How to build event awareness
Sometimes even those with a command of social media wonder how to build event awareness. Part science, part art, using social media to make the maximum amount of people aware of your event is a very important aspect of your business. Whether you are an old hand at it, or have just begun to realized the value, here are a few guidelines to building awareness, and thus sell more tickets, for your event.
Long Arm of the (social media) Law
Hard working venue owners and event organizers have begun to use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to augment, and sometime replace, traditional forms of advertising. TV and newspaper ads have their place, but the times they are a changin’, and what was once thought of as “trendy” has become a standard business practice to build event awareness. Just how pervasive has social media become as a communication tool? One need only to look at an industry other than your own.
In Williamsburg, Virginia, law enforcement has come to realize the power inherent in social media and have begun several different types of training courses. Law enforcement is not something one would associate with “trendy” or “frivolous”, so the official use of social media to prevent and solve crime is a good indicator that the various platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, are now serious tools.
Gregory Connolly writes in the Williamsburg Daily:
The rampant spread of social media in the last decade offers law enforcement and prosecutors a host of new tools to use to gather information, and in the case of that felon, land a conviction...National White Collar Crime Center, a nonprofit that offers training resources to law enforcement across the nation, recognizes this new world of digital evidence and is hosting a one-day training event in Williamsburg tomorrow that is designed to better equip officers to use social media networks in the course of their policework.
Law enforcement using social media should offset any notion held by a venue owner that it “is not a serious communication tool.”
Once the commitment to use social media has been made, the next step is to establish a strategy on how best to use it to increase ticket sales.
Taming the Tools
Contrary to what the tech press may be reporting at any given moment, there are only four fully major social media platforms - Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Foursquare. Myriad other minor platforms have carved successful niches out for themselves, but the venue owner that is focused on a return on their investment (of time) should stick to the big four.
Each major social media platform has its merits, but rather than make a subjective choices based on personal preference, the move to make is to start with the one where your customers already are. Every venue and event is different, but there are some event types predisposed to one platform or the other.
For example, live music events are predominantly an experience shared with Twitter. However, the live music performers, and their fans, are predominantly using Facebook. Fairs, food festivals and other outdoor events get the most traction on Foursquare. Google Plus has found favor with events that are broadcast live because of the built-in video streaming capability of the Hangouts feature.
If the majority of the patrons in your market area are using one social media platform, start there and build event awareness outward.
Once you have identified which social media platform the majority of your potential ticket buyers are using, and have established a rudimentary presence, you’ll need to “speak” in a certain way. Social media is not the same as the one-way communication dynamic of TV and newspapers. To make your event known, you cannot simply shout “Hey buy tickets to my event!”. You must participate in the conversation that is already occurring and create more value than you capture.
You can create value by using hashtags and answering questions. You can capture value using metrics.
On Twitter and Google Plus (and Facebook soon) a hashtag represents the subject of a discussion. Building event awareness requires that you participate meaningfully. If your event is a chili cook-off, a subject already being widely discussed nationwide, use the generic “#foodie” hashtag, and then further define your unique event as part of the larger world view. Add a location hashtag (“#Dallas”) to the tweet or Facebook status update to refine the appeal to would be attendees.
Q & A
An often neglected aspect of how to build event awareness is answering the resulting questions that result. Once you've successfully made thousands aware of your event, many may have questions. The burden of answering question is on you, but you must answer in a way that makes the best use of your time and resources.
Should a person reply to your event announcement with a very specific question (“Is the show all ages?”), share the answer with everyone. One-to-many communication is social media’s greatest strength. The question being asked by one person is most likely going to be asked by others. You can prevent having to answer the same question over and over my not using the reply button, but but formulating a new status update that contains both the question and the answer. Here’ a great example from the band Mod Sun:
The time spent making people aware of your event must ultimately culminate with quantifiable business results. One of the most effective ways to measure the return on investment is to make use of URL shorteners that you are in control of. Facebook, Twitter and Google do not natively offer metrics, in fact they keep the data to themselves and may charge a substantial amount of money for it.
When you announce your event, don’t just copy and paste the URL, use a shortener service like bit.ly. That way you can see who clicked your link, where there are located, as well as the total number of mouse clicks. A vast amount of business intelligence can be gathered from click through data - superior to anything that TV and newspapers could ever hope to provide - and you can use that data to gauge the need for event resources like event staffing.
Ticketing Software is How to Build Event Awareness
The time spent using social media to build event awareness can be one of the most cost-effective investments you make in your business. Another is the ticketing software you choose.
ThunderTix has tools for building event awareness that you can start using today like being able to sell tickets directly on your Facebook Page. Plus, every one of our plans includes the ability to send custom confirmation emails. Our custom confirmation emails make it easy for your customers to share that they are attending your event on Twitter and Facebook. We also offer the ability to embed your events on any website with our event calendar HTML and other embed options.
We like to call social sharing a “perpetual dynamo“, meaning the simple act of one buyer sharing the excitement they feel with the people they know often causes their friends to buy tickets to the same event. The ThunderTix custom email confirmation has one-click sharing to enable that dynamic. Your buyer loves that she is going to the show and tells her friend. That friend just happens to have 15,000 more friends on Facebook.