How to promote an event on social media when none of the participants exist there yet

posted Jul 20, 2011, 3:08 PM by christy bergman   [ updated Aug 4, 2011, 10:48 AM ]
This latest event posed a new social media challenge for me.  It's a food & wine event, but the pop-up chefs didn't have their own website, hardly any facebook presence, and zero twitter existence.  The small production local winery has no website, no facebook, no twitter, you can barely find their name on google search.  So, without spending any ad dollars, how am I going to promote this event? 

I started trying the same trick as last time, trying to find someone with bigger social media fame than myself to help promote. I tried the only big winery whose wine I was pouring. I tried the local wine grape association whose appellation I was representing.  No luck.  Following is the anatomy of what did work for me, and it turns out it's all stuff I did myself (and you can do it too).  Again, I started out with my free tools arsenal:  direct email, social media, and my own website.

Step 1) Create a web page for the winery.  Mine is at
Step 2) Create an event page, with a purchase landing, on my website
Step 3) Set up Google Analytics custom reports.  (Actually didn't do this.  I already created reusable custom reports that worked like a charm for this event too!)
Step 4) List the events on both and  Give a different URL to my own event page on both, so I can track where traffic comes from.
Step 5) Post on facebook and twitter.  Again, being a small business with a small following, I didn't expect much result for all my efforts at giving good content.

Yesterday a record 9 people all bought on the same day!  1 ticket came from localwineevents.  About half of the rest of the tickets were names I recognized, people who'd been to the shop before.  But where did the other ticket sales come from?  Swish! That's the sound of me opening my Google Analtyics report! This time I deep-dive directly into the event purchase page on one day=yesterday.  13 visits via 3 sources: direct, facebook & google (no twitter traffic this time).  Since it's the last purchase step, in theory a bounce rate of 100% means everyone's buying.  But bounce rate in this case has to be weighed against time on page to decide if those bounces are because of purchase or just bounces.

I start my analysis by trying to account for each ticket bought.  Each unique ticket purchaser buys 1.7 tickets each.  I use the same formula I invented for my last blog posting about social media ROI.  It turns out my calculations add up to the exact # purchases made, so I think I've figured out where each ticket came from.

Referrer    #visits   BounceRate  TimeOnPage  Calculated # interested   #purchases
direct        8         71.43%        0:47:39         8 * (1-.71)= 2              3.4 tickets
facebook    2         0%              0:02:41                          0               0 tickets
google       3        100%            1:14:09                          3               5 tickets
DAYTOTAL 13         63.64%        0:42:06                          5               8 tickets                              

( I'd be worried about those longer-than-average time-on-page, but I was wrestling with Google checkout the prior 2 weeks.  First there's a hard-to-find checkout setting to "allow unsigned carts".  Even though I'm using Google checkout itself, it considers itself unsigned.  doh!  that blocked me for a while! I filed a bug, but typical Google response was "nothing is wrong with our product".  No helpful suggestion to look for this non-intuitive setting.  Just the unhelpful response I'm so used to from Google - you're wrong!  I digress.  Second, since I hadn't figured out the unsigned cart setting yet, I thought maybe the bug was with the "google checkout gadget", so I tried another gadget called "buy now checkout gadget".  But that one only lets people buy 1 item at a time, and since most people want to buy >1 ticket at a time, they were stuck!  So, those times look whacky I know, but I don't think I'll be seeing that problem again. )

Back to figuring out the traffic. I knew I didn't do an emailing on that day, so I'm still wondering where the direct & google spike in traffic came from.  I have a hunch, I check my email, and sure enough, 4:45am July 19th, "The Juice" was sent to all subscriber's mailboxes, and our event was listed in that email!  So my conclusion this time? 

1) is a *great* way to promote your wine & food event!
2) Email lists have the greatest ROI, especially if your social presence is small (like mine and everyone I'm representing this time)
3) Make sure your website is ready & working, because if you've built up a loyal following, procrastinators (ahem, I mean people) will come looking for you. 
4) Even if the task looks daunting and you're a small business, just try it, you can do it!