By Neil Patel
Hosting an event is a great way for businesses to gain exposure.
This holds true whether it’s a holiday or a special occasion for your customers, the community, or your industry.
You may want to promote an event even if you’re not hosting it.
For example, maybe your company will have a booth set up at a trade show or job fair.
Maybe you’re a keynote speaker at a conference or dinner event.
Your business might be a top sponsor of a charity golf tournament.
The list goes on and on.
Regardless of what kind of event you’re hosting, attending, or sponsoring, you’ll need to get people to show up if you want it to be successful.
Event planning isn’t easy.
Sometimes events take months to prepare for and require professional help.
After spending so much time, money, and preparation, it would be disheartening to see low attendance.
If you’ve been through this before, you know what I’m talking about.
While you may need some help running the event, you can get people in the doors all by yourself.
The days of hanging up flyers around town are over.
I’ll show you how to build hype and get thousands of people to attend your event by using online tactics.
Set up a website for your event
Rather than just having a small button on your current website promoting the event, you should build a completely new website.
Take a look at how Crawford Contractor Connection does this with their annual conference and business expo:
For starters, just look at the menu options.
They’ve got nine different menu tabs for the website visitors to choose from, all for this one event.
It’s much more effective than having one section or one page of their current website dedicated to this.
How else would you be able to fit all the information into such a small space?
An event like this will have people flying in from all over the country.
If you’re hosting something similar, you need to be as accommodating as possible toward the attendees.
Get in touch with local hotels to get rooms blocked off and offer discounted group rates.
Anyone attending would be able to find this information directly on the event website.
You can also use your website as a platform to get people registered.
Now you can collect money in advance and have a more official head count for the day of the event.
That way, you’ll have a more accurate estimate of the number of attendees you’ll have than you would if you were guessing how many would show up.
Blast your email subscribers with invitations
It’s best to start with the people you know.
You’ll have an easier time getting them to attend an event than those unfamiliar with your brand.
Check out this email from Marketo as an example:
This virtual event was attended by over 10,000 people.
That’s right, in today’s day and age people can attend your events without having to leave their homes.
But let’s focus on the email.
It has lots of good information you can replicate in yours:
- Always make sure the date and time are clear
- Have clear CTA buttons
- Include your contact information
- Give the subscribers a reason to attend
- Add a video to your email (emails with video get 96.38% higher CTRs)
If you have any celebrities or special guests coming to speak, don’t keep it a secret.
Nobody wants to hear from a “surprise guest speaker.”
That could mean anything.
Be upfront and clear about all the information.
Since you’ll email subscribers who may be your current customers, you can provide them with more incentives to attend.
“Register now and receive a $20 gift card and a free t-shirt.”
Something like that should do the trick.
Just make sure they need to actually attend the event to claim their prizes.
If they get the reward instantly, they may not have any reason to show up.
Use podcasts to get the word out
Podcasts are a great online resource to reach a large audience.
If you or your company has a podcast, you know what I’m talking about.
But even if you don’t, you can try to partner with other podcasts related to your brand and industry to build hype for your event.
People spend more time listening to podcasts than any other audio source.
That’s why it’s one of my favorite ways to promote anything online, but it’s especially helpful for an event.
Depending on your relationship with the person who runs the podcast, it’ll probably cost you some money.
But if you were to advertise with traditional marketing methods, such as print, television, or radio ads, you’d pay regardless.
So it’s worth it.
But try your best to keep these costs as low as possible.
Consider offering the person running the podcast free promotion for their brand during your event in exchange for airtime on their show to endorse it.
That keeps everyone happy and could expose your event to potentially hundreds of thousands of listeners.
Come up with a unique hashtag for your event
When it comes to social media promotion, take full advantage of hashtags.
The right hashtag can increase the chances of your posts and event going viral.
Whether you’re using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or all of these platforms to promote your event, make sure you include a hashtag in each post.
Here’s an example of a hashtag from the Eurobike event in Germany:
Hashtags are great because you can use them in three different phases to promote your event.
- Before the event starts
- During the event
- After it’s over
Use hashtags in every post leading up to the event.
This will help you get an initial surge of people to attend.
Include it on all your invitations and in emails as well.
Once the event starts, the hashtag doesn’t have to die.
Attendees, speakers, performers, or anyone associated with your event can use this hashtag to share their experience in real time.
If your event lasts several days, these hashtags could encourage people who weren’t planning on attending to come to your event.
People can share all their photos and videos using the event hashtag as well.
Staying active on social media while using the hashtag during your event can help generate conversations about it.
Ask people what their favorite part was so far.
You can run a contest of the best picture from the event.
After the event is over, you can still keep the hashtag alive.
Attendees can continue to post photos, and you can stay engaged with these people through the hashtag.
You can even link this event to your next one.
Create an event on Facebook
Facebook is one of the best platforms to promote an event online because it has over 1 billion active monthly users.
If you’ve never set up an event on Facebook, don’t worry—it’s easy.
I’ll show you exactly what to do so you get it right the first time.
Step #1: Navigate to “Events” under the “Explore” menu
On the left side of your Facebook home page, you’ll see a menu that says “Explore.”
“Events” is the first option below that tab.
Once you click it, you’ll be able to see any events you’re attending, those your friends are interested in, and nearby events.
Step #2: Click “Create Event”
From here, you can click “Create Event” in one of two different locations on the page.
Click the button on the bottom left of the screen or at the top middle of the page to continue.
Step #3: Set it up as a public event
Make sure your event is public.
Private events are intended for small parties or gatherings among friends, but not for businesses.
To ensure it gets exposed to as many people as possible, it’s essential you click on this setting.
Otherwise, only people whom you personally invite will have access to this page.
Step #4: Add an event photo
Upload a photo for your event.
It can be your company logo, but I recommend including more information.
Create a customized image with your logo, the name of the event, the date, time, and any other relevant information.
This is a great spot to include the event hashtag as well, which we discussed earlier.
Step #5: Add the basic information about the event
Your event photo may or may not include this info, but you’ll need to make it all official here for the Facebook event.
Come up with a name.
Tell people where the event will be held.
Set specific start and end times for your event.
It could last a couple of hours or a week.
Whatever you decide, this is the place where you set it up.
Step #6: Add a description, and click “Create”
Here’s the part where you get to tell people more about your event.
What special guests are attending?
Are you serving food?
Is it family friendly?
Tell your prospective guests where they can park and how they can buy tickets.
Add lots of details here.
Don’t be vague.
Include a link to your special event website, which I talked about earlier.
Click on the “Create” button when you’re done.
That’s it. Your event is created.
Now it’s time for you to invite people to join.
Start by adding everyone who follows your brand on Facebook.
Encourage these people to invite their friends as well.
You can promote your Facebook event on other platforms too, such as Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Use your hashtag to drive users towards the Facebook page.
Even people who don’t follow your page on Facebook will be able to see your event.
The Facebook algorithm will make it appear on their newsfeeds if any of their friends are interested in attending.
Reach out to your Instagram followers
Instagram is another inexpensive and effective way to promote any event online.
It’s easy to post pictures here.
Plus, you’ve already got a social following there, so take advantage of it.
This works whether you’re a global company or a local business.
Check out this Instagram event promotion from Hope Gallery:
The image is very effective.
It has all the information needed to get the attention of their followers.
The post includes the date and time of the event along with the contact information and location.
They also listed the guest artists as well as businesses providing food and drinks as additional incentives.
You can also see they added an event hashtag to the post—an effective promotional method.
The picture could be used on other platforms as well.
If you’re planning to make a customized image for Instagram, it could double as your Facebook event photo.
Hosting, running, and attending an event may be complicated and costly.
However, promoting it online doesn’t have to be.
As you can see from the tactics I discussed, you can expose your event to a large audience without putting in too much effort, time, or money.
You just have to be smart and direct to get the best results.
Start by creating a website designed specifically for your event.
You can use it to provide attendees with information, get people to register, and collect payments ahead of time.
Take advantage of your current marketing distribution channels, especially your email subscriber list.
Everyone on your email list is already familiar with your brand, which increases the chances of them being interested in attending your event.
Use your podcast or other peoples’ podcasts to build hype for your event.
Come up with a clever hashtag to get exposure on social media platforms.
Create an event on Facebook, and use Instagram to promote it as well.
The more people you can get to show up, the more successful your event will be.
It all starts with how well you promote it.
If you follow these online promotional tips, you won’t have a problem getting thousands of people to attend your event.
What other types of successful strategies have you used in the past to promote your events?