The Rocket Blog

How to Promote an Event on Social Media
By Katie Mars on Jul 1, 2015
How to Promote an Event on Social Media

The date’s set, the venue’s reserved, and you’re in charge of getting guests to attend the most exciting music festival, film festival, conference, or shindig of the year. How exciting! Now, before you go shout the news from the Twitter mountain tops, you should figure out what social media strategy is best to get the optimal results for your event.

Chances are that if you clicked an article titled "How to Promote an Event on Social Media," you probably have more questions than answers when it comes to this topic. Let's dig in, shall we?

So where do I start?

Good question. Taking it to social media isn't a bad idea and here’s why:

If your event is something big in nature that expands over just one day, like a conference or festival, consider starting new social media accounts specifically for your event or series. It might seem daunting to run an entire new set of accounts, but if your event is big enough, it is a good idea so you can create an individual brand with its own audience. No one likes to think they're following a specific event only to see all sorts of other posts not relevant to their interests.

If your event is small enough to not have its own fan base, you can still promote it using these same tips on your organization or company's social accounts. We suggest even setting up a Facebook Event for it as sort of a surrogate Facebook page that people can join to get more information as it is posted. 

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So when do I start?

The best time to start planning your campaign is as soon as possible.  In fact, six months or more of intensive planning could be needed, depending on how big your event is.

When most people outside of the marketing and promotions field think of running a social media campaign, they imagine it to be pretty low stress.  After all, social media is a fun passtime and your friends like your posts all the time so it can't be too difficult to make a few promotional posts, right?

Wrong.

Running a successful social media event promotions campaign with little to no notice is very similar to throwing a party without any kind of preparation.  That “fly by the seat of your pants” approach MAY work out, but odds are stacked pretty high against you. The most likely scenario is unprofessional posts, spelling errors, posts made at the wrong times, and someone who should have been mentioned being left out. Put simply, “I’ll just post as the event progresses” is the wrong approach. Use it, and you’re basically ruining an opportunity that could have made a big impact on the overall event experience.

So the sooner you get your ducks in a row, the better outcome your social campaign will have. Speaking of social campaigns, it's time to start planning one. 

Phase One:

Plan the campaign

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started, but don't run to your Facebook page so fast. You've got to get yourself organized first. It's time to look at the overall picture and consider all the possible pieces of content you have to use. 

We suggest your first step be to make a spreadsheet, since it’s one of the easiest ways to list out what needs to be accomplished through your social media posts over the span of several months. Consider the different elements that will make up your event then create categories on your spreadsheet accordingly. If your event is a multiple-day conference or festival, your categories might look something like this:

  • Each individual speaker/artist/director
  • Venue information
  • Daily line-up
  • Giveaways and promotional items
  • Sponsors

Once you have all the things to possibly mention online about your event listed out, start gathering the information you'll need to promote them best. Find their Twitter handles, Facebook URLs, logos, headshots, websites, important notes of interest, etc. Consider these your spreadsheet column caegories. Now get to Googling and build out all your empty spreadsheet fields for each thing (that is available, obviously). 

Here's an example of the research we did for the Indie Memphis Film Festival last year:

Indie Memphis Schedule

Now you can use your master spreadsheet to build out an editorial calendar. We'll dig into that when we cover Phase 2. 

Create a community and find your influencers

What's the point of building out an editorial calendar if no one sees it? It's time to build a social following for your event.

The best approach to any event promotion social media campaign is to realize the power of social media happens when your content is shared. This means that your #1 priority should be to create a community that is excited about your event and your #2 priority should be to find the influencers of that community.  Look at who is responding to your posts and who is sharing them. Find online communities within the social media platform that would be made up of likely attendees of your event. For example, if you’re hosting a film festival, finding groups dedicated to film is a great way to ensure your posts will reach the right audiences.

If your event has speakers or performers, interact with the content they post on their own social media accounts and make sure to talk about (and tag!) them often on your event pages. This strategy can be especially helpful to build a following on Twitter since the speaker you tagged is likely to retweet the content to their own fanbase. 

Phase Two:

Build a promotional schedule

Now that you have a list of things you need to post about, you can build a master promotional schedule out of it. In one column, write out all of the dates between when you announce your event (if you haven't already) and the actual event. Then, add each piece of content to a time slot. If you run out of content and still have time slots left over, start repeating some of the posts. 

If you want to super charge your organizational efforts, you can go ahead and write out the text that will go with each post, create social media imagary, etc. Don't forget - any posts on Twitter must be 140 characters or less!

Quality and consistency of content over multiple posts a day

Despite what you may have heard, there is no magic number of posts or tweets to make daily that will ensure your campaign’s success. For our clients’ event promotion social media campaigns at RocketFuel, we look at the total content that should be posted over the entire campaign and divide that up into consistent, quality posts that are made at strategic times throughout the day.  You don’t have to get this detailed with your planning, but keep in mind that strategically posting from a well-thought-out editorial calendar is a must – whether that’s 1 post a day at a random time, or 3 carefully-planned posts at specific times.  Be realistic in your expectations and plan accordingly.

Don't forget the teasers

This is where planning ahead facilitates great content. When you start your event promotions social media campaign, beginning with teasers allows your audience to slowly build excitement and look forward to future posts. These type of posts work especially well when you still have event details to announce. 

Phase Three:

Post away!

If you’ve planned ahead right, you should now have an editorial calendar that lists exactly what will be posted at a certain time and day for all of the days leading up to your event. All that's left to do is post, post post!

This is a good time to mention that if you are using different social media platforms for your event, you need to cater your post to each platform. Trust us, every time you post something on Facebook that is instantly shared to Twitter, a social media manager somewhere sighs loud enough to scare their coworkers. Don't be that guy! 

Now that we have that out of the way, it's time to put your editorial calendar to work. At RocketFuel, our rule of thumb is always write tomorrow's post today. In fact, sometimes we will write several days of text for the posts on our calendar so we can go ahead and schedule them out. Trust us, if you try to write out what you want to say right when you are scheduled to say it, you might start hyperventilating.

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Build excitement with giveaways and sharable content

Once the <1 month countdown begins, it's time to start building excitement through giveaways and sharable content. Some great ways to build excitement include:

  • Hiding tickets to the event somewhere and posting a photo clue on social media
  • Giveaways such as promotional items for the event
  • Contests for VIP passes, free tickets or promotional items in which sharing the post enters the contestant’s name to the drawing
  • Reposts or retweets from posts made by artists, speakers or performers who will be at the event

Focus on questions coming in from guests and followers

This is an important component of event planning on social media that gets ignored too often, primarily because the person running the social media account becomes too busy trying to get last-minute details together or spending the little extra time they have writing last-minute posts powered by very little thought. 

As we discussed earlier, it's very important to build a community. But it's even more important to engage with them. You have to interact with your fans, espeically if they are looking to you for answers they can't find elsewhere. This process involves professionally and quickly answering questions that come in on your social media accounts to ensure that anyone who wants to participate has the information they need to do so.

This is why building a schedule and sticking to it is so important for your event promotional efforts. It allows you to be free to monitor the discussions around the posts throughout the day, answer any questions that might arise, and focus your energy on anything else that might pop up last minute that needs attention. 

Want to learn more? Go here if you are interested in finding out more about the social media services we offer here at RocketFuel.