Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events ®

Using Social Media
to Plan and Promote
Your Events
Constant Contact®, Inc.
1601 Trapelo Road, Suite 329
Waltham, MA 02451
Phone: 1-866-876-8464
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
How to Use Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
An event — be it a networking
gathering, open house, fundraiser,
or class — is by nature a social affair.
People attend to connect, interact,
and share with their peers. People
join social media networks such as
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to
connect, interact, and share with
their peers. Sound familiar?
Given their similar natures, it makes perfect
sense to use social media to help plan,
promote, and build excitement for any public
event you’re hosting. If the goal is to get as
many people as possible interested in your
event, social media is a perfect compliment
for spreading the word to your core base of
customers, members, and beyond.
Of course, if you’re hosting a private event
for select guests, broadcasting its existence
through social media networks is probably
not the right approach. But for those who
are hosting an open house, teaching a class,
or throwing a fundraising gala — and using
Constant Contact Event Marketing for
registration and email invitations — social
media networks can and should be utilized to
their fullest extent.
In this guide, we will give an overview of
the major social media networks and show
how they can be used throughout the
event lifecycle, from pre-event planning
to promotion to post-event follow-up. The
combination of Event Marketing and social
media can be a powerful tool to spark
attendance and create a deeper relationship
with your customers and members.
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
What Is Social Media?
Before we get into the how-to
of marrying Event Marketing
and social media, let’s take a
step back for those just jumping
into the social media waters
with a quick primer on each
of the major social media
networks. If you’re already
well versed in Facebook,
Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can
skip ahead to the next section,
“Event Marketing and Social
Media Working Together.”
e three major social media networks that garner the most attention and — more
importantly — users are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All use similar methods
for connecting with friends and colleagues, and they also allow multiple types of
content to be shared through their services.
Facebook is the largest of the social networks, with more than 400 million active users —
a number greater than the population of the entire United States. It’s also the most
multimedia-friendly of the big three as members can post text, pictures, audio, and video.
Users sign up for a free account, and then can make connections with other users on
the service by “friending” them: When you find someone you know on Facebook, you
request to be their “friend.” If the request is accepted, you can see that person’s profile
information, status updates, photos, and more (which is why you wouldn’t want to be
“friends” with someone you don’t actually know). Your friends in turn can see your
profile, status updates, and photos. If you don’t want to share all your information
with all your friends (for example, if you connect with coworkers or family members),
there are privacy settings available to limit who can see what information you post.
More important for small business and nonprofit users of Facebook are Fan Pages.
Fan Pages allow a business or organization to set up an information hub that other
users can become “fans” of. Anyone can build a Fan Page. You don’t have to be an actor,
musician, or politician to have fans on Facebook, and you don’t have to be accepted to
be a fan. These pages are the preferred method for most businesses and organizations
to reach Facebook users because a business owner or nonprofit manager can use
them to share information with fans, and the pages are public-facing (though only
Facebook members can become fans).
Constant Contact’s Fan Page is at
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
What Is Social Media?
Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media networks, with an estimated
75 million users at the end of 2009. Twitter’s philosophy is simple: Users can
post 140-character status updates (or “tweets”) that are viewable by anyone
“following” their Twitter stream. For businesses and organizations, this
means you can easily get a quick message out to people who are interested in
your activities, products, or services. You can also use Twitter to get real-time
feedback from customers, members, and event attendees.
On Twitter, the follower relationship is not two-way; you don’t have to wait for
someone to approve your follow request and vice versa. Your Twitter updates
are public as well, meaning non-Twitter users can also view them. For instance,
the Constant Contact Twitter feed is at
(@constantcontact is our Twitter “handle”). Even without an account, you can
use that link to see all our updates.
Constant Contact’s corporate
Twitter handle is @constantcontact,
When you follow someone on Twitter, you’ll see his or her tweets in real time
on your private Twitter home page, along with updates from everyone else you
follow. If you follow many people, this can create a bit of “noise,” especially if
those people are heavy users of the site. That said, another beauty of Twitter
from a business perspective is the ability to search all updates for a certain term
or phrase (using, as the search spans the entire public
“Twittersphere” and not just your followers. (This is especially useful when
looking to keep tabs on customer service issues.)
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
What Is Social Media?
The third of the big three, LinkedIn is one of the more professional of the social
media networks. Individual users’ profiles are tantamount to an online resume
(complete with recommendations and endorsements) and, like Facebook,
connections between users must be confirmed by both parties. Businesses and
organizations can have profile pages as well that outline the who, what, and
where of their operations.
Two of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn are the community and question areas,
which tend to be more professional in nature than those found on Facebook or
Twitter. Answering questions in your area of expertise can help establish you
and your business or organization as experts.
Constant Contact’s LinkedIn page is at
For business-to-business events, LinkedIn should be given more weight
when it comes to promotion since most of what takes place on the network is
professionally oriented.
Other social media sites that can compliment your event
marketing efforts include:
A popular photo-sharing community, Flickr is a great place to post photos of
past events and share them with a wide audience. Free accounts are available
and users can create “sets” of related photos, which can tie all photos from an
event under single, sharable URL.
If multiple people are taking photos at your event, you can also set up a “group”
on Flickr that serves as a central source for everyone’s pictures from the event.
Note that you must have a Flickr account to contribute to a group, but do not
need an account to view photos.
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
What Is Social Media?
YouTube is a free and highly popular video sharing service. Anyone with an account
can upload a video of 10 minutes or less to the site and share it with the world through
a URL or by embedding the video in a blog or website. Videos can also be easily shared
on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites with a single click. YouTube is an easy way to share
video content with a wide audience without having to pay for bandwidth or hosting.
Get signed up
If you don’t already have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you should sign
up. Even if you don’t plan to use any or all of the networks right away, they’re free, so
there’s no financial barrier to entry. Additionally, signing up will make sure you reserve
your company’s name in case you decide to use the sites in the future, and will prevent
someone else from taking your spot while you decide.
Constant Contact’s YouTube page:
It’s recommended that you keep your professional and personal online personas separate,
so you have the freedom to share family photos and other personal things just with
people you know, and your customers can only see things that relate to your business
or organization. To do this, you may want to create separate business and personal
accounts on the networks you plan to use. Facebook users should also set up a Fan Page
as soon as possible, if only to keep your company’s name reserved for later purposes.
Let the world know:
“We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!”
Once your accounts are established and you’re comfortable using the social media
networks, begin telling the world about your new online presence. Add links to your
social media accounts to your email newsletter, in your regular email signature, and all
the promotional materials for your event. And, where applicable, put the same links on
your website, event homepage, and your blog. You might be using social media to help
promote your event, but the event can also promote your social media presence. It’s a
two-way street.
Users of social media networks are always looking for like-minded people and companies
to “friend” and follow. If you’re participating in the same networks, there’s a good chance
people will become a fan or follow you. The more places you link from, the more likely
people will find you on your social networks of choice.
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
Event Marketing and Social Media Working Together
Pre-event planning
Before it’s time to start promoting your event to the public at large, social media can
help. When working on planning the details of your event, social media networks can
be used to solicit feedback on potential event details. You can also ask your followers or
fans about recommendations for caterers, photographers, and other services you may
need (this is known as “crowdsourcing”).
As the idea for an event begins to percolate, if you’re unsure if others will share
your enthusiasm, you can mention your idea on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or some
combination of the three. Ask your fans, followers, and connections what they think
about the idea and whether they would be interested in attending. An open-ended
question (“We’re thinking about hosting a summer open house to show off the fall line
of merchandise. Are you interested?”) or a link to a short poll would suffice. If you get
enough positive feedback, you have reassurance that the event idea is worth pursuing.
Social media can help with logistical planning as well. Use an online survey to ask
potential attendees for their preferences on date, time, location, and potential food and
beverage offerings. The URL to your survey can be posted on any of your social media
networks for soliciting feedback. As a bonus, the mention of the event and fact you’re
looking for feedback from would-be attendees can help build buzz for the gathering.
Beyond the what, where, and when details, your array of social media contacts can
be an excellent referral service (word of mouth marketing!) for caterers, venues,
photographers, musicians, or any other vendors you might be looking to hire for
your event. Crowdsourcing can be particularly useful when the event is being held
in an unfamiliar venue or outside your home territory.
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
Event Marketing and Social Media Working Together
Event promotion
Promoting your class, seminar, fundraiser, or open house to customers, members,
and other would-be attendees is the bread and butter of using social media to
compliment your event marketing efforts.
As the key details of your event are set, such as date and venue, you should post a
Save the Date notice on your social media networks to alert people and get on their
calendars. If you’ve already built and published an event homepage in Event Marketing,
link to the page from your social media networks to provide more information and
future updates. You should also send out a save the date email to those on your contact
list who have expressed an interest in attending, again linking to the event homepage
for more details.
Within Event Marketing, the homepage is not a requirement to publishing an
event and accepting registrations, but we highly recommend it if you’re going to be
promoting your event through a social media networking site. There is only limited
space available to tell your story (140 characters on Twitter), so an event homepage
can provide greater detail before people commit to registering. If you’re not ready to
take registrations quite yet, you can remove the “Register now” button from the homepage
until you’re ready to turn registration on.
With a save the date sent or open registration announced, the social media marketing
component of your event really takes off. You can continually promote your event
through your social media networking circle with more frequent posts than you can
with email. Yes, you should send email invitations to target attendees, with a polite
follow up as the event draws near, but with social media the rate can be a bit more
frequent without irritating fans and followers. Plus, with all the noise and continuous
stream of updates on sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s good to put out reminders once
in awhile to catch those fans and followers that may have missed your previous updates.
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
Event Marketing and Social Media Working Together
That doesn’t mean every tweet, Facebook post, or LinkedIn network
update should be promoting your event. We recommend at least an 80/20
ratio for all your social media efforts, with 80 percent of your updates
focused on informational and non-sales posts, and 20 percent on straight
sales and promotion. If all you do is sell, your fans and followers will tune
you out and may stop following you all together.
As you promote the event over time within your social media circle, varying
the language and tactics will help keep the message from going stale:
■ B
uild Interest through scarcity by announcing there are only a limited
number of seats left (if that’s actually the case). “Only 5 tickets remain.
Get yours now …”
■ F ill last minute cancellations when people run into conflicts. Rather
than having an empty seat, use social media posts to let people know there
are a few last-minute seats available for those who still want to attend but
may have originally missed out on tickets.
■ P
romote what attendees can expect at your event by posting short
updates that build buzz and excitement. For example, “Johnny Speaker will
explain the meaning of life at Open House 2010! Will you be there?” Or, “We
just added five more items to our tasting menu. Bring your appetite!”
■ B
rand your event with a hashtag on Twitter. Hashtags are typically a
word preceded by a # sign and can be used to unify tweets from multiple
people on the same subject. Brand all posts about your event with the same
hashtag (i.e., #OurBigEvent) and encourage attendees to do the same when
they mention your event in their own Twitter updates. Hashtags can be
easily searched to give an overview of everyone mentioning your event, even
those you’re not currently following. [One tip: Keep your hashtag short —
you only have 140 characters to use, after all.]
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
Event Marketing and Social Media Working Together
There’s a calendar built into Event Marketing that can be useful if you’re promoting
multiple and/or recurring events and want to push out a single URL to your fans,
followers, and connections. The calendar lists all published public events in your
Event Marketing account. Attendees can access detailed information for each
event listed by clicking on its link.
To push the promotion of an event beyond your contact list, Twitter followers,
Facebook fans, and LinkedIn connections, you can post a mention of and a
link to your event on sites like,, and
All three offer various categorical and geographical options for promoting
and classifying your event. Check with your local newspaper as well to see
if it offers a free events listing page on its website.
During the event
If your event is more promotional in nature — say, a private sale or open house —
having a wireless Internet connection available so attendees can further promote
your gathering is essential. Social media users tend to be a chatty bunch, and while
your event is in progress, they’ll want to tweet their presence or mention where
they are on Facebook. If you’re using a Twitter hashtag, mention it at the event so
people use it in their updates. This has a two-fold benefit: For attendees, it helps
with networking because they can see who else is there, and for you, it furthers
your message beyond those in attendance.
Encouraging others to use social media during your event is particularly effective
for regular classes or conferences, where you want to build interest among those
who are not in attendance. If people see what fun is being had, or what is being
learned, they may sign up for the next event so they don’t miss out again.
Note: This might not be appropriate for all events — you don’t necessarily want
people tweeting away proprietary information in a training class to those who
haven’t paid to attend — so use your own discretion.
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
Event Marketing and Social Media Working Together
After your event ends, social media can help extend the buzz and, if it’s a
recurring event, help promote the next installment. You can:
■ U
pload pictures of the event to a service such as Flickr. Showing
how much fun was had can be a great selling tool for the next time you
host the same event or something similar. If there were a
number of people taking pictures there, create a Flickr Group so
everyone can share their photos from the event.
pload videos where appropriate to a free video site such as YouTube.
Depending on your event, you could post videos of speakers,
demonstrations, or attendees talking about your event. Like photos,
the videos could be used in future promotional efforts and can be used
by those who missed the event or by attendees who want to review what
they learned.
hank attendees for coming through your social media channels.
When doing so, post links to pictures, videos, and other sharable
material from your gathering such as presentation slides. Doing so
provides greater value to those who attended and gives non-attendees
a taste of what they missed.
All three suggestions are particularly effective for recurring events, as they
can show customers and members who didn’t attend what they missed out on.
You can also link to these assets when promoting the next event to provide a
visual of what future attendees can expect.
Your Event Marketing homepage can be edited for up to 30 days after your
event ends, so you can use it as a central place to link photos, videos, handouts,
and other assets if you don’t have another site available (i.e., a website or blog)
for aggregating your post-event materials. Also, make sure to add links to your
social media sites and a Join My Mailing List box to your homepage to ensure
customers, members, and clients can connect with you however they choose.
Using Social Media to Plan and Promote Your Events
Event Marketing and Social Media Working Together
Leverage your blog
If you have an active blog, it too can be used to promote your event, drive registration,
and as an added bonus, help with search engine optimization. Your event homepage
should explain what the event is and give logistical information to people, but a blog can
go deeper than that. Use your blog to give a behind-the-scenes peek at your event from
pre-event planning right through to post-event thank yous.
or events featuring speakers, post profiles of each speaker on your blog to
provide additional information on who attendees will hear from.
ave your speaker(s) provide a guest post on your blog that gives a taste of
what will be presented at your event.
se blog posts to further explain the benefit of attending your class, seminar,
fundraiser, etc. Obviously, the event benefits your organization, but make sure to
explain how it benefits attendees. They, too, have to get something out of coming.
■ I ndividual posts can be linked to from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for
additional promotion and to provide greater detail about the event.
fter the event, thank attendees in a blog post and include links to photos,
videos, slides, and other appropriate materials generated during the event.
■ I f yours is a recurring event or class, link to your Event Calendar or list
upcoming dates for future events.
No matter what method of promotion you use — be it a social media site like Facebook,
Twitter, or LinkedIn, or your blog, website, or an email invitation — remember to direct
prospective attendees to your event homepage for logistical details and registration.
We hope you learn from this guide that social media networks are not just
for saying, “Look at me!” Rather, they can be leveraged multiple ways to
build anticipation and drive awareness about your event, reaching beyond
standard invitations and website links to engage past, present, and future
© 2010 Constant Contact, Inc. 10-1371