This infographic popped into my inbox from Digishare360 this morning and it was too good not to share.
This month the Who’s who in events community has been running its annual survey and there has been a great response from every aspect of our vibrant industry.
One of the primary purposes of the survey was to discover more about our members to ensure that decisions taken about group management and other such matters are based on consensus.
Crucial to this latter point is understanding what event professionals use LinkedIn for in the first place. Consequently a question was included in the study. Respondents were asked to rank six activities in terms of their primary reason for using Who’s who in events on LinkedIn.
In first and second place were ‘Seeking information about the industry’ and ‘Networking’, illustrating the importance members place on being able to identify and connect with like-minded professionals. In third and fourth place were ‘News’ and ‘Asking for advice/assistance’, though statistically these were not too far behind in terms of popularity. In fifth and sixth places were ‘Looking for suppliers’ and ‘Job-hunting’.
You can draw a number of conclusions from these results, but primarily it illustrates the vital importance that is still placed on making individual connections upon which a relationship can be built. It also shows that if you are active in your social networks you will attract fellow professionals and create links that could, in the long-term, be both beneficial and lucrative.
A couple of years ago the following question was posted on the Who’s Who in Events LinkedIn group.
Is Social Media just used to kill time and find out what old colleagues are up to or does anyone, other than social media consultants, get business out of it?
While social media, and technology in general are now fully embedded in the event marketing mix, it is worth remembering that there are still a significant number of people who view it with a degree of scepticism. Following numerous stories (given much larger audiences thanks to online and social media) of data leakages and inappropriate sharing, many are much more cautious about what they put into the public domain.
Social media is a great enabler of the creation of a continuous dialogue between like-minded people which can be capitalised on to create really great live events that the attendees truly value. When many people think of social media they are just considering Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, but these are really just the juggernauts that are educating the masses in the capabilities of what social media can do.
Technology now exists that enables you to take the capabilities and structure of social media and use it to create your own network, drawing in your current attendees, other interested individuals and partner organisations. By providing them with an open and collaborative environment you can understand what it is that motivates and concerns them, and then you can deliver business services and events that match these needs.
The organisations that are currently doing this successfully are incredibly diverse: from Cancer Centers who want to know how their patients select care at their center and what they want to receive in return; to AFOLs (adult followers of Lego); and then on to large technology organisations who were creating an event for their users based on what they thought were the issues but when they stopped and listened they discovered that there were other more pressing topics that needed to be addressed.
Social media is no longer just a useful part of an event or business marketing campaign, it is the linchpin of an event or business marketing campaign. Organisers and organisations that stop shouting and interrupting (outbound marketing) and start listening and responding (inbound marketing) will be the winners in a world that has been transformed.
The answer, therefore, to our original sceptics question is:
If you are just an observer within Social Media then all you will ever be able to do is kill time and find out what old colleagues are up. But if you use it effectively and professionally you will definitely get business out of it.
Back in 2008, when the Internet was finally throwing off its stabilisers thanks to better connectivity (who misses the modem dial-up tone?!) I decided to set up a group for the members of my event community on LinkedIn.
Admittedly I was a little behind the curve, but I didn’t see why I couldn’t join the party. So I set up Who’s Who in Events primarily because at the time there didn’t appear to be another group for event professionals in the UK and I thought I would give it a try.
Nearly six years later, and the group I founded by inviting my 65 contacts now has 80,000 members (and I have a few more connections). It is the third largest event industry group and the 270th largest group on LinkedIn – which out of 2.1 million isn’t bad! I’ve stuck to my guns in terms of keeping it a curated group (despite the temptation to just open up the floodgates and let everyone get on with it themselves) and believe this is what has kept it both industry focussed, geographically diverse and unique.
When working with clients on their event marketing strategies they often begin from the standpoint of “we need to set up a group on LinkedIn”. By the time I have finished telling them about my experiences it isn’t top of their priorities. Quite simply, running a successful group is practically a full-time job.
For instance, it doesn’t matter how often you tell your members the rules, some of them just don’t follow them. No promotional posts in the Discussions tab – doesn’t apply to me surely? And one person’s interesting blog post is another’s spam. Doesn’t everyone want to know about how to write a CV? Why can’t I answer a question with a blatant promotional post?
Some people get very cross. Most of the time I am polite, occasionally I am sarcastic (bad habit I know – but I’ve had it for a long time and I’m not changing now), I try to be helpful where I can. I’ve made changes where I think they are beneficial and kept the wagon on the road. Sometimes I get hauled up by someone who tells me it is the membership’s group and I have ‘no right’ but I’ve tried making the membership take control and it hasn’t worked (doesn’t mean I won’t try again sometime). With 2,099,999 other groups to compete with I’ve got to keep the majority happy. I made lots of sub-groups, but that just made 10 times more work, so now there are just three (they are self-managed and somehow have never quite got going).
LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy for me: a slightly more sophisticated membership filter would automate some of the entry procedure – so that I wouldn’t be greeted with hundreds of poor people awaiting approval (which is the reason so many groups have become open to all); an incremental advertising revenue model similar to YouTube would allow me to massively increase the activity and information available to members, making them come back to the site more often because I wouldn’t have to keep stopping to make a living elsewhere; a nice HTML newsletter for members on a proper weekly basis rather than the current automated timing which means at some point you have to miss out a day.
I’ve taken a decision to remove the promotions tab at the end of this month – too much good stuff gets dumped in this graveyard. But some of the content can’t go in the discussion forums because it will just get clogged up – so I am trying something new and curating a Who’s who in events company page where the best will be posted. I’m not sure if it will be popular – but I am going to give it a try.
I’m proud of what I have achieved, with a little bit of help here and there, and one day soon I hope I’ll be announcing that we have hit 100,000 members.
Michael tweets, blogs and posts about all sorts of stuff, including marketing, events, social media and technology and I like what he has to say. (Sometimes he even likes what I have to say which is great!)
Today I found his blog post about social media and events. It’s a topic very close to me since I spend most of my time trying to pursuade clients to focus in on their content and then work out what media they are going to use to tell their audience about it, rather than creating a social media presence and working out what they are going to put on it.
I would reproduce what Michael has said here, but I think you should go and read it for yourself. It makes a lot of sense.
While at the big industry events like EIBTM or IMEX, social networks and the impact they have on event marketing are widely discussed, I sense that a lot of event organizers and associations are still not sure about how to deal with the topic or how much resources to invest.