
9. Leverage the power of video
We’ve said it before, video is a hugely important element of event communication, and in 2019 there is no excuse for not using it at its full potential. Video is still the type of content that gets the most engagements on social media, so it will be a fundamental part of your social media event marketing strategy. According to this recent report by Social Media Today, 93% of the over 1000 marketers interviewed agreed that in 2019, video content will be a priority, and they noticed that after watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online.
How to get the best out of video content for your social media event marketing
There is a number of ways in which video can be used to boost your event brand awareness and generate ticket sales.
Before the event
1. The event trailer/official video/ promotional video
This type of content needs to be the most powerful promotional tool you can create. It’s worth investing time and funds into creating a high quality video, with top-notch image and sound, so consider assigning this task to a professional. Ideally it will only be 90 to 120 seconds long, maximum 3 minutes for videos with a high educational component. It should include the main information about the event (the why, the when, the who, the where) and its unique selling proposition (what makes it a not-to-be-missed event), together with info about tickets (early bird rate, or the limited number of tickets available, or the sale closing date, depending on the case of your event) and a call to action.
If your event had a previous edition, the video should include footage from it, as well testimonials from attendees or speakers. But even if you’re only at the first edition, you can still get creative and compensate with footage from the venue, your speakers or artists saying a few words about what will happen at the event, and you can even spice up the video with title cards and graphic layouts communicating facts about the event.
This is the video you will have to adapt for all the social platforms that you decided to use in your social media marketing strategy, so make sure you stay up to date with the length requirements for each platform. Use it to create video ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, post it on YouTube as well, and embed it on your event website.
2. Individual videos featuring speakers, instructors or artists
These can be short interventions in which each of the parties involved showcase their expertise. It can be anything from instructional videos/tutorials to short presentations related to topics that will be discussed at the event, to even music videos.
3. Attendee testimonials from past editions
Needless to say, this one speaks for itself. What better way to show that an event is worth attending, if not people who already attended it, speak about it? Of course, this only works if your event is not at its first edition.
4. Product presentations
If your event features sponsors that offer products related to the event (which should be the case, because you’re supposed to have sponsors whose products or services ARE related to the event topic), post videos that showcase these products and how they could improve attendee experience at the event. If your event is a trade show, you can post videos showcasing products of your exhibitors.
During the event
1. Live stream the entire event or portions of it
Turning the event into an experience that is available to a worldwide audience is a tough decision to make. This is because live streaming on social media basically doesn’t offer any kind of guarantee that only people who paid for access will be able to watch it. Sure, you can host the live stream in a closed Facebook group or as a private live stream on YouTube but there will always be users that will manage to breach the system and watch it for free. On the other hand, if it’s a free event, or if the in-person experience is much more high-quality than watching it from a distance, live streaming is a great idea because it shows people what they’re missing by not being physically at the venue, and it will encourage potential attendees to participate in the next edition.
2. Short videos of event highlights
These short videos can be published as standalone posts or as Stories (Facebook and Instagram offer this feature). The possibilities are endless, and these are just a few ideas:
- venue setup work in progress
- behind the scenes with artists and/or speakers getting ready
- short interviews with artists/speakers/instructors
- interviews with attendees
- short interviews with influencers
- snippets of the actual event: speeches/lectures, performances, attractions
After the event
Taking full advantage of the power of video on social media for an event means that at the end of the day, every single bit of the event has to be recorded, and this will produce a myriad of options and types of content to be published for a long time after the event has ended. The goal here is to help generate buzz about the current edition, and to promote the next edition and/or similar events that you will plan. Here are some types of video content that can be published after the event.
1. An “aftermath” video
This could be a behind the scenes, wrap-up video that features taking down the venue setup/stage/decorations, lights going out, artists and performers getting ready to go. Spice it up with some event stats such as number of participants, and thank your fans for having followed the event through social media.
2. An edited video with event highlights
This is just like the promotional video that we talked about in the beginning. Quality has to be top notch and it must feature the most important (and the best looking!) parts of speeches, lectures, performances or parties. Focus on those scenes that show a numerous and exciting audience and include attendee and speaker/artist/influencer testimonials. This video will also serve as a base for the promotional video that you will produce for the next edition.
3. Short videos of individual event highlights
The principle is simple here. Hopefully during the event you recorded mini-interviews and testimonials with pretty much everyone involved: from your team members and volunteers, to speakers, to instructors, to exhibitors, to vendors, to sponsors, to partners, to influencers, to attendees. Moreover, since you recorded each and every bit of your event main content, you can combine these types of videos with:
- full individual speeches, lectures or courses, if your event was a conference
- if your event was a concert or festival, full individual artist performances
- if your event was a workshop, full individual demonstrations and techniques that were taught
These types of videos could be spread on your social media calendar over a long period of time and their role is to maintain the interest alive about the event, prepare the next edition, and/or build awareness for you as an event organizer or as a brand.
10. Get your attendees to create content
The saying “power to the people!” was never more true than it is now, in the age of social media. And when can this power be leveraged better than in events? Getting your attendees to create and post content on social media is a crucial step in your event marketing efforts. And think about it this way: no matter how numerous and well-prepared your team is in immortalizing the event through photo and video, they cannot be everywhere. User generated content sheds a light on what the event looks and feels like from the perspective of its beneficiaries. It is basically free advertising and your attendees can become brand ambassadors for your event.
How to encourage content creation by attendees
- create an event hashtag that gives a sense of community. Instead of following the classical approach of “#event name abbreviation + year”, include a word that makes your attendees feel like part of a tribe
- set up a branded photo corner or booth (or more than one, if yours is a large scale event) and inform your attendees of its existence, right from the check-in
- photo and video contests (yes, again!): ask attendees to take photos and videos at the event and then post them on their social media and to tag them with the official event hashtag (so you can find them).
- create a wall on your event website. If you choose Metooo as your event management platform, you can set up an event wall, with a standalone URL, where attendees can publish text posts and photos. This way you can have most of your user generated content in one place, republish it on your own social media, or use the Wall as a post-event press kit.
11. Collect, measure and analyze results
You’ve made it this far. Your event was present and promoted through all the relevant social media for your industry, with amazing content created by the event team, partners, attendees and influencers. But how will you know whether your social media marketing efforts were successful?
Ideally, your event will be talked about on social media for a long time to come. But, about a week after the event ended, you must start the final phase of your social media marketing actions: collecting, measuring and analyzing results. To make this task easier, you should have started the collection phase as your event promotion was still ongoing. For example, if you had several ad campaigns before the event, you should have collected results at the end of each campaign. This way you don’t have to deal with a huge amount of data all at the same time.
Social media performance metrics for events
Below we will list a series of metrics that you should take into account to be able to analyze the performance of your social media strategy in promoting your event.
- reach, number of impressions, clicks to event website from social , likes, comments and shares on your social media ads and sponsored posts
- reach, clicks, likes, comments and shares on your organic (non-sponsored) posts
- number and type of posts published by attendees
- likes, comments and shares on posts published by fans and attendees before, during and after the event
- number and type of posts published by influencers before, during and after the event
- likes, comments and shares on posts published by influencers
- number and type of posts published by partners, sponsors, speakers, instructors or artists
- likes, comments and shares on posts published by partners, sponsors, speakers, instructors or artists
- number of fans/followers your event pages gained throughout the promotion period
- and ultimately, the number of tickets sold. It is usually extremely difficult to see which sales come directly from social media, but if you’re nerdy enough with Google Analytics you can use this method.
As the complexity of the various social platforms is ever increasing, with new features and ever changing algorithms, you do need to stay organized and focused when it comes to promoting events on social media. We hope that this guide helped you structure your social media strategy for your next project and that you will use our guidelines to turn your next event into a success.