ConventionSouth

JAN 2015

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 5 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 11 Given that, Graddy says her organization had some success with Facebook and Twitter. "We used Facebook and Twitter to market things like special guests appearances, special sessions, or registration and hotel deals. My simple analysis is that Facebook worked better than Twitter because we can explain a little better. We don't have every- day household names as our speakers, so we have to explain their significance to the dental field, and that can be quite challenging in 140 characters." Each medium has a best use, McCullough advised. "LinkedIn is professional. Post an arti- cle about keynote speakers or about conference content. Facebook is about community. This is where you post pictures of the conference team or of people who attended last year, with com- ments on what everyone learned and how much fun they had. When you tag the people in the photos, it goes to their pages, which instantly markets the event. Twitter is for real-time promo- tion. A hashtag for the event gives everyone a place to comment on what's happening right now—and lets others know what they are missing by not being there." Instagram worked for Brenna Venvertloh, MBA, a planner with Association Central, an association management company. "I use Insta- gram to post pictures during events with a hash- tag. I love looking through everyone's posts and seeing what others captured." Having real-time access is important, she said. "We prefer to ac- complish all tasks electronically, so having all in- formation online is a must for quick access." McCullough suggested using Pinterest or In- stagram to post photos of the event, YouTube, for videos from the previous year or as a promotion for this year, and blog posts written by keynote speakers, workshop presenters, sponsors, or other key individuals. "Promote the conference using real people," she said. "Remember, younger people like personal recommendations. At the event, encourage everyone to take photos of everything—each other, presenters, the food—and post them. Everything we do at a conference is an opportunity for marketing, and by using social media, everyone is doing the marketing for you and your event." Meredith Barlow, an associate at Gioworks, a hotel site selection company, puts herself in the "older Gen Y" generation, and says that she still appreciates getting a post- card in the mail. "I'm never going to open an envelope that isn't a bill or someone paying their bill to me, but I'm definitely going to stick a postcard about an event on my fridge. I know the value of social media, and I use it, but personally I still like get- ting postcards in the mail." Shak Castile-Jones, director of the EVP tour, agrees that a new approach is needed. "Market- ing to millennials requires a tech-savvy ap- proach, with quick-to-the-point messages. Tradi- tional marketing is more expensive, but less time consuming: we could place one ad, leave it alone, and watch it work. Marketing to millenni- als costs less but can take more time." Keeping event participants engaged is the key, she said. "Millennials are often on their phones and tablets, checking emails or texts or social media. If they are able to 'interact' with our event via social media, which they are checking constantly anyhow, the engaging fac- tor is amplified." Linda Barclay, managing director for USA Sports Production, said she left McCullough's presentation knowing that her organization has to get totally up to speed on using social media for marketing. "We know that print ads and emails aren't enough these days. If you aren't using Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, then you probably aren't reaching these younger generations." n "Meeting attendees are your potential marketers. The more time they spend on social media, the more promotion for your event. You want to give them every opportunity to spread the word. —Karen McCullough, motivational business speaker and marketing expert

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