Social networks are ideal for keeping abreast of the latest from your friends, favourite brands and sports teams. They’re also a key method of promotion for events, which are always looking for cost-effective ways of reaching an audience.
If you need event marketing ideas that won’t drain your budget, social media is a good place to head for.
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Getting started: The platforms
Facebook – Daily users: 1.59 billion (Q2 2019)
With billions of users and several features to help events build and retain an audience, Facebook is a go-to platform for B2B and B2C gatherings.
Conferences and exhibitions have found good use of the “Events” tool, where invitees can gather updates from page admins (i.e. the organiser) and crucial details around the venue, dates and times. There’s even a private mode for events that work on an invite-only model.
Twitter – Daily users: (139 million, Q2 2019)
Twitter offers less than Facebook in terms of dedicated tools for promoting events. Still, given its popularity among consumers and businesses, it’s one of the best platforms for broadcasting updates and driving engagement with your prospective audience.
Instagram – Daily users: (111 million forecasted in 2019)
Being a photo-only zone, Instagram focuses more on the aesthetic side of events. Organisers can use the platform to tap into a “FOMO effect”, where images are used to showcase the very best they can offer. If you’re struggling for image-based event marketing ideas, think snaps of attendees clinking glasses, furiously taking notes, or filling the exhibition floor.
Linkedin – Daily users: (303 million in May 2019)
Much like Facebook, B2B network Linkedin allows its users to register for updates from events, see who’s attending, and send invites to their connections. Given its reputation for “linking” people, the platform remains a strong option for networking events.
Event marketing ideas to explore
Your first step should be to create pages for your event for people to access and follow. Smaller events of between 50-100 attendees will justify a listing on Facebook and on Linkedin, provided it has a B2B focus.
For bigger gatherings (e.g. conferences, exhibitions) you’ll want to create dedicated accounts to capture followers and build a community. Facebook has pages, Linkedin has company pages, Twitter has handles and Instagram has profiles.
In any case, you are looking to centralise your information and create an audience. Want to advertise VIP passes or raise publicity for a sponsor? Followers of the page will likely see these updates on their news feed, depending on the mood of the respective algorithm.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at event marketing ideas for these channels.
Free event marketing ideas
- Regular posting: When it comes to writing posts, we’re in the business of getting reactions. Every like, comment and share opens our page up to a new audience. We need to ask attendees what they’d like to see from our event, what they’re most looking forward to, while continuously posting about subjects that arouse debate.
- Sharing competitions: Unless you can guarantee a sell-out, try freeing up a couple of tickets for a competition. Inviting your followers to “like and share this post to win passes for you and a friend” will bring said post out to their network. If 20 people do this to a few hundred followers each, you could be looking at 6,000 impressions at the cost of a couple of tickets.
- Inspiring photos: Text posts are necessary in some instances, but as the saying goes, a picture can say a thousand words. Images showing the very best of your event (on Instagram or any network) will help people visualise its true impact and appeal.
Paid event marketing ideas
As each network has different methods of promotion, we’ll focus on their individual offerings to give you an idea of what to expect.
Once you’ve created an event page, you can launch special ads to either drum up interest or secure bookings. Facebook has a useful guide (right here) for navigating its paid-for options. The upshot is that you can set different objectives, depending on whether you want to pay for responses (i.e. people following the page) or sales.
Perhaps start things off by “boosting” your event page. This will see you paying for impressions from a specified audience (e.g. 30-50 year olds in San Francisco, interested in finance).
While appearing to specialise in other areas, Twitter has an incredibly interesting and effective tool for events. Its flagship ad option for this category is spearheaded by an “Event calendar” in its Analytics tab. From here, you can browse similar events, including the gender, device and demographics of people interested, and target their audiences.
Above all, it’s a good way of ensuring that your ads find themselves in the right place.
Sometimes it pays to have a few event marketing ideas to explore, and Instagram definitely has that. You can keep it basic with a single photo ad, or add multiple images via the Carousel format. There’s even a video option for broadcasting short clips.
Every ad comes with a “sponsored” label and a call to action – whether that’s to “book now”, “learn more” or something different. Generally, the focus is on driving traffic from the platform to your website and landing pages.
If you have a premium Linkedin account, your best bet is to send paid-for InMail to people on your hit list. For bigger events, try sponsoring your regular posts and status updates. This allows you to target people according to their job title, company and industry.
Need more event marketing ideas? Build a multi-channel strategy with help from our blog: How to Promote an Event Through Online Channels.