When you go through the effort to attend a trade show or to host a virtual event, you want to get maximum value out of that occasion. Plenty of time and effort – and money – goes into making such events happen, so making sure they reach as many potential customers as possible is a wise move.
As is the case with so many things in the modern world, your trade show or virtual event can reach a bigger audience when you leverage social media properly. Social media has the potential to reach an audience that simply would not be available to you otherwise, even if you paid for a traditional or digital ad campaign. And, better yet, many promotional endeavors on social media are free, or at least very affordable.
We’ll use the article below to dive into some different strategies on how you can leverage the power of social media to your benefit in this area. Whether you use just one or many of these tactics, you should come away with an event that delivers maximum benefit to your organization. Let’s get started!
Create a Facebook Event
One of the easiest starting points for promoting an upcoming event is to create a Facebook event through your page. By creating an event, you will give that event a home on the social platform and you’ll have a convenient place to dump all of the relevant data. That way, no one has to go hunting around for the details related to the event – they’ll just be able to head right to that page and get everything they need in a matter of moments.
If you have never before used a Facebook event for this purpose, here are some key points to keep in mind –
- Include all of the details. The idea behind creating a Facebook event page is that it can be a “one-stop-shop” for everything someone would need to know about that event. So, if it is going to function in that fashion, you don’t want to leave out any of the details. Obvious starting points are the name of the event, dates and times, location (if it will be an in-person event), any costs associated with attending, etc. The more details you can include here, the more likely it will be for people to attend – and the fewer follow-up questions you are going to get from people who are interested.
- Have everyone add the event. Make sure that everyone in your organization who uses Facebook adds this event to their calendar right away. That will naturally improve reach because it will be visible to all of the various people that connect with your team members on their individual pages. It only takes a click or a tap to add the event to your calendar, so this is an easy task that the whole team can manage to check off in just a matter of moments.
- Add relevant links. Another good step is to add links to your event page that help people do what they need to do to attend. For instance, if this is an in-person event where tickets are being sold, leave a link to the page where tickets can be purchased or lodging can be secured. Likewise, if it’s a virtual event, add a link to the registration page. Even if it’s going to be free to attend, help people take a step that confirms their attendance and gets this on their calendar as something they want to make time for when it rolls around.
Boost Your Event
Saying that you are going to “boost” your event post on Facebook is the same thing as saying that you are going to pay to advertise it. Do you have to take this step? No – you could stick with the basic, free event post and work on using other methods to get the word out. However, if you have a bit of marketing budget available for this endeavor, you might want to consider strategically boosting your post to enhance your reach.
There are a few specific benefits associated with taking the boosted approach. First, you can now display this promotion in the News Feed section, since it is an ad and not just a page. So, you’ll be able to use targeting techniques to pick out the right market for your event and put the information directly in front of the people who are most likely to find it interesting.
With a boosted event, you’ll also have the option to add a Tickets button to the post. Instead of just having to add a link somewhere in the post itself, a dedicated button will be available, likely leading to a higher click-through rate and hopefully more conversions. This is a nice little feature that makes your event post most attractive and more functional at the same time.
While boosting your event is an attractive option and worth considering, you don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that it’s all you need to do to be successful. It’s still important to stick with the basic fundamentals of marketing, like making a strong offer, using compelling visuals, and answering your potential customer’s questions. When you build a great post on this foundation, and then use boosting to reach more people, you’ll have the stage set for a big success.
Live Show Updates
Not only is social media a great way to promote an event before it takes place, but it’s also a powerful tool for keeping the momentum going once things are underway. If you have an existing following on any social platform, use your access to that crowd as a way to keep your audience updated on what is going on as the event develops. This might help you bring more people in when they see what’s happening in real time, and it might help to connect with some people who never attend but still learn from what is taking place.
One good way to do a live show update is simply to walk around the show with your phone while recording a quick video. This type of first-person video is compelling because it makes viewers feel like they are really there experiencing the show with you. If you happen to know any other vendors or speakers at the event, ask them to do a quick interview for your show update. This will add even more authenticity and value to the content that you are creating.
Running contests is a popular method of promoting just about anything on social media. With a contest, you can easily get people to promote your brand and what you are trying to communicate simply by structuring the contest properly. Often, it’s the case that people can only be entered into the contest if they are following an account and share the word about the contest in some way. You have some built-in promotional advantages to this structure, along with the inherent excitement of giving away something of value to your audience.
The obvious place to start with a contest is by giving away free tickets to the upcoming event. Whether you are putting on the event or just participating as a vendor, you can offer up a couple of free tickets to anyone who enters (by replying on social media, filling out a form, etc.). This is a standard promotional method that is used for things like sporting events and concerts, and it works nicely for trade shows, as well.
If you want to go a step further, you could offer some of your goods or services as a prize for your contest. In this case, you might want to make it a contest for people who actually attend the show or come to your virtual event and stay for the whole thing. Those who are entered might win a free year of your service, a specific quantity of the product you sell, or something else valuable. The key here is to make the prize valuable enough that it will be worth your audience’s time and effort to take part in the event in a meaningful way.
Live Q&A Sessions
Social media is all about connecting with an audience, and there are few ways to make a stronger connection than to hold a live event on your channel. When you go live, you strip away any of the branded, sanitized nature of your normal posts, and things quickly become a lot more real. This is a great way to develop an authentic connection and one that makes your audience feel closer to you and your brand.
Fortunately, the various social media platforms tend to make it pretty easy to do a live Q&A session without taking on the task of managing too much complicated tech on your own. You can lean into the systems that are already available and get up and running with one of these sessions in a matter of moments. Of course, you’ll want to promote the session in advance to get as many people involved as possible when the time comes.
While many different social platforms make it possible to execute a Q&A session, you’ll probably want to start out by doing this on Facebook. It’s the platform with the biggest reach in terms of raw users, and most of your target market will already know how to use it. Even if the point of the Q&A is to answer questions live during the event, you might also want to ask your audience for some questions in advance that you can answer during the session. This way, if you don’t have enough live questions rolling in to fill your time, you’ll have some backup questions to use as a way to avoid downtime while you are live.
Being organized well in advance is perhaps the biggest piece of the social media puzzle when trying to promote an event or show. You don’t want to be scrambling in the days leading up to the event to get the word out – ideally, you’ll schedule these promotions well in advance and just execute the plan as the day gets closer. We hope this article has been helpful and we wish you luck with your upcoming event!
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