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How to create year-round engagement for annual events
Event marketing strategies

How to create year-round engagement for annual events

It’s never too early to start with fan engagement. And ideally, it should be a year-round effort. Take a look at some engagement strategies for how to make it happen.

Kait Huziak
April 1, 2024

When you host one big event per year, certain promotional tasks are a given. From announcing ticket sales to revealing the lineup or important know-before-you-go details, these are the standard communications your fans anticipate.

But what about staying connected with fans in between all those big moments? When it comes to maintaining interest and participation, it’s never too early to start with fan engagement, and ideally, it should be a year-round effort. 

Staying in touch with fans throughout the year lets you maintain excitement, strengthen loyalty, and guarantee your event stays top of mind. Not only does this drive ticket sales, it also fosters a sense of community among fans, encouraging them to share the event with friends and play a part in its success.

Engagement strategies to build hype throughout the year 

As event promoters, there are plenty of ways to keep fans engaged all year round. These strategies are designed to maintain excitement, build community, drive ticket sales, and strengthen fan connections to ensure the long-term success of events.

Create a content calendar

It’s important to create a content strategy that goes beyond event promotion. While planning a year's worth of content might seem overwhelming, start small by focusing on a month or a quarter, and begin by jotting down any time-sensitive communications that need to go out. Then, you can easily fill in the gaps with additional content.

To keep your fans engaged, mix it up by sending promotional and non-promotional material across email, SMS, social media, and more. Remember, the frequency of your communication with fans should be based on what works best for your team to maintain a consistent schedule, not just what online recommendations suggest.

To help get your creative juices flowing, some possible topics include:

  • Artist spotlights: Feature interviews and exclusive content with performers scheduled to appear at the event.
  • Event history and evolution: Dive into past editions, memorable moments, and how the event has evolved over the years.
  • Travel guides: Provide destination guides for attendees, including accommodation, dining, and local attractions.
  • Event preparations and updates: Keep fans in the loop with behind-the-scenes content, lineup announcements, ticket sales milestones, and logistical information.
  • Thematic content: Explore event themes, sustainability initiatives, cultural influences, or artistic trends relevant to the festival.

Leverage social media platforms

Social media plays a big part in keeping fans engaged. It acts as a hub where people can chat with friends, get updates, and see what's happening behind the scenes. As an event promoter, social is a great way to share news, announcements, and engaging content to keep everyone in the loop and excited.

But social media is not just a one-way street. Fans can jump in on the conversation too, sharing their experiences, asking questions, and giving feedback. This interaction helps create a sense of community. Plus, most social media platforms have features like polls and Q&A sessions that make it easy for fans to get involved.

Here are some platform-specific tips to consider based on your chosen platforms:

  • Instagram: Showcase the event experience with great visuals like photos, videos, and Stories. Explore features like IGTV and Instagram Reels for longer and shorter-form content.
  • Facebook: Use Facebook Events to promote and manage RSVPs, and utilize Facebook Groups and Messenger for community building and direct communication.
  • Twitter: Encourage engagement with hashtags, Twitter chats, and polls. Interact with fans by retweeting and replying to relevant content.
  • TikTok: Capture the attention of younger audiences with creative content aligned with TikTok trends. Use hashtags, challenges, and engagement tools like comments and duets to boost interaction.

No matter which platforms you use, consistent posting is key to maintaining engagement and building a vibrant online community, so make sure to incorporate social media into your content calendar.

Harness the power of email marketing

Email newsletters are essential for maintaining communication with fans. They provide a reliable and direct channel to reach people without being subject to algorithms or platform changes, ensuring that important updates and information are delivered to their inboxes. 

Newsletters also allow for personalized communication, allowing you to tailor content based on fan interests, preferences, and engagement levels. This personalized touch fosters stronger connections and increases the likelihood of engagement and action.

Here's how you can leverage segmentation to enhance your email newsletters:

  • Demographics: Tailor content based on factors like age, location, or gender to appeal to specific audience segments. For instance, younger audiences may have different preferences compared to older demographics.
  • Interests: Segment fans based on their interests and past interactions to deliver content that resonates. Analyze engagement data to understand which topics or content types are most appealing to different segments.
  • Engagement: Divide fans based on their interaction levels with previous emails. Customize content to re-engage inactive subscribers or provide added value to highly engaged ones, ensuring that each segment receives relevant content.

Cultivating partnerships and collaborations

Building strategic partnerships with sponsors, vendors, artists, and local businesses is essential for keeping up with engagement year-round for annual events. These collaborations amplify your efforts and introduce your event to new audiences through joint initiatives such as:

  • Artist collaborations: Join forces with artists to craft unique performances or installations. For instance, music festivals might host collaborative sets featuring artists from various genres, offering attendees unforgettable experiences.
  • Brand sponsorships: Partnering with brands can help enhance event experiences. For example, a film festival could team up with a streaming service to showcase exclusive screenings of original content, adding value for attendees and boosting exposure for the streaming platform.
  • Influencer partnerships: Engage influencers to reach new audiences and create hype. Influencers might attend as special guests, host meet-and-greets, or produce content to promote the event to their followers.
  • Local business tie-ins: Collaborate with local businesses to add unique offerings to your event. For instance, a food festival could partner with nearby restaurants for special tastings or team up with local breweries to create custom event beers.
  • Cross-promotion with other events: Partner with other events in similar or related industries to broaden your reach. For example, a comic convention might collaborate with a gaming expo to offer discounted tickets to attendees of both events, encouraging cross-attendance and fostering community spirit within the fandom.

Encourage user-generated content and community engagement

Community engagement plays a key part in building loyalty, generating hype, and extending the reach of an event. When attendees feel connected and valued, they become enthusiastic advocates who eagerly share their experiences, photos, and stories both online and offline. This organic buzz not only attracts new attendees but also strengthens the event's reputation and impact. 

Encouraging user-generated content (UGC) can be a powerful way to engage attendees and create excitement around an event. Here are some strategies to promote UGC submissions and enhance community engagement:

  • Photo contests: Organize a photo contest where attendees can submit their best event photos. Promote the contest on social media, event websites, and through email newsletters, and offer prizes to incentivize participation.
  • Hashtag campaigns: Create a unique event hashtag and encourage attendees to use it when posting on social media. Display the hashtag prominently at the event site and engage with user posts by sharing the best content on official event channels.
  • Storytelling prompts: Prompt attendees to share their event experiences by asking questions or sharing anecdotes. Feature selected stories on social media or event websites to showcase attendee perspectives and foster community.
  • Interactive installations: Create interactive installations or photo opportunities at the event venue to encourage attendees to take photos and share them on social media. Incorporate themed settings or props to make the experience more engaging.
  • Live Q&A sessions: Host live Q&A sessions with performers, speakers, or organizers and encourage attendees to participate by submitting questions or comments. Share highlights from the sessions on social media to extend engagement beyond the event.
  • Post-event surveys: Collect feedback from attendees through post-event surveys, asking about their experiences, favorite moments, and suggestions for improvement. Use insights from the surveys to inform future event planning and enhance the attendee experience.

Wrap up

Your event promotion efforts shouldn't be limited to the months leading up to the event. Maintaining year-round engagement with fans can significantly improve your success. It helps build the foundation for long-term relationships with fans which increases their lifetime value. However, after implementing year-round marketing initiatives, it's important to analyze data and use it to optimize your strategy. Continuous testing, analysis, and optimization are essential for achieving the best results over time.