BE IN THE KNOW

August 12 2012

Time for a Status Update: Your Meeting Marketing Strategy

By David McMillin, Staff Writer
August 13, 2012


The PCMA Millennial Series has provided tips on using social media to achieve success while you're on-site, but it's time to examine an equally crucial time: before your meeting. As Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers continue to sign up for new social media accounts, there are more channels than ever before to connect your prospective attendees.

All of those channels present plenty of possibilities, and plenty of planners recognize those possibilities. According to a Constant Contact survey earlier this year, 77 percent of event planners use social media for marketing and promotion. However, only 10 percent of survey respondents indicated that they have a "thorough and refined" social media plan.

Capitalizing on the potential of social media to increase your attendance requires more than 140 characters. If you're looking to update the status of your organization's meeting marketing strategy, consider these tips for getting social with success.

Know Your Platform
While the PCMA Education Foundation-commissioned Millennial Survey uncovered that Facebook is one of the top five communication channels for young attendees, LinkedIn and Twitter received lower marks. However, all of these channels do present a map to some segment of your prospective attendees. The Foundation's survey indicated that younger members of the Millennial generation prefer Facebook and Twitter while older members spent more time on LinkedIn. As you outline your social media strategy, consider who you're trying to attract and determine where you're most likely to reach them.

Be Casual
When it comes to speaking the language of social media, remember that you want to relate with your audience. That relationship relies on breaking with the formality and length of other copywriting mediums like press releases and traditional email marketing.

"Regardless of the seriousness of the subject matter of your organization, remember that users on Facebook and Twitter are there because they enjoy being part of the crowd and connecting with their friends," Mary Reynolds Kane, Director,Online Marketing, PCMA, says. "The update on your newest speaker announcement might be followed by an update from their best friend from college."

Avoid Automation
For many resource-starved organizations, it can be tempting to use an automated system such as HootSuite to schedule posts and eliminate the daily responsibility of logging in and posting updates. However, one of the key building blocks of social networking is authenticity.

"Your fans want to be part of a community," Kane says. "They want to know you're listening. Let them know by maintaining an interactive presence across all your social circles."

Even if your organization does not have the resources to hire someone who can solely manage your social media accounts, it's possible to make the effort to build a true community. Rather than compiling a calendar of updates, assign experts within your organization to log-in and respond to questions and comments that fall under their areas of expertise.

Every Post Isn't a Promotion
You may be building toward the first day of your meeting, but your fans and followers probably don't want your promotional pitch showing up in their news feeds everyday. Instead, think of your social media marketing as a place to build awareness about your brand. Replace a constant stream of posts about registration fees with images and videos that give your audience a break from direct marketing efforts.

Sharing is Success
Let your fans and followers do the grassroots promotional legwork for you. If you can supply thought-provoking content and visuals, your audience will be compelled to comment, share and continue the conversation. The more your audience wants to distribute your information, the more effective your social media plan will be in increasing awareness and more importantly, attendance.

What do you think? How have you leveraged different social media channels to better connect with your prospective attendees?

More from PCMA's Millennial Series
PCMA Education Foundation Research
Why Planners Should Go Out and Play
Redefine Experience in Your Hiring
Make the Most of Attendee Social Media Addiction

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