Posted by: Allison Carney

Facebook is an obvious choice to market your event, with its 1.7 billion users. But with 38 million other Facebook events to compete with, how do you make yours stand out? Here are a few suggestions:

Make it look good

The best thing you can do to help your event take off on Facebook is to make sure it looks engaging. First off, you’ll need a great cover photo (1920×1080 pixels) that not only looks good on the page, but also in your news feed.

See, for example, SXSW’s Facebook event. The cover image is engaging and colorful and looks great on both mobile and on the page.

Also, make sure you’ve filled in all the relevant information, and added all the tags that could lead people to your event. For example, if your event is a happy hour for young professionals, you would tag #networking #happyhour and #networking.

Use your company page

The best referral to your event is going to be people who have already liked your Facebook page. If you have a major event coming up, make sure you move the “events” module up to the top to ensure more people see it. This can be especially important for your mobile visitors, which is now especially important considering 54% of the network’s users access Facebook solely on their mobile device.

Consider Facebook Live, which seems like it will become more and more important in the future. Post this live video on your page, but link it to your event page as well. This will tie your engaging content on your page to your event, and encourage more people to sign up. One organization, San Diego Humane Society, used it to document the rescue of 92 Yorkies, kicking off a massive fundraising campaign that raised over $100k!

Leverage your people

The best way to get people to your event is to make it personal. Before your event, consider recruiting some volunteers, board members, or staff to be ambassadors for the event. Ask them to invite their friends and family who may be interested in the event, and engage on the Facebook event page.

Once you have your people lined up, collect a few pieces of relevant, engaging content to share on the event page. As you share the event and get more people to mark “interested” or “going,” share some updates and get your volunteers to like, comment, and share. This engagement will tell Facebook your content is good and engaging and will show it to more people.

However, be sure to post sparingly! Frequent updates may make registered attendees tune you out, or turn off notifications. Only post a few updates, and make sure they have interesting, engaging information.

Pay for the right things

With the advent of the Interested/Going options, you now have a list that you can market directly to. If you have previous events, make sure you share this new event with them and give them the opportunity to attend.

If you have an external registration and want to encourage people to visit another website, you can pay to add a “register now” button to your posts. This can be especially helpful if you are getting lots of engagement on your Facebook event, but need attendees to register or pay on your website. However, if you are using outside software for tracking registrations (such as Eventbrite) be aware that you won’t be able to track those visitors. Try sending them to your own website and embedding the Eventbrite info there.

Target the right people

There are two types of targeting that are especially helpful for event marketing: lookalike targeting is when you can upload a list of e-mail addresses, and Facebook will look up to see if those addresses are matched to existing users. Facebook will look up their demographic information, and find users with similar demographic information. Once that list is created, you can market directly to them. The second is connection targeting, which will look up users similar to those who have already marked “interested” or “going” on your event. This one is preferable for those events that already have a significant following.

Retargeting can also be a very useful tool for people who have visited your page, but have not taken action yet. Facebook can follow your user’s actions, to encourage them to click “Register Now” if they haven’t yet.

Or, if you decide to target geographically, just use regular Facebook ads to find people in certain zip codes. Just remember to start no more than two weeks before, unless you have a large budget to spare.

Spend your budget wisely

Facebook highly values relevancy of any ad. The more relevant your ad is, the less you’ll be charged to show it to people. So it’s imperative to make your ads as engaging as possible, and that you have a solid idea of the audience you’re trying to attract. This will keep your costs down, and help you put your money where it’s most helpful.

With these tips, you should have every tool you need to market a successful event!

Allison is a nonprofit communications consultant and friend of Williams Whittle who specializes in creating affordable communications strategies for small nonprofits. She has five years of nonprofit and association experience including developing communications strategies, conducting an organizational rebrand, and building a custom social network.