It's no secret that social media and social
networking have changed the way prospects and customers
uncover, research, and ultimately connect with the people and
brands with whom they want to do business. According to
Nielsen, approximately 46 percent of online users count on
social media when making a purchase decision, while Experian
reports that more than one-quarter of total U.S. internet time
is spent on social networking sites.
Instead of relying solely on what a company says about itself
via fine-tuned, well-placed marketing messages, buyers are
turning more to the unbiased, and unfiltered, opinions of
others. By its very nature, social media levels the playing
field between brands and customers. As a result, companies that
deliver the best and most authentic customer experiences are
Considering the impact of social media on the marketing
landscape, it's not surprising to find that social media is
changing the face of events as well - transforming the ways
that events are both executed and marketed.
Here are three fundamental ways that events are changing - for
the better - as a result of social media.
1. Social Media Amplifies Word-of-Mouth Publicity
Events provide unique opportunities for brands to get closer to
prospects and customers by delivering memorable and engaging
experiences. When an event is successful, brands often emerge
with "promoters" who will continue to carry the torch for the
brand to their own networks. Thanks to social media, attendees
are able to share these experiences with their peers outside
the event, in the social sphere.
Mobile apps are to thank for keeping social media in the palm
of every attendee's hand, helping word-of-mouth messages spread
further and faster - both during and after an event. As a
result, the good work that event marketers do to attract
attendees and deliver content and connections is helping them
reach even those who are not in attendance.
2. Social Media Facilitates Attendee Participation
When attendees are involved in the content of an event, as
opposed to merely observing or being "talked at," they take
away far more value from the entire experience. A recent
Michigan State University study on the use of Twitter showed
that adults who tweet during a class and as part of the
instruction are more engaged with the course content, with the
instructor, and with other students. Their grades are better,
too, which may indicate that they have retained what they've
Event managers are taking note, understanding that if the goal
of the event is to transfer knowledge to attendees, social
media can play a significant role. Social media is encouraging
greater participation as mobile event apps tie to real-time
polling, Twitter feeds, and other social communities where
attendees can engage with the presenters, exhibitors, fellow
attendees (virtual and live), and even the broader spectrum of
their social networks.
3. Social Media Gives Legs to Attendee Engagement
Building engagement requires a clear understanding of what
attendees seek and how well an event is meeting their needs.
For its part, social media is changing the game in attendee
engagement by giving event professionals a finger on the pulse
of individual preferences and reactions as the event unfolds.
Twitter hashtags and LinkedIn event groups are two of the most
popular ways to monitor attendee engagement via social media.
What's more, social media is having a real impact when it comes
to building and maintaining relationships with attendees
before, during, and after the event. Encouraging registration,
promoting session content, sharing presentations, soliciting
feedback, and giving people a community in which to continue
conversations with those they met at the event - these are all
happening in the social media sphere.
It's clear that social media is changing the face of events.
But the question remains: how will your events evolve to give
it its rightful role?
Betsy Zikakis is vice president of marketing at Certain, Inc. Certain provides enterprise event-management software that powers personalized event experiences and enables meaningful connections to accelerate business.