As we know a challenge with any campaign is budget management, especially when your budget is $0.
In my new role overseeing marketing for the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, I am quickly faced with charity events and community gatherings that need to be promoted; to drive people to attend and participate. But often we, and organizers of events like these, do not have the funds to pay a Community Manager or invest heavily in paid media.
How do you get an event out into the world and drive traffic without a budget?
1. Create Event Pages for Easy Scheduling & Sharing
Facebook Event Pages have been around since the early days. We all know them. We've all seen them. And that's because the Facebook algorithm prioritizes their rank in your Newsfeed. This mean you are more likely to see a post about a Facebook Event, as opposed to say a post from a Brand page.
Create an Event page, invite people who you feel would genuinely be interested, and add any co-hosts or partners so they can share the Event as well.
Now that you're generating awareness of your event, you need users to commit. This is where your EventBrite page comes in. Create an Eventbrite Event (it's free), which allows users to register to attend. Even if there is no cost for the ticket, having guests register in Eventbrite gives you an idea of how many attendees you can expect, and most importantly it creates a calendar reminder for your event. This means your event is in that person's calendar, in the phone in the palm of their hand, and they will be reminded to attend.
Paste the Eventbrite link in your Facebook Event Page, and allow those interested on Facebook to register on Eventbrite. The deal is sealed.
2. Schedule Your Posts in Advance
Did you know that on your Facebook Business Page you can schedule messages to go out at a later time and date? Create all of your posts leading up to your event, schedule them and simply monitor the comments that come in. This will allow you to dedicate a consolidated chunk of time to preparing all social content, and avoid the risks of getting distracted, busy, or disconnected when you intend to be posting every couple of days. If you are using paid media, you can include your Boost criteria in your scheduled post as well. Facebook allows you to schedule posts right in the platform, but for LinkedIn you can use Hootsuite, and for Instagram my go-to is Schedugram.
3. Leverage Stakeholder Networks
With more than one affiliate, partner, group, or business involved in pulling off an event, networks can grow exponentially. Think of all of the parties involved who are stakeholders in your event, and research their social media followings. Your venue provider, sister chapter, volunteer team, keynote speakers, auction item donors, and board of directors all have visibility. They all hold a stake in your events success, so arm them with content to promote it.
Send them an email that includes the Eventbrite link, and state the key benefits of attending the event. Ask them to publish this in their social networks, and tag your organization in the copy so new attendees can check you out and learn more.
4. Call on Users to Share Stories
If you work for an organization that has a strong emotional connection with its participants, creating conversation may be easy. With CGLCC, we're lucky to have vocal members who are proud to share how LGBT groups have better them and their businesses. When asked to, they will comment on social posts and share their stories and experiences. We will ask them right in the post copy to comment, to share a perspective. This action of Commenting publishes your content into that person's Newsfeed, once again expanding your reach while being a great way to contextualize the benefits of your organization in an authentic way.
5. Sponsorship Package for Paid Media Dollars
When negotiating sponsorship packages, include social media advertising as a package, or blend it into the packages that you already have available. Sponsors can donate advertising dollars that can then be used to boost posts across Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can mention the sponsor in the post, or let them buy more "real estate" in your content plan with co-branded content. This way they get visibility through your channel, and you are able to create a budget to publish out your content. If you include a sponsor in the post, there is now also a greater chance that they will share your content out from their own page.