I think that one of the most underused features of Facebook also corresponds with one of the biggest lost opportunities for small businesses: events.
When I look at my local community and the large number of events taking place on any given day or week, I’m surprised at how many of them I don’t find out about until after the fact. Local, small businesses in general do a rather mediocre job of promoting their events, especially via social channels.
Businesses that have made the jump into social are often accustomed to their regular updates that they often forget to promote their special events on channels like Facebook. In many cases they continue to rely on the old standbys of newspaper ads, in-store signage, and perhaps even an email list. These are all well and good, but don’t forget the importance of word of mouth, and that’s exactly where social media comes in.
It’s incredibly easy to create a Facebook event for a concert, gallery opening, special sale, or some other event, but many times the key to getting people in the door is timing.
“When should I promote my event?”
This is where it gets tricky, but whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of last minute reminders.
Certainly if you are selling tickets or requiring a more formal RSVP, Facebook is only a gateway to your website or perhaps an Eventbrite page, and you’ll need to begin promoting your event early on, perhaps as soon as you announce the event or when tickets go on sale. But don’t forget to promote those events regularly, up until the last minute.
And if your event is a free one, or one that doesn’t require advance ticketing, you might want to wait a bit before really promoting it. I’ve seen events get heavy early promotion, and then not do well.
We live in a very active, heavily ADD society where we’re hard pressed to schedule too many things in advance. On a particular day we might wait and weigh our last minute options to see what we’re going to do.
I think in many cases, some of your most powerful messaging and reminders about your event should come in the final days, and even final hours, leading up to the event. This is how many of us make our decisions. And if you’re promoting up until the last minute, particularly on Facebook or Twitter, you have a chance to catch people in their newsfeed and grab their attention.
I’ve seen a number of businesses do this rather effectively on Facebook, as they use their page to let people know what is happening “right now” at the business. I’ve seen salons using Facebook to promote last minute openings, often with a small discount to draw people in. I’ve seen venues promoting their concerts and shows up until the last minute, letting people know that tickets are still available. I’ve seen stores promoting their sales and special deals not just prior to the sale, but during.
A well placed, “Hey, we’re quickly running out of XYZ item, get down here before you’re left out in the cold” can do wonders.
And don’t forget to use all of your available channels as well. We think in terms of websites, Facebook, and Twitter, but why not tie your event to Foursquare, so that people get a reminder when they check in? And of course, you can always “pin” your events on Pinterest to gather attention.
Don’t ignore the power of last minute reminders, and updates telling people what is happening “right now”. You’d be surprised at how many of us will make last minute decisions about shopping and events. This doesn’t mean you also shouldn’t promote things well in advance, but don’t count on that as your sole source of traffic, especially for events that are free or don’t use advance ticketing.
How are you promoting your events? Have you discovered the right timing for your business? How important are the “last minute” and “right now” to you?
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