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Though small organizations still rely heavily on traditional marketing channels to promote their events, social media is also an important outreach tool: 77% of event marketers who work for a small business or nonprofit say they use social media to promote their events, and another 14% say they plan to do so in the next year, according to a survey from Constant Contact

Among the 77% of event marketers surveyed who use social media (advertise or engage on social platforms) to promote their events, 73.8% say the channel is extremely effective (23.3%) or somewhat effective (50.5%).

Even so, email and conversations via telephone are ranked highest in effectiveness (extremely or somewhat) among the event marketers who use those tactics to promote events, followed by websites, direct mail, and public relations:  

  • Email: 91.2%
  • Telephone: 86.1%
  • Websites: 77.0%
  • Direct mail: 76.7%
  • Public relations: 74.7%

 

Only one-half of event marketers rate blogging as extremely effective (4.2%) or somewhat effective (51.0) for promoting events. 

Overall, event marketers appear to view social media marketing as a complementary tool to more traditional tactics.

Below, additional findings from The State of Event Marketing, a report based on a poll of 474 event marketers from small organizations (50 employees or fewer), conducted by Constant Contact.

More than three-quarters of marketers say social media is very important (38%) or somewhat important (41%) to events-promotion efforts.

When in the Event Life Cycle Do Marketers Promote?

Event marketers who use social media were asked to rank their level of social media activity (lightest to heaviest) leading up to a planned event.

Most (60.3%) marketers cite the days just prior to an event as their heaviest social media marketing phase, 26.7% cite one month before the event, and 14.9% cite one to two months prior to the event.

Most Popular Channels: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Facebook is the most popular channel for event promotion: Among those who use social media to promote their events, 88.8% say they use Facebook, followed by Twitter (66.0%) and LinkedIn (53.8%).

 

Reliance on Twitter and LinkedIn appears to be growing, however: 8% of event marketers plan to start using Facebook to promote events within the next year, while 13% plan to use Twitter and 20% plan to use LinkedIn. 

Goals of Promoting via Social Media

The top reason event marketers are currently using social media is to educate and inform prospects about upcoming events (55.9%), followed by driving word of mouth (40.3%), attracting event attendees (38.7%), and growing email lists (38.2%).

 

However, event marketers' goals for future social media use are loftier: 66.1% want to use social media to reach more people, 65.0% would like to gather feedback from past event attendees, 62.9% would like to attract more event attendees, and 61.9% would like to remain engaged with past event attendees.

Other key findings:  

  • 30.3% of event marketers use social media monitoring tools; among them 83% use Google alerts, 35% use Hootsuite, 29% use NutshellMail, and 28% use Tweetdeck.
  • 46% of event marketers say they have at least an initial plan for their social media marketing efforts, 10% report having a thorough and refined social media strategy, 34% say they are beginning to think about creating a plan, and 9% say they "should probably start thinking about a plan."
  • Among the event marketers not yet using social media to promote their events, 54% cite "not knowing how" as their top reason and 39% say social media is too time consuming. 

About the survey: The Constant Contact-sponsored survey was fielded in October 2011 to small businesses (50 or fewer employees) that use Constant Contact's event marketing product. Results include responses from 474 marketers across a range of B2B (26%), B2C (26%), and nonprofit (48%) organizations.

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