The Challenges of Promoting Events Using Social Media
Online event promotion is not new, but it is continually changing and becoming more complex as social media and technology evolves. I remember when being able to buy a ticket for an event online with your credit card was like, the most amazing thing ever.
And maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there are more and more events than ever before. In reality, it’s likely that I just see more events because more people are turning to social media to promote them. Which is great. But...it poses a new problem. It’s no longer about just being seen. There is so much going on, so many people and organizations trying to catch our attention, that in addition to being seen you also have to make sure your event is appealing to your target audience. Sounds easier said than done in many cases!
In the online world there are more things to trip us up when we’re doing event promotion. Below are the pitfalls that you want to try to avoid if possible.
Not knowing where or who your target audience is. If you are starting to promote and you’re just thinking about this now, you’re too late! You could be promoting on a social network that is not relevant to your target audience (i.e. promoting your new brick and mortar crazy hat store on LinkedIn) or you could be in the right place and talking to the wrong people (i.e. promoting your new brick and mortar crazy hat store on Instagram to the 50+ demographic in Antarctica). Both of these are a waste of your time and energy.
Not planning out your messaging ahead of time. It is much faster to sit down once a week, decide what you want to say that week, and schedule it than it is to wake up in the morning and scramble for something to post (repeat x 7). Planning also helps you be more strategic so that you don’t have to worry about posting too often, too little, or missing any important messages.
Not deciding on a style guide ahead of time. Creating graphics for social media can be a big time investment - after all each network has a different best size for the graphics you should post, and that sometimes means that the layout has to change. For example squares work on Facebook and Instagram, so you can have vertical text. But on Twitter you have a narrow rectangle so most of your text needs to be horizontal. If you have decided on your color scheme, font, and image types ahead of time it will drastically speed up the process!
Getting someone to help with your event social media (paid or volunteer) but providing no direction to them. Even “social media experts” need direction sometimes - after all, this is your event and you know best what’s happening. Leave your social media manager hanging in the wind and it could be difficult for them to be effective on social media. Or they will do a great job sending out messages that aren’t quite what you were going for and attracting the wrong audience.
Getting help from the wrong people. Your friend’s 15 year old niece who is a Snapchat superstar may not be the best person to market your event (assuming that your event is not targeted at 15 year old social media fanatics!). Ask around for recommendations. Offer in-kind sponsorships to professionals.
Trying to do too much. If you’re new to event planning or new to social media, trying to incorporate too much technology into your event could be a bad idea - the chances of something going wrong go up a lot!
Not taking advantage of tools and resources that will save you time and effort and present a more professional looking and streamlined event experience. Asking people to phone or email to register for an event may make people think you’re living in the dark ages. Take advantage of services like Picatic, Eventbrite, Stripe, and Paypal. Switching back and forth between all of your social networks while posting and engaging is frustrating - use a tool like Hootsuite to save time.
Not having a budget for paid ads. Paid ads are one of the most effective ways to promote your event because you can get super specific with your target audience, and they don’t have to be already following you.
Not having a budget for paid tools that will save you time and effort. There are low-cost tools out there that will cut down on the blood sweat and tears investment. Think Hootsuite Pro for scheduling, monitoring, engaging, and analytics. Think Canva for Work for social media graphic design.
Trying to do everything yourself. No one is great at everything. If you are not techy and have no experience with websites, creating a website for your event could be an exercise in futility. If you don’t have a good eye for design, you might want to get someone to create your graphics. Yes, you may have to pay that person, but you’ll save yourself hours of effort and frustration that you could have spent doing something else. Know what your strengths are, identify the gaps, and then surround yourself with a team that fills in those gaps.