In an increasingly digital and connected world, social media has become integral in marketing meetings and events — and it’s a tool that planners cannot ignore.
Certainly, a good number of planners already embrace the technology, according to M+IT’s 2016 Meetings Market Report, with 68 per cent of respondents saying they use social media to promote events. Among those respondents, 89 per cent use Twitter; 71 per cent, Facebook; 57 per cent, LinkedIn; 18 per cent, Instagram; 7 per cent, Google+; 2 per cent, Pinterest; and 9 per cent, other channels such as YouTube.
Successfully employing social media marketing is Lee Larstone, course coordinator at London, Ont.-based Rondeau Seminars, spearheaded by Dr. Brock Rondeau, which provides continuing education for dental professionals in such areas as orthodontics, snoring and sleep apnea. Each year, the company presents more than 80 seminars, primarily in North America, in cities such as Toronto, Chicago, Dallas and others.
Three years ago, the company started using a custom-designed app that, every two weeks, sends orthodontics tips and course and conference notifications to its 1,200 users (mostly general dentists). In addition, the free app notifies users of course discounts, and provides a link to 14 pages of dental tips ‘buried’ on Rondeau Seminars’ website.
Another part of the company’s social media marketing strategy is Facebook, where the Rondeau Seminars page recently debuted a dental-themed, hint-driven Hangman game offering the prize of a DVD set of orthodontics tips. Dentists share information — professional cases, before/after scenarios, articles and the like — on Facebook, as well as industry themed jokes. YouTube, where some of Dr. Rondeau’s webinars are posted, also figures into the marketing mix.
Key to social media’s value is that it provides constant communication and engagement with Rondeau Seminars’ audience, said Larstone. “We’re always on their minds.” Social media is also critical in engaging the new generation of technically inclined dental-school grads “who were born with a phone in their hand.”
Once the decision is made to leverage the power of social media marketing for events — then what? Offering startup tips is Courtney Stanley, marketing strategist at Courtney Stanley Consulting.
“The key to any successful marketing campaign is understanding your audience,” said Stanley. “If you have any attendee data, start there. If not, asking these core questions is a good place to start: Do my attendees use social media? What social media channels do they use most? What type of media do they respond to — video, blogs, etc.?”
Stanley points out that understanding why you have decided to create a social media strategy from the top down will help determine your tactics: What are you trying to accomplish by using social media? How will you measure success? What resources do you need to be successful?
She also advises that “social media is a not a one-way conversation. If your attendees feel like they’re being talked at, not to, they won’t feel excited to respond or share your content.”
In addition, it’s not necessary, expected or sometimes effective to push content on all social media channels at any hour of the day. “Take time to intimately understand who you’re engaging with, their likes and dislikes, what excites them, how often they want to engage, and what type of communication they respond to most.”
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