The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing for Event Venues
If you’re running an event venue business today, social media must be part of your venue marketing strategy. But how can you make sense of the many social media options and use your time effectively?
In this post, we’ll help you hone in on the top event social media platforms. Plus, we’ll show you how to leverage them to maximize your reach and event leads.
Let’s start with the basics of social media for venues.
Before you dive in, take a deep breath. There’s a lot of noise out there about venue marketing — and you might feel pressure to step up your social media game.
Before you join every platform on the horizon, start with these simple but crucial steps:
Define your goals with your venue social media. Do you want to grow your following? Drive more leads? Make your objectives clear.
Identify your target audiences. These can be general buckets, like potential clients, event planners, and event attendees. The more you can define each of those segments’ profiles, the better.
Develop your strategy to find your audience and drive your goals. Easier said than done, right? Keep reading to find out how to form your strategy.
Developing a venue social media strategy
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” Well, that holds true when it comes to your venue’s social strategy. Luckily, there is a wealth of helpful resources online to ensure you start off on the right foot.
Many marketing tools, like Hubspot and Coschedule, offer a slew of helpful tips, as well as free templates that’ll make deciding what to post — and when to post it — much easier. You can whip up an easy doc or spreadsheet that lists the social media platforms you’re on, when you make a post, and what that post consists of.
“Strategy” sounds complicated, but the basic rules are fairly clear-cut:
1. Use social media to build relationships and provide value for your followers.
For every post that promotes your venue, you should also share three or four posts that don’t try to sell anything.
What you share is limited only by your imagination. Some ideas:
Countdowns to big events or news
Photo or caption contests
Memes or gifs
Social media takeovers
Check out your competition for inspiration of what else to share.
2. Use visual storytelling
It’s no secret that, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, the posts that get the most engagement are usually ones that feature some element of multimedia, whether it be an image, a video, or even a GIF. That’s because these types of posts are more eye-catching and dynamic than ones that only have text, or text with a URL.
If you don’t have photos or videos on hand, sites like Unsplash offer hi-resolution photos for free that you can search through with terms like “coffee” or “bistro” to find an image that will coincide well with the content you’re posting. However, it’s always ideal for the imagery used to be high-quality and reflective of your actual event space — whether or not you’ve got the budget for a professional photographer.
When thinking about social media for venues, consider that your potential customers want to envision their event in your space. You’re marketing to planners who want to transform your space to fit their needs.
Use visuals to tell the story of your space. How flexible is your venue? What types of events have you hosted, and how different did they look? Telling the story of each event with visuals will give planners the creative spark they need to envision their event in your venue.
You might also try hashtagging your #localevents or offering a photo incentive for your followers to crowdsource your visual content.
Your guests aren’t just searching for a hotel, but a hotel in the area they are traveling to for work or play. These trips are often scheduled around local events, tourist attractions, city-wide conferences, and niche interest areas.
While your gut instinct may be to hashtag all of your posts on hotel topics, or your city or state—utilize year-round, one-off, and recurring events as a method of generating engagement through hashtags. This can bring about a new level of brand awareness with event goers who have never stayed at your property.
You also can create a photo incentive to gather user-generated visual content. Incentivize guests to show off their experience on social media in exchange for perks during their stay or entice event planners with special catering options for their next event.
3. Respond authentically
Posting is important — but social media isn’t a billboard. It’s interactive, and it serves you best when you interact.
No matter how prepared and dedicated you are to your venue’s social media presence, you won’t get the traction you could be getting without making sure you’re posting with authenticity and responding to your fans.
That means that you shouldn’t use these platforms purely for self-promotion of your business — you should also be interacting, engaging and conversing with your fans, followers, and others in your field and industry.
Moreover, your content should be consistent with your brand’s aesthetics and message — if you’re all about sustainable ingredients or your boasts a colorful interior featuring a mural from a local artist, those are things worth touting. The more people feel like they’re seeing content from a human being and not just a brand, the more they’ll be likely to stick with you.
4. Actively blog
A blog can make it easy to maintain your social media channels — you’ll always have content to share. Better yet, a blog will help show prospective clients what it’s like doing business with you and what goes on behind the scenes.
Start with easy-to-produce content like event recaps and team or client interviews, and then test out more complex topics. Respond to comments, be consistent with posts, include links to your site, and do your best to engage your audience.
5. Create raving advocates across all social channels
It’s no secret — some of the best marketing for your venue won’t come from your own staff. It’s via word of mouth and follower-generated content like reviews and comments.
The happier your clients are when their event is over, the more likely you are to receive a “thank you” via social media. And that review can easily lead to another booking. Encourage clients to review you on Yelp and Facebook and share photos from their events.
You can also create new advocates by reaching out to get the attention of local “influencers.” Celebrities aren’t the only social media influencers. In fact, there are tons of event bloggers and influencers whose social media following is envious.
But how do you get them to post or blog about your hotel? Offering them a free weekend at your hotel or resort, all expenses paid (including airfare if you’re not in the same city). In exchange, have them post photos or write blog posts that highlight all that your hotel has to offer. Cross-post their photos and blogs across your social media accounts to show off your property.
6. Analyze your approach
Don’t forget to assess how well your venue’s social media strategy is working. Every social platform offers data about your posts, so take advantage of what’s offered to you. Follow the numbers to track your progress, what works, and what still needs tweaking.
7. Keep handle names consistent
Especially if your name isn’t a super unique one (like “The Beachside Grill” vs. “The Tybee Island Social Club”), keeping your social media handles the same, or as similar as possible, will make organically searching for your business on various platforms much easier.
For example: With a company like Gather, it’s probably not surprising that the handle “Gather” was already taken by the time the company launched a few years back. Thus, we had to get creative — in the end, we chose to be “GatherTech” across social media, so that we stood out with a more unique name (that still accurately represented us), without there being confusion or an endless list of generic search results.
The best social media channels for event venues
With 1.56 billion daily active users on Facebook, it should be no surprise that Facebook is ranked as the most important social platform for marketers.
Here are the secrets to success on Facebook:
The more your followers engage with your posts (by commenting, liking, or sharing), the more they’ll see you in their newsfeed. Figure out which of your posts generate likes and comments, and post similar content more often.
Facebook has a remarkable number of groups built around common interests. You can create content to foster discussion and engagement within these groups (and potentially reach new customers).
Features like Messenger make it possible to build personal relationships with potential customers.
Because Facebook users share their interests and demographics, Facebook’s targeted advertising can be a great option for event venues.
Use Facebook Live to multiply your organic reach
Within Facebook, there’s one feature that we love to call out specifically: Facebook Live. Because your followers get a notification when you start streaming, it’s a great way to get their attention.
Consider a monthly tour of your venue, a tutorial, or a behind-the-scenes interview. Use your Facebook Insights Page to see when your followers are online to get the timing right. And make sure you stay “live” for at least 10 minutes to optimize reach.
Share your fans’ content on Facebook
The Roger Smith Hotel in New York City uses Facebook as an opportunity to turn their guests into their best ambassadors. By becoming co-content creators, guests play a hands-on role in growing the network and influence of the hotel. That’s one of the reasons the Roger Smith has been recognized as one of the most innovative hotels in the world.
If neither of those two tactics appeals to you, you can always use targeted ads for advertising or re-marketing. These offer a way to target multiple demographics at once.
With almost 350 million users and 500 million Tweets posted per day, this platform is perfect for quick and easy updates. You can share daily or even multiple times a day.
Not sure how to use Twitter for your event venue promotion? Here are some ideas:
Twitter is ideal for retweeting and resharing content from by others. As a result, it’s used by many as a great source of industry news.
Visuals attract more engagement. Plus, when you use images in your Tweets, you can tag people without it counting toward the character count.
Embedding your Twitter feed into your venue’s website. This lets visitors know that you’re active.
Beyond that, Twitter is great for engagement at events. For example, at live events, you can project a “Twitter Live Wall” on a big screen, which encourages engagement of event attendees.
Here’s another example: The Hyatt Regency in Chicago uses Twitter to engage event attendees and overnight guests. Live Twitter walls draw conference participants into conversations and comments. At the same time, guests benefit from improved and highly responsive concierge services via Twitter, addressing both issues and questions in record time.
This visual platform is becoming bigger and bigger, with over 95 million posts a day and 400 million Instagram Stories a day.
What’s the appeal? People buy from brands they trust, and Instagram helps build that trust. In fact, in 2017, 80% of users willingly connected to a brand on the platform. The combination of a visual with a caption and hashtags makes this platform ideal to build that kind of relationship.
In terms of content, Instagram calls for polished phots, such as your venue the day of a big event, details, and behind-the-scenes images.
Use Stories and hashtags to build your venue brand on Instagram
Instagram users can now follow hashtags — not just profiles. This broadens the opportunities for planners and potential clients to stumble upon your venue on Instagram.
Similarly, you can promote your venue with Instagram Stories. Stories are a series of images and video only available for 24 hours. You can add drawings, emojis, polls, Q&As, links, and even tags. As a bonus, you can select a few stories to highlight in your profile, letting followers discover your Story collection at their leisure.
For inspiration, check out the QEII Centre in London. Its Instagram profile features a Story that showcases the venue during London Fashion Week. They tag the designer for some win-win visibility. (QEII won Venue of The Year at the AEO awards 2018, Most Versatile Venue at the London Venue Awards 2018, and Best Venue Customer Service at the London Venue Awards 2017. They must be doing something right!)
If you have ample photos of your space, don’t just use them for your website. Use Pinterest to showcase your venue and to inspire planners considering your venue.
Try to showcase your venue’s versatility. Create a board for social, corporate, or association events. Or, show your venue during the day versus events hosted at night? There’s no shortage of how you can show off your space on Pinterest.
If your venue hosts corporate events or meetings, then LinkedIn, a B2B platform, is a great place to devote some strategic efforts. On LinkedIn, connect with your past customers and potential clients. Post similar content to engage these connections.
Using social media tools to make your job easier
Even if it still seems overwhelming, we promise you can do this. There’s even an app for that! Many social media management tools can make your life easier.
Start with a scheduling app. These apps let you plan posts across channels ahead of time and see all the analytics at once. You have lots of options, like HubSpot, Hootsuite, or Buffer. These tools typically offer a free option, which you can use to familiarize yourself with the tool. Their paid options offer greater access to services.
In terms of creating content, photo editing apps and sites (such as Canva) can turn a photo into a meme or a header image in just a few clicks. You might even have fun doing it!
At the end of the day, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. So, as you learn how to promote a venue, start small and slow with your social strategy. Then grow organically as you figure things out. Take the time to define your brand and voice — and be authentic.