Business Event Media is Social Media
In spite of the efforts of many conference and trade show organizers, conferences and trade shows are the primary form of social media in B2B. We event organizers can proudly say that our products were the original expression of the imperative need for social media in the business marketing mix. Unfortunately, our experience traps us in a box. We have focused a lifetime of effort on space sales, sponsorship schemes, and attendance brochures. The Zen approach would be to start from zero—obliterate the memory of past projects and say, “I have the Internet and these tools, I need to bring these people together–where shall I begin?”
With a Zen-like detachment from B2B markets (because the focus is B2C), this report from Aberdeen Group on The ROI on Social Media Marketing will be of benefit to event producers. There are several essential points made here that merit strong consideration for anyone developing a forum for professional networking.
First there are several brief case studies in customer “brand advocacy” wherein marketers have converters their customers into word of mouth advertising machines. These case studies are “incredible” (in the negative sense of the word: without credibility) and I’d be interested in seeing more information on how this might work. Google offers no leads. However, event organizers should consider two dimensions of this phenomenon: How do I get my clients to become my brand advocates? And: how do I get my clients to use my events to leverage their own brand advocacy?
Secondly this report emphasizes the importance of measuring social media marketing results. Key benchmarks are suggested: simple ROI, brand awareness, customer engagement, share of voice (negative vs. positive WoM), likelihood to recommend, level of influence. Word of mouth in general, and social media in particular is a diffuse and highly personal activity. However, we can measure inputs and outputs, make comparisons and draw conclusions. This would be a great “crowd sourcing” project for a small group of event organizers.
Finally a thought for Pope Benedict who, on the Vatican YouTube channel, praised digital media, but warned that obsession with certain technologies “may isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence, and reflection that are necessary for human development.”
I say, hey event media professionals, let’s do the Pope a solid: Let’s figure out how to turn isolating technologies into community-building tools.