Corrine Turke is a Senior Account Executive at the Washington D.C. office of Portland-based Sparkloft Media, where she leads the company’s B2B social media marketing efforts, specifically focusing on how social can be used to support meetings objectives across conference stakeholders.
The Impact of Social Media on Corporate Event Marketing
Corporate meeting planners are no stranger to pressure: coordinating innumerable details, managing massive budgets and dealing with the preferences, opinions and emotions of multiple stakeholders isn’t a job for the faint of heart. But after attending the recent IMEX America 2018 conference, it’s clear there’s a new challenge underway as the very notion of what it means to be a corporate meeting planner evolves to meet the demands of a changing world.
Julius Solaris’s keynote presentation during MPI’s Smart Monday (leading into IMEX) focused on the concept of “legacy” and what it means when applied to events and the meetings industry at large. He challenged meeting planners to think beyond big-name speakers and flashy parties to get to the root of what events do: bring people together, in conversation, to make an impact and create value for industries and future generations. For the meeting planner, it means to think about meeting design as a way to “bring the message to life” from start to finish, in a holistic and authentic way.
With opportunities at all touchpoints throughout the meetings lifecycle, social media is an excellent tool meeting planners should more often use to deepen the conference conversation, support attendee experience and extend the life of the conference. Beyond supporting the success of an individual event, social creates a stronger network among attendees, leaving a lasting legacy of deeper, more productive relationships.
Looking for practical ways to get started? Here are a few ways to consider building social into your meeting design at each stage: before, during and after. At each stage, meeting planners should think about what’s happening in the conference lifecycle – and minds of attendees – and craft a social strategy that supports success.
Leading up to an event, potential attendees are weighing the pros and cons of attending, learning about the conference and getting excited. Meeting planners can leverage the inspirational storytelling opportunities and niche targeting available on social media to drive attendance, supporting a strong, well-attended event. As attendees research a conference, learning about topics, speakers, vendors, etc., meeting planners have the opportunity to maximize the fear of missing out – or FOMO – of a conference by launching the conversation early on social. As potential attendees engage with content and one another, meeting planners can use social listening better understand attendee preferences and interests and craft a stronger live meeting that responds accordingly.
Think beyond a conference hashtag. Meeting planners should have a strong social media plan in place to participate, guide and amplify the social conversation that will happen during the event. Meeting planners should consider ways that social can be incorporated to facilitate conversations, make connections, and surprise and delight on-the-ground attendees in a meaningful way – creating deeper relationships and long-lasting memories. Furthermore, meeting planners can use social to maximize the event’s digital presence among industry partners and non-attendees, solidifying a client’s thought leadership position.
Attendees leave conferences feeling inspired by new ideas and ready to implement changes. Meeting planners can increase the effectiveness of the conference by capitalizing on this momentum and extending the life of the conference for several months. By creating shareable content and empowering speakers with the right social tools, meeting planners have the ability to facilitate and deepen this conversation. In this way, meeting planners can leave a legacy behind them, providing their clients with more engaged network of social advocates that can be tapped into moving forward.
If corporate meeting planners are expected to move away from “executing lists” and head towards creating a deeper conference experience, they’ll need to take on a fresh perspective and get creative. Social media holds enormous potential as a cost effective, relationship-oriented tool that attendees are already using.