"89 percent of businesses reported a significant boost in their "market exposure" after integrating social media into their marketing strategy." says Sarah Landrum By Sarah Landrum, Founder, Punched Clocks Everything's set for your event: The lights, the camera and the action. All that's left is to spread the word to potential attendees. And what better way to do that than through social media? Broadly speaking, "social media" refers to any web-based tool that allows people to connect, communicate and share information. For the sake of brevity, however, that definition will be narrowed down to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and others in this article. So why choose social media as a marketing tool? And why the above mentioned sites in particular? There are three main reasons.
- Efficiency. With traditional tactics like handing out leaflets, you can probably reach a few dozen people within a day. But with a viral Facebook post, you can attract several times that number within two minutes!
- Effectiveness. According to the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 89 percent of businesses reported a significant boost in their "market exposure" after integrating social media into their marketing strategy. Furthermore, marketers who did the same reported an increase in sales over a three-year period.
- Cost-Effectiveness. It doesn't cost much — if anything — to sign up for social networking sites. Even when you factor in premium accounts like what’s offered by LinkedIn, you'll shell out around $120 a month at most. Considering what you can do with those accounts, and the number of people you can reach with them, it's a solid investment over the long run.
Now that you know what social media can do as a marketing tool, it's time to talk about how you can make it work best as such. If you want people to notice — and, hopefully, do something about — your events-related post once it crosses their feed, here are the tactics you can try.
- Post on as Many Events Listing Sites as Possible
Start with the major ones like Facebook Events, EventBrite and Upcoming. Make the ads as detailed as possible. Make it easy for attendees to sign up, buy tickets and contact you in case they have questions, suggestions and other comments. The more visible your event ads are around the web, the better!
- Make Your Ad Visually Appealing
No matter what post you make, it helps to complement it with photos. On Twitter, for instance, tweets with images have a 38 percent higher chance of getting retweeted than those without. Ideally, the photo should sum up what the event is about, on top of being visually appealing. If you're hosting a party, for example, a picture of people laughing will be more enticing than a picture of balloons floating into the air, since the former employs social proof. (i.e. “These people had fun during the event. Therefore, I'll have fun, too!”) Of course, you can also use more creative visuals like infographics, quotes overlaying images and teasers. Just take a tool like Pablo, Canva or even MS PowerPoint, and you're good to go!
- Maximize the Power of Videos
If a photo is worth a thousand words, then a video (which is essentially a moving picture) is worth so much more. In fact, if eMarketer's 2012 numbers are accurate, around a third of the U.S. population will prefer to watch videos on their smartphones by 2016. Keep in mind, however, that not all types of videos will work for all platforms. Facebook, for example, prefers videos uploaded directly to their site, as opposed to videos shared via YouTube (judging by the 0.22 percent engagement rate for the former versus 0.10 percent for the latter). For tips on making a marketing video, check out Hubspot's piece on the topic.
- Use Hashtags (Wisely)
When you use a hashtag (or basically anything on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram that starts with "#"), you don't just make it easy for users to find "conversations" about your event. You also double the likelihood that those users will engage with your tweets. However, you don't want to overdo this. If you use more than two hashtags at a time, engagement can drop by as much as 17 percent. It's better to stick to just one hashtag: Given a choice between #AwesomeEvent and #SuperAwesomeHyperbolicallyCoolEvent, pick the one that'll be easier for users to type out.
- Host a Contest
Through a contest, you not only actively engage your attendees, but also increase them by an average of 34 percent. To achieve this, design your contest such that attendees will essentially do the marketing for you. For example, you can ask them to take a photo — complete with the event hashtag and a 100-word essay — on why they deserve to participate in your event. Also, don't forget to entice them with a juicy giveaway!
- Create Teasers
Pique your attendees' interest with behind-the-scenes pics. Make them laugh with bloopers. Drop random trivia related to the event. People want to know enough about the event to be curious about it, but not so much that they won't be excited for it at all.
- Mention the Event Wherever Possible
Use the event hashtag on your bio. Attach a link to the event website (if applicable) to your email signature. Not only will this capture eyeballs, but it'll also link the event directly to you — which lends it a degree of transparency and authenticity.
- Monitor Your Progress
Of course, you don't want to leave everything to chance. You want to see whether your event is going viral, and why. Luckily, you can track how your campaign is going through social media management tools like Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Google Alerts. Each of these tips is more effective in certain instances than in others. Try them all out, and see which works best for your particular event. In the meantime, good luck with your marketing!
About the guest blogger: Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on navigating the work world. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and entrepreneurship to professional development, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum.