|Eventbrite's best practices on how to use social media to promote your event|
|Friday, 15 October 2010 14:09|
We often get asked “How can I leverage social media to promote my event?” So we started collecting best practices from event organizers who use Eventbrite. We pulled them all together in this post to help you get started down the path to social media glory. But it’s important to note that social media is a clunky gun, not a silver bullet—it’s a channel, not a strategy. The best way for each event to utilize this channel will vary depending on who the target audience is and how they engage online.
1. Choose the platforms that make sense for your event. There are a few options when it comes to promoting your event through social media, and each has unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn show who’s attending and aggregate conversation about the event in one place, while Twitter provides the opportunity for anyone to discover the event. Building your own social network around your event may be the thing to do if you have an appetite for building a richly branded online experience, but it won’t give you the virality of established social networks. Look to strike a balance across several platforms—but most importantly, understand where your target audience is already engaging. Identify existing communities by searching on LinkedIn, Facebook, or other forums, monitor Twitter conversation, and locate the platforms that have the most activity. This is where you’ll want to place the majority of your efforts.
2. Define success metrics and don’t underestimate the effort required. To new users, online communities might look self-sustaining. They’re not. Facebook, Twitter and the rest all take work, ideally in the form of a dedicated individual who can keep dialogue flowing and seed productive conversations. Continuous new content and engagement tactics are required to grow the vibrant community necessary for achieving buzz around your event. Define success metrics so that you know how you’re tracking—number of fans or followers is a great place to start, but engagement metrics are most important. Facebook’s Fan Page dashboard gives good stats and there are some great free Twitter analytics tools (we use Twitalyzer) that can measure engagement levels of your tweets.
Use Facebook to create a destination for engagement
3. Publish your event to Facebook. Facebook Events allow you to easily invite your friends and fans and it makes it easy for them to share with their friends. It creates a central location for attendees to begin to connect and share their excitement for the event.
4. Create a Facebook Page. For larger events a dedicated page may be appropriate as a central location to engage with attendees and people interested in learning more about your event. The best pages that we’ve seen post updates almost daily, giving fans a window into the planning process of the event. Have you just secured an amazing caterer? Has an exciting speaker agreed to attend? Has the event received coverage in the media? Multi-media is always compelling: if you can share photos of the space or get the main attractions (speakers, artists, etc.) to post quick videos on their thoughts for the event, it really helps to bring it to life. The Facebook fan page is not only a great way to get your attendees excited, but also to get them involved in the event itself by asking them questions that can influence the content or the agenda. Facebook Groups and Pages Guide
5. Invite friends and fans to attend and help spread the word. Search Facebook for other fan pages on topics related to your event and engage with the users there. Become a fan of that page, and you can then write things on their wall. I would carefully craft your message so that it doesn’t look like spam (people react very negatively to spam), letting people know about the event and why they should attend. Include a link to the Facebook event when you post so users can click through for more content if they are interested. For example, a benefit concert featuring Slash went to the Slash Facebook page and told the fans that slash was going to be performing at their benefit concert rather than just saying “Support this great cause and attend this concert.”
You should also reach out to specific individuals who may be connected to your event topic or specific friends that you think would be interested. For example, say John is a big industry influencer. You can “Send John a Message” through the link that’s under his picture on Facebook. Again, be VERY careful to not sound spammy but instead let him know about an event that you think he would be interested in and why. Keep it short and include a link to your fan page encouraging him to be a fan and also a link to the page. You can cherry-pick these individuals to connect with, but the real value will come when he fans your page or posts that he is attending the event and his whole network sees it.
Use Twitter to generate buzz and allow your attendees to connect more fluidly
6. Create an event hashtag and promote it. Encouraging dialog with Twitter hashtags is an excellent way to build buzz around an event. However, it’s important to step in and designate what the event hashtag will be as early in the process as possible (if you don’t, others will do it for you and there will most likely end up being multiple ones, diluting the effect). Then publicize the hashtag in advance across all channels—put it on your registration page, website, and use it in every single one of your Twitter posts. Once at the event, plan to promote it repeatedly: in signage, in printed programs, and from the stage. Your goal is to get every tweet about your event to contain your hashtag. The hashtag will aggregate all Twitter conversation around the event and help attendees connect and spread the word. Some events run contests—for example, asking trivia questions on Twitter related to the event topic, and requesting that all responses contain the Twitter hashtag—to get traction for the hashtag early on. TechCrunch50 last year did a random drawing from all people who tweeted with their hashtag and gave away free tickets to their event.
7. Create a Twitter profile. Because Twitter is automatically more public than Facebook (you don’t have to be friends with people for them to see your tweets), using a personal profile to promote your event on Twitter is totally acceptable (as opposed to Facebook where you might not want to do that if you reserve your Facebook profile for more personal communication). In fact, attendees might like to see the face behind the event and connect directly with you as the organizer, and Twitter is perfect for this. However, for larger or frequently recurring events, creating a dedicated Twitter profile is a great way to engage attendees if you have reason to engage with them year-round. Whether it’s your name or the event name in the profile, use it much like the Facebook fan page: to share event information as it unfolds as well as engage with attendees. 25+ Tools for building and managing twitter
8. Reach out to stakeholders and influencers to help spread the word. It’s really easy to search for people on Twitter and most influential people keep their profiles public. Reach out to them over Twitter to let them know about your event and encourage them to help spread the word. If they think it’s a great event, they will most likely share it with their followers because sharing valuable information is the best way for them to stay relevant with their followers. Get people that are involved with the event as talent or speakers to engage as well. Call them out in tweets and they will often retweet what you have to say, adding a personal note of their own.
Use LinkedIn to leverage business communities
9. Post the event to LinkedIn. At a bare minimum, you can create an update that includes a few words on why you are excited for the event and a link to your Eventbrite page. We’ve seen this drive some traffic for event organizers, especially for professional events. Posting the event to LinkedIn can generate additional traffic and interest for your event as well. It’s relatively easy to set up: just go to the events section of LinkedIn and click on the “Add Event” tab. Enter in your event details, including a link to the Eventbrite page where they can buy tickets. When you publish the event, it automatically sends it out to all your LinkedIn connections. Seek out LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your event and let them know about it as well as sharing the event with specific contacts which LinkedIn easily lets you do. If enough people respond that they are interested or attending, your event will bubble up to the top of the Events area and drive additional traffic. 10 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog Using LinkedIn
Create your own community to provide a more branded experience
10. Build your own community. For the biggest and most complex events (typically conferences), building your own community may make sense. However, you really need to consider the value that you are bringing when you ask people to set up a profile and participate in a new community. SXSW built a community where members can nominate panel ideas and vote on them, put a custom schedule together, and participate in different event-related discussions. There are solutions like Pathable that let you brand their pre-built community platform and integrate it into your site so that you don’t have to build the functionality from scratch. This strategy is only for those committed to putting in the time and effort needed to encourage participation and build a community that brings value beyond just threaded discussions.
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