The 3 Stages of Social Media Marketing for Events

4 min
social media marketing
profile picture of Classy blog contributor Will Schmidt
Will Schmidt

About 3.2 billion people use social media every day—that’s roughly 42% of the world’s population. Its use isn’t restricted to only younger generations either, although 90.4% of Millennials do use social media daily.

It’s reported that 77.5% of Gen X and 48.2% of Baby Boomers also use it every day. Check out some other important social media engagement stats:

  • The average time someone spends on social media each day is 2 hours and 22 minutes
  • 91% of all social media users are accessing platforms through a mobile device
  • 71% of people who have a positive interaction with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to their friends and family

Further, 73% of marketers claim that social media has been very effective in their promotion efforts. There’s no question about it: you need to be marketing your mission, impact, and campaigns on social media. It’s also a powerful platform to market your events.

While people sometimes view social media as an in-the-moment and spontaneous activity, especially for covering events, a little forethought and planning will take you a long way. In this post we’ll share some tips to help you promote your event over social media before it happens, the day-of, and once it’s wrapped up.

1. Before the Event

In the months, weeks, and days leading up to your event, you need to spread the news far and wide. Not only will this help promote your event, it can also generate momentum for registrations, ticket purchases, donations, or peer-to-peer fundraiser sign ups.

If you host an annual or quarterly event, people will likely expect something on your social media channels announcing the details. However, if you’re doing a new first-time event, or a one-off, people might not be as aware.

Either way, it’s crucial that you leave nothing to chance and blast your message to the public. To get started, you’ll need to identify which platforms you want to use, your goals, and the specific announcements you want to make.

Pro Tip
Reach out to a handful of dedicated supporters and ask them to post about the event or re-share your posts. You should also call on any sponsors or partners to promote the event as well. Send them sample text or sharing images that they can easily post to their social networks.

Free Download: Your 10-Week Social Media Event Marketing Plan

Which Platform Will You Prioritize?

Each of the dominant social media platforms—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram—require slightly different approaches for use. For example, Twitter only allows you 240 characters while the others are unrestricted: you need to choose your words deliberately.

A well-rounded social media marketing plan for your upcoming event will make use of all four platforms. However, you’ll likely want to prioritize one or two as your primary channels while the others support.

If you have a lot to explain about event details, its story, and how it connects to your mission, Facebook and LinkedIn are probably your best bet. Then, you can supplement with a quick graphic of your event poster on Instagram or a tweet that links out to your main event page.

What Are Your Goals?

Clear goals will help focus your social media marketing efforts. Are you only interested in how many ticket sales or even registrations you get? Do you want to track the level of engagement across your promotion efforts to determine which channel your audience is most active on? Maybe you want to see the long-term value of gaining new followers through your posts?

No matter what your goals, set them in stone before you start marketing your event on social media. That way you can ensure that your social media marketing strategy helps you attain those goals, and every tactic ladders back up to them.

Your Key Announcements and Deadlines

It can be helpful to structure your social media promotion around a few important announcements or deadlines. For example, you might:

  • Announce the date of your event
  • Showcase the various activities that will happen at your event
  • Reveal speakers or special guests
  • Inform the public about deadlines for early-bird ticket sales
  • Present your official event hashtag to your social channels

Not only will this educate your audience about the event details, it also allows you to repeatedly promote your event in an organic, non-forced way.

2. During the Event

Your pre-event social media marketing should focus on awareness for the event, driving registrations or ticket sales, and building excitement for what’s to come. On the day of your event, however, your objectives will shift as you seek to:

  • Delight attendees on the ground
  • Share posts on your channels for those who couldn’t make it
  • Collect content for future engagement and promotions

Since live event coverage is a big job, we recommend that you designate one person to handle it. That way you don’t have to stress about running an event and capturing all those golden little moments as well.

Delight Attendees

Your event is just as much your attendees’ as it is yours: make them feel like they own a part of it. After all, the event wouldn’t be happening if they didn’t come out to support it. So, as you go around the event doing live coverage, keep your eyes open for opportunities like:

  • Testimonials about the experience
  • Exciting group or individual photos
  • Timely sponsor and partner shout outs
  • Gripping stories about what the event means to attendees
  • Powerful quotes

As you post to your channels, make sure to also pay attention to what others are posting about your event. Like, share, and respond to positive posts to elevate the good vibes even further. If you come across any complaints or negative posts, don’t ignore them.

Even if you don’t have an immediate solution, replying to these posts or privately messaging the attendee shows that you care and want to make things right. Also, these negative posts can alert you to problems that you may not even know are occurring.

Share With Your Audience

No matter how successfully you market your event on social media, there will be people who can’t make it, don’t want to go, or are still unaware of it. Your day-of coverage is a prime opportunity to show them all the great things happening.

For people who can’t make it, this can play on their fear of missing out (FOMO) and ignite a sense of urgency to be present for the next event. It’s also a chance to re-appeal to those who didn’t want to go: maybe they realize it’s a much more impactful event than they initially thought and now they want to get involved.

Finally, for those who were unaware, this is a great way to market the event to them again and drive their attention back to your nonprofit. Make good use of your social media posts during the event to help nurture relationships and start new ones, all while marketing your impact.

Collect Content

Content marketing and social media marketing go hand-in-hand. From pictures and videos to quotes and testimonials, your event can help generate blog posts, special email blasts, extra social media posts, and more for months to come.

Ask your entire team to capture content on the day of your event. It’s also smart to have a specific list of images you want to capture ahead of time so you can ensure they’re taken.

And while it’s important to have a plan walking into your event, you also need to build in flexible with your day-of social strategy to capitalize in an authentic way. Some of the best social media content happens in the moment. If you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to capture it for future content generation efforts.

3. After the Event

Much like a fundraising campaign, the final phase of your social media event marketing is about follow-up, re-engagement, impact transparency, and key learnings. First and foremost, thank all of the people who helped make your event possible on your channels. You might want to do a few separate specific posts for sponsors, partners, volunteers, and attendees.

Then, post a recap or wrap-up post that highlights five or six key moments from the event. Pair this with a few high resolution photos of each moment and post it to your channels. In our experience, LinkedIn and Facebook are best for these kinds of posts.

Once that’s wrapped up, it’s time for you to consolidate all of the content you’ve collected for your future marketing initiatives. Review everything as a team and decide what you want to use and how you’l use it in promotions. For example, if you have a few great impact stories they might be suited for blog posts or email newsletters while photos can make for engaging Instagram posts.

You should also take this opportunity to send a survey to your donors and solicit their feedback. This is extremely valuable for planning future events as you’ll know what to double down on or improve next time.

Finally, keep your followers and event attendees updated on your subsequent events. If this is your signature annual event you can even start selling tickets for next year immediately. Let people commit now, when they’re full of happy memories.

Social media marketing is an important cornerstone of your event’s success, so remember to treat it as you would any other facet of your strategy: with time and due diligence. If you’d like even more tips, make sure to download our social media marketing guide below.


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