So you’re organizing an event, and everything is going as planned.  You booked the venue, secured the host months ago, and the artists or presenters are raring to go.  But you’ve left out an important part of the equation, getting people there.  How will people know about it?

It’s almost never too early to start thinking about event promotion.  One of the most important things in event promotion is building awareness ahead of time.  Ensuring you have enough attendees usually takes weeks, and sometimes months, of publicity. And with the proliferation of devices that mediate your potential attendees lives, online is where you should be doing it.  Though online promotion can be a difficult task.  With so many avenues to get the word out, which ones do you choose?

Recently, I was speaking with a friend who knew I worked in digital marketing.  He was spearheading an event that was only weeks away and needed advice on how to promote it.  After doing a brief review of his existing communications, I sent him a short email of tips on getting the word out.  In the moments that followed pressing that send button, I thought there must be other event organizers in his position.  With their event approaching, days passing at light speed, and the pressure to recoup on investment piling up.  So I decided to blow that quick email out into a whole post to help anyone else out there in making their event a success.


Step one of promoting any event should be to list it on Facebook.  With over 1.56 billion daily active users, it’s a good bet that many people in your town will be looking for events there. And the numbers will just keep on growing.  Facebook users increase an average of 8 percent year over year.  And not only are there huge numbers of people on the platform, 29.7% of users are age 25 to 34 (Source:Emarketer 2012). Why is this important? This is the prime target demographic for most event and festival’s marketing efforts. Engage with and speak to these key consumers on Facebook.

Top Reasons for Using Facebook to Promote Your Event?

  • Video Engagement: Use video headers to create eye-catching promotional reels to drum up interest for your event
  • Location-Based Listing: Facebook users are, by-default, shown events near them.  And if they’re traveling for business or pleasure they can search for any location they want. Including the city your event is in!
  • Easy Event Updates: People love a story, especially a personal one.  Use the events post stream to show your potential attendees unique behind the scenes content and event-specific updates. These info dumps build buzz make your event look lively and dynamic


Promote events online using Facebook Groups

Another great feature to leverage on Facebook is Groups.  If you aren’t familiar, Groups are like interest-based bulletin boards where members share posts based on the group’s specific topic.  Since not everyone constantly checks the Events feed, sharing in appropriate Groups can increase awareness for your happening.  Though be aware, Facebook Groups can be closed or open, so you may have to ask for membership before you post.

Once you’ve found Groups with interests that are appropriate, share your event there using text that is applicable to that audience.  It’s important to highlight the aspects of your event that are relevant to each group.   For example, if you’re hosting a film making workshop, your class could be of interest not only to videographers, but also entrepreneurs curious to learn how to promote their product or service.  See below for a few examples of how to change the focus of your writing for different audiences.

Some Copy Writing Examples for Event Promotion for Different Audiences

  • Business associations:  “Learn how to make your project videos shine! 71% of people buy-in to products or services from personal stories. Use our proven techniques to…”
  • Artists/Film-makers: “Create beautifully engaging film and video! Discover how a human-centered approach can help you connect with your audience…”


Event Listing Sites

Even though I’ve been giving a lot of time to Facebook, it’s not the end-all be-all for event promotion.  Just about every city will have an online events listing site serving its inhabitants and visitors. Find these for your city and add your event to their calendars.  Not everyone is on Facebook, and if they are, they may ot be using the events listing there.  Making sure you’re listed on all the relevant calendars increases the probability people will find out about your concert, workshop, conference or art opening.

Contact Local Bloggers & Vloggers

Usually content creators are hungry for new topics to cover and added exposure.  Find some in your event’s area with an interest in your its topic or style. Many bloggers would write a quick feature on the it in exchange for it being shared on your social channels.  Don’t limit yourself to text and still images either.  If you’re comfortable on video, or have a co-organizer who is, tap a local YouTuber or streamer who’d host you for a short feature or interview.


Social media is an ideal channel for initiating conversations. Reach out to attendees, speakers, and prospective conference-goers to get them excited about the event. Stay relevant by sharing other related content and sparking social chatter. Creating enthusiasm before the event will encourage others to also promote it.

Turn Attendees into Influencers

People who are set to attend your event are already fans. Approaching them online and on social media channels can turn them into massive influencers for your event.  After all, word-of-mouth exposure and establishing social proof, is one of the most effective ways to sell. Using a mix of public posts and direct messages to those you have relationships with, encourage them to help spread the word. If your event has guest speakers, bands or MC’s, share their updates and chat with them online and have them share yours. Then their loyal fans and admirers will learn (and possibly give a shout) about your event!


What is a Lookalike Audience?

If you’re doing any paid advertising, using a lookalike audience is essential.  A Lookalike Audience is a group of people your ads will be shown to that are defined by a set of behaviors and interests of your contacts.  Who these contact are is chosen by you.  For example, you can use your event promotion email list to create a target audience that shares traits with your existing prospects. So your subsequent ads will be shown to the most relevant people. When creating ads, you can even mix-and-match these audience to create hyper-specialized target groups that would be incredibly responsive to your event.

Creating a Lookalike Audience

  1. In Facebook Ads Manager, click the menu icon in the top left-hand corner of the screen. In the drop-down below, select “Audiences.
  2. Then select the blue “Create Audience” at the top of the screen and choose “Lookalike Audience.”
  3. The “source” field is where you select the people you want to base your target audience on. There are a few ways you can gather this source, so it can be confusing.  See below for a list of what the options mean
    1. Customer file – You can upload customer email addresses to create your target audience.
    2. Website traffic – Target folks visited or took a certain action on your website.
    3. App activity – People who launched or performed an action within your app.
    4. Offline activity – People who called, visited your business, or interacted with you through some other offline channel.
    5. Engagement – People who engaged with your business on Facebook or Instagram
  4.  Choose where your ads will be shown in the “Location” field. Currently, Facebook only lets you to select countries or regions.  You won’t be able to select the city your event is in until you create your ad.
  5. And in the “Audience Size” slider. This will show you how big your new lookalike audience is.Though the larger, you make your audience the less like the target group they will be.  So the 1% lookalike will be your smallest audience, but they will be most like your customers and contacts. While 10% lookalike will be huge, but the Facebook’s members you show your ad to will only be slightly similar to the those of your source.


No, email isn’t dead.  It’s just not the sexy young strategy it used to be.

Even though people are inundated with junk mail daily and services like email may move your mailing to a different window, email blast are still incredibly important. This is especially true for mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of mobile phone owners access their emails from their device. Another benefit of email is that it is viewable on just about any screen, not only phones. Forrester Research found that 42 percent of sales email messages were opened on smartphones and 17 percent were opened on tablets. So your email also can double as a mobile message, and a cost-effective one at that.  Judged against the cost of mass SMS messages as well as the increased space for content and visual versatility of emails, sending marketing messages this way is a no-brainer.

Use an Email Marketing Service to Promote Your Event

Using a service like MailChimp or MadMimi by GoDaddy, you can create beautiful, eye-catchign email advertisements that entice readers to come to your event. Each service has robust inexpensive or free options for small email lists.  Mad Mimi starts at $10 per month for email lists of up to 500 contacts, while MailChimp offers a whopping 2,000 contacts for free.  The trade-off with MailChimp is that your emails will feature their logo at the bottom of each mailer you send.

If you’re new to creating emails in MailChimp or Mad Mimi check out these video tutorials

I hope this glance at online event promotion has helped you and I wish you the best of luck in your event!

If you’re need help launching your digital marketing campaign, contact me at [email protected] for a quote.

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