Promoting Virtual Events for Colleges
Permission to re-post granted by author, C.J. Johnson, To Go Events
We’re all used to promoting events on campus. Fliers, posters, digital signage, regular time/place events, traditions, sidewalk chalk and more. Brian Brushwood and I even wrote a book, “Pack the House”, with 31 categories of ways to promote shows and over 100 direct examples. But now we’re not there in person and we ONLY have ways to connect digitally.
Just because you’re hosting a virtual event doesn’t mean people are going to swarm to it.
You’ve GOT TO LET PEOPLE KNOW.
There is no chance they’re going to see a flyer or poster or be walking by and hear the musician playing or people cheering. You’ve got to get to them digitally.
Here are 11 tips to help make your virtual events better attended.
- Social media. Use them all. Not just the one you like the most. Personally, I use Twitter and Facebook the most, but I know people who ONLY use Instagram or Snapchat. I’m sure you know the same types of people. So. Use them all. Instagram. Twitter. Facebook. Snap. YouTube. Tik Tok, and anywhere else your students might be hanging out.
- Be accurate with links. Send the link that the performer sends you. It might be a waiting room or landing page that goes to another page, but don’t skip this step. There’s a reason for it. Also, make sure it’s a clickable link to avoid any confusion in cutting and pasting etc.
- Text Messages – if you’ve signed up for campus text messaging services – put them to work. Your students are looking for ways to stay in touch – make it easy for them.
- E-mail – If you’ve got an e-mail list. Use it.
- Make it a contest to get people there. Figure out a way to reward those who share your message on social platforms.
- Invite your inner circle. If you’re going to be there – they should be too.
- Eliminate barriers as much as possible. Don’t require someone to email you for a link or code if at all possible. Every barrier that is put in place is another reason for people to get distracted and not follow through.
- Tell people to “Set a reminder” to be at the event. Many people want to attend and plan on attending, but get distracted by everyday life and only remember the event when it’s over.
- Promote the day before AND the day of the event. If you post about a Wednesday event on Tuesday – it’s lost in someone’s feed when the event rolls around. So give them a reminder on show day.
- Use scheduling tools for your social media posts. There are plenty of social media tools available that let you schedule your posts well in advance. Hootsuite is what we use, and the paid version let’s us post to up to 10 accounts. The free version lets you post to 3 accounts and schedule up to 30 posts. So you can take care of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all at the same time.
- Double-check for accuracy. Before you share a link, click it yourself and make sure it’s correct. Double-check the date and time (including time zones since some of your students may be in different time zones). Use the show title and logos that are provided for you if at all possible. Acts and agencies have worked hard to help you in many cases, so use the help they’ve provided.
Remember – you’ve got one way to reach people – electronically – so use as many electronic means as possible to reach out to your audience and get them to your virtual events. They’ll be glad you reached out – because they’re LOOKING for ways to stay connected.
It’s quite possible you may have to be more diligent in promoting virtual events than in-person events, as you’re not going to get the multiple impressions that a flyer/poster/sandwich board/digital signage will get on campus. In our book “Pack the House” we recommend looking at the different ideas as a buffet, pick what you want. In virtual programming we recommend using ALL of the ideas for the best results. You must stand out from the clutter.
It’s a strange new challenge and we hope these ideas and tips help you get bigger and bigger crowds at your virtual events.
Shameless plug… our Virtual Game Show – “Trivia Stream” has been a huge hit with colleges from coast to coast. It is arguably the single most popular virtual event in the market today. We still have a few time slots available – contact us for info/pricing or check our calendar for available dates (which change daily)