As the year winds down and we are at the threshold of a new year, it’s a good time to design a sizzling Facebook strategy to use for future events! If you may be thinking your group isn’t really into social media, you should think again. In 2015 over 47 million Facebook Events were created to promote all sorts of meetings, conferences and gatherings large and small. The numbers aren’t in for 2016 yet, but they are projected to be over 50 million.
Promoting your event on Facebook can spark tremendous opportunities by creating awareness, driving ticket sales and sparking conversations around your event. That’s because there are nearly 2 billion people on Facebook worldwide that you can reach, target or market your event to.
Build awareness by creating a standalone Facebook page for your event, or add an event to an existing page. Do this as far in advance as possible. Be sure to brand your event with a hashtag that includes a number — such as the year it is being held or the number of times the conference has happened. For example: #TheMainEvent2017. Your event page cover photo should have “Save the Date” on it to remind people to calendar the event. You can use pre-designed templates and easily add type in an image using a tool like Canva.com. Use a cool picture depicting the event experience from a previous year, and make it a meme by adding type. Or, if a graphic designer is creating custom visual branding for the event, he can develop all the images and memes you need.
During each month leading up to the event, share posts that create excitement around planning, people and milestones. You can show behind-the-scenes pictures or videos of meetings, walkthroughs of the venue, or the opening of boxes filled with t-shirts or conference guides. The biggest draw for most people will be the sessions and the speakers, so share posts for every speaker and ask them to promote the event via their social platforms. Don’t forget to share pictures of yourself and your team so that people get to know you.
Lastly, each conference will have milestones or goals outlined that you will want to celebrate, so share these with attendees too. If your goal is to sell a certain number of tickets each month, post your progress. Other milestones may include the 5th, 10th or other significant anniversary of the event.
Facebook provides opportunities for ticket purchases right there on the page. When you add an event there is a field that will allow you to add a link to an external ticket sales page. I suggest that you go to bit.ly.com and create a shortened or custom link for each page post so that you can track from where sales are generated.
You can also post an offer to strategically push discounts, deals and deadlines. Deadlines tend to spark ticket sales. According to this article, Eventbrite — a leading event planning software — has a Facebook tool that will help you promote sales on your Facebook event page.
Another way to drive sales is Facebook Notes. If you are not familiar with the Note feature, it allows you to create a blog on your right there on your Facebook page. You can write about topics that promote ticket sales, include testimonials from previous attendees, feature a speaker, or highlight special activities. Be sure to conclude the with a prominent call-to-action that links to the ticket purchase site.
Socializing in the physical world is all about having conversations, and the same applies in the digital world. Posting is like sparking a conversation at an event. On Facebook this allows followers to join the conversation when they like, share or comment.
Hands down, Facebook Live Video is the best way to engage before, during and after an event. The more unpolished the video the better! Another way to create interaction is to post a quiz using one of the tools available, designing the questions around some aspect of the event experience or from content that will be shared by a speaker. If you are a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead you are probably familiar with its post show, Talking Dead where fans participate in the “Play Dead” live quiz. You can do that for your event, too, by using a tool such as Poll Everywhere.
Another thing you can do is set up a Facebook group forum for people to share questions, expectations, experiences, look for hotel roommates or even pose questions to speakers in advance of the event!
Setting a budget for Facebook Ads is essential for successful promotion of your event. As a small business owner, my meager budget of $25-$30/month to boost posts has really helped me to promote organically-trending posts. How will you know if your post is trending? Facebook sends you a notification and you simply click the notification to set your audience and budget.
Now that I’ve outlined the possibilities, get a calendar — electronic or physical — to lay out what you want to share via a Facebook page. Designate which days of the month you will post the different types of content that I’ve outlined:
- Behind the Scenes (Before, During and After)
- Topics for Facebook Notes
- Ticket Sales Discounts
- Speaker Profile Posts or Video Messages
- Quiz or Poll Questions
Then pre-schedule your posts on specific days and times using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer (free, pro and enterprise versions available for both). The best time to post for the most engagement is 7:00 pm daily, with the highest engagement being seen on Thursday and Friday.