4 lessons from promoting “East End Indie Day” on Facebook

“East End Indie Day” is a fantastic day of activities organised by East End Trades where independent traders & businesses celebrated with a special day of workshops, markets & performances.

I created a Facebook event for this and boosted this in the weeks leading up to the event as to gain any kind of reach on Facebook, you really need to pay for a promotion. I have found that events promoted organically gain only 10% of the reach of a boosted event. So, you can go from reaching 1K people to 10K people, with some low-cost advertising of £1.50 a day.

However, to get the most out of the ad you also need to make sure you really pay attention to the image, copy & keywords.

1. Make sure you use Facebook’s image & text ratio checker

It is really important to make sure you check your image with Facebook text checker before publishing, as an image with too much text will be compromised by Facebook and not shown to as many people as an image without text. This is because Facebook have found people do not like images with text as much as without, and so encourages you to put all the relevant text in the event description.

Make sure you check your images with Facebook text checker before publishing

Therefore, we couldn’t use the logo or any text graphics. So, it is really useful to check any image before running the ad (even if you haven’t included text — as Facebook may pick something up in the image that may stop it from being approved.) The example below shows how 3 different graphics were rated by Facebook, which is interesting as one of them didn’t contain text, but the text rating was high! You can find out more about what Facebook accepts by reading their guide to ad images

Examples of Facebook image rankings:

The image also needs to be good quality and interesting as it will make people decide whether they want to join or share the event. For East End Indie Day we didn’t yet have any images of the event so I used relevant images from past events to show the diversity of the event. You also need to make sure the resolution is high as this image is also used at 1920x1080 for the event page.


2. Make sure you fill in all of the event details

To make sure you get the most out of the algorithm Facebook uses to promote events, you need to fill in the details with as much information as you can. Make sure details such as: location, time, keywords & co-hosts are all filled in. To do this click the “Edit” button, top right of the event page and add as many relevant keywords as you can. This helps your event be shown to more people and also helps make people more willing to commit, leaving nothing they are unsure about.

By adding lots of keywords, the algorithm will recommend your event to more people based on their interests. I added keywords such as “Small Business Saturday” “East End of London” and “Handmade crafts” to draw attention to people interested in these things.

It also really pays to add co-hosts (as the event is then shared on their page and added to their calendar which will help people notice the event). Co-hosts can also add to the event page discussion. I would suggest adding lots of friends and businesses involved as co-hosts, and don’t forget to add yourself.

You also need to make sure the event description is catchy to entice people to join your event and have a clear offer for people to accept such as “You are invited”. It is worthwhile spending time making the description interesting as you can use the same description on listings such as eastldn.co.uk who won’t accept your ad unless it’s catchy.


3. Engage with niche groups

Facebook is great for really engaging with interested communities within groups. By engaging with these niche groups on Facebook, you not only gain reach, but also forge valuable connections with people. Something like East End Indie Day is perfect for this, as there are so many people with a personal connection and interest in the East End and there is a lot of discussion around this in Facebook. Therefore I would suggest two ways of communicating with relevant groups:

  1. Share your event regularly in relevant groups. Here I shared the event in groups such as “East London Events”, “East End mums & dads” and “Bethnal Green & East London” — adjusting the copy to suit the interests of the group. This can really help gain organic reach for the event, which you can track alongside the paid reach with a boosted event.
  2. Join the discussions in groups. If you have a story that is relevant and interesting for people in the group, this is great for encouraging discussion and shared thoughts and creates valuable connections with people who will spread the word with more like-minded people. For instance, I shared a video made by East End Trades, where the the Pellici family invite the mayor to East End Indie Day, this was popular as the cafe and people that work there are well known in the East End community, which helped trigger lots of memories and experiences of the place and what it means to people, helping reinforce the message of East End Trades.
“You guys are family. The East End wouldn’t be the same without you.”
Suraya Kleinsmith Schneebeli
“I used to help at Pellici’s near Morpeth Street in 1956 whist I was at school there. I went there for lunchtime.” 
Pat Carpenter

In groups, you do however have to post as your personal profile (rather than your business profile), but you can of course still share and refer to posts from your business page to help build awareness of the organisation, as I did here. Also, the more your post is shared and commented on, the more likely even more people will see it.

Mayor Sadiq Khan with the Gardner family outside Pellici, Photo by Art memos

4. Focus on documenting rather than creating content

“Documenting consistently will be the key to success for many businesses.” 
We are Social Media

While working on this project, I found people were very much interested in current things happening, such as people talking about why they think small businesses are important or videos of people making things. I noticed these gained far more interest than, say an animated gif of products. The posts below both reached around 2K people, whereas a promotional animated gif reached only 400.

Joining in at Duke of Uke

So, for me, living in the area, it was more worthwhile to go into the shops and see what people were up to and take the odd video or photo of things happening in real time. People want these genuine experiences that give a real impression of East End life with all the creative and interesting things going on round here. So, sharing relevant videos, photos and articles was key — especially on the day of the event.

This focus on “documenting” rather than “creating” content gains more reach because people prefer this experience of real life and also because social channels are encouraging more use of videos with new “story” based features, and using algorithms to promote this sort of content over obviously promotional.

So the key points from this project are:

  1. Facebook does not want you to be overly promotional. Use a conversational tone and timely content — especially videos, rather than promotional images with links. This is partly due to the algorithm and partly due to what people respond to.
  2. You need to be aware of how Facebook’s algorithms work. That is, they will promote more when all the information is filled in, and will also pick up things like timeliness, relevancy and popularity of content (see Neil Patel’s article on Facebook’s algorithm revealed).
  3. Interesting and engaging stories are key. It is worthwhile joining and sharing things in groups and participating in discussions as you not only raise awareness of what you do to people that are interested, you also find out about your audience and their interests.

Thanks for reading!


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