Events are the lifeblood of small towns across America. They are great for getting the town and community together, and they are fantastic ways to attract visitors from outside your area. In today’s article, I’m going to share five ways small towns and communities can market their events online. Why would someone need to know this? Well, most small towns lack solid online marketing strategies in promoting both themselves and the events they hold. In many cases, it’s hard to find out about these events and this represents a wonderful opportunity for towns to go online as most people are looking for fun and activities these days, on the internet.
Here’s a Five Step process for getting more online attention for your events.
1. Get your latest event up, front and center on your homepage.
First off, if you don’t have a website, get one and if what you have is severely updated hire an agency like MarketingModo to bring it to the 21st century. Make your event notice big with a great picture of your town’s ideal customer having fun at the event. People respond better when they see a photo of another person. But what if you don’t have event pictures? Start this year by getting some. And they can’t be pictures of stuff or political big wigs and please avoid stock photos. It needs to show average people having fun.
Make your homepage event headline clickable to your interior events page for all the details. On the events page, include another picture with the details. And, remember, you don’t have to write those details like you were posting a newspaper events listing. That simply won’t pass mustard. You’re not paying by the word! There isn’t a space issue. This is your blank canvas. Write it like an invitation to your ideal customer.
2. Go to your town’s Facebook page and link to your website events page.
The purpose here is to drive traffic to your events page and social media is a route to leverage. This is how you do it. The little link icon is next to “attach” in the Share box at the top. Use the “what’s on your mind” space to write a personal note to your fans to come, and to let their friends know about your event.
Next create an events listing on your business page. If you don’t have an events tab yet, just click the “ ” on your dashboard at the top, and Facebook will walk you through setting one up. It is really that easy.
3. Go to your Twitter page, and tweet about your event.
Tweet with a shortened link, check out Bit.ly for its free link shortening service, to your events page in 120 characters max so people can retweet you without content dropping off. Don’t forget to actively ask your followers to retweet your post. Because Twitter is more immediate than Facebook, you are going to have to plan a series of invitation posts over the week before the event. Ideally you will want it over 2 weeks but 1 week will suffice. A normal 1 week post schedule may look something like this: Day 1. Say something like “Plan to come next weekend” and include your shortened link. Day 2. You will want to drive some engagement and start getting people involved and you can post something on the order of “Who’s going to love this event” in 120 characters. The topics for the following days can go: Day 3. What’s going to happen? Day 4: What you’re going to miss if you don’t come. Day 5: One more fun, enticing detail. Day 6: Another enticing detail. Day 7: What they’re missing and a final invite. Always include the shortened link to your events page on your website. You may think this is overkill but with Twitter being immediate you have to keep top of mind at all time.
The good thing with both Facebook and Twitter is that you can actually write these posts ahead of time and schedule them. At Hootsuite, you can do it through your composing box at the top of your screen.
4.Talk about your event on your blog.
If you don’t have a town blog, get one. Make this entry fun by talking about behind the scenes preparation, or what’s planned for each day of a multiple day event, or a profile of a key townsperson responsible for some part of the event. Personally, I would recommend all of the above and tackle it similar to the Twitter posts with each day before the event having a particular focus.
Again, you can schedule this if you’re using WordPress for your blog, which is the CMS of choice MarketingModo recommends to all clients…. which is the all-around best blog and website program for small towns and businesses.
5. Ask every other business in your town to follow the same marketing steps.
There is strength in numbers and all of the businesses in your town have a vested interest in a successful turnout. More people equal more business for them which is something they might need reminding of. This entire online marketing program can be written and scheduled in a few short hours, max. The return on that investment for your town will be huge. Think about how exciting it would be to attract 200 or 500 or 1000 more people to your event with a small time investment.
How is your town using the internet to market your events?