If you're a business that holds an annual festival or charity event, we have good news and bad news for you. The good news? You have 12 months to prepare for the event and promote it on social media. The bad news? Well, it's that you have 12 months to prepare for the event and promote it on social media.
We consider this "bad news" because some marketing managers either assume they have all the time in the world, only to suddenly find themselves scrambling to promote the event at the last minute, or they start promoting the event 11 months out when its impact will be minimal. With that in mind, we'd like to present an efficient and effective strategy for using social media for your festival or annual event.
Make a Plan
Since you have 12 months to prepare, you may not think an actual written plan would be necessary, but of course, it is. A plan will establish timelines, goals, and assign ownership of roles. Here's what you should consider:
Event Announcement — Announce the event on your web site and Facebook pages as soon as you can, even if you don't have a ticketing page set up. That can be linked to later. Other steps include:
- Inviting friends to the Facebook event page.
- Announcing the event on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites.
- Consider making a brief promotional video; post it on social media sites including YouTube and link to announcement pages.
- Identify key stakeholders such as event partners, vendors, and friendly businesses. Ask them to share the event on their social media sites.
Six- to Three-Months Out — With the basic event "architecture" of using social media for your festival or event set up, you can now focus on periodic updates and delivering relevant content. In the six- to three-month run-up to event, we recommend 3-5 blogs and postings a month. Make sure to:
- Link toFacebook event page and ticketing page every time.
- Deliver relevant content. This can include profiles of affiliated partners, photos and videos from previous events, testimonials from past participants or benefiting charities, and blogs pertaining to the event itself.
- Make the content shareable, drive social media conversation and keep the conversation going.
- Put a "human face" on the event and your brand. Let's say, for example, your event is a charity golf tournament. It just so happens that Bill in marketing is a golf enthusiast. Have a weekly post called "Bill on Golf" (or something titled slightly more interestingly.) Bob can briefly talk about his struggles with his nine-iron and talk about how exciting he is for the upcoming charity event.
Three Months Out — Rely on the aforementioned tactics, but only more frequently. Weekly blog posts and reminders are warranted, and make sure to stay in touch with stakeholders, encouraging them to post on their respective social media sites. Send them friendly reminders every two weeks.
Two Weeks Out — At this point you'll be able to harvest a new set of relevant content: the prep work. Believe it or not, something as common as photos of volunteers stuffing envelopes for a charity event can go a long way, especially if the actual volunteers share the photo on their personal sites. Which bring us to some final tips:
- Encourage all people involved to share the event on their personal social media accounts.
- Contact stakeholders and have them post, yet again, about the event and that time is running out to sign up.
- Post daily updates one week out to build excitement.
- Use mobile check-in apps like Foursquare the day of the event.
- We'd now like to throw the conversation back to you. As with any event, preparation is key. What challenges have you found in using social media for your festival or event? How do you make your event stand out?