Posts Tagged ‘social media

19
Jan
16

Cut through communication clutter

home-gloryAs a writer and professional communicator, nothing (O.K., well, not very much) is more frustrating than people who can’t communicate. Or even worse yet, companies. Inconsistent messaging drives me nuts.

Rant over.

But seriously…communication is a hard gig for most companies, especially with the advent of social media. Communication is everywhere.

So it’s not really a surprise that associations continue to struggle with effective communication, according to Naylor’s 2015 communication benchmarking study.

While associations have made headway in navigating communication chaos, only 6 percent of the more than 700 associations surveyed reported they have a fully integrated communications strategy.

Perhaps more problematic, however, is that very few associations employ social, mobile or video strategy.

All this said, there’s good news: Associations realize they need to do a better job – starting with what they have. For example, if given a budget increase, more than one-third of respondents said they’d develop a mobile strategy while another one-third said they would pour resources into social media.

indexMore than one-half of respondents have optimized their websites for mobile, while more than one-third have done so for newsletters and blogs for mobile. And it seems more associations are connecting with members on social media.

But let’s face it. Without content, communication efforts are null. It’s hard to know what audiences want, so let’s trust Naylor.

According to its survey, in 2015 respondents chose best practices and how-tos as the most important topics. Second and third: professional development and industry trends. That’s changed from 2014, in which survey participants ranked lobbying/advocacy as most important. So maybe this is why 58 percent of those surveyed say members ignore at least half the communications they receive.

At a glance from the report:

  • 41.7 percent of associations feel understaffed overall
  • 43.5 percent feel their publishing/content creation teams are understaffed
  • 43.6 percent feel their social media teams are understaffed

“To their credit, associations are working hard to shed their stereotype as overly cautious, slow-moving, bureaucratic organizations,” Naylor said. “They have made significant strides in optimizing their websites and publications for mobile, and in offering members a wide variety of streaming video content, mobile apps and social media outlets. But, there is a big disconnect between associations’ willingness to try new forms of communication and their willingness to put a viable strategy behind those channels, much less staff them adequately, support them financially and measure them aggressively.”

Now that we’ve identified the communication challenges, what do we do about it? How do we transfer the knowledge we’ve learned?

Ask-a-Question-photoNaylor has some suggestions.

  • To build better content and greater engagement, you must start by asking what they want and why. Create a survey and ask your members, for example, whether they prefer digital or print communications – and why.
  • Take a closer look at who your stakeholders are and what they are telling you — and what they’re not — to uncover areas for improvement and set your goals. Take into account all audiences – staff, advertisers and members. Looking at membership demographics can provide insight into content consumption – Which publications are your competitors?
  • If you don’t have a social media strategy, get one. Don’t create a Facebook account just because. Instead, use your survey data to determine topics that lend themselves well to social media and then determine how, and through which platforms, your audiences want to learn.
  • When it comes to your digital communications, make every message count. In other words, integrate content and make messaging consistent. Start with subject lines for emails and e-newsletters. Make them catchy, but then, once they click, what will readers find? If people opt out, find out why.
  • Stop under-utilizing video. Case in point: Event Garde started incorporating video into our e-newsletters a few months ago. Continuing education, event memorialization, live streaming and integration opportunities make video an incredibly viable communication tool.
  • Designate an ambassador of integration. Establish someone who can liaise between all departments and audiences to make sure content is integrated and on message.
  • Review available communication vehicles and consider how much more powerful a message can be if it’s repurposed across different channels. Think about what can enhance current content (i.e. video). Or repurpose your conference program book and reword it for social media.
  • Make sure your content and communication vehicles are ready for consumption on the go. As part of your communications audit, ask your IT staff to analyze how mobile-friendly your websites, blogs and e-newsletters truly are.
  • Don’t wait to measure—incorporate it as an everyday practice. Remember: Data are good. Measure early and often, and chart how your different communication vehicles are performing so you’ll know what’s working best.
  • Track your results, and if you didn’t perform well in a certain area, ask for help. If you discover after analyzing data that you can’t give members what they need, this makes a good argument for boosting staff and budget.

“As we said in our 2014 recommendations, avoid ‘shiny-object syndrome’ and the temptation to be all things to all people,” Naylor said. “Consider how relatively simple a communications strategy can be with a Take AIM approach. Gather member feedback, deliver great content, monitor results, and watch engagement levels rise.”

13
Oct
15

Small but mighty meetings

cwmeeting1.jpg.441x331_defaultThink back to your college days. Remember those massively packed, overwhelming lecture halls? Was it hard to pay attention? Did you feel like a minnow in a sea of students swimming upstream?

I did.

Then, think back to your smaller classes (even if that only happened in high school). Wasn’t it easier to focus? Didn’t you feel a bit more important when the professor/teacher actually saw your hand…and called on you?

Now apply those same scenarios to the workplace. How much do you really get done in hugely packed meeting rooms?

When it comes to strategy and long-term planning, small groups are much more effective. Confidence is higher. Communication flows.

And so, it makes sense that in a recent Successful Meetings survey on small meeting trends for this year, event professionals ranked strategizing as the best goal for small meetings. Training came in a close second and team building took the No. 3 spot.

Also in the survey, Successful Meetings members viewed meetings with 25 people or fewer as “small meetings.”

As for location? A city center took the top spot. Think place-based education, yes? Hosting small meetings allow organizations to showcase local hot spots – and yes, even a favorite eatery works. But resort and hotels nearly tied for second and third place favorites.

However, surprisingly, 46 percent of respondents indicated they don’t use social media for small meetings. Perhaps that’s because face-to-face interaction is conducive to small settings, but it seems social media should have a presence, regardless of size. At the same time, 70 percent of survey participants indicated they don’t offer online components.

That said, of those who indicated they employ social media for small meetings, Facebook was the most common platform. Members ranked LinkedIn and Twitter as second and third.

The biggest challenge to small meetings planning? Room negotiation rates. Finding available dates presents the second largest challenge, followed by securing suitable function space onsite.

So what do you think? What trends do you predict for small meetings in 2016?

29
Sep
15

Cool app! Now what?

5-steps-to-launch-checklist(infographic)It seems there’s an app for everything, right?

Meeting and event professionals are raving about event apps, which allow everything from registration to hotel check-in to real-time social media conversation.

But if no one knows about an app, it’s worthless. The trick, according to Results at Hand, is to promote it.

Results at Hand just released “5 Steps to Successfully Launch an Event App,” an infographic with tips for gaining loyal app lovers.

The five steps: email marketing; website; publications; social media; and venue signage.

Think about these “steps” as touch points – the vehicles through which you reach your event attendees. While text can be different depending on the audience – you probably want fun text for social media but serious for your website – the goal should be the same: promote.


Email marketing

Email is an effective way to reach a large group of people, and with email, you can provide event participants with directions about how to use the app. Start with your registration list, but also, when you email people about attending an event, make sure to plug your app.

Website
Thanks to Google, a company’s website is probably the first place event attendees looking for details will visit. So create a new section with details about the app. Or, better yet, let them download it from the website.

Publications
All written communications should include information about the app, especially program materials. For event guides, explain to attendees how to get the event schedule via your app. Or write a feature story about the app in your trade magazine.

Social media
Messaging may be different across social media platforms, but leading up to the event, use social networks to share app tips and submit feedback.
Tip from Results at Hand: Remember to have fun with your posts! Run a contest, start discussions, share setup pics and shout out to your speakers.

Venue signage
Signage should be placed around the venue and should display download instructions for the app as well as QR codes.

22
Sep
15

Making friends…not just a sale

Event/meeting planners: Remember the days of paper RFPs?

Well, some of you may still be doing those…but technology has revolutionized the meetings industry – on both sides.

According to a new Social Tables report, technological advances and social media have changed the way hotel sales teams network with meeting planners.

Full Report_ How Technology is Increasing Group Revenue at Top Hotels_Page_06“With most people now familiar with a wide range of devices, software and apps, this is spurring a rise in ‘social selling,’ where hotel sales teams are often building relationships with planners on social media to establish common bonds outside the sales process,” the report says.

Social selling is the philosophy that sales people approach customers first as a person, then as a sales person and lastly as a company. It’s about being empathetic and genuine, rather than just trying to “land a client.”

And LinkedIn is proving to be an effective tool, which sales staff use to research clients’ profiles to determine their needs. LinkedIn and other social media platforms allow sales teams to gather important company information, such as business philosophies, missions and goals.

“Social selling and social media are ways to rebuild relationships between buyers and suppliers, as long as both parties come to the table in the spirit of co-creation to strategize about meeting design and deliverables as much as hammering out a sales deal,” the authors wrote.

And with the advent of technology comes digital sharing systems. The report states hotel brands are creating internal systems to share client information among venues. This knowledge sharing is a huge boon for meeting planners, who as a result don’t have to start from scratch with every transaction. At the same time, hotels are using the portals to earmark client preferences, which in turn fosters loyalty.

In addition, mobile and cloud-based technologies have allowed hotel sales teams to work with event planners more strategically and efficiently.

“Key is being able to make changes and track analytics from remote locations on mobile devices in real time via cloud-based platforms, with the additional ability to customize levels of access for different partners and colleagues, if desired,” Social Tables says.

Full Report_ How Technology is Increasing Group Revenue at Top Hotels_Page_03In other words: Meeting planners rarely work strictly 8-to-5 jobs, and cloud technology allows information to be stored and accessible 24-7.

Some key takeaways from the report:

  • Beyond rates, dates and space, hotel sales executives are delivering more content and are being asked to provide much more detail about the “experience” of the hotel. Mimicking other industries, hotels are abuzz with content marketing.
  • Technology is now integrated into the entire sales process, with electronic RFPs and registration software. Social Tables says, “Major hospitality brands are developing a full suite of event technology products in-house that are significantly assisting planners with end-to-end meeting management.”
  • Meanwhile, independent hotels and smaller hotel brands are using technology to partner with third-party venues and software vendors to provide highly customized, full-service meeting and event programs. Regardless of size and space, hotels are investing in integrated digital content platforms. And they’re also engaging in social media conversations with community players, suppliers and buyers.

So…what do you think meeting planners? Have things changed?

15
Sep
15

Millennial-friendly meetings: Bring on the couches and big screens

millennialsGoogle images of millennials and you’ll find young professionals connected to their smart phones and tablets. You might also find images of colorful workplaces and nontraditional desks. Maybe even a collaborative thinking space.

Much to Baby Boomers’ chagrin, it’s a different world, especially since Gen Y now comprises the majority of the workforce.

And with that comes a different set of expectations: Skype meetings and coffee shop conversations have replaced hours-long meetings.

All this aside, while millennials crave technology, they still value face-to-face meetings – albeit with a different flare – and understand the importance of networking, according to a new report by Skift and Meetings Mean Business.

“Meetings and events offer the best possible platform to help millennials expand their networks, customize their self-education and personalize their career paths,” the report says. “That is why millennials are advocating for more effective meeting design and better ways to connect, both physically and virtually, in a shifting and highly competitive global marketplace.”

Translated: Associations should think differently about events.

Video plays a huge role in the lives of young professionals, as evidenced by the boom of YouTube and Vine. So event planners shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate video into presentations, and, better yet, dabble in live streaming for their events.

networking3In fact, hybrid meetings are becoming increasingly popular, but not just for attendees offsite. Since millennials value networking opportunities, associations could explore broadcasting sessions throughout a venue to allow attendees to learn and network simultaneously. This could spur the advent of “networking places,” comfortable rooms with computers, couches and food and drinks.

At the same time, the report suggests mobile is the future of millennial-friendly meetings. Gen Y wants event apps and social media platforms. Real-time updates via social media allows attendees to join group conversations, regardless of their location.

Of course, all this is good news for vendors and IT providers, both of whom, the report predicts, could see steady growth in businesses from organizations looking to improve their events.

The Skift and Meetings Mean Business report offers dozens of case studies and examples of organizations that have successfully embraced millennials. But here are some key takeaways:

  • Millennials value face-to-face networking experiences (in fact they rank them as the top motivation for attending events), but such experiences should be enhanced with social media capabilities and technology. Enter the rise of hybrid meetings.
  • Millennials expect technology, including fast Wi-Fi, hybrid content, social media conversation, web-based audience participation platforms, comprehensive event apps and other technology to be seamlessly integrated into modern meeting design.
  • More than previous generations, Gen Yers choose professional events based on location. Cities that offer a rich nightlife and awesome attractions will attract young professionals much more than traditional conference cities.
  • Despite common perceptions, millennials’ top communication preference is face-to-face. Second was email and third was texting.

social_media_strategy111Finally, the report offers some additional tips for engaging millennials:

Include millennials in social media and website development — Even though many millennials are still developing their skill sets, they want to feel like their opinion is respected and they’re helping co-create meeting content and experiences. Create a millennial task force for special projects so they can work together on shared goals like new social media campaigns, pre/post online content, app content conversion to web-based platforms, etc.

Kill the cocktail reception — Well, maybe not kill it but definitely add some interactive knowledge sharing that helps millennials develop personally or professionally. Many millennials in this report said the traditional cocktail reception is intimidating because it feels so unnatural to start a conversation without some kind of shared interest beyond the event theme. Apps like MeetingMatch are becoming popular, where attendees can find people with similar interests, and app developers like DoubleDutch and QuickMobile are integrating similar functionality into their products.

Create young professional SIGs — Everyone loves special interest groups because they’re smaller gatherings with people who identify with a niche subject. Planners should think about creating one solely for young professionals, especially at association conventions, where millennials can let down their guard and network in a more relaxed ambiance.

10
Aug
15

New report: Association marketing has a ways to go

marketing-mix-priceMarketing is much more difficult than most people think. It requires creativity, strategic planning, vision and data analysis.

Marketers have a vast skill set, and that’s why they should have a seat at the decision-making table.

That’s according to a new benchmarking study on association marketing by Demand Metric and HighRoad Solution.

The State of Association Marketing,” unveiled this week during ASAE’s annual conference in Detroit, summarizes the marketing efforts of 373 survey respondents, mostly comprising membership associations.

Key findings:

  • 73 percent of survey respondents rate their overall association marketing as somewhat or very effective.
  • Marketing communications was the most prevalent marketing capability in associations surveyed, provided by 70 percent of marketing functions to their associations.
  • Only 25 percent of study participants report members perceive their marketing communications as always relevant and professional.
  • Membership retention saw the largest year-to-year increase, offered by 47 percent of association marketing departments in 2014 compared to 62 percent in 2015.
  • Event marketing was identified by 78 percent of respondents as the most effective marketing tactic.
  • Associations are embracing marketing analytics more closely, with the percentage reporting no usage of analytics dropping from 13 percent in 2014 to 9 percent in 2015.
  • The budget line item most frequently found in association marketing budgets is for print, found in 46 percent of association budgets. Print, however, ranks eighth in terms of effectiveness.
  • More staff and more funding rank first and second as the resources that would most help improve marketing effectiveness. However, neither staffing nor funding correlated to greater marketing effectiveness in the analysis of the study’s data.
  • Survey respondents identified internal meetings as consuming the most time.

“The baseline study sadly pointed out how far behind associations are in areas such as digital advertising and marketing automation,” said Suzanne Carawan, chief marketing officer for HighRoad Solution. “As you will see in this year’s report, we’re making progress, but there is a lot more work to do before we can bridge the gap between corporations and associations.”

A few things to consider. (My two cents here.)

contentmarketingWhile it makes sense to have the marketing director handle the main marketing duties – banner ads, social media ads, marketing material, website marketing, etc. – it’s also beneficial to have marketers contribute to membership retention efforts. After all, it’s a marketer’s job to explain why membership is valuable, and this means keeping members from losing interest – enter the skill set I referenced above.

In addition, according to the survey, strategic planning wasn’t a top priority for associations. That’s a problem.

As someone who’s learned to blend public relations and marketing, I can vouch for the fact that marketing can’t exist without strategy. A marketing plan isn’t a strategic plan. Instead, marketing should be part of the strategic plan, with clearly defined messaging, tactics and audiences. Marketing should support the association’s strategic vision; not compete with it.

Marketing communications is perhaps the most effective piece of the marketing puzzle –provided there’s good content. Effective, meaningful, useful content.

According to the report, print is still an effective marketing vehicle among associations. But I’d argue that association marketers should consider the power of digital marketing. LinkedIn and Facebook marketing campaigns can yield huge rewards.

Tell us…what role does your marketing staff play in your organization? What works best for you?

21
Jul
15

10 Networking Apps For Event Attendees

Daniel Mendelson, Bizzabo

Daniel Mendelson, Bizzabo

This month’s guest post is by Daniel Mendelson of Bizzabo. It was originally posted on July 16.

Editor’s Note: By now, you all know I’m a social media/technology addict. So, I was so excited to learn about these apps that I had to share with you! These could help your attendees have a more meaningful networking experience.

According to Mobile Statistics, people spend on average 23 full days a year on their phone. Imagine if only a fraction of that time was spent on networking apps. In this post you will find a list of some great networking apps perfect for event attendees, which will take their networking success to the next level!

  1. Charlie: Have a meeting? Don’t stress! This networking app sends you information on attendees you might meet before the event. You won’t have to remember details about other event attendees because Charlie does all the research and preparation for you.
  2. Bizzabo: Bizzabo’s networking success platform is truly one of a kind. In addition to a total integration with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, this networking platform allows you to engage in one-on-one messaging with other event attendees in order to help you make the most out of your event networking experience.
  3. Namerick: As featured in BusinessInsider and the Huffington Post, Namerick is a must-have networking app. If you are one of those people who can never seem to remember names, Namerick is for you. Using repetition and mnemonics, Namerick will help you keep track of the names of other attendees you meet at an event.
  4. CamCard: Now you can easily manage and organize the business cards you receive at an event. CamCard extracts relevant contact information from business cards and imports them into your smartphone. The sheer number of business card apps attests to the importance of adding one to your networking app portfolio. Take a look at SamCard, WorldCardMobile and ScanBizCards for some other options.
  5. CityHour: Do you have some downtime at the conference you’re attending? Are you interested in networking right away? CityHour is one of our networking apps mentions because it connects you with those willing to meet within the next two hours, who are within a 50-mile radius of your location and who share a common industry and meeting goal.
  6. inDecision: Can’t decide whether to approach the big-name conference speaker? Every event attendee has to make decisions that can make or break his or her networking success. Through pros and cons lists and organizing your decision options, inDecision can help you make the right networking choice.
  7. Contxts: If you are looking to share and receive contact information in the quickest way possible, this app is for you. Contxts is a tool that helps you connect with other business professionals by streamlining and organizing the exchange of contact information through SMS messaging.
  8. About.me: This networking app gives you the opportunity to tell your professional story and personalize the way you are presented. About.me has detailed statistics on who interacts with your profile. You can use this networking app to track how popular you are among your network.
  9. Switch: We know that many event attendees go to events hoping to find new job opportunities. Switch is a networking app that can help attendees find the perfect job. It connects job seekers with hiring managers – not head hunters or recruiters.
  10. Spotcard: Discover LinkedIn members at the next conference you attend with this efficient networking app. Using your LinkedIn profile and contact information, this app creates a shareable digital card business card that makes your networking connections easier and more meaningful.

 




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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