Last Updated on October 7, 2021
There’s no doubt about it – social media has fundamentally changed how we communicate with one another, and in so doing, it’s also changed how businesses market themselves. It’s no longer acceptable for a brand to sit behind a TV screen or a legion of print ads – modern organization’s need to be online with their customers; they need to be willing to reach out to people. In short…they need to be social.
Event management is no exception. Although I don’t particularly enjoy ‘all-or-nothing’ statements, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of event management firms could stand to have more of a presence on social media. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that most firms need to be there.
Of course, if you’re reading this, you already know that. You’ve already got a Facebook page for your event management firm. Only…things aren’t exactly going as well as they could be.
Sure, you’ve got plenty of followers. The trouble is; most of them aren’t actually doing anything. Your posts are basically being made in an echo chamber, and you’re very clearly not really generating all that much interest. What gives?
That’s easy. You aren’t engaging your users. Don’t worry, though – it’s not actually all that difficult to generate engagement if you know what you’re doing.
Anyone who tells you any different is probably trying to sell you something.
Anyway, let’s get right down to business. How can you make people more engaged in the content you share on your Facebook page? More importantly, how can you avoid alienating people while you try?
Understand The Psychology Of Your Audience
Perhaps the most interesting piece of advice I’ve ever heard – and one that’s strangely absent from a lot of social marketing guides – is that you need to understand the psychology of Facebook. What I mean by that is that you need to understand why people use Facebook. Unfortunately, it’s not usually for business purposes.
“People are not primarily on Facebook to see your company page posts,” explains Mike Gingerich of Mari Smith. “Yes, that’s a hard pill to swallow, but you must grasp the point. People are first and foremost on Facebook to see their friends’ photos and activities. That’s the main reason, plain and simple.”
According to Gingerich, this also plays into how people engage with content on the platform. Every time a Facebook user sees something, they think about how their friends will perceive them if they share it, comment on it, or like it. This is true of virtually everyone who uses the platform (to varying degrees).
“Every Facebook user, like in life, has some degree of introspection going on that filters what they say, what they do, and in this case, what they comment on and share,” says Gingerich. “All users are to some degree making a decision based on what others will think of them if they share something.”
So…how does this play into your social media marketing efforts, exactly?
Think about it. If every single post your audience sees is judged based on how their friends will perceive them should they engage with it, then the best way – hands down – to increase engagement is to make posts that your fans will be interested in sharing. Or, to put it another way, create posts that will cause your fans to be perceived in a positive light by their friends.
Basically, you’ve gotta get inside the collective minds of your audience. If you want to see an example of this sort of thing in motion, look at Razer’s Facebook Page, or George Takei’s. Both of them completely understand what their fans like to talk about and share, and their posts reflect that – they regularly share relevant, funny, or interesting stuff that their target demographic is all but guaranteed to share with anyone who’ll listen.
Gingerich advises that you ask yourself the following questions about each post you make:
- Would people be interested and comfortable in sharing this?
- Does this help my fans be perceived as funny, helpful, or “in the know?”
- Does this make my fans look good if they share it?
- Am I giving my audience something of value to pass on?
- Would I personally stop scanning my news feed in order to check this out?
Now, of course there’s a bit more to it than just knowing your audience – it’s also about how you present yourself. It’s about your personality. See, I’ve said in the past that event management professionals need to be natural storytellers, right?
Know Your Brand
Do you know what makes your event firm unique? Do you know why your clients love you, and what you do best? Do you know your core values; the principles and ideas on which your business was founded?
If you don’t, how can you expect to present your audience with anything of substance; if you don’t, how can you expect to find your firm’s online voice?
As with more traditional marketing streams, Facebook and other, similar platforms require a brand to have at least some level of self-awareness if they’re to enjoy success. That means knowing your target demographic, knowing what makes your products valuable and compelling, and knowing what drives you to do what you do. If you don’t know any of that, just sit down with a pen and paper and think about it for a while.
It’ll come to you eventually.
Don’t Talk At People – Talk To Them
One of the most common mistakes I’ll see a business make on social media is that they approach the platform as though it’s a passive medium. What I mean by that is that they create posts that don’t really inspire conversation. They create content that’s overly salesy, completely one-sided, or just generally flat. In short, they treat social networks like they’re just another advertising platform.
And as a result, they almost inevitably fail spectacularly.
See, the thing about social media is that it’s all about conversation. It’s about connecting with other people. You can’t use a platform like Facebook if you’ve the mindset of an old-school marketer. You need to go in willing to connect with your fans, willing to talk to your audience.
That’s where the event planner’s finesse as a storyteller comes in. You’re (presumably) quite skilled in people management, right? Why not put those skills to use on Facebook? Put yourself out there, and show to your audience that you’re an actual human being.
More importantly, show them that you think of them as more than sales leads. Show them that you’re willing to chat, to engage in friendly banter, and generally just to act as more than a salesperson. That might seem counterproductive at first, but trust me – it’ll definitely pay off.
Pay Attention To The Metrics
Of course, no discussion of social media would be complete without at least a passing nod to the metrics of Facebook – tools that measure everything from demographic detail to likes per post. While I definitely wouldn’t advice becoming obsessed with these metrics – they’re only part of the road to success on social media, after all – you should nevertheless pay attention to them. They’re a valuable benchmark if you’re looking to determine how well your efforts are paying off, and they can be a great way to scope out weaknesses in your approach to social marketing.
More important than metrics is that you constantly refine, rework, and reevaluate your efforts. Success on social media isn’t a ‘one and done’ thing – it’s something that requires consistent effort on your part. If you aren’t constantly looking for ways to improve, then there’s a chance your Facebook page is going to end up stagnant.
That’s the last thing you want.
Create Compelling Content
The best way to increase engagement on social media is to create awesome content. I know, I know – it’s a startling revelation, right? In order to get people interested in you, all you need to do is be awesome.
Don’t worry; I’m going to provide advice that’s a bit more comprehensive than “be super incredible so everyone loves you.”’
See, the problem with simply telling someone that they need to produce great content is that greatness comes in a great many forms. Is a thought-provoking post that makes people rethink their life great? What about an image macro that makes everyone keel over with laughter, or a video that gets people so passionate about a cause that they can’t help but share it?
In order to actually give you guys something of value, we need to provide a framework for what makes all that stuff great. Why is the image of some guy running full tilt into a wall shared as much as the post asking people how they overcome procrastination; why are both shared as much as the video decrying animal abuse connected to fast food chains? There are actually a few qualities shared by both pieces, and by all viral content:
- It provokes a strong emotional response: Marketers have long understood that strong emotions make people take action – it gets them talking. That same concept can be applied to social media. A post that makes someone incredibly happy is far likelier to be shared than one that doesn’t provoke emotion, while a post that surprises or excites someone will be talked about a whole ton more than one that’s boring. While evidence does exist that anger and sadness are also great indicators of whether or not content will become popular – any strong emotion, really – I’d advise against using them. It can be a double-edged sword, at best.
- It’s timely: Another quality of great content is that it’s timely – a term which actually has two meanings.
- Firstly, it’s shared at a time when people are likely to engage with it. At what time of day are most of your fans online? That should be when you share the majority of your content.
- Second, it generally applies to something your audience’s community recently discussed, be it a current event or a specific topic. This one’s optional, mind you – but it could still pay off if you do it right.
- It’s actually got substance: Is your post meant to be informational? Make sure it’s knowledge that no one in your audience has – but that they’ll be interested in. Are you looking to entertain? Do so, and do it well. Valuable content is valuable for a wide array of reasons – whether educational, entertaining, or simply fascinating.
- The format works for your audience: By and large, visual content has been found to be one of the most successful formats for social media. While your results may vary depending on the audience you serve, it’s safe to say that making a post visual certainly couldn’t hurt the chances of people engaging with it.
- It Isn’t Just Rehashed From Someone Else: Perhaps most importantly of all, great content is generally original – it’s something your audience hasn’t seen before, presented in your own unique voice.
Engage With The Right People
Do you know of someone in the event management field (or in the industry your event firm serves) who could be considered an influencer? Are there any business professionals, celebrities, or well-known personalities you admire? Follow them. Become fans of their pages, and communicate with them as your audience communicates with you.
Remember, social media’s about conversation – but more importantly, it’s about participation.
Don’t Try Too Hard
Engagement online can be a tricky thing. The more obviously you try to reach for it, the less likely you are to succeed. The most important advice I can give you in that regard is that above all, your posts need to appear natural. If it’s obvious that you’re trying to sell people something – whether it’s your services as an event management firm or attendance at one of your events – then they’ll check out.
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