3 Mistakes That Can Prevent Your Events From Taking Off on Social Media and Beyond

Opinion: Marketers must set clear objectives to guide their efforts

Social media is invaluable for your content marketing efforts leading up to the event Varijanta/iStock

The success of any event will depend on many factors, and some are more important than others.

Some events will require big budgets but will succeed without specialized technology (e.g., face-to-face seminars vs. webinars). Others will succeed with the help of technology (e.g., webinars) but without big budgets. However, hardly any will succeed without adequate promotion.

If you have an event coming up—be it a seminar, trade show, conference, product launch, webinar or live event—you’ve probably researched how social media can help you promote it by creating a buzz and registering as many attendees as you can accommodate.

Alex Jasin, founder and CEO of Metapress, an online publication that provides resources for entrepreneurs from industry experts, says social media should be top of your list whenever you need to get a word out to a targeted demographic.

“Social media was always going to dominate marketing,” he added.

Unsurprisingly, marketers across the board are increasing their social media spend. In a recent report by RetailMeNot, 78 percent of surveyed retailers said they expected to increase their social media marketing spend in 2018. Further, in a recent Content Marketing Institute study, 83 percent of business-to-business marketers said social media was part of their content marketing strategies.

“It’s not the early days of social media anymore, back when marketers were only concerned with building their brand’s social presence and gaining likes for organic referral traffic,” Jasin says. “Organic social traffic is dwindling, yet social media spends continue to rise year-over-year because social media penetration is still over 70 percent in the U.S. It’s hard to argue that social media is not where people spend their time online, and it’s a great place to nurture buyer intent for both brand awareness and direct sales. Smart advertisers know how to leverage popular traffic sources to connect with their target audience and positively impact the bottom line. Social media is an invaluable tool for engagement, traffic and, yes, direct revenue generation.”

Besides being a channel for direct advertising, social media is also invaluable for your content marketing efforts leading up to the event. Content is still king (sorry), and as Luciana Olson, U.S. managing director of MediaPlanet, put it, “Content marketing is here and it’s not going anywhere. In fact, it’s going to be more relevant in your business and in your marketing plans. You need to armor yourself with a good plan and an even better team who can help you succeed.”

Having a plan will help you figure out your marketing strategies overall and social media strategy in particular. “Social media is a big part of our distribution when promoting our campaigns, but there is a lot of thought in whom we will partner with and which social channel we will promote on to maximize results with a specific target audience,” says Olson. “Brands need to look to social media as just one avenue in a slew of strategies and channels to carry out their message, and many times, the avenue is not their own social media channels, but a relevant influencer’s instead.”

Unfortunately, many marketers employ social media strategies these days because they feel like they must. They do it, however, without setting clear objectives to guide their efforts, jeopardizing the success of their venture.

If you want to succeed as a social media event marketer, you must know how to use social media to promote your event effectively. Below, we look at three common mistakes you need to avoid when marketing your event on social media:

Starting wrong

The first mistake on many unsuccessful campaigns is starting without a clear plan or expectations. If you don’t know what you are aiming for or what results are reasonable to expect, you won’t be able to achieve it or assess your results with an objective eye.

How do you make sure you start right? Olson challenges you to ask yourself these questions:

“Can I account for each of my event goals?” Having clear goals helps you shape your event around them so that you can achieve those goals. These goals can be pursued in parallel to each other or in sequence. For instance, one of your goals might be to drive ticket sales and another to create a buzz (marketers usually go for both). This clarity will guide your efforts to create a buzz and sell tickets, and once the buzz is generated and tickets are bought, you’ll know what to do next.

If you can’t explain a certain goal, rethink it until you get clear about the outcome you are seeking and the reasons behind it.

“Do I have the right measurement techniques at my disposal?” You obviously want to track progress. You can do this effectively by choosing your measurement tools and techniques ahead of time. Knowing what you’d like to measure is the first order of business, of course. It will help you decide on the how—the methods and tools of measurement and analysis.

“Does my targeting align with my goals?” You will be guided by your goals throughout the lifetime of your event. Your targeting needs to align with your goals. If you don’t know the exact demographic you’re targeting, you might end up wasting your resources on the wrong crowd.

“Which social media platforms go with my target best?” Once you’re clear about your target, you have to find out which social media platforms your target audience prefers to use before you start rolling out your social media strategy. Otherwise, you won’t reach the people for whom you are putting on the event.

Poor time investment

Jessica Stewart, CEO of The Event Planner Expo, is always shocked to see when marketers “try to wing it,” saying that you need plenty of time to make any type of event work—12 weeks, at least.

“The amount of work involved at each stage—from planning and promotion to hosting—is so immense and delicate that the only way to do it right is to do it slowly,” she says.

The type of audience you target, as well as the type of event you are organizing, should dictate your event calendar. For instance, commercial conference companies dedicate an average of six months to the event, four of which are earmarked for promotion. But Stewart says you can take much less time planning certain types of events. “We’ve hosted successful events in 12-week cycles,” she adds, advising marketers not to spend shorter times as “anything less is risky.”

What happens when you don’t allocate enough time to the pre-event period? You can’t create the buzz you need, let alone get people to register.

Jad Honein, CEO of Inline Design, says that when everything else is done right, time becomes a key factor in ensuring the success of your event promotion.

“The average internet user spends two hours on social media and messaging services daily,” adds Honein, whose company attributes its success to globalization, including the use of social media to reach their customers. “While it is a considerable amount of time, it’s not enough to guarantee success. Allocating plenty of time to social media marketing allows enough space between acquiring the followers, engaging with them and persuading them to buy. Neither step can be skipped or come before the other.”

Inadequate engagement with potential attendees

So, you’ve followed this post and avoided making the two mistakes described above. As a result, you’ve hit your target numbers two months in advance. Isn’t it time to relax and prep for the day? No. Why?

“Because you still have to keep engaging with your potential attendees,” says Nas Khan, managing director of Jennings Motor Group. “The biggest task is usually to keep your audience engaged,” he says, drawing on his own experience.

Otherwise, even those who’ve registered might fail to turn up because you didn’t maintain their interest in attending.

To keep new registrants interested, Khan advises doing the following:

  • Send weekly reminders of the event with links to other valuable and relevant content.
  • Keep your chosen social media platforms rich with fresh content.
  • Interview keynote speakers in the weeks leading up to the event and post the interviews on YouTube and other relevant platforms.
  • Leverage user-generated content on your chosen platforms to increase the probability of your event’s success.

“Until they actually attend, your event is just a date on the calendar,” Khan concludes, noting that free events especially suffer from low engagement with potential attendees.

Luckily, you are only limited by your creativity when it comes to generating ideas about how to keep people engaged before and during the event.

While social media isn’t the answer to all of your marketing questions, it can go a long way in making sure your event succeeds. To make it work, however, you have to approach it in a serious, thoughtful way so that you don’t make the costly mistakes described in this post.

Remember that if you don’t set clear goals, invest enough time in promotion or engage with your registrants prior to the event, you won’t know what to aim for, create enough buzz or keep people interested in the event. Experienced event marketers can attest to that. Heed their advice, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

James Jorner is a content strategist and marketer at Effective Inbound Marketing. His company specializes in online branding and digital marketing for businesses.