You’re on the right track if you’re promoting your events on Facebook and Instagram. But so are all the other events on social media.

The competition for “airtime” on users’ feeds is real — and there’s only so much you can do with your own social content. While you can reach more of your followers with the help of paid ads, if you really want to build momentum for your event, user-generated content is where it’s at.

Why? Because this content isn’t just easy for you to re-post, it’s also a powerful driver of ticket sales. Studies show that consumers trust user-generated content 50% more than content straight from brands.

Here’s how to harness user-generated content to reach more people than ever before.

Why user-generated content is critical to event discovery

Today’s social media users have become savvy at tuning out marketing messages when they lose interest. But they’re still deeply invested in authentic content created by their peers. In fact, 86% of millennials say user-generated content is a good indication of a brand’s quality.

Here are three examples of authentic, user-generated content:

  • Live video of your event
  • Snapshots shared in Facebook or Instagram Stories
  • Witty captions accompanying photos

User-generated content is central to the “event discovery flywheel,” a self-reinforcing cycle where social media efforts build upon each other to create momentum. The more you post, the more people come to your event, and the more they come, the more they post, etc.

“This flywheel is a powerful way for businesses to be discovered by their local community,” says Mike Bronfin, product marketing manager at Instagram. “Encouraging the right types of content creation and sharing while customers visit your event is the best way to get discovered.”

How to get attendees to share more content, more often

If you take a look at attendee newsfeeds online, you’ll see plenty of user-generated content already happening without your intervention. But smart event brands don’t just rely on happenstance to do the job. They actively motivate followers to post more and better content.

Here are two ways to inspire user-generated content from the event brands doing it well.

Tactic #1: Interactive contests

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia, has an aggressive social media strategy for promoting events. This includes running four Instagram contests each year tied to special exhibits, where fans are invited to “submit” pictures they’ve taken by posting them in their feeds and tagging Lewis Ginter’s Instagram handle.

Then, something amazing happens. “We see huge engagement on the original photo someone posts to enter,” says Jonah Holland, who runs social media marketing for the Gardens. Followers share with their friends and suddenly, the brand is reaching way outside its fanbase.

Here are four social media contest ideas to motivate world-of-mouth among your followers:

  • Free ticket giveaways
  • Hashtag contests
  • Tag a friend
  • Surveys

Learn about the benefits of connecting your Eventbrite event to Facebook here.

Tactic #2: Partnership agreements

Another great source of user-generated content is your partner ecosystem, including performers, speakers, vendors, sponsors, and paid influencers. Don’t forget about this extended network when putting together your user-generated content strategy!

Maker Faire, a showcase for creative makers in San Francisco and New York (and a growing number of cities worldwide) has its own “maker marketing strategy,” which provides each participating maker with their own digital resource kit to promote the event to their followers.

A few things to keep in mind as you tap your partner network for user-generated content:

  • Make sure your partner agreement includes parameters around social media promotion
  • Give tools, like Maker Faire’s resource kit, to help them easily share with their fans
  • Influencing user-generated content takes a certain degree of effort, but is worth it

Grow your audience with Facebook and Instagram

User-generated content is just one of three key marketing strategies the experts at Facebook and Instagram say you should be using to promote your event. To learn more, download the 2020 Guide to Instagram for Event Marketing.