Before I created my first race, I avoided Facebook for some of the reasons above. However, when it was time to get a race off the ground, I knew it was time to join the masses. The ability to reach your exact target on any day of the week, while having others promote on your behalf is something you won't find in too many places. In upcoming posts, we'll delve further into marketing your race through Facebook, but here are a few top-level tips to get you started.
1. Create a page for your race
Login to your Facebook account and click on the Create Ad link in the left side of the page. Use your race name for the title of the page, so it's easy to find. Don't get crazy with trying to stuff every event into the page title or it'll just look sloppy.
2. Invite your friends to like your page
Don't just bulk invite everyone you know, like it's a Candy Crush invitation. Write a post on your personal page about the race, when it is, and ask for your friends to check out the race page and like. Any engagement they make with your new page will help promote the page further to their connections.
3. Post frequently about anything related to your race
Not every post needs to be gold, but it should all help establish what the race is about, who is involved, etc. New sponsor? Post about it. It'll help get other sponsors interested and show your sponsors you're doing everything you can to support them as well. Swag come in? Snap a photo, talk about how awesome it'll look on runners, and post away.
4. Make your post shareable and engage with your audience
Your post is going to get buried or not shown at all if no one comments or likes the post. You can pay to get more eyeballs on your post, but we're talking about doing as much as possible for free today. Ask questions in your post. Engage with your audience. The more they like and comment on your post, the more visible it will become to their friends and others who have previously liked your page.
5. Assume someone seeing your post knows nothing about your race; repeat details often
Don't assume that everyone knows everything, or even anything, about your race. Be sure to repeat your race date as often as possible. It can be simple, and in passing, such as "Thanks to x sponsor for supporting the Kick Ass 5k on September 18th."
6. Posts don't always need to push registration
It's your job to convince someone to train for your race, and give up their time. Don't constantly push registration only with no benefit to the runner. You haven't blessed the world with a race; there are plenty. Spend time on your Facebook page to develop the brand and separate your race from others. Include a link to your registration page at the end of a post, but don't make it the only reason you post.
7. Monitor and analyze Facebook Insights
When managing your Facebook page, click on the Insights tab for a wealth of data about each post. Learn from that data to see the types of posts that yield comments, likes, shares, etc. Write more posts like those.
8. Use images in every post
Scroll through your own news feed and you'll see that posts with images all but bury those without. With so much distraction, you need something to catch a runner's eye. If you need to find free stock photography that helps convey your message, then do it. The image should be something to help connect the user emotionally with your post.
9. Build excitement for your race; registrations will follow
Do you have awesome swag? A medal that people will walk into work wearing? Show it off and get people excited. These are the types of posts where people will tag their friends with a comment like "We so need this around our necks." You're not forcing registration down anyone's throats, but registrations will follow as more people want to be part of your race.
10. Create an event for your race
Create an event from your page for the race, with your best image and all of your race details. As someone says they're going to the event, their friends will see it and the mob mentality kicks in with more friends going. As you update the event page, you'll get additional visibility from those who are interested in going, or have joined the event. Yes, it's a bit more to maintain, but it's another great way to promote your race at no cost.
Facebook is an amazing marketing opportunity for races, and many of our upcoming posts will focus on ways to use Facebook to maximize your race registrations.