Secrets of Social
Social media: has anything ever been so misunderstood and misused? Nothing makes you cringe quite like spotting your over-confident mum or dad muscling in with the comments on Facebook, complete with spelling errors and liberal use of exclamation marks.
Even in the world of work, social media is hit and miss, and I’m sad to report that the events industry is home to many social criminals.
However, it is not our job to mock your use of ‘Great Gatsby’ or ‘Carlton Dance’ gifs; we must help you use your social media channels correctly so that you can grow your businesses.
At Conference News’ Academic Venue Conference, 22 November, Matt Beech, marketing director at Patch Media, presented a session on using social media effectively – and that’s the key word.
“Like your home, your website is quite static, it represents who you are and is visited by those who care about you most,” says Beech. “Your social media, however, is like your personality, and because it’s mobile it can move around. It represents who you are, but it is dynamic and out in the open and can be seen by people without them proactively going out of their way to see you.
“You can tell a lot about someone by visiting their home, but to really get to know them you watch how they behave in society and get to know their personality. When people buy venue space, they look at the website, and for a live view of what the venue represents they go to social media. This is why social media appears frequently as a middle interaction in multi-channel goal conversion paths.”
A conversion path, if you’re wondering, is the steps taken by a user through your digital media to a definite end.
Social media is commonly used by events organisations, especially venues, to drive people to their websites, but in order to do that the social content must add some manner of value.
“Before every post I recommend asking yourself ‘who out there will receive value from this, how and why,’” says Beech.
“From a social media marketing perspective, small value can be a friendly compliment: it’s valuable to the recipient and in most cases, people compliment areas where they may be an expert in their community. On another level it often gets liked (engaged with) so it helps your engagement metrics, which will make your future posts more likely to be served to the person who engaged.
“Value can, and frequently should be, much larger. A high-tech venue could produce typical kit and tech specs for different setups and event types. This is valuable to any event organiser who may be struggling to work out what tech they need, and it positions the venue as an expert on and provider of high-tech events.”
A fundamental flaw with attitudes towards social media is the idea that numbers mean prizes. Specifically, number of followers. Social media isn’t an arbitrary numbers game… is it? “Not entirely, but it’s a metric worth paying attention to,” says Beech. “You can have a tiny following and achieve more impressions and engagements than the following you have just by being interesting, engaging or trending. Conversely, you can have a huge following that isn’t engaged and as a result doesn’t really exist.”
Beech gives the example of two venues’ stats over a 48 hours period.
One has a 24% engagement rate and 2,000 followers which generate 480 engagements in 24 hours. The other has an engagement rate of 2.5% that would require 19,200 followers to get the same amount of engagements in the same time.
Beech says that the venue with higher engagement received more than four times as many impressions as it had followers, while the next best performer in the study received fewer impressions than it had followers.
“I’m keen to put an end to the notion that, in our industry, followers equal awareness, and rather encourage the concept that being interesting, social and interacting in public is the way to generate the awareness they strive for, and consider it an independent or driving metric,” says Beech.
Beech goes on to say that the numbers aren’t important on their own, but rather they are interconnected. “If a brand joins a discussion on Conference News’ Twitter, it has the potential to be exposed to over 21,500 followers,” he says. “If you join discussions on the right topics, which relate to your USP, then it is going to be exposed to the right people. The more people that join a discussion, the more networks combine, and the louder the voice on that topic.
“Comments in discussions can be tracked as impressions and engagements and the exposure leads to more engaged followers.”
Beech shares a case study of innovative social media thinking, one he worked on for Patch Media for their client 10-11 Carlton House Terrace.
“10-11 Carlton House Terrace worked with us on a social media engagement campaign to support a growth year. I was looking at their floor plan for inspiration and noticed it looked a lot like the Cluedo board.
“Using their floorplan as a Cluedo board, we defined a campaign played online and in person, but all guesses had to be submitted on social media,” explains Beech. “We roped in suppliers, partners and publishers to be characters in our game ensuring their participation and support promoting it. Our social media forces were joined for maximum reach.
“The game was live on their exhibition stand at an event and on the weeks before and after. We released digital daily newspaper front pages throughout the campaign to keep it alive and provide clues and answered guesses online. This generated a lot of exposure in the short term and everyone who participated was compelled to look at our custom board modelled on the venue’s floor plan with pictures of rooms set up for events as part of the board.
“They had to get to know our staff and partners, and through this our personality and brand values. They had a handful of important takeaways to learn from participating in the game: The venue is a historic venue, it’s a Georgian townhouse venue, it is high quality and ornate, it can host business events and parties and it’s in central London.
“In everything we did to promote the campaign we directed the activity to our social media channels. This helped us to increase online exposure during the exhibition as well as use this and other on and offline communications channels as a springboard.”
Was it a success? “The campaign didn’t just get more exposure for the venue’s core USPs across to a large audience in a short space of time,” says Beech. “Because social media favours serving up content from interesting accounts (those people engage with) it meant that for the weeks and months after the campaign the venue benefited from increased exposure so as it continued to establish its reputation online to a listening audience.”
Venues would do well to think outside of the box on how they manage their social media. Don’t go out there just bragging about what you do, tell people something they may not know.