There is so much happening with social media today; it is almost overwhelming. As social sites rapidly grow and evolve, it’s increasingly difficult for the average person to really wrap their head around social media and process what it all means. This is how it’d have felt when new mediums like TV and radio came along. It certainly seems similar to how things changed when email and websites were introduced commercially over 15 years ago. Except now the difference is that we have all those established communication mediums to reinforce to us all day long why we should pay attention to social media!
In the event industry, people are always involved in social interactions – whether it be establishing personal connections at live events, understanding a client’s meeting objectives, or negotiating business deals with vendors. It’s an innate part of what they do. However, the channels through which these social interactions take place are changing in some fundamental ways. In speaking with clients who use our event planning and management software, we’ve learnt that developing social media strategy for events has become a crucial part of event planning these days..
Here are 10 reasons event planners need to think about their social media strategy for any public meetings, events or conferences:
- Social media is the perfect medium for interacting with people who like to attend events and conferences because it has the two components that draw people to events and makes them successful – networking opportunities and educational content.
- Most attendees are nowadays using social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Attendees will probably be talking about the event before, during and after it on these social sites, whether you know it or not. This is especially true if your event has a large audience that shares similar interests and are already engaged with one another on social media. It looks strange if the organiser is not enabling, participating, and encouraging that engagement.
- A great social media strategy can help drive attendance to your event. If there are 600 million people on Facebook, 100 million people on LinkedIn, and 40 million on Twitter, it’s likely that some of them will show interest in attending your event.
- Word-of-mouth marketing has acquired a whole new meaning with the advent of social media, as planners can now mobilise social networks of registered attendees and invite their friends/colleagues as well. Previously, viral marketing required attendees to actually pick up a phone or proactively send an email to maybe a handful of their acquaintances (if they bothered to make the effort), whereas today, attendees can share your event with thousands of contacts at the click of a button.
- One of the most beneficial aspects of social media for event planning is that users self-select what topics they are interested in and what they care about. They do this by joining discussion groups on LinkedIn, becoming fans of pages and brands on Facebook, tweeting about specific topics, and sharing content they find interesting. Understanding and identifying this information is a great way for planners to target the ideal attendees based on their interests, rather than just traditional criteria like job titles and organisations.
- Online forums such as LinkedIn groups and Facebook allow attendees to communicate and collaborate before and after the event. This can change the dynamic of the event in a positive way, as more meaningful dialogue and participation can occur if attendees have a higher common knowledge point before the start of the event.
- Mobile applications are making social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs easily accessible during live events. This not only increases social participation of your live audience but also allows all the people who weren’t able to attend the event in person to follow live updates and engage.
- Speakers will be better prepared to tailor their message to the audience and deliver a great presentation if feedback about their presentation is being posted on social media in real time.
- Attendees are now empowered to become reviewers or critics of events. Since social networks act as a global online publishing platform, attendees can now easily publish their feedback for the world to see. This forces planner to take their event experiences to the next level.
- A right social media strategy can shape the reputation of your events and organisation. Events and conferences are largely successful over time because of their good reputation with sponsors and attendees. In that regard, social media represents a huge opportunity to improve your reputation and success. It can be as simple as hearing feedback from attendees and making changes based on that feedback.