social media how toAre you wondering how to promote an event with social media?

Whether you have a small local gathering or a large conference, social media can be used to get the word out in a powerful way.

In this article I’ll reveal 10 creative ways to use social media to increase your chances for a gangbuster event.

#1: Create Video People Will Share

Because events take place in person, they engage the senses in a way online content can’t.

Creating a stellar video with great visuals and sound can not only help drive people to your event, it also increases the chances people will want to share it with friends.

Check out this video from Social Media Marketing World 2013 for creative ideas.

Here are a few tips for creating a video:

  • Leverage it everywhere, including on your event page, in articles and with affiliates. Click here to see how we used it on our event page.
  • Host on Vimeo and YouTube. We host the video in both places to take advantage of the flexibilities of each platform—Vimeo’s branding control and YouTube’s access to a large audience.
  • Upload to Facebook. This maximizes your exposure on Facebook.
  • Focus on the value for attendees. In the above video, you’ll notice it is all about what folks will gain by attending.

#2: Give Away Tickets to Create Buzz

Nothing motivates people more than the opportunity to win something free! So why not give away a ticket or two for your event to really amp up the buzz?

Contests provide a rapid way to generate interest in your event—especially if you have the right prizes.

win free smmw tweets

Here’s a sample from the thousands of folks who wanted to win free tickets to Social Media Marketing World.

Here’s how we do our contests:

We start with a blog post where we describe the prize (the event!) and then how to participate.

free tickets smmmw

Here’s what a free ticket contest can look like.

In the post, we invite people to participate in one of two ways: first is through a tweet contest and second is through commenting on the blog post by answering a question we’ve asked. For example “What is your greatest social media challenge?”

Here are some tips on contests:

  • Recruit judges who will help extend the reach of the contest.
  • Keep the requirements super-easy to maximize participation. For example, a simple one-click tweet to enter is ideal.
  • Run your contest at a time that will be helpful to your sales cycle.
  • If you have a podcast, consider creating a special episode explaining the contest.

#3: Socialize Your Google Ads

Are you using Google AdWords to promote your event? Do you have a Google+ page?

If so, you can actually add social proof to your paid Google ads. This increases the credibility of your ads.

socialize google ads

Notice how this ad for Social Media Marketing World showcases how many people follow our Google+ page.

You can add social proof to your Google ads by going under Ad Extensions and selecting Social Extensions from the drop-down menu. Here is an article on how to do this.

#4: Interview Speakers for Special Content

A main reason people attend events is to meet the presenters. And getting exposure is often why many experts speak at events.

You can create great content that is valuable for all by simply interviewing your speakers.

This works great if you have a podcast.

In the months leading up to Social Media Marketing World, I interviewed many of the presenters from the conference for our Social Media Marketing podcast.

We did NOT talk about the event at all. Instead I focused on exploring the expertise of the presenter and creating quality content. At the end of the podcast, I mentioned that listeners could meet the interviewee live at our event.

social media marketing - michael stelzner

#5: Create a “Group Tips” Blog Post

Chances are you have great insight locked inside the minds of your event speakers. Why not pool that knowledge into a great blog post?

This is where you ask experts to contribute a short writeup on their favorite tip, tool or perspective on a specific topic. These types of articles are a great way to involve the experts and they provide ongoing exposure for your presenters.

For Social Media Marketing World, we produced two articles featuring the experience of our presenters:

group tips blog posts

Leverage the collective insight of your presenters in a blog post.

Here’s a tip: Include a mention of your event at the end of each article. Click on one of the articles above to see how we do it.

#6: Create a Special Graphic for Your Speakers

Who doesn’t love to see their face in a cool sign? Well, speakers are often very fond of this.

So go to the effort to create custom graphics your presenters can use, like this:

sarah live

You can encourage presenters to place these on their blogs, in Facebook updates and much more.

In fact, you never know where those images might show up!

time square smmw

Social Media Marketing World speaker Waynette Tubbs had her picture and our event show up in Times Square.

#7: Create a Tweet for Attendees

If people are excited about attending your event, why not ask them to click a button and tell their friends about it?

This is something easy that you can place on the “Thanks for Registering” page. Click here to create the code for a customized tweet and be sure to customize the “tweet text”.

lam attending smmmw

You can create a simple custom tweet for attendees.

#8: Add a Twitter Widget to Your Event Page

If people are talking about your event on Twitter, why not take advantage of that social proof to encourage new site visitors to attend?

Twitter has a cool widget that scrolls all the tweets for you.

twitter buzz smmw

This Twitter widget scrolls all relevant tweets about your event.

The great thing is you can include OR exclude Twitter search terms using Boolean logic.

NOTE: This Twitter widget code is hard to find, so I’ve included it below. You can customize the red text and paste it into your site.

Here is the code:

<script src=””></script>
<script >
new TWTR.Widget({
version: 2,
type: ‘search’,
search: ‘#SMMW OR #smmw OR “Social Media Marketing World” -sing’,
interval: 6000,
title: ‘Buzz About Social Media Marketing World’,
subject: “,
width: 300,
height: 200,
theme: {
shell: {
background: ‘#8ec1da’,
color: ‘#ffffff’
tweets: {
background: ‘#ffffff’,
color: ‘#444444’,
links: ‘#1985b5’
features: {
scrollbar: false,
loop: true,
live: true,
hashtags: true,
timestamp: true,
avatars: true,
behavior: ‘default’

#9: Create an Event on Facebook

A Facebook event listing provides an easy way for attendees to share your event with their friends. Each time someone shares that they are attending your event creates the potential to drive more people to your Facebook Page.

A Facebook Event Page is also a channel for asking questions, providing an alternate means of customer service. You can also @tag event names in your Facebook Page updates.

facebook event smmw

Facebook’s event listings provide an easy way to invite speakers and friends to share their attendance.

Tip: Encourage attendees to visit your Facebook Event Page and see who else is attending.

#10: Utilize Facebook’s FBX Ad Targeting

Facebook allows advertisers to remarket to people who have visited specific non-Facebook Pages using Facebook Exchange, also known as FBX ad targeting.

This means you can show event ads to Facebook users who visited your Event Page but did not purchase. This can be a very economical way to retarget possible prospects.

fbx ad targeting

An FBX ad shows up like other Facebook ads in the sidebar of the news feed.

To learn more about these types of ads, check out this article.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below.

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  • Visual (seeing) and auditory (listening) or kinesthetic (touching, experiencing) are three ways of learning and also teaching. So to promote an event the mentioned three factors are very important. Great share.

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  • Awesome tips as usual Mike! I have seen how Social Media Examiner organizes its events to ensure their success, so I know that these are well-tested tips that will certainly help business owners promote an event to maximize its potentials! Thank you SME for always providing useful contents!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • Surprised Google Events wasn’t mentioned.

  • Hey Jerome – Good addition!

  • Thanks John!

  • Good points!

  • Excellent tips Mike. We produced many digital media events several years prior to the social media boom and the new possibilities leveraging social media are exciting and save lots of money.

  • For sure they save that big cost of advertising and direct mail

  • Anne MBMP

    Wow! This post came just in time…I’m putting the finishing touches a proposal to do social media marketing for a 1 day sports event in June and I’ll be incorporating some of your ideas with what I already have.

  • Kristina

    Great tips. I’m working with a non-profit that is just starting to use social media and some of these will come in handy for an upcoming event.

  • kellyjcoop

    Great tips in here! Here’s one more – Create a Facebook ad that targets people who are going to your event. In Ads Manager or Power Editor, under audience connections, target people who are connected to your event name.

  • Glad you found it helpful Anne!

  • Awesome Kristina!

  • Cool tip Kelly!

  • Allan McNabb

    Great article and tips! And thanks for the code!

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  • Thanks for this and other great posts. But it seems focused on social media events. I own an art gallery so no speakers, no tips, just good art.

  • Debby – This applies to ANY events. I just used ours as an example

  • Thanks Allan!

  • But that’s my point… It applies only to a certain type of event – with speakers and tickets you can give away.

  • Grace Carr

    I think this list is a great springboard that can be adapted to any type of event.

    For an exhibition or opening I would make the following adaptations:

    #4: Interview Speakers for Special Content > Interview Artist(s)
    You could do a video or blog post that is an interview with the Artist(s), or just an article about the artist if they are not available for interview. You should be able to get plenty of information from the artist statement. If artists are not submitting bios and artist statement with their portfolios, update your submission requirements.

    #5: Create a “Group Tips” Blog Post
    Who are your experts? What do your audience want? I could come up with tons of ideas, here are some:

    – tips from art buyers and collectors: how to choose your first purchase, buying art as an investment, building a collection, buying for a client, etc etc.
    – tips from local philanthropists and patrons, maybe speak with someone who has patronized or mentored an artist in the show: how to get a patronage, getting your first commission piece, networking for success in the local art community, etc.

    #6: Create a Special Graphic for Your Speakers > Artists
    Create an appropriate graphic for the artist(s) to use for self promotion on websites, blogs, facebook, etc.

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  • meet Aaron Briggs

    Man you guys alsways give great content. I will attend and event one day. When its more relevant to my situation but thanks for the tips

  • Taylor Richardson

    This was a great post. There are so many different ways to try and spread the word about events and boost attendance, and I think you were able to showcase many different ways to do so. By engaging with the consumers where they are, you are able to use their buy in to spread to others. It was interesting to me to see how important content creation is for event promotion. This is a great way to provide consumers with sharable content that their connections will also want to engage with. Thanks for this great post, and it was a interesting to see how you pull in both social media marketing as well as content marketing to promote events.

  • Debby – That is only one of the tips, many of the others apply to free events

  • Thanks Aaron 🙂

  • Thanks Taylor – Oh yeah, content is a big deal. You could argue that this very post is an example of how to promote an event 🙂

  • Dagmar Gatell

    Thank you for sharing, Michael! Pretty unique and cool tips to promote your event through social media! Great examples and how to tips. And so bigger the buzz through content sharing so more it will help your search engine ranking. Just awesome and fun from a SEO perspective 🙂

  • MrVanDigital

    Great post, Michael. I’ve been living and breathing digital media marketing for business events for the last 6 months and would love to share some of my insights…

    Our inaugural business conference in Vancouver was called ExpoPlaza Latina. We used digital media (social & online) strategically and prolifically throughout our 6 month planning and execution phase.

    We used social to target potential sponsors, partners, speakers, exhibitors, influencers, attendees and volunteers for the event. LinkedIn played a fundamental role in this & Twitter was huge in building relationships. Whenever we could we cemented relationships offline.

    The most important online media channels* for marketing our particular event were in this order: 1. Website 2. Email Newsletters 3. LinkedIn 4. Blog 5. Twitter 6. Facebook 7. Vimeo 8. SlideShare 9. Flickr 10. YouTube 11. Google+ 12. Pinterest
    *My opinion and will most likely alter moving forwards

    Here’s the event in terms of numbers: (modest but quality of target/content was more important than quantity)

    •Approx. 600 Attendees – 5 Sponsors – 22 Partners – 31 Speakers – 4 Expert Panel Discussions – 15 Exhibitors

    •420 Minutes of Plenaries on Sustainable Economic Development in Latin America

    •Attended by 8 Consulates of American countries (some of who spoke/presented)

    •50+ Volunteers helping on the day or in preparation of event

    •7 Promotional Videos Created by Consuls of Colombia, Mexico, Peru, USA, Brazil,
    Ecuador & Costa Rica in support of the event

    •13 Email Newsletters Sent to over 4,000 Newsletter Recipients (Subscribers,
    Supporters, Volunteers, LinkedIn)

    •14 Videos uploaded to Vimeo (with over 1,000 views) + 570 views on LatinCouver YouTube channel

    •13 Expo Updates featuring news about the event with 453 shares across social media
    (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, StumbleUpon & Digg) & 45 comments

    •5671 Visits to website from Jan 7th to Feb 7th 2013 (3499 Unique Visitors)

    •2592 clicks on link to registration page from Jan 7th to Feb 7th

    •2094 Visits to website from referral sites (approx. 38%)

    •941 Visits to website from MailChimp newsletters/616 from social referral

    •#EPLVan hashtag used in 413 tweets

    •217 live tweets on the day of the event using #EPLVan (60 retweets on 7th Feb)

    •@ExpoPlazaLatina averaging 253 tweets per month & 11.7 per day since birth (Dec 2012)

    •7 SlideShare presentations with 1092 views & 6 downloads since November 2012

    •Dedicated ExpoPlaza Facebook page & Twitter handle set up 2 months before event (155 fans & 129 followers)

    •Klout score increase from 0 to 46 in 2 months

    •3,771 people reached on Facebook through page posts 3rd to 9th February 2013

    •173 orders and 318 attendees registered on EventBrite from Jan 15th to Feb 7th

    •Total of 543 clicks to registration page via LinkedIn ads for the event from over 1 million impressions

    •Total of 320 clicks to registration page via Google ads for the event from over half a million impressions

    If you’re interested in finding out more about the event, please visit or email

  • Sarah Adams

    Useful tips-thanks! #6 is great–what programs are recommended to create graphics (user-friendly and free if that exists!)

  • Casey Ayars

    Very helpful post, Michael. Always looking for an unfair advantage at our events. Thanks for the info!

  • Wow Grace, thanks for the wonderful suggestions. I just couldn’t see how to adapt. Sometimes you need that external eye and creative mind. I have a great idea thanks to you!

  • Sujoy

    Thanks Michael, we on the run to do Grocery Festivals and

    i am sure there are nice tips to adhere in our marketing.

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  • Hmm.. Really great tips, Never thought about such variety of ways to promote an event. I really like the idea of creating special tweet buttons for attendees.

  • Thanks Micheal. I know many people including me are getting benefited by this and similar posts. Even going thru the comments here helps a lot. Awesome content. We will certainly try these for our next event and share the experience.

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  • Thanks Dagmar 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing Andrew and glad you are getting results

  • Sarah – We hired a graphic designer who used Photoshop

  • Hey Casey – New times call for new techniques 🙂

  • Glad to be helpful Sujoy

  • Thanks Aasma

  • Yeah there’s some good stuff in the comments for sure

  • Great tips, as usual. Love no. 6.

  • Thanks Michael, these are great ideas that we’ll be putting to use. You forgot LinkedIn though. We get lots of social sharing there. I also really appreciate the comment from Andrew with all those great stats. Nice!

  • Hey Candyce – Great addition 🙂

  • Thanks much Henry

  • Susanna

    Hi, thanks for the great article! I couldn’t pin it for some reason – Pinterest needs a pic for pinning?! I’m doing research on how to use social media in cultur productions, so this was a truly great site for me.

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  • Thanks Susanna – Not sure why the pin it didn’t work. Perhaps it’s a bug in the Digg Digg plugin

  • An amazing job! Well done!

    hope I’ll read more about this event ..


  • great comment 🙂


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  • Nicola

    Thanks Michael, some useful tips! I just wondered about the complications of creating a Facebook event page if it’s not your sole way of booking onto the event? People may think that by accepting a Facebook event invitation, they have registered for the event, when in fact we need them to book via our website, Eventbrite etc so they plug into our CRM and we have the details we need about delegates. This can lead to bookings in multiple places or people not booking at all but thinking they have. Any advice from others on this issue please?

  • Tom Gorman

    Good useful content in that video for attendees … but yikes the graphics … BTW I came over from a linkedin e-mail and indeed found some solid ideas here, — once I got past the pith helmet guy and his safari stuff. out of left field but do you think the cartoon look throughout serves your substance?

  • Hey Nicola – We have never found that to be an issue. But the best way to circumvent that is to direct them to the FB event page AFTER they have registered to encourage interaction and discussion

  • Hey Tom – This is our branding. It’s served us well with 800,000 monthly readers. Can’t satisfy everyone. Perhaps it’s not for you if you can’t see past it.

  • Lynsie Patient

    For what it’s worth, I think the branding is bang on target and very appropriate. The post, as always, is very useful too!

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  • Thanks – great information – I will be launching my first fundraiser event online. I will be using a lot of these tips – will keep you updated

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  • The video totally worked Michael. It sealed the deal in this household and since has dragged quite a number of Aussies along behind me in a slipstream effect. Can’t wait to get on a plane in a couple of weeks! Great “keeper” post by the way…

  • Thanks Donna and proof this stuff works 🙂

  • Glad they are helpful for you Darlene

  • Absolutely (although I was a warm prospect but it definitely helped to have a visual). I was just showing someone the video and love the bit re the national museum welcome drinks where you say: “you will network with social media pros, while surrounded by dinosaur relics”…life possibly imitating art in the marketing world! ha ha.

  • 🙂

  • rebekah

    Thank you for unraveling. Social media and its uses.

  • Connie Phillips-Gilbert

    Hi Michael! Thanks for composing and sharing this info. This works great as a checklist for newbies and pros of the social media world.

  • Hey Michael, as someone starting out, this is a fantastic resource – thank you!

  • MrVanDigital

    Thanks for the comment, Abdul. We hope to learn from our review to make an even better event moving forward!

  • MrVanDigital

    I know the comment was rather long but I do hope that there may be some useful pointers in there for other event planners who have tight budgets and want to eek out every last bit of value from online and social media.

  • MrVanDigital

    Thanks Candyce for the reference 🙂

    I guess which platforms are most useful depends on the event’s specific goals and target market(s). For B2B and targeting specific professionals/companies LinkedIn was the best tool out there for our event, although our LI ad performance was rather hit and miss (great for inbound traffic but bad conversion to sales. The registration system, pricing and other factors play into this though as well)

    For anyone who wants to plough deeper into our numbers and look at a real case study for a small-to-medium sized business conference and digital media marketing, feel free to consult our 54 slide presentation:

  • LinkedIn and Google events were already added, as well as ways to apply these to small biz. In addition to event page, think the blogs can be used – if done right. Videos, guest posts from or interviewing speakers on topic, with real content (not just a glorified ad for event). Also consider other social-friendly channels like SlideShare, aggregation tools like Storify; example: recent Solo PR Summit created Rebel Mouse and Tracky pages, so people (even those not there) could follow along. FWIW.

  • What a great article; clear, useful tips on how to build some social chatter!

  • carlos

    Wow!, Feeling like that after being pitch for your conference. There was much to like about it and emulate too! Thanks!

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  • Back to the Basics. I like the way you write, simply. Today I subscribed to updates…

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  • Super tips! Thanks 🙂

  • Filomena

    Great and useful article! I also like the idea of creating an hashtag for the event so people can tweet it and easily find information about the event.

  • KJ

    Hi .. thats am amazing post and sums it all up quite nice.

    Just wondering if FB events still work for corporate events? It might be a good thing for social events. But if there is going to be a corporate event on some technical topic, would FB event still work? Personally, I havnt had good experience with FB events. Would appreciate your inputs. Thanks.

  • MrVanDigital

    Hi KJ. For this event, we found Facebook helped in terms of reach and building awareness but failed to get people to engage with the content perhaps because of its fairly ‘dry’ nature. The topic was sustainable economic development in Latin America. I think if you can make the content visual, fun and engaging while at the same time consistent with your key messages and target audience, you might be able to get it to work. For B2C this is normally a lot easier than with B2B. What are others’ opinions?

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  • Belinda Langler

    Great tips, and very timely as I’m just promoting a social media workshop myself in Sydney, Australia

  • Lisa C.

    Amazing and so helpful! Running a huge conference and will definitely be using these tips. Thank you!

  • The give-away is just a really good way to create buzz. I’ve listened to you doing exactly that on your podcast. Are you going to give away tickets for the next Success Summit?

  • Thanks Deborah and yes we will in August most likely

  • Good tools shared here. Using Twitter or Facebook widgets are now easy with lots of available platforms.

  • Chandraevents

    Thanks for the great tips..Really helpful. I have also an Event management company (Chandra Events) and I have applied your tips to promote my site.