by Susan Murphy
I’ve been involved with organizing events for most of my career. I guess it feeds the TV Producer bug in me, to be able to pull a bunch of pieces together and get people to participate in something I care about. These days, most of my event organizing activities revolve around promotion of the event and coordinating social media efforts. Jester Creative has done some fun event social media in the past, for the Women’s Worlds International Conference as well as more recently, for the Cracking-Up the Capital Comedy Festival.
Social media has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for event promotion. There are so many ways to spread the word, and plenty of misconceptions about how to do it.
Myth #1: If You Build It, They Will Come
Look, unless you’re Paul McCartney, you can’t just book a venue, rent a PA system and print out tickets and be assured of a sell out. You’ve got to get the word out there. There are myriad ways to do this online – from creating a Facebook Page and inviting all your friends to sending a mass email to your mailing list to sharing the event on your Twitter feed.
The point is, you have to figure out what your plan is going to be to market your event. It’s all fine and well to get out there and start tweeting about it, but how are you going to get people to listen to you? And most importantly, how are you going to get them to care enough to actually buy a ticket? Using social media to help promote an event is extremely effective, but only if you have a plan that’s based on concrete goals and objectives.
Figuring out how you’re going to build it is the most critical step in getting people to come.
Myth #2: Go Social or Go Home
One of the other big mistakes I see event planners making online is that they sink all of their promotional efforts into social media, and forget about more traditional forms of marketing. As much as it hurts me, the truth remains that not everyone is on social media. The traditional forms of marketing still ring true. Printing posters, taking out an ad in the local paper, and getting an interview on the 6 o’clock news are still very effective ways to promote your event. For Cracking-Up the Capital every year, Jester Creative produces a TV commercial that airs on CBC locally. Because CBC has such a high viewership in Ottawa, it’s incredibly effective at getting people to know about the event, and we even direct them to go online to find out more – so it’s the best of both worlds! Here’s last year’s commercial:
Don’t rely solely on social media to get the word out about your event. Consider how you might be able to capture people’s attention across different media, and spread your focus and your budget across these areas.
Myth #3: Create An Account and Watch Your Event Take Off!
This is the most common mistake I see event planners making – not giving themselves enough lead time to build their online community ahead of the event. You simply MUST make sure you give yourself enough lead time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people create social media accounts only a couple of weeks before the event itself, then wonder why they can’t get any traction.
Building a community on social media takes time, and plenty of it. We usually start 6 months to 1 year ahead of the event, and then we work hard to find ways to keep the network active year round. Build your community well ahead of your event, and they will be there to support you when you need them.
Do you have an event coming up? Need some advice on how to make the most of your social media promotion efforts? Drop us a line and let us know how we can help.