Just because you are holding your event offline doesn’t mean you can’t market it online!

An online campaign can supplement your standard local event promotional tactics – which usually range from reaching out to local media to mobilizing a network of local brand advocates.

There are a number of great ways that you can utilize social media to get the word out about your local event. The important part of the equation is to link these efforts to a broader promotion plan, and let your online activities supplement your typical media promotions.

Strategic use of online marketing can help stimulate word of mouth discussions about your event and make it easy to share event details with your target communities. Here are some tactics to consider.

1. Create a Facebook event

Start spreading the word by creating an event on Facebook and sending it to your friends. Include all of the information about your event, some compelling copy illustrating the big draws – i.e. local cuisine, craft demonstrations, guest speakers, wine tasting, etc. and ask that your friends share the invitation with anyone who may be interested in attending. Be sure to update the event page every week or so, encouraging people to RSVP and providing some teaser content so that friends keep your event on their radar. Facebook invites are easy to pass along to friends in the area, and may boost your word of mouth sharing.

You can also share event information with area groups and shared interest groups that would be a good fit with the event you’re promoting.

2. Look for online event calendars

One of the most popular types of regional sites are event calendars. These list everything from major concerts to business events to local family festivals.

Start by checking the website of your local newspaper, and organizations like your town’s senior center, rec hall, and parks division. Many will feature events. National media outlets like AOL’s Patch network operate very active local events calendars.

Search for “events” + your town name, county name, and the nearest big cities. The search results returned will provide you with a short list of websites that cover local events. Prepare a simple entry that you can submit that includes event name, dates, a short description, cost, location, and links to a website or your Facebook page as appropriate.

3. Teaser content

We mentioned teaser content in relation to your Facebook invitation. It’s important to generate some teaser content, or sneak peeks of some of the cool stuff at your event, in order to keep people engaged.

If you are writing posts on Facebook and Twitter that say ‘Come to my event’ over and over, then people are just going to ignore you. If you’re posting sneak peeks for friends who are interested in your event’s theme, then people will be more likely to engage and share.

Tip: if you are posting teaser content and info about your event on Twitter, be sure to use a hashtag with your event title or acronym. This makes it easier to track these conversations over time.

When generating teaser content, focus on four kinds of content which can be guided by a popular copywriting formula. Get their Attention, hold their Interest, build their Desire to attend your event, and get them to take Action (AIDA). Focus on what differentiates your event, the benefits to the individuals for attending, and any deals or special surprises that would make your target audience want to take action now. Actions could be buying tickets, RSVPing, or actually attending the event.

4. Don’t underestimate the importance of visual content

Social media experts will tell you: people love to like and share photos on social media. In fact, it’s estimated that photos are up to five times more engaging than links or basic text updates. You can capitalize on this by posting photos from previous events, performer photos, video interviews, etc. You can also share promotional photos of your guest speakers, images of the venue, and other content that might be interesting. If you’ve booked a speaker, perhaps there’s a great video of them speaking on YouTube. Share them on your event wall and your Facebook page to add to your content mix and increase engagement.

5. Keep the momentum going post-event

Online engagement doesn’t have to stop after your event is over. In fact, most people appreciate having an outlet to share their thoughts, experiences, and photos from the event. Encourage people to share on your timeline or schedule a Twitter chat so that people have a way of providing you with feedback. This will also help you build your connections and audience to promote future, related events.

By taking a multi-faceted approach to marketing your local event through word of mouth and social media advertising, you will reach a broader audience ensuring the success of your upcoming event. So don’t just stick an ad in the local paper, tell a couple of friends, and hope for the best. Be proactive and take your marketing efforts online!

Elizabeth

Liz Alton's experience in event planning runs from renting out entire South
American towns to planning intimate gatherings for heads of state.She's
particularly interested in the intersection of new technology and event
planning to make events successful, efficient, and fun. Liz is now a blogger, copywriter, and social media strategist based in Boston.

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