Social networks have become the primary means of keeping friends, family members, and business contacts up to date on what’s happening in our lives.
77% of all Americans have at least one social media profile. User numbers are steadily rising year-on-year across all platforms, and this upward trend shows no sign of stopping: a staggering 67% of online adults now have a Facebook account.
The growing propensity of people to share life’s moments, particularly when doing something outside the ordinary routine, is why social media remains a great fit with live events. No matter the size of the event, encouraging and simplifying social media sharing is a low-cost, high-return strategy for maximizing exposure and increasing attendance.
Here are three creative ways to harness the power of social media marketing to maximize the impact of your next event.
Build Hype for your Event
Building interest in the lead-up to your event is essential to ensure a strong turn-out. Social media is a powerful tool to build buzz around your event and drive attendance. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
Create a Facebook event: This is an obvious but important first step in your social promotion, and can be one of the most effective ways to gain exposure for your event. Your event page should be just the right mix of informative, playful, and memorable.
Use this page as the central space for posting event updates and engaging content, which can then be promoted on your other social channels. Start as early as possible, steadily building suspense for the event with carefully curated, interactive content such as teaser videos, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and exclusive announcements.
#GetHashtagHappy: Almost unbelievably, it’s been 12 years since people (social media users, at least) stopped calling the # key the “pound key” or the “number key.” It’s been catapulted from relative insignificance into social media stardom. Hashtags are the savvy social media marketer’s best friend, helping you track social interactions, expand your reach, and monitor real-time engagement at an event.
Create your event hashtag early on to avoid a last-minute slapdash fail; you don’t want to attract viral fame for the wrong reasons! The key here is to keep it short, simple, appropriate, and recognizable. Don’t forget to include it on all relevant social posts across your platforms and on any physical promotional materials such as bags, t-shirts, posters, and presentation templates.
Tap into Influencer Marketing: Brands marketers are increasingly looking to collaborate with social media influencers to increase exposure for events to a wider audience without spending a hefty chunk of the budget. When executed well, an influencer-brand partnership can result in extensive social shares, increased content engagement, and boosted event attendance. To ensure a successful collaboration, only partner up with influencers who closely align with your brand values and serve a similar audience to your own.
Recognizing the power of their growing promotional pull, The Body Shop took this one step further and included influencers in a recent event line-up. Chidera Eggerue, a body positivity activist and social media influencer with a staggering 200k followers, was invited to participate in a skincare panel as part of their enchanted forest-themed pop-up in London, coinciding with their launch of Christmas products. She promoted the event on her Instagram page and gave followers exclusive access to behind-the-scenes footage.
Run a Giveaway Contest
Social media contests are a cost-effective and proven way of maintaining connections with current and potential event-goers, retaining follower engagement and boosting interaction on your social pages. There are several social media campaign builder tools available that can help you design and run quizzes and contests.
For example, there’s the simple yet very effective “‘like’-to-win” contest. This type of social media giveaway is perfect if you’re squeezed for time and resources, (which you shouldn’t be because you took our advice and started early, right…). A “like”-to-win contest requires followers to like your profile, post, or photo for the chance to win an attractive prize.
Its simple format makes it perfect for hosting competitions across multiple platforms, and it’s an easy way to grow your social following and drive event attendance. To pick a winner, simply choose a user at random from the “likes” and contact the lucky recipient! Remember to include your event hashtag on any giveaway post alongside other relevant hashtags to further increase exposure.
Weekend long barista bonanza The London Coffee Festival harnessed the power of awareness-day hashtags by launching a “like”-to-win contest on their Facebook page to coincide with International Coffee day. In this case, a pair of VIP tickets to the event was up for grabs, but the prize can be adapted to suit a tighter budget.
One idea is to run a limited prize draw to encourage users to buy an event ticket with the chance to win some swag. This approach drives early ticket sales, increases web engagement, and encourages interaction on your event page. Look for cost-friendly, trendy merchandise items such as pins or tote bags that will entice followers to buy a ticket.
Encouraging followers to “get quizz-y with it” for the chance to bag premium tickets is another novel way to build buzz for your event and drive long-term interaction on your posts in the run up to the big day.
As we head further into this year, “gamification” has been named as one of the hottest social media trends. The largest social networks have bought into society’s global gaming obsession, and this year they’ve made it easier than ever to tap into this trend and add a gaming element to your event posts.
This could be anything from a short quiz hosted on your Instagram "stories" to a week-long puzzle with one question or clue revealed in each post. The possibilities are endless.
Just make sure the quiz is relatively short and easy to complete; the goal here is to keep fans engaged long enough to complete it! British festival veterans “Bestival” got creative with their headliner announcements in 2017, inviting followers to guess the act depicted in an abstract photo—a great example of how gamification can attract potential attendees and build buzz for an event.
Use Targeted Social Media Ads
Ignore the algorithms and invest in targeted social media ads to reach your target audience. With an industry-wide shift towards prioritizing engagement-based content rather than chronological timelines, it’s harder than ever to reach your followers, let alone the wider public, without paying for the privilege.
The statistics are disheartening. On average, only 2-6% of your Facebook followers are now likely to see updates published on your event page. But don’t let these depressing numbers put you off; implementing a savvy paid social media promotion strategy can still yield significant results.
Start by analyzing your social media metrics to identify your primary social channels, then boost a post tailored to the relevant demographic of each platform. For example, your followers on Facebook might react well to more thought-provoking content relevant to your event compared to your click-happy, meme-loving Instagram fans.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different content. Try different posts and see which has the higher engagement levels. The fees are relatively small per boost but can add up quickly, so set a limit on the amount you’re willing to spend in advance to ensure you stay on-budget.
Keep these tips in mind when creating an engaging social ad aimed at turning followers into paying customers.
- As the old adage goes, a picture really does speak a thousand words in this context. The image needs to look professional, be on-brand in terms of style, and grab attention! Better yet, create a short but engaging video clip that drives viewers to your event page or website.
- Keep the post text as clear and concise as possible; attention spans are notoriously short on the Internet. You only have a few seconds to engage the reader before your post is consigned to the digital abyss of their news feed.
- Don’t forget to include a direct call to action in your carefully crafted post. This could be a simple “buy now” message, “follow” for updates, or “see our website” for more info.
Hopefully this post has given you some inspiring ideas to kick-start your next social media event-promotion campaign. Timing is everything, so work backward from your event date to the ideal timeframe for launching your campaign, and build in time for planning and design up front.
Rosemary McKee is an Account Manager at Rocket Badge, the UK’s leading badge manufacturer. With more than 22 years of experience, clients have come to depend on Rosemary’s efficiency and outstanding product knowledge to help them select the ideal badge for their promotional campaigns.
This post originally appeared on the Webbiquity blog.