Small Budget, No Problem: Social Media and Event Marketing

No budget, no marketing dollars, no existing clientele, a business name, great event ideas, and a drive to succeed…

This was me, six months ago, when I decided to leave my job and embark on a journey of entrepreneurial passion. I had the winning idea, but — with my limited budget — how was I to promote it and spread the word?

Let’s fast forward to the present day. I have two major events on the docket: Run for Your Life Zombie 5K scheduled for October 23, 2011 and Challenge Cincinnati Urban Adventure Race scheduled for March 24, 2012. Using solely social media, I have managed to create buzz and increase traffic to my event websites, to the point at which I now fully expect both events to sell out. Keep in mind that I have yet to spend $1 on advertising! So what new fad or idea did I use? None — I used simple, old fashioned networking skills, and the ability of social network sites to magnify those skills.

Social media has proved effective in promoting events like Run for Your Life Zombie 5K.

Building my initial following wasn’t easy, but I knew that with Facebook and LinkedIn, I had thousands of possible connections. Not only did I personally have all of these connections but, the charitable organizations that were to benefit from my events had many as well. Here is how it went down:

  • I synchronized the launch of my websites and event Facebook pages with coordinated requests to my family, friends, and acquaintances and with those of family, friends, and acquaintances of others who were involved with the planning of the event.
  • I sent personal individualized requests to over 200 people asking them to “Like” our page and requested that they post it on their wall at least once.
  • I spent the first week continually following up with my friends, family, and acquaintances on Facebook chat to confirm my requests and most of all…(drum roll please) to thank them!
  • Half of my posts from the first week were not informational posts at all, but rather me thanking those who were supporting us and helping us spread the word early.

From just this, I was able to immediately begin driving traffic to my website and begin the viral spread of my events. The 200-plus people that I originally contacted with personal messages were individuals that I knew had an interest in events like mine, and would most likely share it with friends. When evaluating incoming traffic to my website one month later, I noticed that just over half of it was coming from areas throughout the web that I had had no contact with. In other words…others were sharing my events.

Once I had created my core followers I needed to keep them entertained, interested, updated, and active. My use of Facebook now is to keep the information alive. It has switched from a recruiting tool to a space that my followers know is full of useful info about the events. My blog (also found on my LinkedIn page), Facebook, and Twitter accounts are all linked together keeping the flow of information seamless.

How are you using your Facebook event page? I learned right away that too much information is well, too much. Here are some “what not to do” tips I have:

  1. Don’t post more than twice a day. People may like your event but, chances are they like their friends more…share the news feed page and you will keep your followers and your followers will pay more attention to you.
  2. Don’t treat your followers like your Facebook friends by making the content in your post irrelevant. People want their friends to ask how their day is not you!
  3. Don’t overload your posts with links to your website…if it continually looks like spam then it gets treated like spam! If they want to visit your site they know where to find the link on your Facebook page.

I’m not here to tell you that it’s easy, because nothing that is free comes easy. What I am here to tell you is that with some persistence, late hours, and a little bit more persistence…social media and old school networking worked for me. Networking just gets a whole lot bigger with social media.

About Welt’s Guest Blogger

Joshua Ramsey has spent the majority of his professional career at the YMCA in various program and leadership roles. During two of his last 10 years at the YMCA, he also worked as a private baseball instructor in addition to running an online retail business. Upon completion of tenure as Director of one of YMCA’s large leadership and conference departments, Josh began to seek a change in his career. He left the YMCA in March of 2011 to pursue his entrepreneurial passions and opened GoRams Events.

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2 Responses to “Small Budget, No Problem: Social Media and Event Marketing”

  1. Rudolph Stutler

    Thanks for helping out, good information.

  2. Jennifer Johnson

    Great post & solid advice, thanks!!

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