How the ICCA Congress Outperformed Other Meetings on Social Media

On average, 10 to 20 percent of meeting attendees are active on Twitter. At its 2014 ICCA Congress, however, almost 60 percent of attendees tweeted using the official conference hashtag, #ICCAWorld, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) reported this month. All told, it said, ICCA Congress delegates sent 7,180 tweets before, during, and after the event, reaching almost 2.5 million unique users and making almost 15 million impressions.

Among those who tweeted, 70 percent said using Twitter helped them increase the value of their conference experience, and almost 75 percent said it helped them increase interaction with fellow delegates.

"These numbers are great, but obviously it is not about the quantity," ICCA Communication Strategist Mathijs Vleeming said in a statement. "It's great to see that our post-congress survey showed that so many members thought being active on Twitter really helped them to increase the value of their ICCA Congress experience and to increase the interaction and connectivity with other members, before, during, and after the event."

According to ICCA, the meeting, which took place Nov. 1-5 in Antalya, Turkey, owes its social media success to the creation of "hashtags with a purpose."

"Just communicating your event hashtag is not enough," Vleeming continued. "We spelled out what we wanted delegates to do with the hashtags and how to make the most of the online conversation."

For instance, ICCA specifically asked delegates to share content and takeaways from education sessions with the ICCA community using the #ICCAWorld hashtag.

"Why take notes on a piece of paper if you can share them and allow the world to see? Have a look at the Storify with key takeaways from #ICCAWorld Congress participants. They read as shared notes from the ICCA Congress education sessions. How useful is that?" 

ICCA also created a pre-event hashtag, #RoadtoAntalya, and asked attendees to tweet images, tips, and advice on their journey to the meeting; attendees subsequently created 753 #RoadtoAntalya tweets.

"It was great to see that the #RoadtoAntalya hashtag worked so well and I think it can be copied by other event planners and conferences," said Gerrit Heijkoop, who was supporting ICCA's social media strategy on a consultancy basis. "We know event delegates are preparing for an event in the weeks before it takes place. They are reading the program, they are packing, and they are waiting in airports: That is the moment you are getting into the mood for the event, and we were leveraging that with the hashtag #RoadtoAntalya."

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