Ever since COVID-19 took over the world, businesses of all shapes and sizes have struggled to generate income tantamount to what they were earning before. As we faced stay-at-home orders, consumer confidence dropped, and even as everything starts to re-open, we still face a crisis as consumers have taken to ordering online.
Unfortunately, this affects small, local businesses the most. For those active on Facebook, you may have seen that the platform recently launched paid online events. Essentially, it’s a tool that allows businesses to generate income during this difficult time.
In this guide, we’re going to take you through the basics of paid online events and the best practices to get the event right.
Online events are available to creators, educators, businesses, and even media publishers. As long as you have a Page, you can start a new online event. A paid online event means that you’ll receive a fee in return for exclusive tools, online video content, and more. Attendees pay a small fee for you to provide value through various content and services.
According to Facebook, live broadcasts doubled from June 2019 to June 2020. Even in 2021, consumers want to adhere to social distancing regulations and keep themselves (and loved ones) safe by attending virtual events. With a paid virtual event, businesses give something away on Facebook while still generating some income. For those who lost significant amounts in 2020, this could be a valuable feature this year.
Additionally, Apple is not currently enforcing the in-app purchase rules. Originally, it extended the deadline to the end of 2020. However, they announced another extension until the end of June 2021. What does this mean? For one thing, Facebook can choose between various payment platforms without penalty for Apple devices.
Currently, the platform is using Facebook Pay and this means that all businesses keep 100% of their earnings. Of course, this is before considering any tax on the earnings. At the moment, there’s no end date for this.
No business wants to spend time on an online paid event only for nobody to turn up. This is why we’ve split our advice into four different sections. As you can see, it starts with the preparation stage. This is based on the best practices available from Facebook itself, but we’re delving into the advice in more detail.
Set Goals - What do you want to achieve from an online paid Facebook event? With any money you spend on marketing, you need to think about what you want from it on the other side.
Choose a Date - When will the event take place? Do you have a specific date in mind? Give yourself enough time to generate excitement and spread the word.
Determine the Audience - What sort of people do you want to attend the event and why? With your audience in mind, it’s easier to advertise and reach out in a way that resonates. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t market the event well and the event itself won’t be shaped to their needs.
Prepare the Audience - Since this is a paid event, we also recommend preparing the attendees. Do they need to do anything in advance? Should they bring something to the event? What will they achieve or receive from the event?
After setting a date and choosing a particular audience, it’s time to advertise and generate as much interest as possible. Ultimately, the goal is to make people in your audience feel as though they’re missing out by not attending the event. They should feel compelled to pay the fee because of all the value they get in return.
The benefit of running an online event is that you’re no longer bound by location. Even a small business can show the world their skills and knowledge. As long as you have the capabilities to sell to these people, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t attract them to the event.
In the preparation stage, you should have chosen a date in the future, which gives you some time to advertise.
Start Close - Facebook recommends starting close, and an example of this would be your mailing list. Why look for a completely new audience when you have people already interested in the brand on a mailing list? One email alone could encourage a handful of people to sign up immediately. In this email, include all pertinent details and a link for all interested people to click.
Spread the Word - You can’t approach strangers with unsolicited messages and emails, but this doesn’t stop you from spreading the word at every opportunity. Mention the event in blog posts, in all outgoing emails, on your Facebook page, and on all other social media profiles.
Get Others to Share - In marketing, getting other people to talk about your brand is more powerful than any other marketing tool. Thanks to social proof, we know that consumers listen to other consumers. It’s the reason we watch YouTube videos with millions of views and choose Amazon products with thousands of reviews. If you can get your audience talking about your event, it will be more powerful than anything you can produce yourself.
With preparation and advertising done, there’s nothing left to do except run the event. Often, this is the point at which everything feels very real. You get nervous because people have paid money and you want them to walk away with a positive experience.
Prepare the Recording Location - Before hitting the magical live button, choose a recording location and run some tests. How is the lighting? Does the microphone work well? Is the picture quality good enough? Is the internet connection strong enough?
Start Early - Always, always, always start early - you don’t want people turning up on time to discover that you’re having problems. By starting early, you fix all small problems before everyone arrives. You’ll also need to switch off device notifications and remove all other distractions.
Pay Attention to Attendees - Let’s not forget, attendees have paid their own money to attend your event. If your business has struggled financially during the pandemic, your customers have probably been in the same position. Therefore, look through comments and engage with attendees. The more you answer their questions, the more value for money they receive (and the more likely they are to attend another event in the future!).
Use a CTA - What do you want the audience to do next? Make sure you tell them before ending the event. Should they head over to your website? Sign up for a newsletter? Or write down the date for the next event in their diaries?
If all goes well with the live event, you will have provided value to the audience, generated interest in the brand, and even made some money at the same time. However, you can’t ever take success for granted.
Analyze Performance - Firstly, analyze the performance of the online event. How many people took part in the event? How many people engaged? What were the most common questions and comments? If common problems arose during the event, this could provide the foundation for the next event, content creation, and product development.
Use the Events Insights Tab - If you’re looking for somewhere to start, use the Events Insights tab. Accessible through your Page, you’ll learn about how much you’re expected to earn, who attended, how they engaged, and more.
To finish, here are some bonus tips for those looking to run a paid online Facebook event this year.
Facebook now offers businesses a chance to earn money through an online event, and you can get started today!