To increase attendance at your events, you need more than just regular promotional methods. You need to generate buzz — to get other people talking about your events and telling their friends about them. The buzz needs to get louder well before the event actually begins. Here are four ways you can generate that buzz using tools you already have available.
Start promoting your event in your newsletter, even if it’s a Save the Date blurb six months in advance. Also, use your calendar on your website to display all your events. You can also add a widget on your home page to feature upcoming events.
As the event draws closer, write newsletter stories and blog posts about what’s going on in preparation for the event, and what people can expect. Build up the excitement for special entertainment, sessions, or guests. Preview the event, and review last year’s. Show people what they can expect. Finally, ask your subscribers and visitors to help promote the event. Include social sharing buttons on every story and post.
Speaking of social sharing, don’t forget to create a Twitter #hashtag early, and start people using it. Be sure to research whether the hashtag is being used, so you don’t accidentally use a pre-existing or controversial hashtag. Also, remember that shorter hashtags are better. Encourage people to use it early, especially if you’re holding a contest.
Pre-event contests are effective at creating buzz, because you can tie entries into how much people share. Ask people to tweet questions before a panel discussion at a conference, or ask them to post a status update about your event, and tag your organization on Facebook and Twitter. Offer door prizes, free passes, or access to special events to people who use your hashtag or mention your organization. As people share their contest entry — “I entered the 2021 @Reno_Symphony Season Ticket Contest to #GetMyMozartOn” — their friends could see it and also enter.
Invite area bloggers and social media influencers who are well-known for their particular interests. For example, if you’re promoting your Mozart concert, invite area arts reporters to attend for free, and ask them to write about the event before it begins. Invite sports bloggers to a game and a chance to meet the team. Bring political bloggers to candidate debates with a special Q&A session beforehand. Hold a special restaurant pre-grand opening for food bloggers. They’ll share what they learned before the event, and recap it afterward. Make sure they receive information as early as possible, so they can start talking and writing about the event.
Building buzz is an effective marketing tool because it gets other people to talk about your event and generate excitement. Share the information early and as much as possible, give people as much as they need, and grant them special access. Let the “social” in social media do the work for you.