Last Updated: February 28, 2017.
Since Facebook is used by 1.7 billion people, it naturally seems like it would be an ideal place to promote an event, and because there are so many people using Facebook, it sometimes feels like reaching people shouldn’t be a problem.
As many event organizers and event marketers can attest, Facebook can be a great way to promote an event, but it won’t just work for you. Organizers and marketers must learn how to promote an event on Facebook, before buzz can be generated and registrations can be increased.
Fortunately, this article will provide readers with 5 principles to follow when promoting an event on Facebook. For more help with your event marketing strategy you can download this eBook for free.
Optimize Your Facebook Events Page
Maybe it seems obvious, but the success of a Facebook event promotion initiative will live or die with a Facebook events page, set it up well, and it will be easier to find success.
Choose a cover photo that’s 1920x1080 pixels. Your cover photo should feel exciting, and should be eye catching, since it will show up if attendees choose to share your event with others on Facebook.
SXSW does a great job of using Facebook to promote their events. If I share a link to SXSW Interactive, this is what my friends on Facebook will see:
Since SXSW’s marketers uploaded a well designed and perfectly sized cover image, their event looks great when I share it with friends.
Make sure to pick a short and memorable event name. According to Facebook’s events team, events with longer names tend to perform worse on the platform. One reason for this might be that 54% of all users only use Facebook through a mobile device - longer titles typically won’t look good on smaller screens.
Add data to help Facebook share your event. Facebook has an algorithm that will recommend events to users based on a number of factors. It’s important that event organizers input the correct information about where the event is being held, and when it’s starting so that the algorithm can promote the event.
Be sure to also select the appropriate event category. Popular categories include: Conference, Festival, Meet-up and Concert.
Lastly, add tags that you think people might be searching for. In the case of SXSW Interactive, tags like “technology,” “new media,” and “entrepreneurship” would be appropriate.
Optimize your event notifications. It might be tempting to notify event attendees about event updates using a Facebook Events page, but organizers should avoid using notifications to engage with registered attendees.
According to Facebook’s own research, events that send more than a few notifications experience considerable audience disengagement, as people turn notifications off when they find them to be annoying.
Use other channels, like email marketing, or messages through an event app to update attendees about important event information.
Use A Company Page To Promote The Event
While an event Facebook page will come and go (event pages aren’t relevant after the event happens) a company page should have a longstanding following.
Event marketers should utilize company pages as a way to promote an upcoming event to an audience of people already interested in the services or products the company provides.
Make Upcoming Events A Prominent Part Of Your Company Page. On the left side of all company pages is a column with various modules. One of the modules that can be moved up or down, is called “Upcoming Events.”
By simply moving this module close to the top of a company page, event organizers will be able to provide an upcoming event with more added exposure.
In the example below, Content Marketing Institute chooses to place their Upcoming Events module in a prominent position - which helps to showcase their events to passionate followers who are likely to be interested.
Facebook also gives those interested the ability to get notified about upcoming events by clicking the “Subscribe” button.
It’s also a good idea to make the “Event” tab more prominent on company pages as well. Typically, the Event tab gets hidden behind a drop down arrow that visitors need to click first.
But the tabs on company pages can be reordered to make the Event tab much more clickable.
Atlassian placed their Events tab in a prominent position on their Facebook page, doing so encourages visitors to checkout the list of upcoming events they are hosting.
Post upcoming events to the timeline. Simply sharing an upcoming event with those who are following a company page can be a good way to generate interest, especially if shared multiple times well in advance of the event.
Organizers can also consider using Facebook’s “Preferred Audience” settings to market an upcoming event to people in a specific region, or who speak a specific language. This can be a good tactic for those weary of inundating followers with promotional messages.
Cross Promote With Event Co-Hosts
If you’re working with a partner to plan and market an event, consider utilizing your partner’s Facebook influence to help generate buzz and increase registrations.
On the Facebook event page, the organizer has the ability to add “Hosts.” Doing so will allow host companies to add the event to their own Facebook events module and tab (as discussed above).
This tactic is most effective when a co-host has an established audience who is already following the co-hosts’ events calendar. Adding co-hosts is a great tactic for those hosting artists at an event.
Often, major music festivals or concerts will add co-hosts so that it’s easier for organizers to reach potentially interested fans.
Desert Trip is quickly becoming one of the most talked about music festivals this summer thanks to an extraordinary lineup featuring The Who, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. In order to further market the event, organizers added some of these headline performers as co-hosts.
Share Content To Generate Buzz Among Existing Attendees
Enable existing attendees to act as evangelists. For those who have already signed up for your event, they are excited about attendees and are interested in seeing the behind the scenes work that goes into executing something spectacular.
Sharing pre-event content to further excite existing attendees is a great idea because it further engages them, and because providing your most excited audience with awesome content will encourage them to share your event with their friends.
In short, sharing exciting content will help to generate pre-event buzz by giving your most loyal audience something they can use to spread the word.
Make use of Facebook Live Video. One of the biggest anticipated new marketing trends is live video. Facebook is committing to live video in a big way, so much so, that they tried to get rights to stream NFL games on their platform.
In the coming years, Live Video will becoming increasingly important for event promoters to master, but even now it can have a big impact on promoting an event on Facebook.
In the example above, Dreamforce (Salesforce’s conference series) used Facebook Live Video to reach over 6,000 people. The video provided those who were unable to attend the conference with a glimpse at what they were missing, while also driving brand reach on Facebook.
Of course when people search for “How to promote an event on Facebook,” many are looking for help with Facebook advertising.
Advertising represents the main source of revenue for Facebook, and as a result, the company has invested a great deal in designing an easy to use advertising platform that enables organizers and event marketers to reach a wider audience.
When it comes to promoting an event, promoters should keep an previously referenced statistic in mind:
54% of all Facebook users only log into the platform on a mobile device.
That means that if promoters are hoping to maximize ad efforts, ad campaigns must look perfect on mobile devices. Images should be clear, powerful and accompanied by “tap-able” copy.
There are three main advertising functions Facebook can support to help organizers promote an event.
1. Ads To Collect Responses. For event organizers simply interested in generating buzz, Facebook allows advertisers to use the “Interested” or “Going” button. Those who click this button are not at all bound to register for the event, though it may serve as some sort of indicator of interest to event organizers.
Organizers can later target those who showed interest with follow up ads encouraging them to actually register for the event.
This type of ad is great for free to attend events, large conferences, festivals and shows as a way of generating buzz and gauging overall interest.
2. Ads To Drive Event Registrations. Facebook ads can also be used to drive potential event attendees to an event registration page. The page can be hosted natively on Facebook, or can go to a third party event website.
These ads will look exactly like the ads designed to collect responses, but the button will read “Buy Tickets” instead of “Interested” or “Going.”
3. Facebook Ads Manager & Power Editor. Using Facebook's more advanced features advertisers have the ability to target specific people, for example those who visited an event website, people who match the demographics of a target event attendees, or people who have friends who have indicated that they are going to, or are interested in an event.
Re-targeting Ads: To target visitors who have already visited an event website, promoters will need to insert a piece of HTML code provided by Facebook that will track the visitor until he or she opens Facebook. Once the visitor is on Facebook, they will see an ad reminding them to register for the event.
Ads Based On Demographic Information: For organizers hoping to reach a specific audience, Facebook allows advertisers to select various demographic and geographic filters. Some of those filters include age, gender, interests, relationship status, and location.
“Look Alike” Targeting: Organizers can upload a list of email addresses and have Facebook’s algorithms find users who share similar demographic information to the list of contacts that were uploaded.
Asking Facebook to find a “lookalike” audience is great when trying to reach attendees with a similar profile to people who have already register for an event.
“Connections” Based Ads: Finally, Facebook allows those trying to promote an event, to target friends whose friends already registered interest in an event.
If for example your friend already clicked the “Interested” button for a concert, that concert can display an ad that says “Your friend is interested in this event.”
Embrace Omni-Channel Event Promotion
Potential event attendees use more than one channel to learn about events, and to connect with friends. In order to best promote an event, it’s important to adopt an omni-channel event promotion strategy that allows potential event attendees to interact with your event brand on their own terms.
That means incorporating other social media platforms into the mix is often a necessity for those hoping to maximize event registration and attendee engagement. It also means that event promoters need to master email marketing strategies in addition to promoting an event on Facebook and on other social media channels.
With so many highly-engaged users, Facebook is a fantastic resources for event marketers hoping to generate event buzz. Furthermore, Facebook has indicated that they want people to engage with the platform before, during and after live events, meaning that they have and will continue to invest in providing organizers with tools to create successful events.
In order to reach the right audience organizers must create a well-optimized Facebook page, they should also incorporate the Facebook Event page into an existing Facebook company page.
Using content, advertising, and embracing an omni-channel event promotion strategy are great ways to get more people interested in attending.
Want to learn more about optimizing other social media platforms for event success? Download our Social Media Bundle by clicking the button below and start promoting your event like a pro!