Why You Need Social Ads To Sell Out Your Event

February 13, 2020

David Gater

David Gater is the founder and lead strategist of Brown + Blonde Social, a social-media-first ad agency for ticketing and events. With a background in creating branded content for over 15 years, David helps event companies across the world build digital ad campaigns that sell.

If you’re organizing an event, online exposure is critical to sell admission and get people through the door. Social media has quickly emerged as the single most crucial factor in online digital marketing campaigns, with Facebook and Instagram leading the way. While organic social media has been an important force over the years, the potential reach of organic campaigns is often much lower than people think. In order to make a real impact, it’s more important than ever to focus on the paid side of social media. 

Organic growth seems to be diminishing before our eyes, with Facebook recording 16 percent growth in 2012 and just 2.27 percent in 2015. Making waves on Instagram with organic marketing alone is also getting much harder due to multiple algorithm and structural changes. As the platform is tweaked to preference its commercial income, events relying on organic results alone are often left out in the cold. 

According to Gary Vaynerchuk, “Instagram’s organic reach is finished. So just as we figured it out, it’s over.”

Types of Paid Media Ads 

Organic and paid social media campaigns are often easily distinguished, but that doesn’t mean all paid ads are the same. Event organizers can benefit from multiple options across platforms, with each campaign strategy benefiting from an expansive and considered approach. Social platforms often appeal to very different demographics, so it’s important to choose a platform and ad type capable of meeting your target demographic. 

For example, while 37 percent of U.S. adults use Instagram on a regular basis, this number almost doubles to 67 percent in the 18-29 age group, and more than doubles to 75 percent in the 18-24 age group. In this demographic, Instagram is practically as popular as Facebook, which enjoys 76 percent coverage among the 18-24 age group and a much higher reach among all adults at 69 percent. 

Overall, there are 2.41 billion active monthly Facebook users, with Instagram hitting the 1 billion mark earlier this year. 

It’s not all about reach and age brackets, however, with different platforms also offering different ad types, customization options and pricing structures. 

Photo Ads 

Image-based ads are the cornerstone of both Facebook and Instagram. On Facebook, you can include 125 characters of text plus a headline and link description in addition to the image. Facebook also includes Boosted posts, which is adding spend behind an already highly engaged organic post, but doesn’t allow for additional customization. Instagram in feed photo ads look just like regular posts, only with the “Sponsored” text in the top right corner. 

Video Ads 

Video ads can be incredibly effective for events because they allow you to showcase past iterations of your event or highlight future assets and artists. Facebook video ads come in all shapes and sizes, from small snippets to huge 240-minute promotional videos. While video ads can be effective on Instagram, the image-based nature of the platform does lead itself to still images in some situations. 

Mixed Ads 

Both Facebook and Instagram include various options that mix and match images with video content. On Facebook, Slideshow ads create videos from several images, Carousel ads combine up to 10 photos or videos with separate links and Collection ads highlight various products directly in your Facebook feed beneath a cover image. Instagram also includes Carousel and Collection ads, with the carousel swiped through by the user and the collection allowing up to 90 characters of text, and multiple pieces of content which allow for authentic storytelling. 

Create stories and make memories 

When organizing an ad campaign for your event, it’s important to create stories for your audience in order to make memories and inspire action. While image and video-based ads can be highly effective, both Facebook and Instagram also include a Stories feature for a more immersive experience. Rather than being specifically selected, Facebook Stories are an option under Automatic Placements. Instagram Stories function in a similar way, with photos or videos up to 120 seconds long displayed between people’s organic stories. 

The trick here is to create highly native, authentic content that looks as if it’s a “friend,” as the consumer is viewing multiple stories rather than over-produced or repurposed content that seems “ad-like.”

Get Personal With Messenger 

In the age of social media, advertising is not all about reach, it’s also about creating conversations and building authentic relationships. Facebook Messenger continues to make waves as a promotional tool, especially for event organizers. With Messenger, you can interact with your audience in real-time, utilize chatbots and answer questions about the event. This allows you to reach out to people on a personal level without the negative associations of some advertising forms. 

People are 3.5 times more likely to open a Facebook message than a regular marketing email, with more conversations leading to greater community engagement and more ticket sales. 

Running a successful event requires a forward-thinking and multi-pronged approach. While organic social marketing and various other avenues can still be highly effective, the paid end of social media is fast becoming a major player. In order to create a real buzz around your event and get more people through the door, it’s important to add social media ads to your arsenal and integrate them carefully with your wider event ecosystem.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.