One huge event “The Egyptian Revolution:”
Now this deserves a blog of its own, and i promise I’ll write one. This was certainly not a B2B event, but I just wanted to mention that, based in Cairo, i experienced how social media supported this huge event. Some people attributed the whole uprising to social media, namely Facebook and Twitter, others thought the mass protests could happen without them, or that at least people would eventually take to the streets. The latter is correct, the uprising was on the horizon, however; i believe social media played a huge role in orchestrating the mass protests; the decision the Government took to “shut down the Internet” demonstrated their concern.
The tactics –
As a marketer I was obliged to analyse the tactics. Weeks and days before the first mass protest on 25 January 2011, i was invited to an event page, by a friend on Facebook, inviting me to participate in a mass protest.
I felt butterflies in my stomach when i realised that over 80K people were attending, bearing in mind the uprising in Tunisia had just occurred in the previous weeks. The nature of this campaign was viral; the page was forwarded from contact to contact. Each day i monitored the page and the attendee numbers increased by thousands.
The 25th January came and people took to the streets in the masses, shortly after the government ordered all internet and mobile service providers to stop their services.
Social media landscape and usage in global markets:
The number of attendees to this event demonstrates the high usage of social networks in Egypt. Facebook is extremely popular in many emerging markets. It’s the most popular social network site world-wide, along with other social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube.
You’ve all heard if Facebook was a country it would be the, what’s it now, the third most populous? It has the user base; this makes it ideal for “reach,” for marketers for a start. People in emerging markets enjoy using social media to communicate, learn about the latest trends, fashions, and updates in this global village. Also, people in emerging markets are better connected, as governments and service providers are investing in advanced internet connection speeds and mobile internet.
Content can be communicated in local languages and the conversations can take place in local languages, which is an advantage of many of the leading social media tools.
Planning, aims and objectives:
There’s a lot of hype and confusion about social media, the plethora and growth of these platforms can be intimidating. I’m a solid believer in marketing process e.g. CRM. I also believe that for any medium to work for you always start with SMART objectives or aims and in accordance plan your metrics, otherwise how do you measure success and results?
Prior to communicating you’ll need a plan messages/event timing/location and how you will integrate with mixed media e.g. email shots. The messages may be in local languages, if this is the case, whoever manages the social media communication will need to be fluent in that local language. You can find out what languages Twitter supports here.
Social media can be used to drive registrations from social media sites, however; and you can do this by directing fans on your page or followers on Twitter to a customised event registration website, capturing registration data, profiling registrants and storing data for follow up.
It’s not always advised, for small, highly targeted events to seek to drive registrations through social media. Your company database and email list may be the better alternative.
You can also encourage any visitors to your event website to join your Facebook fan page, or to follow you on Twitter, or to Tweet using a customised hashtag, by promoting these channels on your event site. A hashtag for your event enables people to search content and stay informed prior to the event. Again this should be promoted by you on related content, i.e. emails, the event website and print.
Once people have become fans on Facebook or are following you on Twitter, you can then engage them in ongoing discussions pre-event, perhaps by using a competition (using a third party app for Facebook) or questions to encourage feedback.
Prior to the event you may want to post YouTube videos messages from your speakers or general manager to your Facebook Fan Page and to Twitter (perhaps using Vine) to educate, create hype, re-tweets, comments, shares and feedback.
During event – keep them engaged:
During physical events, you can keep people updated, in real time, by Tweeting or updating your status on Facebook. For example you may want to advise them of any last minute changes, seminars which are about to begin or lunch.
As people may not be checking updates via their own devices, you can project all the event related content on to a screen at the main venue. Related Tweets, which use your hash tag, for example, during the event, can be projected onto a screen through various tools such as “Visual Tweets,” this allows you to filter out related tweets using the customised hashtag, and display them in full-screen in creative ways.
The aim here is to keep people discussing your event on social media and to engage your live audience. This is quite entertaining. As the organiser you may also Tweet your own updates in real time, for example “seminar x starts now #ThisEvent”.
You can also ask people for their feedback, live, during the events or when the day has ended, you can receive feedback in real-time and make improvements; this may help, in particular, if it’s a two day event.
For virtual events, you can remind people that they’re about to start by Tweeting or updating your fan page on Facebook and sharing the event link. In some countries, people can be keen to sign up/register for virtual events, but may not always attend, as these are still relatively new to some countries and so it’s good to remind.
Post event –follow up:
The aim and objectives of your event should include generating sales leads, once the event’s over you can capture lead data, via social media networking sites, by encouraging fans and followers, who attended, to get in touch via email or by completing a short form, or calling a number. The short form may use qualification questions, to filter out people who aren’t ready to buy, for example you may ask the contacts if they have “BANT” a budget, authority to purchase, a need a and project timeframe, along with their contact and company details.
Videos of the event can also be posted to social media sites, to your YouTube account for example or on Facebook, showing highlights of the event, keeping the buzz going – you can also add a call –to- actions to capture leads as people can follow up months later.
A link to all your event presentations or videos of seminars can also be communicated on social media sites, you can also allow visitors to share your presentations, from your event site, on their own social media accounts, which can be tracked and measured by social media sharing tools, and this is also an opportunity to capture new prospects in – again, just ensure you add call- to- actions to your presentations.
You can also request feedback. Feedback can be brutally honest, social media is an excellent tool for learning; provided we “listen” we can learn and make improvements.
Lastly it’s always fun to share pictures of the event after on your Facebook page allowing fans to comment on and share their photos.
The usages and benefits of social media for events are countless, however, a word of advice fail to plan then plan to fail, know what you’re aiming to achieve; the social media sites your audience use and the languages they use for business. Good planning comes off of the back of solid analysis. Local agencies can assist.
To find out more about B2b Digital marketing in global markets, you can read Emerging Business Online, Global Markets and the Power of B2b Internet Marketing an New York FT Press Publication.