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Design a Must-Connect Social Media Strategy

Many meeting planners obsess over metrics such as likes, tweets, and shares, but successful social campaigns focus on macro- not micro-level goals.

Creating a powerful social media strategy starts with plotting key tactical objectives. The goal for meeting planners is not to be good at the business of social media. The goal is to be good at their business because of social media. In other words, as cutting-edge and creative as you choose to make them, social network-based promotions are merely one tent-pole of a broader event promotions strategy. To be successful with social initiatives, you should consider how they can support larger and more quantifiable business objectives, i.e. increasing program registrations or driving conversation among key influencers.

You need to know who you want to speak to, where they’re found online, and what motivates them, and then engage them, and prompt them toward specific actions. In short, extensive up-front planning must go into crafting your voice and vision, aligning each with key objectives, and finding ways of making sure that all communications efforts stand out and are meaningful.

Many meeting planners myopically focus on driving widespread interest and obsess over metrics such as likes, tweets, and shares, the most immediately visible signs they’ve gotten a reaction. But successful social campaigns focus on macro- not micro-level goals, and are typically formulated in reverse. Plotting a new corporate event? Begin by defining specific business objectives for it, then crafting marketing plans and tactical strategies to achieve them, of which social-media solutions will only be one part.

Here are a few simple ways you might tailor your social campaigns to support larger objectives, while also building goodwill:

Solve your audience’s problems. Ask yourself: What’s in it for them? Hints, tips, how-to articles, case studies, and other material that save others time, money, and effort provides audiences with immediate value. It also provides added incentive to follow and pass along word-of-mouth buzz about your events.

Demonstrate thought leadership. You can cement your event’s must-attend status by transforming your social-media channels into a go-to source for insight into the latest industry happenings and trends. Showcasing key data and research, or curating headline-grabbing articles or videos, can position your programs on the cutting-edge of your industry.

Celebrate your community.  Invite prospective attendees to suggest new ideas for your events, share items of interest, or submit user-generated content (i.e. videos, photos, etc.) that can be incorporated in your presentations and programs. The more you can get others involved, the more invested they’ll be in the event, and more passionate evangelists they’ll become for its success.

In many ways, social media is actually the world’s biggest cocktail party. Success is all about understanding situational dynamics, positively driving and maintaining the flow of conversation, and considering which voices echo farthest and loudest. When plotting campaigns for your corporate events, start by looking and listening. Consider who’s talking about your chosen subject online, then think about how to add value to these exchanges. Understand who your key influencers are; what motivates them; how, when, and why they engage with your brand; and the ways to best connect with them. You also need to consider the results you’re looking to achieve, how to  tell your story, and the metrics you can use to measure a campaigns’ impact. And don’t forget to carefully weave these promotional efforts into your larger marketing activities, and neatly tie them all together. Messaging should be consistent across all platforms, and should cross-promote with other initiatives. Remember that social media is just one part of a holistic promotions strategy.

Once live, constantly monitor public sentiment and campaign performance, and regularly iterate and refine efforts based on analytics and audience feedback. One thing you should always ask yourself: How can others benefit from engaging with you? Ultimately, as a corporate meeting planner, you should always strive to create value for your audience. Whether in the form of limited-time promotions or new announcements, consistently look for ways to inform, entertain, and add value. With so many voices now competing for attention online, it’s essential to incentivize audiences to pass the word along.

But by planning ahead, keeping your eyes and ears open, regularly reassessing performance, and refining as you go, any business can create powerful campaigns around their corporate events, whose lasting effects echo far beyond ephemeral shares or retweets.

Scott Steinberg, a trend expert and futurist, is the author of Netiquette Essentials: New Rules for Minding Your Manners in a Digital World, and other business books. He’s also the founder of travel and hospitality trends magazine SELECT: Your City’s Secrets Unlocked, and host of Next Up on NewsWatch.

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