According to C&IT’s State of the Industry 2016 report, more than 38% of clients are asking for creative integration of social media into their events.
Stephen Morton-Prior, managing director of Clearwater Events, said that while social media is no doubt the future for events, agencies shouldn't saturate events by using every platform available.
"Clients are looking for something more than just tweeting or Facebook, it has to be implemented to best effect. For us, less is more and we create carefully orchestrated social media programmes. I think when you’ve got hashtags everywhere you just create a damp squib. For example, we integrate social media into the event, with tweets used for Q&As which come up on the live screen."
He added that social media was most effective as a prelude to events. "It means people can network online prior to an event, making it easier for people to meet and feel relaxed on the day of the show. We start a Linkedin Group before an event with everyone’s social media handles available to start a dialogue. You could also include Twitter handles on people’s badges, so that people will actually know who they’ve been talking to - it would also add a fun new element to an event."
Randle Stonier, CEO and founder of AddingValue said that while social media is used at every consumer facing event, it's still on the rise at staff events. "We're looking at ways to integrate internal social platforms, such as Yammer and Chatter, for use at staff events," he explained. "Social media is great, but the implementation must be right for the audience type. Private internal platforms are something I feel will become more important to companies in the next couple of years."
For other agencies, the path to social media integration is less clear-cut, particularly with clients who have strict privacy laws. "With the exception of consumer facing events we find there is still a nervousness around social media with a lot of our client organisations," said Luke Flett, global head of marketing at Ashfield Meetings & Events.
"As a pharmaceutical and healthcare event specialist, this is particularly pertinent in this sector. The industry is still yet to embrace the social media opportunity as they are very concerned about the potential threat it provides due to the heightened potential breach of compliance regulations.
"With this in mind, the focus of social media elements we manage on behalf of our clients tends to be around closed groups and enterprise networks." He added that the agency had witnessed an increase in content aggregation platforms being used to create a central point for the audience to view social activity. "This allows the publishing of predefined content relevant to the audience at the same time."
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