You may have been putting off investing your energy in social media, hoping this fad would disappear. Or you may be on the other end of the spectrum and have your hand in way too many social networks to be successful at any one of them. Still others reading this may be consistently sharing on Facebook or other social networks, wondering how it’s really affecting their business.
Whatever situation you’re in, this guide will teach you everything you wanted to know about marketing your events business using social media.
- What social networks you should be using to best get the word out about your business.
- What content you should be sharing for optimum reach.
- Crucial mistakes you could be making that are sabotaging the effectiveness of your social media strategy.
- How you can stop sharing the content your audience doesn’t respond to and share more of the content they enjoy, thus getting them on your Facebook page and to your website more often.
Part 1: The Fundamentals of Social Media—It's about Sharing
First things first: social media is about sharing and connecting, not marketing and advertising.
This is the most important fundamental about social media. It’s not about which network you choose or what magic words you can say to become more successful. It’s all about sharing.
Don’t worry! This guide is all about marketing your business with social media. But before you can turn your social media followers into customers, you have to begin with relationships. This is different from the traditional approach to advertising and marketing. If you are there to advertise, why can’t you just advertise?
Because today’s savvy consumers are wise to that and they’re getting bombarded with it from every angle. To reach today’s customer, it’s necessary to build your brand – or business’s personality – and engage with your target audience before getting to the hard sell. If that sounds counterintuitive, don’t worry: this guide will show you how to do it easily and effectively. In fact, let’s jump in with the first principle.
Principle 1: Give nine times out of 10
If you have tried social media marketing and have gotten frustrated when it didn’t work for your business, it’s likely this was part of the problem: You were looking for what was in it for you rather than what you could give to your social media followers.
With so much value being shared for free on social media, why would anyone want to connect with a page that doesn’t benefit them?
If you want to grow your social media fan base and in turn, your customer base, you have to give nine times out of 10. Here are five ways you can give to your audience on social media:
- Share original blog content from your website with information that is useful or interesting to them.
- Give them an insider’s look at your events business, including venues, catering, guests and any other visuals they might be interested in.
- Literally, give: Have a giveaway. Examples of this could be free event consulting for a bride-to-be or free event planning for a charity event.
- Host an “ask me anything,” where people can ask you questions about what it’s like to be an event professional.
- Share things that inspire you in your creative work: This could be an inspirational quote, a color palette, a venue, or something else that made you say to yourself, “I love what I do.”
For good measure, here are five things that are not giving. Use these very sparingly in your social media marketing, about one in every 10 posts.
- Telling them about a promotion you want them to participate in.
- Asking them to vote for you in a local or other contest.
- Asking them to become a customer.
- Asking them to join your email list.
- Asking them to share content from your website.
Principle 2: Engagement
No matter what social media network you’re on, it’s necessary to engage with your users. Social media is all about relationships, and relationships are never one-sided. (Well, good relationships aren’t!)
When people take the time to share your content, comment on it, or indicate interest by “liking” it, be sure that you acknowledge that by responding to what they said.
If you don’t engage with your audience, two things happen—both of them bad. First, the person who commented will make a mental note not to engage with your content again because their activity was not acknowledged the first time. Second, others will see the commenter’s contribution, note that it was neglected, and never put their neck out on your page.
Fortunately, engaging is easy! Simply be sure to “like” or “favorite” each comment and respond with your own, just as you would in everyday conversation or on your personal social media pages.
Principle 3: A Unique Angle
Being successful on social media is all about having a unique perspective to share with the world. You might think that you don’t have anything to share that hasn’t already been shared, but that’s not true.
Take a moment to look at your business and ask yourself, “What makes us stand out from other businesses like us, and how can we reflect this in our social media marketing?” Here are some good places to start:
- What kind of events and services do you specialize in? What do you feel you are best at?
- What strengths do you have on your team or at events? Do you have access to an incredible photographer? Do your events have signature, modern flower arrangements? Do you love events with unconventional menus? Whatever it is, make a note to feature it on social media.
- If there is one thing that other event companies don’t have, it’s your people. Your team, your clients, and you! Be sure to feature happy, smiling faces of your team and your clients on your social media pages.
You’ll start to notice that, over time, you are developing your own unique brand and company personality.
Part 2: Strategy
Now that we’ve covered how to be successful at social media, it’s time to create your specific strategy. In this section, we’ll answer questions such as:
- Which social media networks should I choose?
- How many social networks do I need to be successful?
- How do I know the best content to share?
Step 1: Which Social Network to Choose
I have good news for you: Being successful in social media marketing does not mean you must have a presence on every social network! In fact, having a presence on every social media network is a good way to become overwhelmed and to not utilize any one social media network very well.
Instead, choose just one network to start with. Once you feel like you have a handle on it, then you can add another to the mix if you want.
But which one do you choose?
This depends on who your primary customers are. If your business caters more to consumers, such as people getting married or hosting personal parties, it’s likely best to start with Facebook. However, if most of your business comes from corporations---corporate parties, corporate picnics, or other corporate events--it’s probably best to begin with LinkedIn because this is where businesses are looking for other businesses to connect with.
In 90 percent of cases, Facebook will probably be the best fit for your first social network. Facebook is already an expected marketing channel for all businesses and lends itself well to the kind of content events businesses share.
If you feel like you really have a handle on your first social network, consider adding a visual network to the mix, such as Instagram or Pinterest. These often are easy to add onto what you are already doing with other channels.
Whatever you do, don’t commit to more social networks than you can reasonably keep up with (including engagement!). It can take several months for a social media network to really get going, so be sure you have the manpower to commit to a social network for the next 6 months before starting it up.
Step 2: What Content to Share
Now you know how social media marketing works, what social media networks you should start with, and what things should you avoid doing on social media? When it comes down to it, what should you share on social media?
- Images, images, images. The events industry is incredibly visual, and lucky for you, visuals are also extremely effective on social media. Use this to your advantage by capturing and sharing as many images as possible. You don’t need to just take pictures of venues or events. Take pictures of your day-to-day and share what it’s like on the inside of your events business. Be creative: repurpose old images, repost shared images, filter images, put quotes of top of images … there are so many possibilities!
- Share your content. Start a blog on your website where you share your tips and shortcuts for planning events, your favorite food pairings or menus, and your favorite party themes. Be sure to link to this content on social media.
- Look at what your audience likes, then rinse and repeat. Did you know that within Facebook, you don’t have to guess what your audience likes and doesn’t like? Besides watching what does well, you also have access to your Facebook page’s “insights.” This report shows you which posts received the highest reach, the most likes, and the most engagement. When you’re considering what to post next on your Facebook page, have a look at your insights to see what your audience enjoys the most.
Step 3: Don’t Give Up!
Now, you’ve got everything you need to succeed on social media. You’ve learned:
- How to avoid getting overwhelmed with social media marketing by doing too much too soon.
- How to choose the best social media network for your business.
- How to share irresistible content that your audience will love.
- How to make your fans feel welcomed and appreciated when they engage on your page.
Now there’s just one more step to your successful social media page:
Don’t give up!
It takes time to build a following on social media, especially if you are just getting started from ground zero. It will take several months of sharing consistently for many weeks before you start to pick up traction. You may go 2 months without seeing much of a difference.
Plenty of other businesses give up after doing social media for one or two months, but not you! You’re going to keep on keeping on, rain or shine, even if your page isn’t growing quite as fast as you believe it should.
Trust me: if you are consistently sharing great content, engaging with your audience, and giving before asking, your social media pages will grow with time. Keep going and don’t give up!
Anna Wickham is founder of Charm House, a digital marketing agency that specializes in helping catering and event companies increase revenue using the power of online content. She is author of the book How to Get More Catering Customers with Content Marketing. Download her free quick-start guide to marketing your business by clicking here.