The meetings and events sector has enjoyed a welcome period of positive growth over the last two years. Meetings and events (M&E) professionals around the world are reporting increased activity and have optimistic expectations about the market direction, according to the American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast 2016. With a greater number of events in the global pipeline, hotel operators have more reason than ever to reassess their M&E facilities and services, and take a fresh look at one of the most useful new tools in this field: social media.
The Social Media Advantage
Social media apps like Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and LinkedIn offer much more than entertainment and personal networking. For meetings and events, they open a whole new dimension of communication. Social media has evolved into a tool that can enhance any conference, trade show, special event, product launch, marketing meeting or training event. Attendees are already using social media to enhance their M&E experience. They love being able to share thoughts, opinions and information about the meeting topics. They appreciate how social media lets them get in touch with each other quickly, form new relationships and exchange contact details effortlessly. Presenters like being able to address written questions from audience members, and to offer additional content online.
Benefits for Organisers
Event organisers and hosts also stand to gain enormously by leveraging the power of social media. The benefits of incorporating social media into your M&E strategy are numerous:
- Build enthusiasm for your event in the lead-up stage
- Distribute information to participants in a cost-effective and flexible way
- Open a channel of communication so you can get participant feedback in real time, and address questions or problems faster
- Distribute logistical information and updates – from transport information to emergency management
- Promote networking mixers and related events
- Extend the scope of the meeting or event, so that people who aren’t able to attend can still get a sense of the proceedings, thereby building enthusiasm for next years’ event
- Create a rich trove of information, links and contacts that can be collected, curated and analysed after the event
Twitter for Real-Time Insights
Let’s look at the best ways to access these great benefits. The first question to answer: which social media app should you use? LinkedIn is suitable for early-stage promotion of professional meetings and events, whereas Facebook may be the best choice for early promotion of more informal events. Twitter is still the real-time social media platform of choice, despite having lost some of its popularity in recent years. Twitter supports Instagram and can offer links to any other web page. Its 140-character limit ensures that people don’t get too focussed on writing long posts, instead of interacting with your real-world event. Furthermore, Twitter is a global product and is active in over 200 markets, making it ideal for international meetings and events.
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