Whether your business is planning to host a seminar, fundraiser, workshop or a Webinar, Web and social media outlets can serve as powerful and inexpensive tools to promote and market your upcoming event. Especially for those on a budget, Web and social networking sites can provide free publicity and visibility for your organization. When promoting an event, your goals should be to spread awareness, boost attendance and generate excitement.
This article will provide you with a multifaceted approach to using various Web and social media outlets to market your events. Our recommendations include using online event calendars, posting press releases on free submission websites, sending e-blasts, creating events on Facebook, updating Twitter, using LinkedIn and continuing to promote your event, even after it has ended.
Event Calendars — Submitting your event to free online calendars is one of the most valuable methods of promoting your event online. Dozens of local newspapers, magazines, television channels and radio stations have websites that host calendars of events. These calendars often offer free postings and give the public a useful tool to search for things to do in their area. Event calendars are highly targeted since your event will be organized according to what category it belongs to. For example, if you are holding a benefit dinner for your non-profit organization, you can ensure that your event listing will appear in the “non-profit” and “fundraiser” categories. When you post your event on these calendars, be sure to include your business’ contact information, the event’s location and any other important details. Very often, these media outlets will also use their online calendars for their television, radio or print outlets.
Press Release Submission Websites — Whenever your organization is hosting an event, it is essential to create and distribute a press release to notify your target audience, the general public and members of the media. You should include a description of the event, its location, contact information and a powerful headline. When creating this content for online distribution, it is important to use keyword-rich language and to include as many relevant links as possible. These links should lead to further information, a specific offer or a landing page on your website. Once your content has been created, distribute your press release on the Web using the following websites to create buzz and get the word out. For more information on free submission websites, read our article, “Why You Should Take Advantage of Free Submission Websites.”
E-Blasts — E-blasts are emails that are sent out to your clients or customers that notify them of a special deal, promotion, event or other news. When promoting events, we recommend using e-blasts because they can quickly deliver content to a large number of people. E-blasts are also much cheaper and easier to distribute than traditional print advertisements. To begin, we suggest signing up for a program such as Stream Send or Constant Contact. These email marketing programs will allow you to create and send e-blasts, as well as e-newsletters and any other professional emails. Once you’ve signed up for one of these programs, create an email with a description of your event and a powerful subject line. Having a strong subject line is so vital to your email marketing success because the majority of people choose whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone.
Your e-blast should include a small blurb about your event, a link to more information, multimedia (if necessary) and your business’ contact information. Always keep in mind that you don’t want to bombard your contacts by sending an excessive amount of emails. We recommend sending out an initial e-blast to announce your event, a reminder when the date is approaching and a follow-up email after the event has ended.
Facebook — Facebook, the most widely used social media website, offers several areas to promote your organization’s event at no cost. For example, the Facebook Events application is one of the most powerful marketing tools this social media giant has to offer. By creating a Facebook Event page, you are providing your audience with an interactive hub of information and conversation surrounding your event. Once you are logged in, you can create your Facebook Event here. Include a profile picture, fill out all information, upload multimedia (if applicable) and begin inviting friends. When you are creating your page, make sure that the following “Event Options” are checked off:
• Enable the event wall
• Enable the event photos, videos and links
• Allow guests to bring friends to the event
• Show the guest list
Once all of these options are checked, guests will be allowed to invite their friends to your event, write on the page’s wall and upload their own photos and videos. It is important to periodically encourage your friends to spread the word by using the “Share” and “Post to your Profile” buttons. These buttons will post an event invitation directly on the user’s personal Facebook wall. For more information on how to use Facebook to build your business, read our article, “10 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Facebook.”
Twitter — Considering its immensely powerful viral capabilities and communication features, it is essential for your business to break into the world of Twitter. There are a variety of ways to reach your target audience and market your upcoming event using this microblogging network. Before you begin tweeting about your event, you may want to create a customized hashtag (#). On Twitter, hashtags are used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. By including relevant hashtags in your tweets, they can be categorized and found more easily in the Twitter Search Engine. For example, if you are planning to host a Webinar on social media, your hashtag may be “#SMWebinar.” Be sure to include this hashtag in any tweet relating to your event and encourage people to do the same. Thus, a sample tweet may be, “We are excited to host our first Webinar on social media today! #SMWebinar.”
When using Twitter to promote your event, another tip is to mix up the content in your tweets. If you are continuously tweeting the same thing, your followers will be disinterested with the same information and become inclined to “un-follow” you. To build a variety of tweets related to your event, you can try asking questions related to your event, tweeting the sign-up link or links to any press releases, posting photos related to your event or re-tweeting what someone posted about your event. You can also ask people to share your event by including, “Please RT!” (please re-tweet) to increase awareness on Twitter. For more information on how to use Twitter to promote your business, read our article, “Secrets to Twitter Marketing.”
LinkedIn — LinkedIn offers several opportunities to market your event to personal connections and other business professionals. After you are logged in, you can create and manage your events here. Once you’ve created your event and completed all relevant information, you can invite up to 50 people from your personal network. Since you are limited to 50 invitations on LinkedIn, you should send personal emails to the rest of your connections with a brief invitation and a link to your event. When someone RSVPs, the notification will appear on their home profile so all of their connections will be notified of your event as well. As the administrator of your event page, you can keep track of your RSVPs and monitor any comments. You may also send individual invitations and promote your organization’s events using the discussion boards of LinkedIn Groups. Submitting events to LinkedIn is another quick, simple and cost-effective way to spread your message and boost your attendance. For more information on how to use LinkedIn to build your business, read our article, “Making the Right Connections on LinkedIn.”
Continue Promoting After Your Event — Don’t stop marketing your event just because it has ended! There are still a variety of ways to promote your organization, encourage attendance at future events and nourish communication with your guests. Always thank your attendees through social media updates, emails and, if practical, personal messages. Upload any photos you may have taken to Flickr and your social media profiles. On Facebook, make sure to “tag” people if they appear in your photo album. This interaction will encourage involvement on your fan page and help to keep it interactive and fresh. If you recorded any videos at your event, make sure to upload them to your organization’s YouTube channel and embed them on your website. Another good way of continuing to promote your event is to write a blog post or an article on how it went and what you learned. Always encourage feedback and suggestions from your attendees on all of your Web and social media profiles.