Whether you have a conference, fundraiser, celebration, or any other special event coming up, you want people to attend. You’re going to need to market and promote this event. This means your marketing plan needs to be firing on all cylinders — or, less figuratively, all of your social media channels. Your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, your Instagram profile, and even your Snapchat can all be used to get your audience excited about your upcoming event.
However, it’s not enough to simply let people know ahead of time that you’ve got something coming up. Thanks to, or as a result of, the nonstop nature of social media feeds, promoting an event on social media needs to happen before, after, and even during. What’s your game plan for marketing your business’s upcoming event? Here’s your three-step process.
Before the Event: Lots of Anticipation
You don’t have to know a lot about marketing to know that a lot of your event promotion has to happen well in advance. Letting people know what will be happening and giving them the who-what-when-where-why-how of it all is crucial so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not to attend. You’ll also need to make it look enticing; whether that means informational, fun, valuable, or something else is entirely dependent on what type of event you’re putting on.
As for the social media part of the promotion, here are the things you’ll want to cover:
• Planning, planning, and more planning. Your personal Facebook, Twitter, and other social media profiles may be updated on a spontaneous basis, but if you’re planning an event, you’ll need to plan out what things you’ll post and when. This means creating posts and promo materials ahead of time, plotting everything out on a calendar, and tracking things like views, clicks, and engagement.
• Of course, you’ll want to regularly post the logistics about the event: where it will be held, the dates and times, and any other relevant information. Plus, on Facebook, create an event and invite your followers so they can RSVP or show interest; it might help you with numbers, and it will keep your event current in the feeds of those who are on the fence about attending.
• Create a hashtag for your event, and use it every time you promote it on social media. Additionally, encourage your followers to share your posts and use your hashtag.
• If your event is an annual one, create posts about the event in previous years. Or, if it’s a first time event, create posts about similar events. This helps prospective attendees look forward to this year’s happening and, if they attended the previous year’s, remember how great it was.
• Create teaser posts to show people what they can expect and, perhaps more importantly, what they’ll miss out on if they don’t attend. While you don’t want to take advantage of people’s FOMO, or fear of missing out, a little bit of that here can be helpful in boosting attendance.
During the Event: Being in the Moment
When your event is happening, you’ll definitely be busy, but you or someone on your team should still update your social media feeds. (This may be a great task to delegate to a social media savvy employee or intern.) Plan to do some or all of the following:
• In the hours leading up to your event, post pictures and updates of set-up, arrivals, or anything else that shows you’re gearing up for something big. It’s a good last minute reminder for those who haven’t decided if they’re attending, and it generates excitement among those who do plan to attend.
• During the event, pick out anything poignant, worthwhile, funny, or otherwise notable to share on your feeds. It could be pictures of a big reveal, a pithy quote from a speaker, a video of someone receiving an award, or anything else that your followers might be interested in seeing.
• A big event is a great opportunity to use Facebook Live. You don’t want to livecast the whole event (since you want to give people some incentive for attending rather than sitting at home and watching it all on their phones), but small snippets for a few minutes at a time are a great use of this tool. Consider livecasting one speaker, the meaningful part of a ceremony, or just a few minutes of the fun.
• Continue to use your event hashtag as you post your updates. Additionally, it’s likely that your attendees will create social media posts at your event, so encourage them to use your hashtag too. It’s a good idea to create signs or include the hashtag in your attendee materials.
After the Event: Looking Back and Ahead
After a big event, it’s tempting to put it behind you and look only to the future. However, as part of your assessment and review, you’ll want to continue promoting the event on your social media channels. This helps attendees recall key moments, and it can help people gear up for the next one. Here’s your post-event social media checklist:
• Use Facebook or Twitter to thank any people or businesses who helped you out with your event or made it run smoothly.
• Take advantage of the Stories features on both Instagram and Facebook to compile some quick photo and video highlights of the day or evening. Similarly, use Snapchat to share short clips of the action.
• Look ahead to the next happening — either the same event next year or the next event you have coming up. If you have a date, this is a great time to share it and create a Facebook event so people can add it to their calendars.
• Finally, continue to use your event hashtag in your wrap-up, just to make everything easily accessible and to help people who are late to the party find your previous posts.