Facebook event marketingLast week, I shared six tips to use when preparing for a small business event. Whether planning for an open house, big sale, or special night out, the tips outlined will help ensure success. Once you’ve created the foundation for your small business event marketing plan, try adding these social media tactics to boost attendance and build momentum for the event.

As part of your pre-event promotions…

Use social media to engage the audience before the event. Consider bringing your audience in at the very beginning by letting them help dictate what will happen at the event.  For example, hold a contest on social media channels and allow the audience to vote for the keynote speaker or to choose the venue, or vote about the venue.

Get the event details out where your audience can see them well in advance of the event. If your event will include special guests or a keynote speaker, use social media to build excitement. Create an event page on Facebook and Pinterest, and if it’s a business event, add a page on LinkedIn. When a speaker or guest is featured, create engaging speaker profiles using photo albums and link to other events where the speaker has presented. Interview the speaker and share it on your social media channels.

Create a countdown clock on the company website and feature it in social media updates. The updates should be engaging and share progress about unique aspects of the event.

Create a unique hashtag# and event QR code that will be used in all event marketing. Event hashtags can be used on multiple social media channels and promoted on offline channels such as invitations and posters.

Create event featured blog posts, webinar or ebook. A successful trend in marketing is to create a webinar, ebook or other downloadable material that features one component of information. For example, with the myMarketing Café’s upcoming book launch of our book Marketing Boom – A guide to business blogging. We will create a campaign that features a webpage, several blog posts and a webinar to promote the book. With each of these, we will feature one important aspect of business blogging to lead users to buy the book, which is required to gain all the important aspects.  When using this idea for a special event, consider asking the keynote feature to commit to a guest blog post or to commit to being interviewed for one.

Allow guests to register online.  Convenience is key to event attendance. If the event will require a reservation, use an online registration form like Evite or Planetreg.

During the event…

Events produce outstanding marketing content, which makes it very important to document the event. Use these ideas to capture the event happenings.

Hold a contest for user-generated content. Ask attendees to film or photograph their favorite portion of the event and submit the video. Feature submissions in ongoing social media updates during the event.

Set up a photo booth where attendees can take a pictures, either alone or in small groups, with a professional photographer. By doing this, you will have another opportunity to capture guest information and stay in contact with them.

Interview guests at various points of the event.  Use a program like Ustream to share live interviews.  such as when guests are entering and asking what they expect from the event, or when exiting and asking for their impression of the event.

Create prize opportunities with social media. As event guests share about the event, reward them with prizes.  Create shareable content from guest social media updates for your social media channels and stream content live at the event using platforms like Tweetwally.

Promote after the event…

After an event, there are still plenty of opportunities to gain awareness about the business and secure post event sales. Your event marketing plan should call for post event promotions too.

Share an event photo album with details on social media channels.  By “details”, I mean identify who is in the picture and create an engaging photo caption and integrate links back to the business website where appropriate. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve seen photo albums promoted by businesses where photos don’t include any information.  This is a missed opportunity!  Ask guests to submit their photos too.

Hold a post event podcast.  Interview the guest speaker or featured guests and talk about the highlights of the event.

Create a feature article in the company newsletter.  Newsletters are still one of the most important marketing mediums for small business. Share the newsletter across social media channels.

Launch a post event email campaign.  Add a special sales offer for those who weren’t able to attend. Include links to the podcast, photo albums and newsletter.

So, do these ideas spark excitement for you? All of these tactics have little or no additional costs associated, except for the cost of creating them, which is already built into your budget. Now it’s your turn… How have you used social media to promote a local event?