Promoting your event using social media; tips from Katie Buseck of Event Elements

Part two of three parts covering the talks given at the Perfect Pairings Event Tuesday, March 25. Find the first talk here. The event, sponsored by Social Media Club of Buffalo, featured several Western New York area business owners who used social media in order to promote their businesses.

Event promotion in the age of social media is not only about creating a buzz before an event, but also during an event, something that Katie Buseck, event director for Event Elements, has done for such high-profile events like the Buffalo Soup-Fest, The National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival and the Music is Art Festival. She gave advice and ideas on how to do this at Social Media Club Buffalo’s Perfect Pairings event on March 25.

Hashtags are huge

When developing your social media strategy to promote your event, create the hashtag first and be consistent in using it across various social media platforms said Buseck. Be sure to place it at the end of posts.

“The hashtag is a big thing that has gotten even bigger now that it’s all integrated between Instagram,  Facebook and Twitter,” said Buseck. “It’s very important that it’s a consistent hashtag, so that somebody on Facebook searching for #soupfest14; they find the same thing; it’s a consistent message. Get your team on the same page with the hashtag.”

“People are so used to seeing them (hashtags) these days that it’s not going to be a weird thing to see anymore.  We are at the point where we are used to seeing it enough on places other than Twitter.”

Facebook

Use Facebook to create an event as a way of keeping all attendees informed about updates to your event, including cancellations and schedule changes.

“As long as you don’t disable it, those postings (for the event) pop up as a notification (to the people attending),” she said.

Use Facebook to create a buzz for your event by posting photos from last year’s event to remind them why this is an event that they should go to. Facebook is also a great platform for frequently asked questions and engaging with attendees.

“It’s a good way of catching your own mistakes,” she said. “If someone asks ‘How much are ticket sales? It’s not on your website.’ you can respond to that and then include it on your website. It also shows you’re a real person and your there to engage with them.”

You can also gather ideas from your fans and attendees on Facebook as well.

“I was involved in the Powder Keg Festival one year and we were stuck for what kind of events that we could do that were easy for us to make happen, but also people are interested in,” she said. “We put it out to the public, ‘What do you want to see at this event?’ and it blew up. I had 30 something comments, I had people private messaging me, I had people giving me website links; it was this crazy thing and we ended up using a few of those resources at the event that I never would have thought of on my own.”

Twitter

Hashtags are very important for promoting events via Twitter, along with live-tweeting your event.

“It’s a way to show people what they are missing and what they could have done and encouraging attendees to return again next year,” she said.

Buseck also uses a live twitter wall; a twitter stream projected onto a wall or screen showing all tweets using the hashtag for the event. This allows anyone to participate by using the hashtag for the event.

“It makes people feel like they are part of it (the event),” she said.

Another way to make people feel like they are part of the event is to show “behind-the-scenes” photos showing the setup for the event like a microphone check for a music event.

“Little stuff like that; people love that,” she said. “With Twitter, you can do in-the-moment, happening-right-now things.”

Instagram

Instagram is another platform that utilizes hashtags and you can use them to search and see what people had to say about your event said Buseck.

Instagram is also another great social media platform to use photos and (15 second) videos of behind-the-scenes footage.

“It’s a way to create buzz and show off your event,” she said.

YouTube.com

For Soup-Fest, her social media team shot short three-minute videos with the founder of Soup-Fest talking to different soup vendors and sampling their soups.  These videos were posted immediately to YoutTube.com, Facebook and other social media platforms without editing or retakes. This got people invested in the event and was another way to show off and get people interested in the event.

“This is a new thing I have used and something I am going to definitely implement further,” she said.

Foursquare

Buseck recommends you contact your event’s venue and make sure that they “own” their location on Foursquare.

Venues that own their location can then add events to their Foursquare locations which people can use to check in at the venue. Information on how to do this can be found on the Foursquare website.

“It’s another way – it pushes to Facebook, it pushes to Twitter and you can say ‘I’m here for this (event) and it gets that awareness out,” she said. “That’s something I feel that people are not familiar with and that would be the one thing for Foursquare.”

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is not a platform that most people would think of using for events, but it definitely has its niche for professional events like insurance clubs or a judge’s conference said Buseck.

“If you want to meet or reach out to certain professionals you can create events on LinkedIn and you can invite people to events on LinkedIn,” she said. “You can easily segregate your audience and find out who would be interested in attending. It’s good for people looking for networking opportunities or in specific fields; use it to reach out to those key people.”

Other tips for using social media

Figure out what platforms to use to promote your event based on your target audience.

“I have done an insurance conference before and a lot of them honestly don’t tweet, so I would not really make a Twitter profile for the insurance conference of Buffalo” said Busek. “But we would definitely make a Facebook and use LinkedIn.”

Create contests and giveaway and always give away a pair of admission tickets to your event as a prize.

“The ones I have had the most success with are the ‘like and share’ contests on Facebook where you post a photos or funny joke and have people enter by liking or sharing that photo or post,” she said. “Not only do you get the like, but they share and their entire feed sees it and then someone from that shares it and it creates this crazy train. You randomly pick a winner from the likes and shares.”

Do on-site giveaways like most-creative tweet using the event’s hashtag or “best selfie” at the event.

Create a mobile application for your event. Include venue maps and allow attendees to check in on the app.