7 Ways to Promote Your Next Event with Social Media

Today’s Guest Post is by Dan McCarthy, Event Manager at Ultimate Experience

Okay, so you have an event coming up, and you need to promote it. If social media is the first platform that comes to mind, then you’re on the right track. Obviously, social networks shouldn’t be your only promotional avenue, though they definitely need to be at the forefront.

When using social media, you need to think beyond Facebook and 140 character tweets. Yes, those will be a part of it, but there are other tools at your disposal that you need to incorporate for maximum exposure.

A man touches an event page website on Facebook that's displayed on his iPad.

1. Create an Event Page

The event page is the cornerstone of all promotional activity. While most companies do create an event page, they don’t have all the right elements in place. Here is what every Facebook event page should have:

  • A Compelling Description: Using as few words as possible, describe the event, time, place, ticket price, and why guests should attend. You can include a link with “see more” as the anchor text where you add more lengthy and detailed information in a separate page. For the event home page, though, keep it short and simple.
  • An Eye-Catching Photo: The photo should not be more than 714 x 264 pixels. This allows the entire photo to fit. The event?s flyer is a good image to use. Just be sure to modify it so it fits within the allotted pixels.
  • A Map of the Venue Location: This is very important because Facebook will automatically recommend the event to friends and friends of attendees in the area if you add a map.

An Android device sits on a wood table with earbuds plugged in. Whoever was using it last was watching a youtube video with an event app promotion on it.

2. Promote on YouTube

People often forget that YouTube is a social network. There’s the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, videos are worth even more. Upload videos with a link in the description to the event page. So what kind of videos can you add?

Consider the following:

  • Video testimonials for last year’s event
  • Snippets of pre-event preparation with a voiceover
  • A welcoming speech from the head of the company
  • An overview of what guests can expect (lectures, workshops, etc.)
  • An overview of the event explained via whiteboard animation

You can also consider adding clickable annotations that appear on the screen. This gives viewers options to view other promotional material.

A man in a white button up shirt and black tie introduces another man in a black suit to a woman wearing a white button up blouse. They are meeting planners and sponsors and exhibitors at a conference and are happy to involve each other in their activities.

3. Get Your Sponsors Involved

Your corporate sponsors likely have a social media following of their own. Ask your sponsors to reach out to their own consumers. Since your company and your sponsor should share the same demographic audience, request additional outreach from the company that’s sponsoring your event.

Remember, a successful event for you is a successful event for your sponsors since it means more brand exposure for them. Send out a request for them to direct their social media followers to your event page. If you have already offered any type of special deals or exclusive discounts to your own followers, extend those to your sponsor’s followers as well.

A man and woman in casual clothes are interacting with a white iPad in their sunlit office. They must be gearing up for this weekend's conference because they have big smiles on their face that say THIS CONTENT ROCKS.

4. Create Engagement-Worthy Content

However you promote your event, the content has to be engaging and stand out in some way. Your consumers are busy people, and they likely have other events and social gatherings to consider as well. What makes your event worthy of their time? If the content doesn’t stand out, then it’s not going to receive a whole lot of attention.

So what constitutes engagement-worthy content? For starters, marketing material should be interactive. One good way to do this is through some type of contest. In its most simplistic form, this can be a straightforward quiz or multiple choice questionnaires regarding industry-related content.

Here’s another idea: have participants take a selfie and photoshop the picture. This can include captions, speech bubbles, adding other people or objects into the pic, etc. You will provide your official event logo that must be included somewhere in each photo. When all the submissions are in, there will be two winners. One will be whichever photoshopped selfie got the most shares, and the other will be decided by you and your staff for most creativity. The winners will receive a prize, such as a free ticket or upgrade to VIP status.

A social media contest like the one described works well because it’s out-of-the-box. Plus, by making it a requirement to include the event logo, you get free exposure.

A man makes connections on LinkedIn on his iPad while two others actually meet in person and share documents on a clipboard.

5. Don’t Forget LinkedIn

Your company LinkedIn account is where you find targeted audience. The best way to find a demographic audience beyond those already following you is to join multiple LinkedIn groups related to your industry. What you don’t want to do, though, is to join a group and begin promoting your event right away. It will become blatantly obvious what your ulterior motives are.
Join a group and spend several weeks just chatting with the people, offering your advice and expertise on subject matters where you can. Once you become a familiar face and a trustworthy source for niche-specific guidance, then that is when you should begin mentioning your event with a link to your Facebook event page.

Someone holds up an iPhone and snaps a picture of the event. They type in a hashtag and send off the image to Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

6. Create an Event Hashtag

Many companies create event-specific hashtags that just don’t generate a whole lot of buzz. For best results, make a hashtag that is clear even to those outside your industry. A hashtag like #PGNYConference2015 is a poor choice because it’s too ambiguous. An outsider who sees it will know it has something to do with a conference but little else. A hashtag like #PetGroomConferenceNY2015, on the other hand, is a whole lot clearer and decipherable even at first glance.

Also try to keep the hashtag as short as possible without sacrificing decipherability. The same example above can be shortened to #PetGroomConferenceNY. It leaves out the year, which doesn’t really add a whole lot of extra information anyways. How else can it be shortened? How about #PetGroomConfNY, or #PetGroomExpoNY?

Someone holds an iPhone with an event app on the screen in their hand. They are outside in a sunny, green environment. That conference must have been really great because they're still interacting with the content and connecting with people through the app even after the meeting is over.

7. Use an Event App

Event apps can be customized to your specific event. How might you incorporate this into social media? One way is to include reminders at regular intervals to send a selfie or tweet to your friends about what a good time you’re having with the event hashtag included.

If you have a Twitter wall, the event app can direct guests to the wall with a message encouraging them to contribute with a post of their own. The app should also connect directly to social media features and have an integrated dashboard that allows users to comment through various social networks from a single location.

CadmiumCD creative director Rachel Vrankin made this silly stock image with post-it notes about social media concepts all over it look really great! Kudos to Rachel!

Use Every Social Media Tool at Your Disposal

There is so much exposure to be gained from social media alone. Best of all, most social network tools are free. Yes, most of them have a learning curve, but they reap huge rewards if you take the time to learn to use them right.

About Dan McCarthy

Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.