Event marketing and planning is incredibly rewarding when done successfully, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get to that point. That’s why it’s important to know how to increase your event exposure.
A big aspect of creating a successful conference or event is to generate buzz around it to increase ticket sales and awareness. With the growth and interaction we’ve seen on social media, it’s no surprise that the biggest and most successful events have a strong social presence. Some of the best event marketing ideas you can come up with can be amplified through social media.
Five of the most prevalent social media platforms that you should probably look at are:
(Click on any of the listed platforms above to jump to that section)
Before you begin, make sure you choose the best platforms for your audience. Don’t go in, guns a-blazin’, when your audience doesn’t actually reside on that specific platform.
For example, if your event is a music festival, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are going to be your top picks. LinkedIn isn’t going to do as well for that. However, if you’re hosting a tech conference, you might be more interested in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
So let’s get started on answering “how to use social media for event marketing”! Here are some social media marketing strategies to improve your ticket sales and engagement!
Facebook still rules as the most dominant social media platform on the planet. According to Statista, Facebook has up to 2.2 billion users as of April 2018. The social media giant is one of the best places to reach your audience through various tools that the platform offers.
1. Create a Facebook Event Page
If you’re trying to gain exposure for your event on Facebook and you don’t have an events page set-up yet, you’re doing it wrong!
Opening a Facebook Events page is a great way of increasing the reach of your event marketing efforts to increase ticket sales. It easily allows your audience to share whether they are interested in an event, whether they’re going or not, and how they can purchase tickets. It also gives you another avenue for people to discover your events.
Getting a Facebook Event made is simple. All you have to do is:
- Click Events in the left menu of your News Feed.
- Click on the + Create Event button on the left side.
- Choose whether it’s a private or public event.
- If you’re making a public event, you can designate the event’s host as yourself OR a page that you manage. Once you’ve created the event, you cannot change the privacy settings afterward.
- If you’re making a public event, you can designate the event’s host as yourself OR a page that you manage. Once you’ve created the event, you cannot change the privacy settings afterward.
- Fill in all of the details of the event, such as:
- Event name
- Event details
- Link to your ticketing website
- Click Create.
2. Broadcast Your Event On Facebook Live Stream
Live streaming is a wildly popular method of engaging with your audience in today’s social sphere. 82% of users would prefer a live video from a brand instead of social posts, according to LiveStream. This is a huge opportunity for any event planner to capitalize on in gaining more exposure for your conference, summit, gala, convention, etc. It’s also a very cost-effective method to garner more attention online
So how can we “go live” on Facebook? Simple.
Facebook Live can be accessed through both Android and iOS versions of the Facebook app. All you have to do is visit your Facebook page, event, or group, and find the Live Video button. Once you’ve located that, enter a description and you’re set!
Before live streaming though, let’s think about what makes a good Facebook Live stream, and what we should consider before streaming through your device.
Video content is highly dependent on video quality and video production. Live streaming through your device should give your audience a sneak peek into your event that normal event goers might not be able to access, such as the setup or the behind-the-scenes footage. You want to make sure that your audience can hear and see everything that you’re taking.
So let’s take a look at some tips that can make your Facebook Live stream even better:
Plan your stream
Working together with the event organizer, you can see what the itinerary is, what you should be focusing on, and what shots you want to take. This is also the step where you decide what format will look the best. Should you shoot the video vertically or horizontally? Figure out which works best for you and your event.
Don’t make your stream too short
The bad thing about streaming little snippets of the night is that you don’t give your audience enough time to catch your stream! A good rule of thumb is to make each stream at least 10 minutes long, with longer streams being better.
Provide context at all times
Live streaming audiences have a habit of hopping on and off the stream whenever they want, so you want to make sure people know what they’re watching so that they’ll stick around. As you notice more people watching your steam, give a casual little introduction to what your audience is currently looking at so that they have some context as to what they’re actually watching.
Engagement is the whole point of live streaming, so engage with your audience as they react and respond. The more comments you get, the more content you have to work with, which is great! Addressing comments as they appear live on air is a powerful way of making your audience feel heard.
Prepare some backup options for WiFi
The last thing you want is to find that your WiFi or cellular signal is weak at the event spot. That’s why we always recommend having a backup option to turn to, such as a hotspot device or the venue’s WiFi access.
Make sure people know about your live stream
Promote your live stream 24 hours before the planned stream so that people are aware that you’ll be on the air. This will build anticipation for your event.
3. Join Facebook Groups For More Engagement
With all of the changes to the News Feed that Mark Zuckerberg talked about in his Facebook post, it’s been more difficult than ever for brands to reach their audience. Facebook now focuses on helping users have more meaningful social interactions, instead of helping them find more relevant content.
So what does that mean for brands?
According to an interview that Wired conducted with Facebook’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, “There will also be more group content. Group content tends to inspire a lot of conversation. Communities on Facebook are becoming increasingly active and vibrant.” So now, brands and event planners should focus more of their efforts on Facebook Groups to engage with their audiences.
There are Facebook Groups for just about anything. You can find various groups for your specific audience that you can join, or you could even start your own Group. Once you’re in these groups, you want to do your best to have meaningful interactions with the users within these groups.
For a recurring event or a brand that hosts events often, it’s probably worth your time to start a Facebook group. The steps are simple:
- Visit www.facebook.com/groups and click on the Create Group button.
- Add a name for your group, add some people to it (you have to add at least one person to your group to create it), and choose your privacy settings! (For the beginning stages, I would recommend making it a Closed Group).
- Click Create, and then decide on an icon that will represent your group. You can skip this step if you want. Once that’s done, you have your group!
- To link your group to your business profile, visit your Facebook page, click on the Groups button on the left, and then click Link Your Group.
Once you’ve made your group and customized it to fit in with your brand’s guidelines, you can kick things off! Here are some ways to drive meaningful interactions in your Facebook Group:
Set up screening questions
Nobody likes to join a Group where they’ll be introduced to a constant stream of spam and bullying. To make sure that you qualify all of your members in the group, set up some screening questions to make sure that each of the members has an interest in your industry and are not bots.
As the group admin, it’s your job to encourage people to engage. That means you have to be proactive in monitoring the conversations that occur in your group and to try to garner more responses out of everyone. Respond to questions, add a comment on posts, share questions or discussion prompts, and more!
Pass the microphone to other members of your Group
You are probably the industry expert in your group, but you can still call on other members to help answer questions, which is a great way of getting more people involved and connected. Whether you tag them directly into relevant conversations or you feature content from other members, having the group members interact more is great for engagement.
Let’s not kid ourselves: Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms you can find. With over 800 million monthly active users browsing and posting content, you can’t avoid Instagram! It’s a great platform to visit as a conference planner, so let’s dive into some ways you could use Instagram for your next conference or event. (You can also check out our latest write-up about IGTV for event outreach)
1. Reach Out To Event Speakers & Influencers
This tip is often under-utilized by event planners, but it’s a very good way of marketing your event to a larger audience that is more engaged. When you’re working on the promotion of your event, contact all of your event speakers and influencers that will be present at the event. Ask them to post content about the event and to promote their segment of the event.
You want to make sure you provide them with some things though:
- Your event logo and assets
- A branded hashtag for use on social media
- An itinerary of the event
- Your social media handles
This short list basically gives your event speakers the resources they’ll need to spread the word about the event. There are varying levels of how involved you want to be in these campaigns, but generally, it’s better to have some terms in your agreement that states they’ll have to make some marketing pushes on their own platforms. This way, you can easily track the progress and impact of these influencers and speakers.
The reason why this method is great is because you get to tap into your speaker’s own network of fans, and this leads them to the event and towards your brand. It’s an excellent way of finding highly relevant and interested visitors to your conference since they’ll already be active participants in your specific industry!
2. Using User-Generated Content In Your Event Marketing Strategy
One of the greatest things about hosting and planning conferences and conventions is that you know people are going to be taking pictures. (Even if they aren’t, you can get them to with a little bit of poking and prodding). User-generated content (or UGC) is one of the best things you can use for your social media outreach.
According to Pixlee, 93% of brands are seeing results in improving brand exposure through influencer engagement. With the amount of content that comes out of summits, music festivals, and conferences, you can take this opportunity to both engage with your audience by sharing the content they’re making and improve brand trust by showcasing how many people are actively participating in your event. This method works for promotion before the event and afterward. You can either use images from the same event in previous years, or actively post during the event when people are posting! A good way of getting people to post is to incorporate a branded hashtag into your show, and ask away! A good time would be to let people know to post whatever content they have during intermissions or breaks!
Instagram is the perfect platform to implement UGC into your feed and Instagram stories. Just remember to ask for permission before you post these UGC, or at least give credit in the description of your images.
Here is an example message you could send to ask for permission:
“Hi @username, this is such a great photo, and I’m glad you enjoyed our event! We would love to share your photo on our accounts. Do we have your permission to share it on our social channels? We will give you full credit in the caption. If this is okay, please let us know. Thanks!”
3. Posting Instagram Stories
Similar to how Facebook Live can increase your engagement, Instagram Stories provides your Instagram account with short, easily digestible videos of your event that is more intimate and unique. You want to make sure that the content you post here is different from your feed!
Let’s get started with Instagram Stories. One of the main things that I always tell planners who want to try Instagram Stories in their event marketing strategy is to come up with a plan for what they’re going to post. You don’t want to just randomly throw everything at the wall and hope it sticks! Figure out what your theme for Instagram Stories is going to be and make a lightly detailed plan based on the itinerary for the event. Here’s a small checklist for you to go over when you’re coming up with this strategy:
- What should I be posting?
- Who am I posting for?
- How often should I be posting?
Once you’ve figured out this information, you can plan what types of content might work. Do you want to post a video in this section? Maybe a photo would do better here. Should I poll my viewers? Do I want to make my story interactive so they choose where I go?
There are a variety of directions you could choose, so make sure it fits with your brand and your goals.
LinkedIn is more popularly known as the business social media platform. The audience you’ll find there is much more professional and focused on industry trends/news. If you’re hosting an industry conference or convention, you’re going to want to look at LinkedIn.
1. Purchase Some LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn Ads are going to work great for you if you’re looking to promote your event to some potential buyers for more ticket sales. Let’s say that you’re hosting a tech conference and would like to target more users from that segment. By purchasing LinkedIn ads, you can target that specific group with a higher chance of conversion since their presence and activity on the platform means that they are looking for more professional development in their fields, i.e. tech!
You know how all marketing leaders state that visual content is important? This is true for LinkedIn Paid Ads as well. According to LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, “74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their marketing ahead of blogs (68%) and videos (60%).” Make sure you create some visually-appealing content for your LinkedIn Sponsored Content to increase your event exposure.
LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content is LinkedIn’s native advertising format, and it will be one of the more effective methods for you to gain more exposure. Here are some things to remember when optimizing and creating your Sponsored Content.
- Choose powerful visuals to boost your content with. The best size for this content is 1200×627, while the text area should be within 1000×586.
- Make sure your content is mobile-optimized, as up to 80% of Sponsored Content clicks come from mobile devices!
- A/B test the copy you choose for your content so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
- Use short quotes or statistics as a hook for your content!
2. Join Some LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are similar to Facebook Groups, but they are much more targeted towards a professional segment. By joining these groups, you can reach out to the specific groups that you’re looking to engage with you.
At the moment, you can only join or manage a group under your personal profile, but that shouldn’t stop you from utilizing this marketing method. It’s always good to put a friendly face on a brand since employees are the best brand advocates.
So first off, you need to find 2-3 relevant groups within your industry that you feel would appreciate information about your specific conference. Going back to the tech conference example we gave earlier, you would find Groups associated with the specific technology your conference is speaking on. This could be hardware tech, software, specific coding languages, etc.
Once you’ve locked down these groups, join them through your profile and start engaging. A good rule of thumb is to NOT be too sales-oriented. People can smell a salesman from a mile away, so you want to be engaging with the users of the group in an organic manner. Provide helpful comments and sources in the group, and find ways to slip in your conference into conversations.
Once you’ve built up some rapport with some members of the group, you can post links directly to the group. We would suggest for every sales link you try to input, you interact with the community five times through answers or questions.
3. Post Status Updates
Sometimes, a short and simple status update is all you need to garner responses for your event. LinkedIn, like Facebook and Twitter, allows you to write a text-only status update. Use your company profile as a platform to inform your followers and readers about updates to increase your event exposure.
Here are some ideas of things you could talk about in your status updates:
- New speakers recruited onto your panels
- Venue information
- Company preparations for the event
- Cool features visitors can enjoy
- Comparisons with previous years
That list is not exhaustive. If you have other things that you could update your audience with, feel free to throw it in. People enjoy transparency, so the more they know about your event, the more comfortable they’ll feel about your brand and your marketing efforts. Just make sure you don’t post TOO often as you don’t want to earn a reputation as a spammer.
Despite how some people are stating that Twitter is “dying”, it can still be a very strong platform if the right audience is on it. With a loyal following of around 330 million daily active users, you can still find great engagement on this platform if you’re looking to create conversations and buzz about your conference.
1. Tracking Event News With #Hashtags
One of the best ways to initiate engagement on Twitter is to run with branded hashtags to track conversations revolving around your event! All you have to do is establish a branded hashtag for your event.
Once you’ve come up with this hashtag, make sure your audience knows to use it. This could be through social media a week before the event, through all of your assets that you make for the event, or even during some of the speaker sessions.
The point of having this branded hashtag is to allow you to keep track of what’s going on in your event. You can see the conversations that your audience is having about your topic and talk with them too.
Comment on their questions and give them insights into what they want to know. Interacting with your patrons will make your brand much more approachable. Twitter is a strong platform for providing customer service, so utilize that aspect to the best of your abilities to grow your audience.
2. Add People To Your Twitter Lists
Twitter’s list function is one of the best things about the platform. It allows you to segment your Twitter audience into lists that you can break down for whatever purpose you’d like. Using Lists is a great way to establish who is your best followers, who are the influencers you want to follow, and who are people that you want to reach out to in the future.
Getting your list set up is simple:
- Click on the gear icon drop-down menu in your Twitter to find the Lists page, or you can click on Lists on your profile page.
- Click Create List.
- Set a name for the list and provide a description (PS: Don’t name these too obvious because the people you add to the List will be able to see what you set the name if your list is Public)
- Designate the List as Public or Private.
- Save the list.
Once you’ve set up the list, you can add or remove people from the list.
- On the person’s profile, click on the Person Icon drop-down menu.
- Choose Add/remove from lists
- Select which List you’d like to add the person to or remove the List that the person was a member of already
Here are some ideas for what kinds of lists you can have for your event! Pick and choose which ones are most relevant to your goals.
- Influencers – Great opportunity to interact and retweet content from influencers at your event
- News/Media – Connect with journalists and other media personnel that attends your event
- Likes/Retweets – Find the Twitter users that are engaging heavily with your content and make sure you engage with them more
3. Q&A On Twitter
A surefire way of getting people to talk on Twitter is to open up the platform to a Q&A that’s hosted by you. A lot of conferences and conventions are a whirlwind of events and panels waiting to happen. Hosting a Q&A for your followers could be a great way of addressing problems, questions, and concerns that your followers have in a fun and impactful way.
Setting up a Twitter Chat is pretty simple:
- Define your goal: What are you looking to gain from this chat?
- Do some research: Engage in some Twitter Chats and see how it works from a participant’s side of things.
- Decide when you want to host it: You can choose what time is best for you and your audience to run a chat
- Create a Twitter Chat hashtag: This is how you can track all of the discussions going on for the chat
- Promote your Twitter Chat: Give yourself enough time to promote your Twitter Chat so you don’t end up with an empty room! Use other social media profiles to cross promote.
- Run your Twitter Chat: When that day comes, kick off the chat with a welcome tweet that introduces the chat. You can get your coworkers to participate with their own accounts as well to garner more responses from participants.
And that’s all there is to it. Hosting a Twitter Chat is a great way to build brand authority for your event and to open up your event to your audience.
Snapchat is a popular social media platform for a younger audience, but that might be exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re running a music festival or your conference is geared towards a younger demographic, you should take a look at Snapchat. According to Statista, with 191 million Snapchat daily users, 7 out of 10 of those are Millennials. Those are staggering numbers that you should take advantage of!
1. Get Your VIP Guests & Speakers Involved
Who doesn’t want more exposure? Why not provide content for your VIP guests and speakers to post on their own Snapchat? By providing swag or firsthand looks at the event, you can get them to post more content about your event.
VIP guests and speakers have a huge impact on how your guests experience your convention, so making them a part of your social media strategy is a smart move. So let’s take a look at some things you could do or provide to your guests and speakers.
- Event swag – This could include bags, bottles, stationery, apparel, etc.
- Event information – Whether it’s information about speaker speaker sessions or where things are located, giving your speakers the first opportunity to release this information can create a lot of buzz
- Giveaway – you can allocate a set of tickets for your VIP guests or speakers to giveaway as a promotion, depending on the size of your conference/event
These are just some ideas that you can run with, but the main point is getting to a position where your influencers WANT to get involved. It shouldn’t take too much to get them started though, so make sure you take that first step!
2. Create Some Geofilters
If you expect a large number of your visitors to be Snapchat users, it might be a good idea to design some Geofilters for your location. Geofilters are a great feature to have as they can add a frame of reference to images that your visitors take. They aren’t free, but they are very affordable if you decide that this is an option to move forward with (Most events have a fee of about $8 – $20). There are a bunch of great sources like BuyCustomGeofilters.com or Geofilter.Studio to check out!
To create a geofilter, here are the steps:
- On your computer, visit this link.
- Click on Create a Filter
- Under ‘Design Online’, choose what your filter will be used for
- Start designing your filter:
- On the left-hand side, you can choose a template
- On the right-hand side, you can choose a color from the color palette
- Choose different fonts and write new texts
- Upload pictures directly from your computer
- You can add Bitmoji’s or even stickers
- Once you’re done with your Filter, click Next
- Choose a location for your Filter – simply type in your address, press Draw Fence, and map out the area that you’d like your Filter to be accessible
- Choose a Start and End time for your Filter. You can also click Repeating Event if you want your Filter to run at certain times every day or weekly.
- Once you’re happy with your Geofence, click Checkout
- Name your Filter, enter your payment info, and press Submit for the Snapchat Team to approve!
3. Get Post-Event Feedback
Snapchat can be used in a number of ways, and post-event feedback is definitely one of them. On Snapchat, you can put out a call to your followers and event patrons to review or provide feedback about the event.
There are a number of ways you can achieve this:
- Ask attendees for a screenshot of their favorite snaps
- Ask for a testimonial from attendees
- Share footage/photos of what they took during the event
- Tag friends that they’d like to invite to next year’s event
All you have to do is get creative with what you’re asking for, and run with it! The main thing about using Snapchat is that you get to directly engage with your users after the event. This method can provide you with a lot of good feedback and content to use to promote your next event!
There you have it. Now you know how to use social media for event marketing. Locking down your social media marketing strategy for your event early on is key to having a successful campaign. When people ask “how can I promote my event?” or “how can I sell out my event?”, social media is constantly one of the top recommendations on my list. Choose the platforms that work for your audience and stick with it! Remember to be genuine and approachable! Make sure you measure the success of your event promotion on social media as well!
If you have any suggestions for other ideas to put on this list, please let us know! We’re always looking to help more event planners out with their social media marketing.