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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

My SoolNua colleague @AoifeMcCrum and I co-presented at ibtmWorld in Barcelona this week on the  “hardy annual” topic of Social Media. We were exceedingly grateful to the wonderful crowd that showed up at 16:45 – the dreaded graveyard slot – for an hour on Social Media and its impact on business for #eventprofs. Needless to say we used Sli.do for audience engagement and got some great questions which, of course, we didn’t have time to answer. So, for the sake of completeness, here are our answers …

How do you generate  leads for meetings on Social Media?

While this wasn’t actually a Slido question at all, it was the anchor around which the entire session was structured, the fundamental question our session was asked to address. We gave the answer at the beginning of the session but it needs to be repeated again here. The answer is an age-old tenet, at the heart of most religions, faiths and beliefs:

Give and you will receive

You generate traffic and leads on Social Media by creating and curating great content and giving it away for free on social channels where your target audience is active. It’s as simple as that and, of course, as complex as you first have to identify and describe the personas that constitute your target audience, find what social channels they favour and then source the content that’s relevant to them.

 

While “calls to action” are an integral element in any traffic or lead generating campaign, these have to be nuanced and subtle, the “action” directly stimulated by the substance, relevance and quality of the content rather than any seduction, gimmickry or clickbait. #Eventprofs will quickly disengage if they sense they’re being “sold to”.

How do we get more engagement from the beginning?

The most upvoted question on the day, this is not a question with an easy answer. “Engagement” is influenced by many factors – obviously the intrinsic merits of the content or topic under focus but also by relative influence, ie, how influential are you within the social channels where you play?

It’s difficult to achieve massive engagement from the beginning as influence take time to achieve so be patience and set realistic targets. That said, a golden piece of content can set social media channels alight all on its own. According to content marketing guru, Jeff Bullas

Content is more likely to be shared if it is funny, moving, illuminating, inspiring, shocking, cute, controversial or sexy, or if it leaves the user feeling fearful or in awe

What do you think about travel influencers? New opportunity?

The 2nd most upvoted question of the day is, indeed, a hot topic in the world of digital and social media marketing and one that I have great interest in. Thankfully our evaluation of “influence” has passed way beyond your mere number of followers. Now we know that “micro-influencers” play a vital role in MICE and Business Events even though their number of followers may be relatively small. What they lack in scale and number, they compensate for in terms of community loyalty, engagement and niche focus.

 

When a micro-influencer endorses a product or service, his or her community listens and acts because the influencer has gained that community’s trust. Maintaining this trust means a micro-influencer is unlikely to endorse anything he or she doesn’t trust and truly believe in. It’s a social contract – like a friendship – but there are massive expectations and huge responsibilities at its core.

Is it a new opportunity for destinations, hotels and venues? Of course it is. Micro-influencers should be targeted very specifically as potential ambassadors for the product or service you offer but, be aware, they will only engage with you and share your content if they truly believe in what you’re offering. You cannot just buy them like a display ad!

Which do you think is more important channel or content?

This question was partially addressed during the live presentation and, indeed, was the subject of a spontaneous poll (created by our Slido support,  the great Abi Cannons). The live audience was almost unanimous in selecting content over channel:

 

I guess I agree but, equally, I don’t want to deny the importance of channel too. In a way it reminds me of Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement in the 1960s – “the media is the message”. In ways content and channel are inextricably linked in that, for example, only visual content may be shared on Instagram and Twitter limits your character count – these channel parameters shape the content but also define the audience.

From the outset your choice of channel, one way or the other, will impact on the content you share and how you share it. My advice would be to pick a channel that suits your own competencies, abilities, likes and personality – I love words so I’m on Twitter, for example, not Instagram – as sharing on a channel that suits who you are will always be infinitely easier than shoe-horning yourself into something that really doesn’t fit!

How much should the company website be involved in the social media process?

The company website should be the basecamp for all your digital activity, your 365/24/7 showroom in the cloud that aggregates all your content and sets out clearly who you are, what you do and how you bring value and benefit to your target audience.

Your social media channels should draw your followers, sooner or later, to your website as they seek out more of the wonderful content that you’re sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Linked. It should be a natural development in an on-going, increasingly serious relationship between you and your followers, almost like the formality of bringing that new partner home to meet your parents!

I’d go so far as to suggest that it’s less a question of how involved the company website should be in the social media process and more a question of how much the social media process should be involved in the company website!

That’s, at least, how we’re set up at SoolNua. Check out our company website here along with our blogsite here. We’d love to hear what you think of them!

Big shout out to ibtmWorld for inviting us to be part of the wonderful education programme that ran alongside the show and, of course, our great friends at Sli.do for helping us build community with a great audience.

Pádraic Gilligan, Patrick Delaney and Aoife McCrum and others run SoolNua, a specialist agency working with destinations, hotels, venues and agencies on strategy, marketing and training for the MICE / Business Events sector. 

 

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