Just about every event planner is relying heavily on social media promotion to build their brand. If you’re planning an event, there’s no question that you should be giving it an online presence. But are you leveraging your social media promotion to its fullest potential? Let’s face the facts: Whether we’re die hard fans of social media or would prefer to avoid it altogether, it’s a part of our lives. To some extent, it’s true that we’re living in a world where many people have two lives- their real life, and the one they post on social media. Whatever your feelings about that, there is much to be gained from branding yourself on social media. And with new digital technology cropping up every day, there’s less cap on creativity than ever before. But this list is about way more than copying trends- we want to show you how to make them your own. We’re also firm believers that event planners shouldn’t just aim to promote their event- they should also be promoting themselves as a brand. Here’s how to use social media- and your creative license- to stand out from the crowd and build a loyal audience.
1. Take Advantage of Multiple Platforms and Trends on Social Media
First things first. Before we talk about how to best use social media to brand yourself uniquely, it’s important to choose which platforms you’ll use. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to use Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Instagram to some extent. (To which extent depends on your brand and the goals you have for it). However, we’ll also take some time to clue you in to upcoming social media tools and trends that could give your event the platform it needs to interact with more people.
Now it’s time to ask yourself where most of your target audience spends the most time online. Since you want to engage and convert your followers, it makes sense to tune into their shared interests. Pay attention to the things your followers care about, the places they go, and the things they buy. These days, social media promotion is not just about identifying a common need among general audiences and filling it. It’s about reaching your audience on a personal level and creating an emotional attachment by interacting with them. Get to know your followers online as you create a promotional plan for your brand or event. And remember, we’re living in a time when people are catered to by home technology and having abstract conversations with voice assistants. If people expect to be catered to at home, trust us- they’re expecting events to roll out the proverbial red carpet.
Some social media platforms may be more ideal for your industry and target audience than others. Although Facebook events are somewhat limited because the platform is overcrowded by ads competing for space on your news feed, you can maximize your visibility by creating an event page, linking it to your profile page, and posting updates about your event. Counting down the days until early bird registration starts is one way to ensure that your event will appear in your friends’ news feeds every day. If feasible, include discounts or giveaways for people who register early, and make sure there’s a VIP status to aspire to. Because Facebook is so overcrowded, advertising your event can be a bit like walking through a busy city and expecting strangers to remember who you are. You’ve got to put in the extra effort to get people to remember you, and this requires eye-catching graphics and visuals. You should also be making powerful brand statements in your Facebook bio and in status updates about your event.
Set attainable goals for your social media promotions. What do you want your customers to know you best for? What shared interests and needs are you fulfilling for your target audience? Does your brand provide faster, easier service for a common need that other brands meet in a less effective fashion? Are you fulfilling a social or emotional need that attracts your target audience to you? Those are the questions you should be asking yourself when coming up with a clever brand statement to represent your brand.
Now let’s talk about Twitter, which is different from other social media mainstays in that each post has a 75-character limit. Instagram is much better than Twitter for interacting in a personal way with followers and building relationships; people tend to express themselves more fully and have much longer conversations beneath Instagram posts. Twitter is usually abuzz with media-related news and brief, concise comments about current events and trends. It’s a great place to create a brief, unique hashtag that will be associated with your brand- and on this site, where it takes less than a minute to post to massive audiences, it will spread like wildfire. People love to follow celebrities on Twitter, and when you follow a public figure, that celebrity is visible on your followers’ list. Many people like to follow other people who follow their favorite celebs or public figures. The point is that your Twitter audience is potentially massive, and you have the ability to reach many large groups at one time- especially if you create a clever hashtag for your brand or event.
Next up is Instagram. It’s probably safe to say that brands get the most engagement on this platform. Instagram is heavily image-laden and is a powerful visual tool for brands. When posting pictures on Instagram, you can choose from a range of creative filters that add mood and character to images. It’s also the platform where the most artists, photographers, models, actors, and other entertainers share their professional work. There are several global trends circulating on Instagram at the moment, and most are highly interactive. More and more, people are rejecting neatly curated images of the best or most socially acceptable parts of life. An entire movement of influencers and their enormous followings are sharing vulnerable parts of their lives, transcending stigma about mental and physical illness, and using hashtags about body positivity next to photos of themselves not concealing their natural body types. What can we take from that? For one thing, it’s that many people feel the need to start relating to others in real ways online. It also tells us that meaningful relationships are being built online, and in many cases, transparency is the channel. Keep these trends in mind when planning your social media promotion.
Linked in is a great platform for B2B, industry, and professional networking. Brand-related news and company events should always be shared on this site. If you’re trying to reach younger audiences, Snapchat could be useful. For those who don’t know how it works, Snapchat is a social media tool in which users create visual “stories”. These “stories” only last 24 hours each, and users can choose from various themed filters and fonts for their posts. Again, base your social media choices on the goals you’ve set for your event and brand.
2. Create a Hashtag for Your Event
Speaking of hashtags, let’s talk about how to create the perfect one for your event. Your hashtag should not only be catchy and concise but should also be easy to understand. Plus-sized model Hunter McGrady’s #Allworthy hashtag went viral within days. Once you pick a hashtag, stick to it. Include it in all posts that mention your upcoming event. Add it to all of your bios on social media as well as your event website, promotional emails, and even print-outs. Hashtags aren’t just for the days preceding your event, either. Make sure your hashtag is visible at your event by displaying it on screens, adding it to print-outs, and incentivizing people to share it on social media. When deciding what to offer, there’s ample room for creativity- and you should be incentivizing people to share your hashtag before, after, and during your event. Many people offer product discounts on Instagram posts, but it’s also a good idea to feature people who use your hashtag on your Instagram. (If you have a large following, you can feature select people who use your hashtag. You can advertise a chance to be featured rather than a guarantee).
Remember, the majority of your attendees will be on social media sharing the experience during your event. So, give them a reason to share your hashtag. Why not create a competition in which the best or most liked Instagram photo wins a prize, or gets to be featured on your page?
3. Update Your Social Media Profiles
This may sound like an unnecessary reminder, but it’s worth mentioning. Besides updating any existing social media pages to include event promotions, you’ll also want to add your hashtag to all of your bios. Your brand and/or event should have a distinctive look, so create a logo that you use consistently and use eye-grabbing graphics in your social media promotions. Consistency is the key word here. Giving your brand a consistent look and feel on all of your pages makes a solid impression and builds loyal customers. People like to know they can rely on certain brands to meet their needs in similar ways every time. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for creativity- in fact, creating fresh new incentives at every stage of an event builds excitement. The key is to strike a smart balance: Create a strong impression that gives your brand character and is rooted in its values. Then keep things interesting by offering interactive incentives that make people feel like a part of the experience your brand or event offers.
Anywhere you share your event, add a button that people can click on to instantly share. An example of this is the downloadable “Pin It” button for Pinterest. But you can also add a “share” button that people can click on to share on multiple social media sites, and most are easily to insert onto web pages, emails, and more. With social media promotion, one of the main objectives is to make yourself visible on all the major social media channels.
Now let’s talk briefly about your “About Us” or “About Me” sections on social media pages. Obviously, this is the space where viewers and followers are introduced to you. Your “About” section summarizes your mission and values and gives many people a first impression of your brand. That’s why it’s important to create an engaging description of your brand or event. First impressions can be strong, so you’ll want to consolidate this information in a concise, yet powerful intro. Be sure to use SEO to your advantage by including key words that increase your web visibility. If you’re hosting an event, mention of it should be made on every single social media page you have.
One last tip for this section: the resources you share on your web and event pages should be downloadable to most people who have access to the Internet.
4. Your Social Media Promotion Should Include Videography
This is a big one. When you create a video that showcases the value of your event, make sure your video clearly conveys the value of your event to your target audience. We talked earlier about setting goals for your event, and that applies here, too. For example, if your goal is to reach younger audiences, your videography should put on visual display the value of your event to younger demographics. What will your prospective audience gain from attending your event? Answer that question clearly in any videos you post about your event. If you’ve hosted other events, create a slideshow showcasing special moments during past events, and set it to music. Include pictures that people posted with your hashtag, too. When people see live images of your event, it brings it to life for them. And when they’re done right, it makes them want to be a part of it and share it with their followers and friends.
It goes without saying that YouTube is one of the top three most popular search engines in the world. It hardly needs mentioning that videos advertising your event should be on YouTube. However, you don’t have to and shouldn’t stop there. There are other widely used video platforms like Vine, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Metacafe, The Internet Archive, Crackle, Veoh, and more. And there are unique benefits to using these- they give users more control over the way they present their brand. They also don’t have banner advertisements that frequently pop up and distract users. Some people watch videos on smaller sites in order to avoid annoying advertisements. Some people favor smaller, more intimate interactions with other users over the large comments sections found on YouTube.
Don’t just leverage your videos on YouTube and other video platforms. Sharing your videos on Facebook and other social media pages increases your visibility on news feeds. Make sure your content uses popular keywords and phrases that propel it to the top of Google and other web searches.
You can also create a testimonial video in which real customers and/or attendees share positive feedback and experience with your brand. If there were speakers at your event, share images or live video footage of the speaker. Caption these images or videos with strong statements from the speaker. When you share customer testimonials, be sure to give the people who provide them recognition. Give them a choice about whether they want to appear or be identified in your video. Those who want to be featured will often enjoy the novelty of being featured by a favorite brand, and they’re likely to share the video on their own pages.
Recently, American Apparel launched a campaign in which they featured select people who tagged AA in their posts and used their hashtag. Torrid is another fashion brand that has recently done this, as well as host a contest in which prospective models competed to become the new face of the brand. This kind of social media promotion integrates consumers with your brand. Making people feel like part of your brand, event, or industry is a powerful way to reach mass audiences. You don’t have to be rich and established to make this work for you. Singers, actors, and models are using Instagram as their agency. Everyday people with a message to share are becoming influencers and sought-after sponsors just by gaining large followings. When prominent influencers share your photos, videos, hashtags, and other promotions, you’re gaining exposure by the thousands in a few hours.
A lot goes into planning for an event- and again, people love to feel like they’re part of the experience rather than just a bystander. You can really build excitement by sharing behind-the-scenes preparations via video footage. What might you share on social media? Well, venue and location are often great selling points. Is your event at a popular venue? Is your venue in a tourist hotspot, nearby shopping centers, or even close to a Starbucks? (Few venues don’t fit into the last category). Take video of the surrounding area and “go live” on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media pages. Your audience will feel like they’re part of the action, and anticipation levels will rise as they share and talk about your upcoming event. You can also share funny mishaps that happened while planning your event, giving your footage a “reality TV” feel.
5. Customize Graphics for Your Speakers
This one is short and sweet- but very important. Speakers want to promote themselves at your event, so you should make it easy for them to do so. Maximize their exposure by creating graphics in different sizes for your speakers to use on their web pages and promotions. Different social media platforms use a variety of sizes of images, so make sure your graphics are compatible with most of them. This enables speakers a fair chance to promote their appearance at your event- and gives attendees a chance to share that a favorite speaker will be in attendance.
The graphics you create should be a clear representation of the speaker’s brand. People who know and love the speaker will want to know that nothing’s changed, and people who don’t know him or her will get a first impression from your graphics. What’s the best way to ensure that your graphics are aligned with the speaker’s brand? Ask him or her. Keep communication lines open and listen as well as talk. When a speaker signs on to be featured at your event, your collaboration has the potential to be mutually beneficial. So, give your speakers the go-ahead to share the graphics you create on emails and social media platforms.
6. Showcase and Leverage Your VIPs
In many ways, your VIPs are at the heart of your event and its success. They are your ears and eyes. If you know how to listen, they will tell you everything they loved about your event- and what they hated. No one likes to hear criticism about their creation, and we get it- you put hour after hour of work into this event, and it’s your brainchild. But without feedback, you can’t improve based on the shared needs of your audience. Also, your attendees won’t feel heard, and there will be a disconnect.
That said, encourage VIPs to share what they absolutely loved about your event! And many of them have large followings on social media, so you’ve got a lot of exposure to gain. Incentivize VIPs by creating exclusive contests and giveaways that only they can participate in. (If you’re already hosting contests for all attendees or early registrars, make sure the prizes or incentives are that much better for VIPs. By doing this, you’re also recruiting new VIPs, so it’s a win-win).
If your VIPs have large followings, which many of them probably do, give them something to share before the event! Most VIPs want to see and be seen. Create graphics accompanied by exciting updates about your event and reveal the most exciting surprises last to build anticipation. If you offer free products to VIPs, post videos of the winners using your product on Instagram. Beauty bloggers do this all the time, and their videos go viral. But you don’t have to be a beauty blogger to utilize this strategy. All you need is a small to moderate following and the right social media promotion.
7. Use Geofilters on Snapchat To Your Advantage
This is a lesser known tip that really enhances your exposure. Snapchat is explosively popular among teenagers and young adults. Snapchat geofilters are available to users only when they’re in a certain place at a certain time, so it gives people the feeling that they’re privy to an insider experience. This creates a louder buzz than even sharing behind-the-scenes footage live. And if your event is one that happens often or even yearly, the buzz created by a geofilter is worth the effort of designing one. You can purchase one within the Snapchat app, but if you’re tech-savvy, there are DIY templates available online.
8. Use Geotags on Instagram to Reach Target Audiences
We love Instagram because it gives brands global reach, sometimes in mere seconds. But when you’re trying to reach a target audience, you need to be able to direct your reach specifically. One way to do this is to publicize your location on Instagram. When you do this, Instagram records the latitude and longitude of the location where you’ve stored your content. Geolocations are gleaned from the physical location of your cell phone, but the function only works if you activate it by publicizing your location. The benefit of this is that people tagging or searching your location have a higher chance of being exposed to your content. Only recently has social media promotion been linked to geographical location. This technology is still developing, but its come very far. Think about it: Let’s say you’re at a popular concert venue. Allowing Instagram to detect your geographical location and tag you there means that other people visiting this location on Instagram can come across your page. The potential exposure is huge here. And exposure is vital to your social media promotion.
Don’t forget to use hashtags to your advantage in this context, too. When your hashtag your location, whether it’s a popular venue or city, your content will be suggested when people are in your area. You can also add hashtag locations to Instagram stories. Using Snapchat geofilters and Instagram geotags while sharing behind-the-scenes action adds the allure of exclusivity to your event.
9. Harness the Power of Networking to Win Over Brand Advocates
We’ve talked a lot about how to reach target audiences but enlisting the help of brand advocates involves a little more research- and requires you to be proactive. Once you’ve identified your target audience, look a little closer at your following. Who is most enthusiastic about your brand? Who shares your content regularly and talks about it most on social media? Who corresponds most consistently to pre-event and post-event surveys and never misses one of your events? Gleaning this information takes some time and effort over a period of time. But it gives you invaluable information about who your unofficial advocates are. Once you’ve determined what people or groups consistently advocate for your brand, propose a deal that’s mutually beneficial to both of you. Have you written a book, launched a product, or started a blog that needs reviews or comments? Maybe they also need commentary or product testimonials. Or maybe they don’t, and you can offer free tickets to your next event for them and a few of their friends. The possibilities are many. Advocates with large followings have the ability to get you far greater exposure than you could get on your own.
10. Appeal Emotionally to Your Audience
This piece of advice is last but certainly not least. We already discussed a little bit about how to appeal emotionally to your audience, but now let’s take it a step further. If you’re at a stage of brand development in which you expect to gain new followers or fans, introduce yourself by telling your story on your website and social media pages. Even if you’ve done it before and are afraid established followers will find it redundant, do it anyway. Briefly reintroducing yourself actually allows for established followers or customers to reconnect with you. You won’t want to write a novel about yourself, as most people are busy, and it won’t sustain their attention. But invigorate a brief introduction with a powerful values statement and a personal story about how and why your brand was born. Most people love a story about a company that grew from humble roots. But no matter what your story is, you can share something special and touching about it that has an emotional impact on your audience. People love a brand with a unique story behind it, so share yours.
Digitally promoting your brand comes with a lot of responsibility, but the power of social media promotion can make or break your brand. Now that we’ve given you some tried and true tips, you can put harness this power and use it to your best advantage!