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March 16, 2017
Social Media  |  6 min read

From Zero to Facebook Live Hero: Promoting an Event in 24 Hours or Less

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Liz Alton

With the real-time mobile nature of Facebook Live, long lead times for events don’t always work. However, jumping online and catching whoever is logged in at that moment isn’t making the best use of your time or audience either.

If you’re going to do a livestream on short notice, you’re going to need to give your fans more warning than Beyoncé gave when she dropped “Lemonade,” because, well, only Beyoncé can get away with that.


But does that mean you can't plan a short-notice event to great success? Not at all. A recent experiment for a client's brand showed me that it’s possible to generate some buzz around an event in 24 hours or less. Here are the key lessons I learned from getting a Facebook Live event to market with one day of promotion lead time.

A recent experiment for a client brand showed me that it’s possible to generate some buzz around an event in 24 hours or less. Here are the key lessons I learned from getting a Facebook Live event to market with one day of promotion lead time.

What to do when a rock star shows up—or why last minute livestreams happen

Why would you run a Facebook Live event with such a short runway? In the case of this project, which was for a design agency, a big name designer visited their office. Most of her time was focused on teaching a seminar, but at the last minute, she agreed to spend 30 minutes riffing on design trends for the agency’s audience. Livestreaming the event was the best way to share it with a large cross-section of followers. Opportunities may arise, such as an expert in-house or attending an event, which provide material for a livestream that’s too enticing to pass up.

Focus on the Facebook Live platform for your teaser video

Since you’re leveraging Facebook Live for your event, your planning should focus on this platform. Start with a teaser video. “Teaser” is a term used in film and gaming to help give rabid fans a preview of what’s coming next. Even if your followers aren’t as raptly connected to your brand story as they are to “Westworld,” you can use a teaser to garner interest. Answer three questions:

  • What’s the hook? Think about what’s interesting and unique about your planned promotion. In this case, it was access to a branded designer to ask questions and potentially make a connection in real time.
  • What’s the value? Just because you’re featuring an expert, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be worth someone’s time. For example, if the expert was just coming to promote a product, your customers might want to bypass it. However, the designer was talking about the biggest trends she’s seen in corporate design this year and how marketers could apply the information.
  • Who is the audience? Your teaser video should help a viewer quickly determine whether your live broadcast is right for them, or not.

Write promo posts and boost them

In addition to a teaser video, post a text promo post on Facebook. It can be something simple such as, “Tune in tomorrow at 7 p.m. EST when our Director of Design sits down with famous branding expert 'X' to talk about the hottest trends in design this year–and what today’s marketers and creatives need to know.” Since you’re working in a narrow window, consider “boosting” the post using paid Facebook advertising to get more visibility. It’s fine to work with a small budget, and you’ll only need the ads to run for 24 hours before the event, so it’ll be a small expenditure.

Cross-promote socially

Create simple social copy for your other social media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Cross-promote the event as widely as possible. It’s important to think about your cadence. Visual networks like Instagram or Pinterest can be a great place to post a visual invitation for a short time. On fast moving networks like Twitter, posting reminders (with slightly different social copy) three or four times over the day-long period will reach a wider audience. Depending on the network, don’t forget to target LinkedIn groups or followers of Facebook business pages, for example.

Leverage your email list

A Facebook Live event with a short promo window can get a real boost from your email list. Consider sending out a special newsletter to appropriate segments of your audience inviting them to attend. Use the same focus as your teaser video–and potentially embed it as well. Crystal clear focus on the value the event will deliver will get people excited to log in on short notice. Include a CTA of when to log in, and suggest that they forward the newsletter to any friends or colleagues who would be interested in the event.

If you're using automation software, you can also create a landing page where they can sign up for an email reminder for say 30 minutes before the live stream. Bonus: If they forward to people not on your list, you could get some new sign ups.

Incorporate it into your opener

Finally, right before you go live, post to your social networks again. Use the script of the event to engage with audiences attending. Remind them what you’ll be covering, and suggest that they feel free to tag anyone in the comments who would enjoy the broadcast.

It’s possible to engage your fans and followers with a high-value event, even with a short window. Dozens of individuals joined us for the design event, and an informal poll showed that people had heard about the event through multiple channels. Go surround sound in your approach for the broadest reach, while being clear and targeted in your messaging. It’s possible to go from zero viewers to engaged participation with a dedicated, multi-channel push.

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