Marketing Insights

How to Market Annual Events on Social Media

The art of social media marketing for events is generating FOMO. Your goal as a social media marketer is to make sure that your target audience either experiences your event or wishes they could experience it. FOMO, or fear of missing out, is the unofficial metric for a successful event social media presence. So how … Continued

The art of social media marketing for events is generating FOMO. Your goal as a social media marketer is to make sure that your target audience either experiences your event or wishes they could experience it. FOMO, or fear of missing out, is the unofficial metric for a successful event social media presence. So how can you launch an event that generates the right amount of social media buzz? It all comes down to your actions not only before, but also during, and after, the event. This post will utilize Campbell, California’s Oktoberfest event as an example to showcase the best practices of social event marketing and how you can make the most of your social event coverage.

Top Social Marketing Strategies Prior to an Event

Incorporating an early social media strategy as part of your event promotion is key. In fact, 55% of people who engage with causes via social media are inspired to take further action, (Sprout Social, 2020). So what social media best practices should you keep in mind prior to your event? Consider incorporating the following ideas into your pre-event social media campaign:

  1. Post a countdown on Instagram Stories
  2. Create an event page on Facebook
  3. Post teasers with necessary details– Pro Tip: “When you get started creating an event, posting a teaser on social media sites can peak users’ interest, even if it’s just something small like ‘We’ve got something great planned for October… Can you guess what it is?’ can generate a lot of discussion and curiosity. Posting relevant information and updates as it becomes available can help build interest and engagement, and the longer the information is out there, the sooner people can book you into their schedules,” (Gotter, 2019).
  4. Create a hashtag– Note: “A branded hashtag is a handy way for you and your guests to find all content related to your event across social channels.” Make sure to “create a hashtag that hasn’t had much prior use so that your event doesn’t get buried in a mountain of irrelevant content,” (Roach, 2019).
  5. Give a sneak peek
  6. Host a giveaway

Make sure you keep things interesting on social media by posting on a variety of channels, with a variety of different content types. Incorporate hashtags, location tagging, curated content, live video, behind-the-scenes looks, photos, info-graphics, polls, maps, line-ups, and anything else you think your audience would find interesting or helpful. Additionally, make sure to schedule the event on social media as well as on your website or event manager.

If these best practices were applied to the Oktoberfest event in Downtown Campbell, the event managers would likely include the following:

  • A Facebook event, created by the “Downtown Campbell” Facebook page
  • Photos of previous year’s events
  • Photos of behind-the-scenes volunteers and vendors
  • A map of where all vendors and events can be found
  • Teasers of special performances
  • Instructions on how to carpool or park
  • Information about featured vendors and participating bars
  • A social poll about what the target audience is most excited for

How to Employ Social Media During Your Event

So once the event is finally here, how do you market it on social media? First, remember that your job for marketing the event is not over once the event starts. In fact, the largest amount of social media updates were quotes and multimedia shared during the event (36% of all updates), (Grate, 2020). You’ll want to capitalize on this coverage as much as possible. You can do this with the following campaign ideas:

  1. Design a custom AR filter for Instagram or Snapchat– Did you Know: “Getting creative with augmented reality (AR) camera effects is a fun way for guests to interact with your event. They can use it in their own Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat Stories, leading to some excellent user-generated content,” (Roach, 2019).
  2. Interview attendees on Instagram Stories
  3. Respond Quickly to Responses and Questions– This is especially effective when trying to attract customers to booths or extra events. Remember, “Since over 90% of customers trust information from people they know when making a purchase decision, building personal connections might be the most effective way to develop trust and authority with your audience,” (Patel, 2016).
  4. Live tweet– Pro Tip: “A LOT of work goes into pulling off a fantastic event… Share stories of how you’re pulling everything together and don’t forget, mistakes and challenges happen. Be authentic and share the challenges you face and what steps you took to resolve them. It humanizes your brand and makes you more relatable. Posting behind-the-scenes photos and videos is also a great way to generate buzz and boost engagement. It builds an emotional connection by fostering a sense of being an insider to the event, a “glimpse behind the curtain,” (Reynolds, 2015).
  5. Tell your followers to come find you if you have swag
  6. Display social media posts at the event

How does this look in practice? With over 30,000 people attending the two-day Oktoberfest to enjoy authentic German beer, food, and music, live-event coverage is key. The event should capitalize on their audience by hosting an Oktoberfest-themed photo booth with a showcased hashtag; promoted hashtags on flyers, napkins, branded beer cups, and other promotional materials; interviews of attendees in costume; retweets and reshares of attendees’ social posts; and a custom Oktoberfest AR filter– among others.

Marketing on Social Media After the Event is Over

Don’t make the mistake of stopping all social media coverage after the event is over. This is especially important for events that happen annually. It’s important to keep the buzz going and to generate nostalgia for those who attended, regret or “FOMO” for those who didn’t, and excitement for next year’s event. So how can you do this? Consider the following ideas:

  1. Post user-generated content of the event
  2. Follow up with customers
  3. Save event highlights to your highlights
  4. Create summaries for people who couldn’t make it
  5. Analyze your performance
  6. Run a post-event survey– Remember, “Any good business owner or influencer who understands the role of social media in their sales and marketing knows that listening to their audience is key,” (Joe, 2018).

When all is said and done, make sure social media marketing is at the forefront of all of your event marketing. In fact, 42% of consumer brands increased their social marketing budget in 2019, (Newberry, 2020), so this is not something you can put off planning until the last minute. This was the mistake of Campbell’s Oktoberfest event, in which social media coverage was limited and few customers were responded to. With such a spectacular event, improvement of coverage using the above best practices could completely transform their event marketing going forward.


Emily’s (in Paris) guidebook to Social Media Marketing

Back to Marketing Insights

The Importance of Email Marketing