How to Use Social Media to Promote an Event

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

Whether you’re planning 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 seven creative ways to use social media to increase your chances for a gangbuster event.

Start With a Marketing Plan

The first thing you need to do is develop a high-level marketing plan. This will include answering the “who, what, where, when, why and how long” questions for your event.

Check out this video on how to create a marketing plan.

Here are a few tips to help you create a marketing plan:

  • Identify your target audience.
  • Use all of your communication channels. These can include your email list, website, podcast, social communities, affiliates, webinars and sponsors.
  • Consider the creative assets you already have available. Are there videos, audio, photographs, blog posts by other people and graphics you can use?

#1: Use Video on Your Sales Pages

Video is one of the most powerful ways to sell what you have to offer, and where you place it on your event sales page can be very important. You can use YouTube or Vimeo to easily add video to your sales page.

When you visit the sales page for Social Media Marketing World, one of the first things you notice is our sales video.

smmw video homepage

Place your sales video in a prominent position on your home page.

The key is to start with a catchy headline, an opening sentence and your video. Share the remainder of what you have to offer below your video. Remember that you can put the video in multiple places on your event sales pages, including the sidebar.

Here are a few tips on how to produce a quality video that’ll get people to hit the Play button:

  • Grab a screenshot from a testimonial of someone who looks excited, or a visually stunning image of the location, etc.
  • Use this screenshot as your thumbnail.
  • In the intro, choreograph images and words so there’s always something to entertain the eye.
  • Play music in the background.
  • Tell viewers about the things they’ll discover, so they stick around to watch the rest of the video.
  • Express excitement in your voice.
  • Include video clips and still photography.
  • Make sure your words and story are choreographed.

Video can be an extremely powerful way to convey your message.

#2: Empower Affiliates to Promote What You Have to Sell

The key to affiliate marketing is to empower your affiliate marketers to share your event. For them to make a decision on promoting your product, event or activity, you need to make the process effortless.

smmw promo information

This is the affiliate page for Social Media Marketing World 2014.

Here are some tips on resources to include in your affiliate promo page:

  • Write a script for an audio ad to give out to podcasters.
  • Create an embed code for videos, which can be copied and pasted into an article.
  • Provide a variety of videos. They can include an overview of the event, testimonials and information about the location.
  • Create banner advertisements. Make sure you put a call to action on each one. Including the speakers’ faces can help generate a high click-through rate.
  • Offer larger images that can be used on Facebook. The key to images is having lots of different sizes.
  • Use support photos. These can be from a previous event that you hosted.
  • Precraft tweets. This is the secret sauce.
  • Use your assets to create a cool blog post. It’s a great way to help convert sales.
  • Provide a blurb/short description for people who curate event listings.

A lot of work goes into creating an affiliate resource page, but once you have it, it’s so simple for someone to use.

#3: Use Testimonials in Your Marketing

Using testimonials in your marketing can be super-powerful.

You can gather testimonials in two ways.

The first is to ask people who attended your event to fill out a survey. You can use a system like SurveyMonkey. The two most important questions you need to ask are:

  1. Would you recommend this conference to a friend or colleague?
  2. If you were recommending this conference to a friend or colleague, what would you say?

The second way is to record someone recommending what you have to offer. First, ask the person what he or she thought about the event, then lead into the second question about what they thought of the networking. Usually, what comes out of the second question is spectacular.

mari smith testimonial

Use video testimonials as a powerful form of marketing for your event.

Once you’ve gathered all of the testimonials, go through them and identify the best ones.

Finally, you can pull everything together by using small clips from each testimonial to make one powerful video. For example, check out the completed testimonial video for Social Media Marketing World.

#4: Empower Prospects to Sell You to the Boss

If you sell expensive or complex products, the last thing you want to do is have an unprepared prospect spring the event on his or her boss. You need to make it effortless for prospects to pitch the idea successfully.

One of your best options is to provide easily accessible information for prospects in a “Need to convince the boss?” box on your website.

convince the boss box

Make it as easy as possible for prospects to convince their boss of the value your event delivers.

Once someone clicks this box on our event page, it takes him or her through to the Convincing the Boss page. It not only provides a downloadable PDF flyer, but also an email that they can easily customize so it’s more personal.

In the email template you provide, you should include:

  • An opening sentence that sounds like it’s from the person sending it
  • An explanation that says they want to look out for the best interests of the company
  • A description of what’s in it for them and the company if they attend
  • A few factoids about the product, service or event
  • A call to action

When you make it effortless for prospects to pitch your event, it enables them to present it to decision-makers.

#5: Create and Promote Quality Link Bait Posts

The idea of a link bait post is to include lots of high-profile individuals who provide an insight or a tip of some sort. A link bait post is a great way to let the presenters of your event share some of their expertise with your blog readers and give them visibility to your audience prior to your event.

Once you have all of the contributions gathered, you compile them into a post. These types of posts often go crazy viral.

One of the benefits of a link bait post is that it attracts some of the contributors to participate in the comment area. It creates a dialogue and a communal effort where everybody can be a part of something exciting.

link bait article screenshot

The presenters for Social Media Marketing World 2014 contributed to this post.

A huge advantage of this type of post is the amount of traffic that it can drive to your website. Within the first 24 hours, this link bait post was viewed 11,180 times.

You’ll be amazed at how many participants share this type of article. Once peers see it, they begin to promote it too. The visibility you get through these shares can be very powerful.

jay baer link bait newsletter

Jay Baer promoted the link bait article that he contributed to in a prominent position in his newsletter.

To build your own link bait article, you first need to identify who or what types of groups of people you want to reach out to.  In this case, you’ll likely want to reach out to the presenters at your event. Next, you need to put together a strategic email to invite people to contribute.

Here are some tips on how to communicate with the participants:

  • Ask if they’re willing to participate. Don’t ask for the tip just yet.
  • Once they commit to participating, you can give them the details. Make sure you clarify what you’re looking for, ask for screenshots and remind them of the deadline.
  • Let them know you’ll include their bio and a link back to their site so they can include that in their response.
  • Remind them that you’ll contact them when the article is published.

Once the article is published, the next step is to get the participants to help you share and promote the post. When you email them to let them know the article has been published, include a bit.ly URL to the article and thank them for their participation without asking them to do anything further.

You’ll discover that the result is a win for everyone.

#6: Create Custom Social Share Buttons for Your Site

Social share buttons on your promotional page make it easy for people to share your event on social channels.

The idea is that when people click on the Share button, it populates information about what you have to offer in their status update. It gives you the ability to control a consistent message across multiple social channels. Once people share your message, you know it will drive traffic back to your main promotional page.

social share buttons smmw

Social share buttons are a great way to drive traffic back to your promotional page.

With the Twitter Share button, you type in the URL that you want Twitter to point to. You can then customize the title of the page, show the share count and/or include a hashtag. Once you have the piece of code for the button, it can be added to your website HTML or to a widget on a WordPress website.

The Facebook Share button doesn’t have as many customization options. Instead, Facebook draws the customization from whatever URL you paste in. If you use a WordPress-driven website, you can use the WP Open Graph plugin to help you control and customize messaging.

wp snippet preview smmw

The WP Open Graph plugin lets you customize what people will see when they share your URL on Facebook.

Watch this video to learn more about how to use the LinkedIn Share button and the Google+ Share button:

With these customized social share buttons, you make it effortless for people to share your content.

#7: Use Twitter to Sell

Twitter is a super-powerful tool that enables you to promote what you have to sell.

On the Social Media Marketing World event page, we have a sidebar widget that shows all of the tweets from people who are talking about our event.

To create this for your own event, log into Twitter and visit the Widget settings. You’ll see a Create New Button option. When you create the widget and click on the Search tab, you’re asked to put in a search query to tell Twitter which tweets to display. This could be your hashtag or your company name.

When you configure the widget, I recommend that you only show the top tweets—otherwise you’ll get every single retweet. You also want to opt out of tailoring Twitter.

live smmw14 tweet embed

The widget on our event page is in real time.

The result is a piece of script that you can paste into your WordPress sidebar or website. The box below our live widget allows people to promote Social Media Marketing World using a common hashtag.

When visitors arrive at your sales page, this widget lets them see all of the other people who’ve already made a purchase.

Additionally, you need to make it easy for anyone who comes to your sales page to share a customized tweet. All you have to do is embed a custom Tweet button. Make sure the URL you include is the same for every single page you have linked to your sales page.

prepopulated tweet for smmw14

Provide a custom Tweet button.

To build your own custom tweet, all you have to do is visit ClicktoTweet and log in with your Twitter ID and create an account.

Next, just type in your tweet and hit the Generate New Link button. Once you have the link, you can embed it into your HTML. The result is something really cool—it allows you to track statistics and links to this particular tweet.

To discover all of the activity around the hashtag you include, you can also use Tweet Binder to see interesting statistics. It’s a useful service that I strongly recommend.

Include a custom Tweet button on your Thank-you page to empower the people who’ve already made a purchase to share it with their fans on Twitter. When they do, the hashtag pulls their tweet into the widget on your site!

Remember, when you make it easy for people to promote, they will.

Attend Social Media Marketing World 2014 for more social media tactics.

Social Media Marketing World 2014 is our physical mega-conference, which is set to return to San Diego, California on March 26, 27 and 28.

The conference features 60+ pros who will help you master social media marketing!

Join Chris Brogan (co-author of The Impact Equation), Mari Smith (co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day), Michael Hyatt (author of Platform), Jay Baer (author of Youtility), John Jantsch (author of Duct Tape Marketing), Amy Porterfield (co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies), Mark Schaefer (author of Tao of Twitter), Michael Stelzner (author of Launch) and experts from more than a dozen brands as they reveal proven social media marketing tactics at Social Media Marketing World 2014—Social Media Examiner’s mega-conference in beautiful San Diego, California.

Join nearly 2000 fellow marketers at the live mega-conference designed to empower and inspire you with social media marketing tactics—brought to you by Social Media Examiner.

You’ll hear from 60+ of the world’s top social media marketing pros as they reveal their newest social media marketing tips and practical, real-world, proven examples.

You’ll be able to take your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, blogging, podcasting and video marketing to an entirely new level.

Click here to learn more.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these strategies? Please share your comments below.

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About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, and host of the Social Media Marketing podcast. He also authored of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. Other posts by »




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  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    I like the first step. When you’re ready to get it all down on paper, but not sure where to put it? You told us start with answering the “who, what, where, when, why and how long” questions for your event. These are important elements of a marketing plan. Setting a solid foundation.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Patrick – For sure by answering those simple questions you can get way ahead in your plan

  • http://www.thesocialsyndicate.com/ The Social Syndicate

    Great tips Mike! What are your thoughts on effective registration pages? I’ve used Eventbrite and Paypal for event reg, but I’m interested in your thoughts (maybe another blog post on this topic?) – Michael

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  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    We use our own custom registration system so I really don’t have an opinion on that portion

  • http://www.thesocialsyndicate.com/ The Social Syndicate

    Thanks Mike. I noticed that. Always enjoy your posts. Have a great week.
    – Michael

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    Ah, I see what you did there, Mike! You talked us up all the way through the article and then sold us your event at the end. Clever.

    But basically what I got from this was just do all the same old things you always do to market a product for an event?

  • http://www.eventindustrymarketing.com/ Michelle Bergstein-Fontanez

    Hi Michael – huge fan of yours – LOVED Launch! Question- you do not highlight automation – do you have further advice on SM automation to maximize? Or is it build out shelved promotional tweets on reg and go with it? We find success with this approach but is there any next level ideas?

  • Gabrielle

    I love the video training on this newsletter, thanks for sharing some brilliant tips Michael :) As always, you are the most valuable ‘go to’ resource for all things social!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    I encourage my clients to post video testimonials. Most people are visual and it’s nice to see and hear what others have to say about you and your products.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Yep, video is very powerful Amandah

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks for your kind words Gabrielle

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hi Michelle – We are not a huge fan of automation outside of Twitter. Twitter is a good source of automation if done right. See http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/twitter-traffic-how-to-double-your-traffic-to-your-content-with-twitter/

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hi James,

    Maybe you should have another look :). While yes some of these things are old, like testimonials and marketing plans, many of these applications are not old. Take a closer look at #6 and #7

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Theory looks easy…practice is more challenging, especially with a one year old child and a full time job for another company other than mine… So the difficult bit here is, find the time. I wish you could give me some tips about that, in the meantime, I’ll keep reading your great articles and try to put them in practice.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Antonio – Here is a little something I wrote years ago for Copyblogger:
    http://www.copyblogger.com/find-time-to-write/
    http://www.copyblogger.com/increase-writing-productivity/

  • http://www.myonlinetip.com/ Kate Luella

    by far one of your best posts ever… amazing value you thanks for showing the way! :) KL

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Thank you Michael, very useful articles.

  • Madhava Verma Dantuluri

    Very useful information.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Kate – Glad you liked it

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks much

  • http://www.thesocializer.nl The Socializer

    Wow, great info Michael! Thank you very much, I am sure many people will benefit from your information.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Wow Mike, awesome details here! I agree: creating videos is a great way to promote events and get more engagement and excitement out of your audience on social media. Killer resource – thanks!

  • http://www.sovainfotech.com/ Sova Infotech

    Thanks for the great resource! Liked the fifth point that is creation and promotion of quality link baits post most. This will prove to be a great strategy.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks :)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Jon

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glad you found it useful

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    Ah, okay. My apologies.

    I read through the first few and thought this was the same old tips I’ve read before, but #7 is definitely a nice tip! I didn’t know you could create widgets on Twitter to promote something before.

    Thanks for pointing that out! Didn’t mean to be an ass. :-)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    No apologies needed James. Glad you took another look

  • treb072410

    I agree with Patrick… Thanks for sharing…

  • EmC

    I can’t stand it when content is only available in video and very rarely consume content in this way. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way, and I would encourage anyone using video content to also post a text transcript for those of use who prefer reading, and thereby consuming information at our own pace without the need to have speakers or headphones, or those of us with hearing difficulties.

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  • Clem Barry

    I agree with EmC
    Video & written content should be available. In a similar situation, some people would prefer to buy a hard copy of a book and some prefer e-book

  • Madhava Verma Dantuluri

    So detailed info and good tips. Thank u for the share.

  • http://www.hughculver.com/ Hugh Culver

    Mike, this is fantastic. I have hosted 6 events and I wish I had known all of this first. Two ideas jump out at me (well, all are great actually): your use of videos for each market (sponsors, attendees, etc) is brilliant. I also learned a lot by watching the first 30 sec of the main promo event for SMW14.

    Secondly, the way you have crafted a work up with your affiliates is great. I like how you don’t directly ask them for content until they commit and then don’t ask for promotion even after you publish they content.

    Question: how to do you manage either submissions that don’t make the cut (quality, redundant, etc.) or simply needs major editing?

    Love the effort you put into this post – it should be an inspiration for all of us that create content!

  • http://www.sovainfotech.com/ Sova Infotech

    Yeah, it was very useful.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Hugh! We recruit all of our speakers so we don’t need to handle rejection letters :)

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  • http://warrenwhitlock.com/social-media-expert Warren Whitlock

    Promoting an event is a wonderful way to focus your marketing. The goals are built in. The advice here would be good for any event, and any business with a goal. Social media becomes the tools you can use no matter what goal or events you promote

  • http://www.miamisocialcon.com/ Karla Campos

    This is a great resource, very detailed and great for conference and event organizers. Great job as always!









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