5 steps for smart event promotion

So, you’ve organised an event for your business, from the speakers to the venue to the guest list. How else can you spread the word? As part of our series on practical digital marketing hacks, we’re looking at how to raise the profile of your event with smart online promotion.

Nobody except a fellow event planner can understand the millions of details necessary for a well-run conference, product launch, webinar, training course or other gathering.

If you’re responsible for your company’s next event, save time with these five tips on using digital and social media to help create buzz, gather your community and keep the conversation going afterwards.

“Email can be the poor relation when we think of ways to get the word out, but do brainstorm a list of known contacts who’d enjoy your event and reach out with a personal, one-on-one email”

1. Use your Facebook or LinkedIn networks to get attention

Regardless of whether you have an active Facebook Business Page or just a personal account, it’s the world’s largest social media network (2.9bn users) and a good place to spread news of your event. Your main event listing (including ticket sales) is probably on another website – just think of this as a specialised social media post that exploits Facebook’s reach. It’s quick and easy to do:

  • Have an image ready to illustrate your event and go to Facebook.com
  • In the upper left margin click Events / Create New Event
  • Fill in details – including In-person or Virtual
  • For virtual events, unless you’re using a tool like Facebook Live, click “other”
  • Make sure to tick Public event, as you can’t change event privacy after it’s live
  • Under ‘What are the details?’ say how to attend – here’s where you’ll explain how to buy tickets and include the link (if you’re selling via Eventbrite, it offers a Facebook integration)
  • Use the ‘Invite’ option sparingly, but share the Event link on your feed and Groups. Think hard about who’d like to attend and contact them directly by Messenger or email (see 2)

Event promo on app.

2. Remember, email is your friend 

Email can be the poor relation when we think of ways to get the word out, but do brainstorm a list of known contacts who’d enjoy your event and reach out with a personal, one-on-one email. As a journalist I fielded press releases from PR firms for years, and I always preferred folks who included a note about why their announcement was newsworthy and a good fit for my publication. And if your business doesn’t have an email newsletter, get on that. A tool like MailChimp is free, and a newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with customers who care about your news.

3. Get your hashtag and ID tags in order

Decide your event’s hashtag in advance, publicise it everywhere, and use it consistently in your communications, including any overhead slides on the day. Who are your key speakers? Have their social media IDs ready so you can tag them in posts (see 4). Your hashtag lets a community gather around your event before, during and afterwards. For example #CBIconf23 was the hashtag for the Children’s Books Ireland conference in September. It was a hybrid event that many of us attended virtually; using and following the hashtag let attendees discover each other right across social media, from Instagram to TikTok and beyond. Your hashtag should be short, and use capitals where needed to distinguish words from each other. Try, as CBI did on TikTok, to create a ‘get orientated’ video in advance that shows attendees the venue so they’ll know where to go on the day.

Event promo on TikTok.

4. Leverage the social networks of others

Ask your key speakers to help generate advance buzz by recording themselves in a mobile video, talking about the event. They can record this on their phone send to you: trim it using a tool like Canva, where you can also add your event hashtag and logo. All social platforms love video content – on LinkedIn, video posts get five times the engagement of static posts. Do tag people and companies if you post onto LinkedIn — you can even tag people in photos you upload. It all helps you tap into the wider connections of people who are already invested, to help raise awareness of your event.

5. Post live and after the event

Your hashtag comes into its own on the day of your event, when you need to be out in front of user-generated content by including the correct hashtag in every post you put live. Have the social IDs of any speakers you intend to tag ready and open in a separate file on your device so it’s easy to cut and paste. Don’t make the mistake I have in the past, of not having these ready and losing the chance to tag people in real time. After the event, leverage content generated by attendees, by reposting it or using it to create a video montage where you tag and thank them (See Mobile Video Minutes for how to do this with a tool like TikTok).

Have I missed out your favourite online promo tip for events? Let me know – find me on Instagram or connect on LinkedIn below.

Sheila M. Averbuch
Sheila M. Averbuch is founder and managing director of ENNclick. Sheila holds an MA in journalism from Stanford University and a BA from Harvard University in American History & Literature. Previously she served as Ireland correspondent for USA Today and was a reporter with the San Jose Business Journal, Silicon Valley's chief business newspaper. She writes on a range of topics, from ICT to medicine, and writes the gardening blog Stopwatch Gardener . Her fiction includes the children's novel SPACE KIDS AND THE PLUTO PLOT.