For today's event marketers, it's all about 'going viral'. It's the ultimate way to secure bragging rights within the event marketing community as well as being one of the best ways to raise awareness of your company or brand. But do B2B marketers actually know how to ensure that an event achieves this kind of kudos? A recent study suggests not.
According to a report conducted by Freeman XP and the Event Marketing Institute, the majority of leading companies and brands (70%) said that using social media to leverage events was 'extremely' or 'very' important. And making a viral impact was one of their key goals, with 65% of B2B event marketers calling it 'very' or 'somewhat' important for events. Despite these acknowledgements, however, just 13% of respondents felt that they were either 'effective' or 'very effective' at generating viral content.
Meanwhile, just 23% of marketers were reaching out to non-attendees on social media and, in the process, missing out on a huge opportunity to engage audiences and "galvanize brand communities".
The report, entitled 'The Viral Impact of Events: Extending & Amplifying Event Reach via Social Media' spoke to companies from a variety of sectors, from IT to pharmaceutical, media, entertainment and consumer goods, most of which have total revenues of more than $500 million.
And even more of that money is going to be spent on using social media to extend and amplify event reach, something that - according to the report's executive summary - is "becoming very important to top marketers and exhibitors."
So important, in fact, that while 50% of leading event organisers already have a budget allocated solely to 'viral efforts,' more than half (53%) plan to increase their spending in this area. A little less (44%) expect their budgets to remain the same, but hardly anyone planned to decrease their spending on viral impact in relation to events.
Looking ahead to the next few years, the study predicts that "more consumer and B2B marketers will focus efforts on developing engaging event content strategies to earn increased social engagement from targeted fans."
At XFC we describe the support we give to clients that are organising, speaking / exhibiting at - or even just attending - major industry events as social media 'air cover'. The on-the-ground troops are engaging with key prospects and influencers in hand-to-hand 'combat', while we monitor event content, hashtags, influencer lists, social media profiles etc from 'above'.
The beauty of social media in an event context is that it blows the roof off the physical constraints of the event - a limited number of people gathering together for a limited period of time - by extending the reach of the event to a near-limitless number of interested non-attendees. Meanwhile, with effective social media planning, the 'afterlife' of the event can last weeks, or even months, after the last delegate has left the building.
The bottom line is that if B2B event marketers are to be truly effective at their jobs nowadays they need to get seriously social!