Gone are the days when community members had to rely on printed flyers and radio ads to find out what’s happening around town. While you’ll certainly still encounter these forms of advertising in just about every town and city across the country, more and more people are turning to social media sites to find out about events they might like to attend.
As you probably already know, social media giant Facebook allows users to create events and send out invitations, but there are plenty of other sites that focus solely on event promotion and cater to a wide variety of niche audiences. Although it’s an area of social media marketing that many businesses have failed to tap into, there’s a lot of potential for savvy entrepreneurs to use event sites to promote company happenings and connect with target demographics.
What Event Sites Are All About
The concept behind event sites is simple: users can browse or search for specific keywords in order to find events in their local area that interest them. Many major event sites can also be linked to social media platforms like Facebook so that users can easily share the events they plan to attend. Some sites, like Eventbrite and Zvents, allow users to purchase tickets as well as RSVP for free upcoming events. It’s typically free to post an event that you’re organizing on these sites, making them great tools for promotion.
What Businesses Can Benefit from Event Sites?
Not every event site is going to be right for every business, but by doing your research into the niche demographics that different sites attract (and reading the examples below), you should be able to determine whether it’s worthwhile to get involved with a particular platform.
There are several different reasons why businesses may want to use event sites:
Promote an upcoming event. This first reason is also the most obvious. When companies want to promote something like a conference, fundraiser, open house, or grand opening, they can gain visibility by posting on event sites.
Network. Websites like Meetup allow you to find local groups of people who share your interests, and by searching for industry-related keywords, you can find groups that will allow you to meet other professionals in your region who may be able to promote your business if you help them promote theirs.
Meet potential customers face-to-face. Again, by searching for industry-related keywords on a site like Meetup, you can find groups that contain the demographics you’re trying to appeal to. For example, if you own a winery, it would probably be beneficial to attend the meeting of a local Wine Lovers group. Don’t go into the meeting with the idea that you’re going to aggressively market to the attendees, but do go in with the mindset that you’re going to learn more about your potential customers by talking to them face-to-face.
Find potential hires. If you decide that you want to, say, beef up your marketing department by hiring a freelance graphic designer or ghostwriter, you can look for local groups of these people using event sites and meet them in person before deciding if you want to hire them.
Examples of Event Sites
Meetup is the world’s biggest network of local groups and attracts 9 million visitors each month in 45,000 cities worldwide. If you’re not sure if your city has Meetup groups, they probably do. The site allows users to find like-minded individuals who attend events put on by different groups, ranging from dog walking outings to happy hours.
Eventbrite. Although it’s largely viewed as a popular ticketing and reservation website, Eventbrite is also an incredible tool for businesses of any size hoping to gain visibility. It’s free to post an event on the site, and you can even create downloadable tickets for your attendees. Users can share their events on different social media sites, and Eventbrite has even analyzed the value to businesses when somebody does this (for example, one share on Facebook is worth $2.52).
Zvents, which was owned by Ebay and later acquired by ticketing network StubHub in 2011, boasts more than 600,000 current event listings at any given time. The site lets users search for local events in the categories like business & tech, movies, venues, restaurants, and performers, or by searching what, when, and where. Zvents says that they attract more than 10 million users and 15,000 advertisers every month and they offer free basic event promotion (or premium promotion for $19.95 a month).
Plancast. Like other sites in this category, Plancast lets users search for events in their area based on plans, people, or categories, but they also up the social media aspect by allowing people to share their plans through a live feed. They also offer a calendar socialization space where people can record their daily activities. The site has been struggling in recent years, however.
Cityseekr. This site is used by both locals and tourists who want to learn about restaurants, nightlife, hotels, and events in cities around the country. They also offer city guides and practical advice for visiting. If you want to add an event or venue, you can do so for free by logging in via Facebook or Twitter.
Yelp Events. The influential local business review site also has an event branch. Users can register and add events for free, and people can select that they are interested in attending. The number of “interested” people will be shown along with each event, and events that get a lot of clicks are featured as Popular Upcoming Yelp Community Events.