Publicising Your Events
Image: EA Melbourne
This page covers advertising events, and was compiled by EA Cambridge, Brown EA, EA Melbourne, EA Philippines, and CEA's Groups Resources Team.
When to Advertise Your Event
An event should ideally be created at least two weeks before the event, to give enough time to publicise and for people to commit to coming. The further in advance the event is created, the better, especially for larger events.
If you have regular events (for example, a discussion group each Tuesday night) then you may not need as much time before advertising the event details.
Send reminders a few days before the event.
How to Advertise Your Event
What you’ll need
A simple informative title and description
The text should a) draw the reader in at the start and b) convince the reader that the event/activity is worth their time.
Make sure the nature of the event is clear (for example, discussion group, speaker event, social, etc.).
Make the cost of the event clear. We recommend that events are free entry. CEA can provide funding to pay for event costs. If the event is at a restaurant share the approximate cost of the meal.
Mention if newcomers are encouraged to come.
Mention if there are food or drinks at the event and if so what food restrictions you are catering for. Serving exclusively vegan food will also make people from an animal rights background feel especially welcome.
Whether people need to register, and if so how.
If there is any preparation members should take before the event. For example, if the event is based around an article, make it clear whether people need to read an article beforehand, or whether it is optional.
Date, time, duration
Organiser contact information
Clear location information
What the wet weather plan will be
Details about how to find the group
Accessibility information (for example, is the location accessible via wheelchair, and does it have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms)
Where people can park
Bus or train routes
If the event is not at an address (for example, the event is a picnic in a park), use Google maps to pinpoint the precise location. To do this, click on the exact spot on Google maps, then click on the latitude and longitude on the popup. This will give you a URL that you can put in the event information.
An event image (check out the editable examples on the graphics page of the EA Resource Hub.)
Workflow for advertising events
Use previous events as a starting point (or if you haven’t run one yet look at what other groups have done).
Have a good understanding of (i) the nature of the event, (ii) the target audience and (iii) the main selling points of the event.
Write out the event description in a shared document. It is often helpful to have both a long (for emails, Facebook) and short (for various bulletins) version, and likewise a long and a short title.
Get feedback from your fellow group organisers. A Google doc is convenient for people to submit comments and suggest edits.
For speaker events: Check with the speaker that they are happy with the description, allowing time to incorporate any edits they request.
Triple check that event details are accurate in all media and platforms, including time zone (Facebook sets this automatically so it can get confused).
In the days leading up to the event share the event again to the Facebook page/Meetup group and remind people to read the material if it’s a discussion group.
Change the event name to include ‘Tonight!’ on the day of the event.
Where to Promote Your Event
You want to promote your event to ensure you are reaching your target audience, and to make your event easy for people to get reminders about. If you are just starting out, it might be better just to start out with one or two of the platforms listed, and experiment with others as and when you are able to. The benefits of using more platforms are that it can help bring in people who wouldn’t otherwise have heard about your event, and increase your overall attendance.
If you have a virtual event that you'd like to open up to the whole EA community, you can request to have it added to the EA Online Events Calendar via this form, or post it to the Effective Altruism Online Events Facebook Group.
Facebook event images are ideally 1920 pixels wide by 1005 pixels tall, and do not get cropped.
In a group
Members of the group will be notified, or see the event on their newsfeed.
If your group is public you’ll be able to invite all the members of the group to your event, which means your members get reminders about the event.
If your group is private you can invite your Facebook friends in that group to your event.
If your group is private, people who aren’t members of the group are unable to view the event, even if they are given the link.
In a page
Pages can be useful for advertising outreach events, as they notify anyone who has followed the page. However, unlike in groups, you can’t invite a large number of members with one click.
You can also invite people that are not on Facebook by entering email addresses.
If your Facebook group is public you might prefer to create the event using a Facebook group instead, invite all the group members, then share the event to the page.
Paid Facebook Advertising
This is best used for events where extra attendees have a large value, such as early-stage outreach. The process requires you to define your target audience, select a period of time and amount you’re willing to spend and you’re good to go.
Set a custom audience to make the ads as targeted as possible. Take some time to fiddle with the system to get the audience as well defined as possible. For example, not everyone lists their location or university.
Facebook has a minimum of a 10-mile radius for who will receive the ad, and that should be enough. Also, you can input the interests, fields of study, schools, employers, and job titles that you think your target audience will have. For example, if you are organising an event on AI safety, you can target people with interests in “Artificial Intelligence”, with the field of study of “Computer Science”, or those who have a job title of “Senior Engineer”.
Set a low budget first, and set the number of days that the ad will run to be a few only. (i.e. 3-7 days.) You might be able to find enough attendees just from a low budget within 2-3 days. Track your ad daily to see if it’s resulting in more signups or not. If it’s not resulting in more signups, you can increase your budget or lower the number of days it will run for. Lowering the number of days it will run for means your budget will be spent at a faster rate, which could lead to more signups.
You can apply for funding through CEA.
EA Philippines has found success in getting attendees to come using Facebook ads at a very cheap cost. Their cost per attendee was around $1-5 per person depending on the event. This success might be specific to the Philippines though given the country’s high social media usage, and other groups may not find their ads to be as cost-effective. You can experiment with it and see if it’s cost-effective for you.
Meetup can help you to reach a broader audience, and also allow people not on Facebook to follow your group and make sure they don’t miss any events.
Meetup displays the number of people who have RSVPed for the event. If most of your members don’t use Meetup, it can look as if only a few people are going, which might put off new members from coming along. To avoid this, ask your regular group members to join Meetup, and click when they are attending (even if they prefer using Facebook as a platform) so it doesn’t look like the meetup will have just one or two people.
Meetup event images are ideally 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels tall and do not get cropped.
Eventbrite is popular in some countries but not others. There are different Eventbrite websites for the 26 different countries they support. To find your country’s website either Google “Eventbrite” or choose your country on the Help Center .
Eventbrite lists a wide range of the events coming up in a city, so putting your event on Eventbrite may attract newcomers that you might not reach on Facebook or Meetup. Eventbrite asks people to sign up to the event, so it is useful when you are running larger events where it is important to keep track of the number of attendees.
In your email include a link to the event on whichever platform(s) you have used, and consider also including a calendar invite on google and/or outlook or remind people to add it to their calendar (Facebook, Meetups and Eventbrite all have this as an option).
Ask people to RSVP by replying to the email if you need to know who is coming for catering or if you might have to change the location if the weather is bad.
There are a number of apps that allow group members to have events added directly to their calendar. These include:
Google Calendar is the most ubiquitous calendar tool, though you may have some members who use other apps like Outlook or iCal. See this article for information on how to share your calendar with the public.
AddEvent allows users to add events directly to their calendar, or subscribe to calendars, on most major calendar apps. EA Anywhere uses this app and has a custom code that allows events to be displayed in the user's time zone. Email email@example.com for information.
Lu.ma is a mailing list/calendar hybrid tool that can also be used to promote individual events or calendars.
Flyers and Posters (Uni Groups)
Anecdotal data from Harvard EA suggests that a large percentage of new attendees come to meetups after seeing posters. Other groups have had less success with flyers and posters as a form of publicity, so this may depend on the context of your group (for example, whether there are places in your city/university where people tend to look at posters or pick up flyers).
Tip: Advertising to several platforms simultaneously
EA Melbourne has put together a system that allows you to add events to:
A Wix website
... all just by posting a single event to Eventbrite. This document will guide you through setting up the system, and this document describes how to post an event.
If you have the time, sending personal messages to invite people to events can significantly increase attendance. Some group organisers schedule 30 mins for personally reaching out to members to encourage them to come. This might be particularly effective for members who are enthusiastic about EA but have only attended once or twice, so they may not feel fully part of the community, and for members who you think might be particularly interested in the content of the event.
It can be useful to collect statistics on how people are hearing about your events. This way you can see if you should focus more on certain types of advertising and less on others. If you are putting up loads of posters but everyone who comes to your events heard about it from a Facebook post then you know to spend more time on Facebook posts and less on posters.
One way of doing this is to ask for people to put up their hand if they found out about the event through Facebook, mailing lists, posters etc. You could also ask this question if you are asking for feedback via short forms.
For extended events like fellowships, you can ask people how they found out about the event in an event survey or in the application.
For example, Brown EA included this question in their fellowship application and found the following breakdown of how students heard about their fellowship:
~ 30% from the clubs fair
~ 30% from Facebook posts on Brown student pages
~ 20% from a post on Brown’s daily mailing list
~ 10% from word of mouth
~ 10% from asking other students groups to email their listservs such as the animal rights group, computer science group, etc.