It’s hard for some of us to imagine life before Facebook.
My college experience was documented in dozens of costume-filled photo albums, it’s how I find out which friends are engaged, and it lets me watch as my baby cousins across the country grow into fully formed people.
It’s also how I threw a surprise party for my best friend last month. With everyone you know on Facebook (and chances are it’s close to everyone, given that 71% of online adults use the network), it just makes sense to organize an event using the social media platform.
Facebook has become ubiquitous for those planning more than the occasional casual shindig, too, whether you ‘like’ it or not.
In In the Viral Impact of Events (a survey by FreemanXP and the Event Marketing Institute), 77% of respondents said Facebook was the most effective social media tool leading up to events, and 55% named it as most effective afterwards. (Twitter took the top spot for most effective while an event is happening.)
We’ve put together a guide on how to use Facebook for event planning, for the before, during, and after stages of the process.
Use your organization’s Facebook page to create a new event. Fill out as much information as possible, but especially those critical details like where and when.
Facebook allows you to add a large photo for events now, so choose something eye-catching or colorful. A horizontal picture is best, given the display, and something high enough resolution to stretch most of the width of a screen.
Make sure your event title is enticing too – “Event Planning Webinar” is not going to draw in nearly as many visitors as “Learn How to Double Your Ticket Sales in 30 Minutes.”
Use the event description to paint the picture; tell followers what will make your event so awesome, but don’t forget to include the ticket price! You can also link out to a registration page or place on your website with a long list of details or FAQs.
Once you’ve got your event page up and running, you should switch into promotion mode.
Invite your followers to attend on Facebook, and encourage them to invite their friends too.
Share the event to your page’s followers. Share it with your Twitter followers. Share it with your Pinterest followers. They’re probably on Facebook, too.
In addition to sharing the event itself, you can link to any other non-Facebook content you have that relates to your event to amp people up. Keeping a blog on the planning process? (You should.) Share each update. Got the registration page up and running? Remind people that early-bird ticket prices are only good for the next three days.
Post regularly within the event page, sharing those important updates there too. Some people might click “attending” or find the page without following your organization page, so you want that content to reach them and show that you are engaged and engaging.
Every Facebook post is the opportunity to write catchy copy that goes beyond a headline. Try pitches like, “Don’t miss the most important conference of the year” or “1,500 people already have tickets for the show. Don’t miss out!” Vary your text and see which kinds of calls to action perform best with your audience.
Mix up the type of content with photos and videos, as Facebook is giving special algorithm attention to the latter. Once again, go for something eye-catching, as you want to grab someone’s attention as they scroll through a newsfeed.
And even though a hashtag will serve you best during the event on Twitter, you can start to spread the word on Facebook. Announce your event hashtag and include it in all your posts. You should also include it in your promotional images.
With so many possible guests using Facebook, it’s a spot for customer service as well. Monitor the event page closely, and be prepared to quickly respond to any questions and quell concerns.
To reach even more people, you can consider using Facebook ads. They can boost post visibility, target a custom audience, and retarget those who have visited your site before. Check out this complete guide on Social Media Examiner on using Facebook ads for event marketing.
During the Event
Facebook might not be your go-to while your event is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it, either.
Focus your attention on Twitter, but still reach out to your followers periodically on Facebook. While your attendees will have their noses buried in tweets during sessions, you can still find them during their morning coffee-and-Facebook break to see what they’re most looking forward to. Post at the end of the evening (when they’ll likely tune back in to Facebook) and ask what their favorite part of the day was, or to spot themselves in a photo.
You should also share live highlights during the course of the event to followers. Facebook is a great place to post pictures while the hubbub is happening, especially if you’ve linked your Instagram to post in both places at once.
It gives those who are attending the chance to comment or share to show their own followers what they’re up to, as well as letting those who have missed out get a glimpse into the action.
Amp your Facebook posting up as soon as your event comes to a close.
We’ve got these tips on extending the life and hype of your event, and Facebook specifically is great for keeping your event top of mind.
Share your favorite photos and videos, and ask questions like, “Did you get to see [this great speaker]?” and “Can you spot yourself in this group shot?” Make your posts conversational and the conversation will happen around your event.
Post all of your event recap blog posts, YouTube videos of important talks, and links to slides and collaborative notes.
You can also ask for event feedback in a Facebook post. Of course you planned an awesome event, but be prepared for negative reactions in the mix. Do your part to respond quickly and conscientiously to build a relationship. Let them know their complaints have been heard, and if appropriate what you’ll do to make amends and do better next time. Be sure to thank those who leave compliments, too!
If you have another event planned for the future, even if it’s the next annual conference, now is your chance to share it with your captive audience. Keep posting content and you’ll keep them interested in your organization and what more you can offer into the future.
Even as you master Facebook for event planning, the features continue to change. How do you use Facebook as an event planner? Got any tips or tricks you’d like to give the thumbs up? Add your comments below!