No matter what the city, there is always competition to have the best event and draw the largest crowd. The main challenge is to get the word out about your event … and to help the potential audience see the value in attending your event instead of another. Although there is a lot to be said about old-school marketing – flyers, ads, newsletters – social media is an excellent resource for spreading the word: create an event page, choose a specific hashtag, and promote it regularly on social media. And that’s just for starters!
Here are 5 unique ways to promote live events. Note: Some of these ideas can also be used for virtual events.
1. Hold a Contest. “Use a “Retweet to Win” campaign to giveaway tickets or passes,” suggests Shawna Tregunna, Founder and President of ReSoMe – Relevant Social Media. “This helps boost exposure and gets the buzz going, as well as establishes the event hashtag for everyone to follow! Do this early, so people are not waiting to see if they win to buy tickets. Promote the campaign to your newsletter/email list with the announcement of the tickets going on sale (or prices going up), post it on your social feeds, cover it in your blog. And, if you have some influencers and champions helping you promote the event through their social channels, offer them a giveaway or have them promote yours.”
“For anyone who hasn’t won, follow up with a tweet and ask if they’ll still be attending,” adds Rich DeMatteo, co-owner/Chief Social Rhino, Bad Rhino Social Media. “Feel free to offer a discount to anyone who enters. Something like this generates a great deal of discussion, especially when there’s already an online audience around the topic or event.”
2. Offer a Sneak Peek. “Give potential attendees real-time access to keynote speakers, panelists and other experts who will be at the event,” says Lee Price, Marketing Director, Reputation Capital Media. “Host a Google hangout or a Twitter chat (or a whole series of them) to give attendees an idea of who will be at the event and what they’ll learn.”
3. Go Visual. “Generate buzz by hinting at the headline act with a Vine video, featuring the keynote or demonstrating a new product,” suggests Laura Walker, Senior Marketing Manager for EventSpot from Constant Contact. “Create event-specific Pinterest boards that tell exciting, visual stories about past events and what attendees can look forward to seeing at the next one.”
4. Embrace Influencers and Reach out to Websites. “Invite influential bloggers/media to the event to cover it from their social media accounts,” says Amy Marshall, CSO, Fathom, Columbus Division. “Provide them with information before the event (event social media handles, hashtag, seating, contact person, messaging, times). Provide them special seating for the coverage. Greet them when they arrive. Provide them with interview access to the key event members.”
“Post your event to every free site within a 100 mile radius,” suggests Stephanie Ward, Red Lime Media, “and ask Meetup groups to make your event a meetup.”
5. Do a Countdown. “This isn’t a simple ‘Five days until the event’ status on Facebook,” explains Social Media Specialist James Williams, Articulon. “It’s more of a ‘hero shot’ that is a snippet of the event. … Make sure it is visual and graphically appealing. … And don’t overdo it. I started at 19 days out. At first I did every few days, then did every other day until I reached five days out and then did every day. It got massive involvement and kept the event at the front of people’s minds without spamming them with the same event details.”
The most important thing when promoting an event is to have a communication plan, suggests Christine Hawks, Director of Marketing and Client Relations with MRA Services.
“Think through each of your major event milestones (i.e. date and location announced, registration now open, keynote speaker confirmed) and sketch out a plan, in advance, that details the release date of the communication, subject, target audience and medium for delivering the content,” Hawks says. “You’ll have the best results if you plan a campaign that addresses all stages of the event cycle, not just a month or two preceding the start of your event.”
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