10 Steps to Successfully Promote your Tourism Event on Social Media
Last updated September 13, 2021
Are you responsible for promoting an event for your business, local community, visitor centre, council or region? If so, social media is a fantastic low cost way to let people know about and book tickets for your event.
However, too often we see smaller events not making full use of social media to inspire new people to attend their events.
We know it can be overwhelming working out how to best use social media to market a tourism experience, let alone a individual event.
So in this blog we break it down, step-by-step on how you can most effectively promote your event on social media for minimal time, $$ and headaches to attract more happy event attendees!
1. Identify you Events 'Ideal Customer'
Before you go anywhere near social media, you first need to be clear on who you want coming to your event.
Did you know your event isn’t for everyone?
Your event is for those people who love your event's experience and will rave about it to their family and friends - the ultimate free, word-of-mouth marketing. They are also the people likely to spend the most and attend again if it is a regular event.
So before you start any event promotion on social, you need to be clear on who your event’s Ideal Customer is, and profile them and then Customer Journey Map them. Your event attendee profile could be one of your businesses/region’s current Ideal Customers, or they may be slightly different.
Being clear on who your event’s ideal customer is and profiling them, will help you work out:
- Which social media channel/s to focus promoting your event on
- What time of day to share updates on social media so they are most likely to see them
- What stories about your event they would be interested to see in the lead up to your event? Destination stories, behind the scenes stories and helpful event information are all a great start.
2. Choose your Social Networks
Next up you need to decide where you will promote your event on social media.
Does it need its own dedicated social media channels or will you just promote it on your own business, council or region branded social media channels?
Option 1: Promote it via your own business/region/visitor centre/council’s social media channels
Most suited for events that are:
- Smaller, such as a cellar door event or an in-house event at your attraction
- Adhoc in their timing. It isn’t ongoing and could just be a once off event
- Simple, with a few key stories to tell people about
- Likely to have a single Ideal Customer
- Unlikely to have it’s own brand. Your business or region is the brand.
Example: Seppeltsfield Winery, who promote their cellar door events under their own business Facebook page
- Saves time, as there are no additional social media profiles you need to manage
- Saves diluting your brand by having separate social media channels
- Ability to sell tickets directly via event ticketing platform (such as Eventbrite)
- No dedicated social media "home" for your event. You event is more “hidden” because it is part of your brand’s main social media page. However by setting up a dedicated “Event” on Facebook, this provide's an event with it's own home on social media which you can post content too, have conversations with attendees etc.
- Potential to annoy your current social media community who aren’t likely event attendees, if you focus on promoting the event heavily in your organic news feed.
Option 2. Dedicated Event Social Media Pages
Most suited for events that:
- Are annual or recurring events, such as a monthly Farmer’s Market or Annual Wine Event
- Attract large numbers of people
- Has its own dedicated event website
- Has its own “brand”, such as “Royal Adelaide Show”
- Are more complex, with lots of things happening and stories to tell!
- Potentially has more than 1 Ideal Customer
- Better visibility of the event on social media
- Great opportunities for social advocacy. By having your own event social media channel means people can link to or tag your event's social media pages when talking about the event online.
- Time required to manage. Managing specific event social media channels in addition to you own branded social media channels will take more time. So if you have a small team responsible for social (aka yourself or another team member), this needs to be taken into consideration.
- Potential to dilute your business or regional brand by having separate social media channel for your event (people may not associate your event with your brand, especially if it doesn't have your brand name in the title).
3. Choose an Event #hashtag
To encourage people to talk about your event and share photos & videos, which is highly trusted, free word-of-mouth marketing of your event, it's a good idea to promote a relevant hashtag for your event.
This helps bring all the online conversations specifically on Instagram around your event into one hashtag, as people will be talking about it anyway, you may has well centralise the conversation when you can.
When choosing your hashtag:
- Keep it as short and simple as possible. This is so it's easy to remember, spell and doesn’t take up too much space in tweets.
- Research what is currently being used on Instagram and Facebook to make sure your potential hashtag isn't being used for another reason.
- You can make it general or date specific – such as #adelshow or #adelshow22.
Let people know about the event #hashtag on all your online and offline customer touch points:
- Offline: Event maps and guides, signage around the event (such as back of toilet doors!)
- Online: On your social media profiles and on your website
See #10 below for tips on how to further leverage your hashtags.
Good example: Recent Illuminate Adelaide promoted their #illuminateadelaide hashtag throughout all their event marketing, and saw huge amounts of online advocacy and social media posts from the event.
4. Publish your Event info on a Relevant Website
Information about your event needs a home on a website. This is ideally you own website and/or your local tourism organisation’s and/or council's website (contact them to find out how to organise this).
This is really important for a couple of reasons:
- You want your event to be found by people searching in Google. For this to happen, the information about it needs to be on a webpage for Google to be able to find, crawl and index it in it's search engine results.
- It saves trying to squeeze all the event information into social media updates, which makes it less engaging (see point #5)
- Don't forget eCommence and ticket sales.
If your event requires people to purchase tickets before the event, consider an eCommerce solution such as Eventbrite, which can then allow your website visitors or on social media communities to easily purchase tickets.
Bonus tip: Remember to set up your event listing on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse for coverage on your local Destination Websites.
5. Design CORRECT Social Media Sized Images
Promoting your event on Social Media needs VERY different graphics to your traditional event poster. Please, NEVER re-share your offline printed posted on social media.
It is too hard to read and will simply be ignored and will damage your organic reach if shared on Facebook.
Using the awesome, free graphic design tool 'Canva', you can create a really engaging event social media photos in just a few minutes. Or, you can work with your graphic designer to do this for you.
Depending on where your Ideal Customers are hanging out, design an event promo graphic for the following sizes, and make sure key information isn't chopped on when viewed on mobile or desktop!
- Facebook: Timeline, Event and Ads Image
- Square Image: Best suited for Facebook and Instagram
- Landscape: Best suited for Twitter and LinkedIn News Feeds
- Tall Image: Instagram/Snapchat Stories,
TIP: Canva has all these template sizes set up and ready for you to design to.
6. Communicate on Email
Social media and your website aren't the only places you should promote your event online. Start building a list of people interested in hearing about your event - either from scratch or from your existing customer database.
Regardless of the size of your event, this is essential because:
- Not everyone sees social media updates, on average only around 3 - 5% of your Facebook community will see newfeed posts, but most people see their emails.
- You don't own your social media channels but you do own a list of potential customers emails.
Develop a communication plan of how you will communicate with people before, during and after the event.
Mailchimp is a simple and easy to use email service provider to get you started.
7. Leverage Partners
There other organisations and social communities who may be talking to your event’s Ideal Customers, and may be happy to share information about your event to their online communities or past event participants
These could include your regional tourism organisations, complementary businesses or events, local councils, visitor information centres and local media.
Depending on who they are, they may be happy to receive this information from you by posting it directly to their Facebook Wall.
IMPORTANT: If you want the increase the chances of them sharing a social media update out to their community, refer back to #5.
8. Give a story to tell on social media
In the lead up to the event, when done right, social media is a great way to build awareness, anticipation, advocacy and ticket sales for your event.
Like email, develop a communication plan of how you will communicate with people on your social media channels before, during and after the event.
IMPORTANT: Don't just keep resharing your event details (such as the even image from #5).
Focus on sharing relevant and interesting stories that make your Ideal Customers feel inspired or excited to attend, and is also a story they want to share with their own family and friends. This could include
- Behind the scenes stories - using photo, videos or live broadcasts
- Interesting or quirky facts about your event
- Human stories of your event, such as local characters or event icons.
- Place stories about your event's location
A couple of tips to help get the maximum engagement with the updates you share are:
- Use Video. Get your smartphone and start taking and creating short videos. Consider also how you could use Stories especially if your event has it's own dedicated social media presence.
- Make it native. You can share the same photo or video but PLEASE don't link social media accounts. Take a few minutes to post your photo or video it directly to Facebook or Instagram and tailor your comments.
9. Consider Facebook Advertising
Facebook Advertising, when done right, has some incredible targeted advertising options to help let more people know about your event.
For a few dollars a day you have the potential to get your event information in front of more of your Ideal Customers.
How to do this:
- Create a new Facebook Ad from scratch. Please DON'T just boost a post you have shared on Facebook Timeline. You can't target the Ad to its full potential and so you will potentially waste money.
- Build an audience to put your Ad in front of that matches your Ideal Customer (#1). Remember to narrow your demographic targeting to only show the Ad to those likely to be able to attend (such as in a certain geographic location).
- Make sure the Ad has a measurable call to action (eg link through to your website or ticket sales). This means you will be able to easily track results through Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Reporting.
- Run the Add with a small budget (eg $50 a day for say 5 days) and monitor closely the number of click-through to the website and bookings people make.
10. Leverage Your Customer Love
Encouraging your event attendees talk to about your event positively on social media is the most important part of using social media!
Photos and videos shared by your event attendees are the most trusted types of marketing for your event you can have!
Promoting your event #hashtag (#3) is the the best way to encourage it! From there, you can make this content work even harder for you by:
- Monitor what people are posting using your #hashtag on all the relevant social media channels, as well as Geo-location tags on Instagram/Facebook.
- Consider paid tools such as Local Mention or CrowdRiff if your event is bigger, to pick up social media conversations that don't include your hashtag.
- Ensure you listen to all conversations around your event, and respond quickly and appropriately.
- Reshare the best images and videos back onto your social media channels, always crediting the original person who took them.
- Build relationship with your most passionate event attendees and content creators. You can potentially leverage this relationship for next event, and get them on board to share more engaging and anticipating building social updates.
Over to You...
Are there other things you have tried that have worked well to promote your event on social media?
This article was originally published in 2018 and was most recently updated in September 2021