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Contemplating giving your event’s social media plan a strategic upgrade? According to research by website development firm Creotivo, you are not alone. Roughly 62 percent of promoters say that social media has become more important to outreach efforts in recent months, while nearly three-quarters saw boosts in website traffic after investing just six hours on social networks weekly. But ironically, as Awareness Inc.’s recent State of Social Marketing report revealed, many corporate meeting planners still struggle to consistently define how to measure the impact of these efforts. Luckily for those hoping to connect more effectively with attendees, there’s a better way.
As industry watchdogs such as Jay Baer explain, creating a powerful social media strategy starts with plotting larger tactical objectives. The goal for meeting planners is not to be good at the business of social media, he says. The goal is to be good at their business because of social media. In other words, as cutting-edge and creative as you choose to make them, social network-based promotions are merely one tent-pole of a broader event promotions strategy.
To be successful with social initiatives, you should first consider how they can support larger and more quantifiable business objectives, i.e. boosting ticket sales, increasing program registrations, or driving conversation amongst key influencers about special occasions. Think of social media as a megaphone: Allowing you to quickly connect and communicate with thousands of audience members worldwide, it can serve as a powerful amplifier for any message. But to make any impact whatsoever on your event’s bottom line, you must first consider whom you’re speaking with, where they’re found online, what motivates them, and both how to engage these individuals and prompt specific actions, e.g. increasing newsletter sign-up rates or onsite attendance. In short, extensive upfront planning must go into crafting your voice and vision, aligning each with key objectives and audience expectation, and finding ways of making sure that all communications efforts stand out and have something meaningful to say when heard.
Think of social media as a megaphone. …It can serve as a powerful amplifier for any message.
Many meeting planners myopically focus on driving widespread interest and uptake, and obsess over metrics such as likes, tweets and shares — the most immediately visible signs they’ve been able to cause any reaction. But successful social campaigns focus on macro-, not micro-level goals, and are typically formulated in reverse.
Plotting a new corporate event? Begin by defining specific business objectives for it, then crafting marketing plans and tactical strategies for executing them, of which social media solutions will only be one part. To ultimately win with social media, rather than chasing intangible gains, start by defining meaningful and measurable goals — e.g. getting more people signed up for educational programs or to participate in key networking functions — then work backwards to build the framework and infrastructure that support them.
Here are a few simple ways you might tailor your social campaigns to support these larger objectives:
From both financial and promotional standpoints, recent data shows that it’s eminently possible for meeting planners to move the needle by making these kinds of efforts. Moreover, studies show that social media has a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate than traditional marketing methods such as print or online advertisements. But just as likes or shares alone may not tell the entire story, numbers alone can be deceiving. Understanding not only how many individuals you interact with and how often, but also whom you’re connecting with, when, where, how and why is also crucial for event planners.
In many ways, social media is actually the world’s biggest cocktail party. Success with supporting platforms is all about understanding situational dynamics, positively driving and maintaining the flow of conversation, and considering which voices echo farthest — as well as how to drive ongoing dialogue. When plotting campaigns for your corporate events, start by looking and listening. Consider who’s conversing about your chosen subject online, the conversation being engaged in and the overall context, then think about how to add value to these exchanges. Understand who your key influencers are; what motivates them; how, when and why they engage with your brand; and the ways to best connect with them.
Afterwards, consider the results you’re looking to achieve, how to best tell your story and the metrics you can use to measure a campaign’s impact. And don’t forget to carefully weave these promotional efforts into your larger marketing activities, and neatly tie them all together: Messaging should be consistent across all platforms and should cross-promote each concurrently-running initiative. Remember that social media is just one part of a holistic promotions strategy.
Once live, constantly monitor public sentiment and campaign performance, and regularly iterate and refine efforts based on analytics and audience feedback. One thing you should always ask yourself when doing so: How can others benefit from engaging with you? Ultimately, as a corporate meeting planner, to drive positive exchanges, you should always strive to create value for your audience. Whether in the form of limited-time promotions or new announcements, consistently look for ways to inform, entertain and create value for attendees. With so many voices now competing for attention online, it’s essential to incentivize audiences to pass the word along.
However you choose to utilize online platforms, one thing is certain. When it comes to social media, there’s no magic formula for success, or single strategy for making special occasions or surrounding brands go viral. But by planning ahead, keeping your eyes and ears open, regularly reassessing performance and refining as you go, any business can create powerful campaigns around their corporate events whose lasting effects echo far beyond ephemeral shares or retweets. I&FMM