Unless your business is event hosting, you won’t have a big event every day, maybe not every year. But when a grand opening or other big event does come along, you need to know how to make the most of it on social media.
Last week, my law partner and I opened our new coworking space, the PatchWork Collective. There were a million moving pieces in preparing for the grand opening, but I knew I couldn’t neglect our social media accounts. Big events give you a good reason to make a lot of noise on Facebook, Twitter, and your website. Knowing how to use those tools to promote your event, and your venture, can make the difference between a great night and an ongoing line of new business.
Step 1: Blog Announcement
Like so many social media campaigns, publicizing your big event begins, and ends, on your blog. Take time to carefully craft an announcement of your grand opening or firm anniversary party that is targeted at the people you are trying to reach. For our grand opening, we wanted to reach out to the community of local solo and small business owners. For your firm’s 50th anniversary, you may want to focus on past clients and referral partners. No matter who you are writing to, make sure the blog post has all the important details:
- Who (especially if there are sponsors involved)
- How (should they RSVP or get tickets)
If there are special accommodations for parking or press, make sure to include that too.
This takes planning and scheduling. You should announce your big event on your blog at least a week to two weeks before it is set to happen. This lead up gives you enough time to coordinate all the details and develop buzz around your event.
Step 2: Facebook / Eventbrite Event
Steps 1 and 2 of making the most of your big event actually go hand in hand. As you draft your blog post, you should work with your social media or event planning coordinator to create events on both Facebook and Eventbrite (or another event hosting app). Decide ahead of time how you want people to sign up for your big event. Should they respond “Going” on Facebook (which builds your visibility online but doesn’t guarantee attendance), or do you want them to buy tickets (which generates revenue and more certain attendance but doesn’t get the word out). Whatever your decision, build that call to action directly into the end of your blog post.
Step 3: Invite Everyone
Now that you have a well-written blog post and the structure set up to sell tickets or collect RSVPs, it’s time to invite everyone. You can do this by “sharing” the Facebook event with your contact list, sending out emails to your mailing list, or going old-school and addressing personal print invitations. The bigger the event, the more ways you should reach out.
With the PatchWork grand opening, we wanted to invite people we didn’t even know, so we shared the event to a number of Facebook groups connected to our local community and to coworking more generally. We also paid for a Sponsored Post through Facebook to make sure the information got out as broadly as possible. This obviously won’t help if your event is invite-only. But in those cases, you can help build the feeling of exclusivity by posting that people should “look for their invitation” or “stay tuned for more information” on how they can get in on the fun.
Step 4: Tell the Media
Next, craft your press release. The tone of your press release should be more formal, and also more distant, than the blog post announcing your event. Keep in mind that many local newspapers will lift the language directly, so avoid using first person. Build in high-quality quotes from the VIPs of your event, and try to include a picture.
When you put the word out to the media depends a little bit on your event and your purpose. If your big event is a real big deal, like our grand opening, you may want to invite your local journalists personally in advance. For other events, the press release is best sent the morning after the big event. That way you can include some of the night’s best pictures. But when I say morning, I mean it. Remember that many journalists have their articles for the day chosen by 10:30 a.m. So schedule it first thing!
Step 5: Host the Event
Of course, the most important part of any event campaign is the event itself. Make sure to put out some way to keep track of who came. This could be an email sign-up list, a business card raffle, or just your ticket stubs. Set aside a few hours before the event to make sure everything is 100% perfect – from the food to the flowers – and then get ready to host.
Put your best face forward, dress up (if appropriate), chat with everyone, and make sure someone is there to take pictures. If social events aren’t your thing, you can still make an appearance and pose for a few photos before stepping back out of the limelight.
Step 6: Thank Your Guests
The next day (after you send out your press release), pull together all those new email addresses and compose a thoughtful thank you email. Make sure to include next steps for your visitors like:
- Sign up for our e-newsletter
- Schedule a meeting
- Come to our next event
Also, be 100% certain that this email is sent out privately. You can use an email service like MailChimp, or just bcc, but NEVER distribute your guests emails to one another by using the TO: field or cc’ing everyone on the same list.
Step 7: Blog Again!
Now that your event is over, take some time, gather up all those photos. Maybe someone took a video of your big keynote speech. Or maybe you took the celebration as a chance to invite guests to give video testimonials. Whatever the fruits of your event were, take them back to your blog and write a follow up post. This gives media who missed the event something to use to feature your firm, and shows the results of all your hard work (not to mention making the best use of your big event to fill your blogging calendar).
Making the most of a big event on social media is a to-do list all its own. But it is worth it. By making noise on your blog and social media, you can drum up more media attention, and more attendees, and make your next event a night they’ll remember.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist. She writes blogs and web content for lawyers and small businesses. If you need help publicizing your next big event, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.