How to promote an event through social media

February 9th, 2009

As we’re gearing up to promote this Thursday’s Twestival and the Marketing Now Conference in April, I’ve been thinking about how best to get the word out about an upcoming event.

Here’s what I’m learning:

Add intimacy to reach and frequency.

Traditional media rely on reach (how many people hear your message) and frequency (how often they hear it). This gets a little annoying (like those TV ads you like the first 5 times, and hate thereafter).

Adding intimacy is something you could even do on traditional media, but few people do. It’s a sense of letting your audience in behind the scenes, so they know and are a part of the event, before it happens.

It could be as simple as me twittering: "Going to the printer’s to pick up the nametags for Thursday’s Twestival. I hope we don’t run out; we printed 100!"

This communicates a subtle reminder of the event, while also communicating other information (there will be nice printed nametags, there will be about 100 people – we hope!). It also lets the audience know what’s happening behind the scenes, and the live, real-time nature of Twitter/Social media somehow helps this.

Get your audience involved

If you’re running the event, maybe you can crowdsource suggestions on different aspects of the event.


  • Better ideas
  • A greater sense of involvement from those who have contributed ideas – and therefore greater likeliness that they’ll attend and encourage others to come.

Sometimes event organisers do this the old-fashioned way, through a competition. But instead of inviting the feedback of potential attendees, they just bribe their way through with a prize.

Sure there’s value in prizes and incentives, but sometimes as an event organiser you can offer great value, without paying a cent. Being heard is increasingly valuable in a busy world where the biggest dollars usually have the loudest voice.

Variations on a theme

Twitter promotion can be like radio advertising – you need to promote your event at different times of the day to reach different audiences. Yet some people will be on there all the time, and since they’re likely to be quite influential you do not want to annoy them.

What to do? Variations on a theme. In other words, don’t just tweet the same old message. Find all its different flavours, and explore them. Are there different speakers? Promote each one and the message they’ll be delivering.

Share your learnings

As you go, maybe write a blog post about … um, "how to promote an event through social media"!

How do you do it?

If you run and promote events, how do you use social media to promote your event? We’d love to see your comments below.

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  • Good question. My preference is not to use FB at present because I feel it is not the right demographic for me personally. We looked at FB for the UP events last year but decided it was more trouble to maintain than it was worth because our audience is primarily local.

    BTW - we are loving using our UP video channel to host the W2W event videos and this will again be core to our approach to the event in 2009. I'm also hoping to eventually make use of video for another business project @ideegeo.
  • Thanks Paul! YouTube seems to be becoming the video platform of choice, because everyone knows it and it has sociability built in.
  • I'm project managing a number of Unlimited Potential events @upnz in Wellington this year. Something we find important is capturing attendee details on the day at each event and also partnering with related communities. This gives us a huge reach within the local ICT scene as we grow our database of contacts.

    I have only begun Tweeting this year, but I'm sure it will play an important role in distributing information to participants and also raising profile to help support our sponsors.
  • Thanks Paul, those sound like good practices for both short term and long term growth of ongoing events. And with an IT-savvy crowd, I imagine some of the newer tools would be popular too. Do you use Facebook at all for events?
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