A Crash Course in Social Media Advertising for Events Professionals

There’s a good chance you’re already doing good social media marketing for your event. Events businesses are well ahead of the curve on social. Yet not so many businesses have experimented with social media advertising. It’s a shame, because if you get it right it can be amazingly powerful for events businesses.


Social advertising is a broad topic.  I’m going to concentrate on the two most common social platforms for advertising Facebook and Twitter. This doesn’t mean you should ignore other options. LinkedIn, Outbrain or Taboola can also deliver good results.

Custom Audiences

The most powerful functions of social advertising for events businesses is custom audiences. You can take a list of your customers and either advertise to them on Facebook or Twitter. You can advertise to people who the social network thinks are similar. Or even exclude people you’ve already got on your mailing list.

This is exceptionally powerful. Email marketing or other forms of direct marketing will always be important to events businesses.  Custom audiences is a huge leap forward in the targeting of social advertising.

Pinch the Audience of your Competitors

In the same way you can target your adverts to your customers you can also highjack the audience of competitors.

I do this all the time on Twitter. I want to find people interested in attending my event. Creating an advert that is only shown to people who follow a similar event run by a competitor is a no brainer to me.

Fit Your Creative to the Network

When you think of adverts on Facebook you think of those on the sidebar, but these aren’t the most effective adverts. Those within the newsfeed tend to perform much better. They also work well when they mimic how people use Facebook that isn’t advertising.

So don’t run an advert that says something like ‘register for our event’. You might be better running something like ‘Check out the great agenda at our upcoming event’. That’s more like how people use Facebook and usually better than how companies use the platforms.

Always Measure Your Results

People sometimes fall into the trap of thinking social isn’t measurable. That’s a myth. If you have a web analytics solution you can measure the impact it’s having on your business. Especially if you’re running paid advertising. Use tracking URLs. Follow the helpful guides each social site have on-site about tracking conversions.

In Conclusion

Most event managers are doing good social media marketing. But please don’t rule out social media advertising. It’s easy to get set-up and start delivering results. Find a small budget for experimentation and see if it works for your events business.

About The Author
Kelvin Newman
is the Founder of Rough Agenda, a company that arranges specialist digital marketing events which are among the fastest growing and most popular in the UK, including the sell out BrightonSEO.In 2014 Kelvin was voted by econsultancy as the most influential individual in digital and in 2013 won the Search Personality award at the UK Search Awards.He is also Co-founder of clockworkTalent with Natasha Woodford a specialist recruitment consultancy that genuinely understands digital marketing.
Comment Policy Comments
  • Some great tips here for my clients. Always a popular choice of subject at conference seminar breakouts.

  • Some good points brought up here, Kelvin. Social advertising is all about testing. Before dedicating a budget to a social advertising campaign, I’d suggest to test an advert with a smaller sample audience to see if it will resonate with a wider audience. That way, any small tweaks can be made and will better optimize an advertising budget.

  • Robbe de Temmerman

    This article reflects the helpful use of Social media. The advantage of social media is, like said in the article, the possibility to list your customers in
    different parts. You can even find groups that are already made and target your information through them. For example: when you want to promote a cookbook, you can find some ‘food’ groups on Facebook and promote your book in there.

    On the other hand I think email marketing isn’t that efficient, many people don’t read the irritating publishing mails or they are stopped in the ‘undesirable’ map of
    you email account.

    So I think we have to invest more and more in social media advertising.

  • Yannick Nauwelaerts

    You are absolutely right Kelvin, you made some really good points and gave me some new ideas as well! As an Event manager you should be creative and you try all kinds of social advertising. If you advertise on social media, you should distinguish your event from your competitors. So, be creative, put on your courage and go for something original!

  • Annelies Van der Eecken

    I believe that you really need a target group to promote your event. Not everyone has Facebook or Twitter. If you want other people to attend your event then I suggest also e-mail marketing. Social media advertising is really efficient and can be helpful but it’s just one instrument in marketing that we can use, there are different tools and strategies.

  • Jeroen Dircx

    Great post, you really tackle one of the big problems in the industry, a lot of business forget or don’t invest in social media advertising, because they really underestimate the value of social media advertising. I think is a very useful way to promote your event, brand or new product. I agree that the two big websites too use when you want to promote something are facebook and twitter but the world of social media has become so big that you have a lot of websites that you can use for social media advertising, and most of them will not ask a lot of money.

    My opinion is that social media advertising is something that every company has to try out ones to see if it works for their business.

  • Felipe Villarroel

    I agree that Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools in media advertising. People on social media are doing most of the work for us by listing their likes and interests. This way event managers don’t spend ages trying to figure it out by themselves. This also means that we get less “faceless” and generic advertising where we have to be the filter to determine what is relevant to us.

    The article also mentiones the fact that social media advertising is more measurable and I completely agree. However, to learn the tools requires some self study in that field to fully understand how this works and maybe this might be discouraging for some.

    That said, there will be no stopping the posibilities this provides for advertisement. It already is a fairly “green”, cheap, easy and accessible alternative to traditional media.

  • Wouter Sadonis

    It’s 2014 and we couldn’t think of our way of life without social media. It has become such a big part of our lifes. The good thing is that we can approach the exact people we need for our events, based on their intrests. We can even make groups of people ourselves. If we use it in the right way, we don’t disturb people who have nothing to do with our events.
    Another fact is that social media marketing is also cheap or even free, but I do think it’s a good thing to invest some money in it. The return on investment is worth the shot.

  • Laurens D’Hondt

    I certainly agree that advertising through Facebook is a must for event agencies and the events they are organizing.

    I just wanted to add something to the article (by which I am not trying to say that the article isn’t complete). (financially) Promoting an event on Facebook is a very effective way of marketing. This due to the fact that you can easily choose your target audience in a few clicks. But I miss the promotion of the organization/company that is organizing the event. After all, an event is a common way to raise awareness for the organization/company.

    Secondly, I am not sure if Twitter is the good platform to reach a wide target audience. Isn’t Twitter more of a thoughts-sharing platform? (I really don’t know Twitter that well, so sorry if I am mistaken)

    I would like to thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  • Simon Vermeulen

    Just like Laurens, I fully agree that advertising through Facebook is a must for event agencies and the events they are organizing.

    I like how, nowadays, social media makes it possible to filter the target audience and advertise based on those filters. It’s important to tempt your target audience and invite them to attend your event. By doing this indirectly, your target audience might just attend your event after realizing what your agenda looks like.

    I didn’t know that newsfeed advertising was more effective than the classical sidebar advertisement. I will definitely try this in the future.

Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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