by Matt Alderton | January 25, 2013
The MPI Foundation has released the third and final white paper in Phase II of its "Future of Meetings" research series, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) announced yesterday. Titled "The Value of Connection: A Review of Social Media Trends," it extols the virtues of social media marketing within the meetings industry.

"Social media are phenomena that everyone wants to understand, many want to use and no one can escape," reads the report. "The rapid growth, constant development and swiftly changing fortunes of large and small players make these media exciting and potentially dangerous."

In "The Value of Connection," the MPI Foundation examines the prevalence of social media in various world markets — including China and India — and explores the pros and cons of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Ultimately, it deduces that social media is most effective when meeting professionals use it for community building rather than marketing and promotion.

"Start viewing social media as marketing tools at all, and start using them to simply join in," advises the report, which concludes with a series of 10 takeaway to help meeting professionals use social media successfully. "Social media strategies can add value to the consumer experience through customer-to-customer communications. The key: Identify, and if needs be create, networks of partners, suppliers and customers, ensuring that customers perceive greater value in being part of a network than being out of it. Then, serve your network."

"The Value of Connection" is the third in a series of three white papers in Phase II of the MPI Foundation's Future of Meetings research initiative. It follows "From the Outside In" — which included five supplements, each containing an analysis of the meetings industry from professionals in other fields — and "Technology: Why Invest and What's Next," which explored current and future technologies shaping meetings.

With Phase II complete, the MPI Foundation is slated to begin the third and final phase of the three-part Future of Meetings program, which will include an analysis of two surveys polling the values, demands, motivations and expectations of more than 1,600 meeting attendees from four continents and four generations. Results will be presented this summer at MPI's World Education Congress (WEC) in Las Vegas.

"The mission has been to not only answer the research questions but to help the industry participate in more futuristic thinking," Thomas Grunder, vice president of global sales at Jumeirah, an MPI Foundation Future of Meetings investor, said in a statement. "Phase III builds on this innovative work."

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