Last Updated on July 10, 2022
Whether you’re running a trade show or a corporate fundraiser, Facebook is going to play into your events in some fashion. That’s simply the reality of the world we live in. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook gives brands an unprecedented level of access to their audience.
This is especially true if those brands are working in event management.
“In the event industry, people have always been social by nature,” writes Cvent’s Eric Eden. “It’s an innate part of what we do.” What that means, continues Eden, is that event management professionals can no longer afford to ignore social media – if ever they really could.
“Social media is the perfect medium for people who like events and conferences because it has the main two components that draw people to events and make them successful – networking opportunities and educational content,” Eden continues, noting that events are also great for driving attendance, as word of mouth has quickly grown to be the most powerful tool in any marketers’ arsenal.
We’re going to go over exactly what’s involved in getting your event management firm (and the events it hosts) established on social media. More importantly, we’re going to explain to you exactly why you should – and what you’ll miss out on if you don’t.
What Makes Facebook So Important?
Our first question has a pretty simple answer on the surface. I mean, Facebook is the world’s largest social network, right? Obviously it’s the one you’re going to want to focus on as an event management professional, right?
Well, yeah…but that’s not all there is to it.
I’d like to direct your attention to XING’s 2014 Social Media & Events Report. In an annual survey of event management professionals and organizers all over the world, the company found that nearly 85% of respondents cited Facebook as their most frequently-used platform. Of those respondents, more than half (51%) believed that Facebook is the most important social media marketing channel.
“It is clear that the confidence in social media marketing for events is still very strong in the event industry,” reads the white paper. “Almost 90% of the questioned organizers are planning to further increase their social media measures in 2014.”
Another set of questions later showed that the majority of social media initiatives – in particular, increasing brand and event awareness – met with a great deal of success. Around 50% of the event planners who used Facebook to increase event awareness were able to do so, while 45% managed to increase brand awareness. Customer loyalty and lead generation, meanwhile, enjoyed success rates of 30% and 25% – perhaps as a result of how comparatively difficult they are to pull off.
What this demonstrates, then, is that so long as you know what you’re doing, Facebook is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for your events.
Marketing’s only part of the picture, too. According to the XING, the real value of social media doesn’t lie in brand awareness. Instead, it can be found in something else – matchmaking.
“Social media is not only an important marketing channel for events, but also influence communication among attendees,” the white paper explains. “Often, the real value of an event lies in the opportunity to establish new, relevant contacts. The prospect of networking opportunities is now just as important for attendees as the event itself. The issue of matchmaking at events is becoming ever more important and may be a deciding factor for the success of an event.”
Areas Of Focus On Facebook
Julius Solaris of the Event Manager Blog identifies a few key components of a successful event marketing campaign (we’ll talk about that in more depth later), but ultimately his advice all boils down to two things: Facebook’s Fan Pages and Facebook Events. I cannot stress the importance of these two applications enough – but perhaps I can offer some insight in why each is so important.
In both cases, their value has a lot to do with the value of Facebook shares – which, believe it or not, can actually be measured. According to a 2012 survey by Event Brite, a single share will, on average, generate an additional $3.95 in ticket sales. As you can well imagine, that number adds up pretty quickly.
Your Facebook Page
As noted by Business 2 Community, a Facebook page is absolutely critical for success in the digital world. This is true no matter what industry you’re working in; no matter what products and services your organization offers. It gives you a centralized platform from which you can launch your social marketing efforts, promotes brand loyalty through easily-shareable content and open communication, allows for easy targeting of your desired demographic, offers great analytics through Facebook Insights, and lets your business keep an eye on the competition. The best part, though? It’s completely free.
Now, at this point it’s worth mentioning that, as an event planner, you probably aren’t going to be promoting your own Facebook page – though you can certainly share any events you’re running through it. Instead, whatever event marketing you kick off will probably be carried out through your client’s page. They’re the ones who are looking to get people interested, after all.
If there’s one thing that’s absolutely clear about Facebook, it’s that the social network definitely wants to make itself the go-to platform for the event industry. From its robust suggested events feature to its retooling of check-ins to its decision two years ago to roll out a “buy tickets” button for event pages; the events app is a positively incredible tool for anyone looking to run an event, whether commercial or otherwise. A focused, well-designed event page can be extremely valuable, especially if you’re regularly posting updates and encouraging attendees to share their thoughts and ideas.
The Value Of Communication
While exposure and visibility are certainly important factors, Facebook’s useful for more than just event marketing. It can also be an incredibly valuable tool for any event planner that knows what they’re doing. Oddly enough, this is tied to what makes it great for marketing – its power as a communications platform.
See, pretty much everyone uses Facebook – so there’s a good chance anyone involved in organizing your event does, as well. According to Heather Whaling, what this means is that event organizers can use Facebook to stay connected with their team through the use of secret groups, allowing a more collaborative, interactive experience. It can also be used as a means of scoping out vendors and venues – if you’re wondering whether or not a particular supplier is worth doing business with, take a look at their Facebook page and see what people are saying about them.
Whaling also recommends using Facebook to follow up with attendees after an event has ended, and digging through a few of the more creative and inspiring Facebook pages to help you come up with a few ideas for spicing up your own events.
Designing A Sales-Boosting Facebook Campaign
Alright, it’s time to get straight into the real meat of the piece. We’ve talked at length about why Facebook is great, and about how it can drive up ticket sales. Now it’s time to give you a bit of advice on how you can actually use it to do so.
As I’m sure you’ve heard from countless social media gurus, the most important thing on Facebook is that you engage with your audience. It means that you should always be looking for new people to add to your network, or to the network of your company. You should always be looking to reach out to a new fan or sales lead, and you should always be communicating with someone. Treat Facebook as though you’re at a keynote presentation whenever you’re logged in – make sure you’ve always got something interesting to say, or some new piece of advice to offer.
Beyond that, listen to the feedback that you get – and respond to that feedback. Few things are more irksome than putting your thoughts down on paper and sending them out, only to get a cookie-cutter response in exchange for your efforts. Show people you’re listening.
I guess I can kind of see why everyone just says “engage.” It’s a lot easier than explaining all of that, isn’t it? Anyway, let’s move on.
One thing Solaris advises doing is offering incentives to your attendees – both for friend referrals and for pre-purchases by Facebook fans. People love getting free stuff, no matter where it comes from. A freebie or two can go a long way towards inspiring people to like your brand’s Facebook page or invite their friends along to the event. In both cases, that translates to more ticket sales and leads for you.
“One of the most recurring pieces of advice I give (that applies to Facebook but it’s highly portable to other social networks) is that you need to give a reason to users to like you,” says Solaris. “A special price is usually a valid reason. Remember to keep it exclusive to your Facebook audience. It’s awful to find out you are offering the same discount on Twitter. But if you have a strategy you know that, right?”
“Peer influence is one of the strongest marketing drivers,” he adds. “Introduce a friend offers have been around forever. Facebook is an ideal place to run such marketing activities.”
Sell Tickets Directly On Facebook
Another piece of advice given by Solaris is that you need to provide attendees with a way to purchase tickets directly on your event page. With Facebook’s Buy Tickets button, this is pretty easy to implement. Time was that you needed a special registration app to pull this off.
Find A Way To Let People Attend Remotely
I’d like to pull up a statistic for you, to put something into perspective. Riot Games hosted the 2014 League of Legends World Championship Series – an annual event where several teams composed of some of the best gamers in the world face off against one another for a chance to win some serious cash. I’m talking professional athlete payouts here.
The viewer count was 27 million total, with 11.2 million concurrent viewers at peak hours. Here’s the kicker. Those numbers refer entirely to the people who watched the show online. The number of fans that teleconferenced in absolutely dwarfed those who physically attended.
Offer tickets to people who want to stream your conference, and set something up.
Try Running A Competition
More advice from Solaris here. It’s a pretty well-known fact that people love contests, so long as they’re relevant and offer something that’s actually worthwhile as a prize. Oh, and it’s also worth noting that you need to have a user-base that’s strong, fairly large in number, and fairly active when it comes to engaging with your brand. Your page needs to be pretty active, too – you can’t simply vomit out a competition after several weeks of inactivity. You will get no engagement no matter how amazing the prizing is.
Facilitate Gift Giving
One last piece of advice from Solaris, and it’s that people enjoy gifts – both giving and receiving. Chances are good that if your event is the sort of thing plenty of people would enjoy attending (like a concert or comic book convention) then people will leap on the opportunity to buy tickets that they can gift to their friends. There are plenty of great Facebook apps that you can use to equip your events with this functionality.
Make Use Of Facebook Ads
This one’s pretty obvious, but it still bears mentioning. Facebook ads: you should use them. You’d be surprised how much they can increase visibility for your event.
Plan Your Campaign Around Content And Communication
Alright, moving on, let’s talk a bit more about your campaign itself. Our next bit of advice comes to use from Jay Baer of Convince and Convert. He’s put together a fairly comprehensive, start-to-finish guide on driving event attendance through social media. According to Baer, you should start your event marketing campaign by engaging people with your brand, before moving on to create events pages on several different platforms.
Once that’s done, he recommends having multiple personalities involved with your event participate in the campaign, releasing teaser content that keeps people interested and keeps them talking. This campaign should take place across multiple mediums and platforms, and include live social media updates while the event’s going on. He strongly advises creating your own content, and releasing it to as wide an audience as possible.
Don’t Forget About The Apps
Last but certainly not least, it’s worth mentioning that there are plenty of great apps that you can use to make your events better. Do a bit of research, and choose a few that work well for you.
Never Underestimate The Power Of Facebook
As I’ve shown here, Facebook is an incredibly powerful event marketing tool in the right hands. Though not absolutely perfect – and by no means the holy grail of event planning – it’s a platform every event manager should integrate into their campaigns. With that in mind, though, I’ve one last word of advice to offer:
Just remember that Facebook’s not the only medium out there. A well-balanced campaign will make use of other platforms and social networks, as well.
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