In 2020, we had the pleasure of carrying out some research into convention centres’ social media activity. The results were surprising because some convention centres who we would have expected to be on point with their social media marketing communications, were not. In fact, some of the largest and most well-known convention centres in the world scored the lowest in the sample that we reviewed. We simply had to share! Read on to discover more about who, what, and not.
The strongest platform for all convention centres included in the sample was Twitter.
This is only to be expected as Twitter is the live event social media platform. However, the content shared by the convention centres was geared more towards the interests of themselves, their industry peers and suppliers rather than their target market – event buyers.
Engagement rates were low on Twitter indicating that a lot of content being posted isn’t resonating with followers. Some of the London convention centres scored as low as 0.33% engagement rate per post. Mainland Europeans scored a little better, but still less than 1%.
A key finding was that more was not necessarily better on Twitter, as evidenced by this graph that shows that the some of the highest engagement rates were scored by those convention centres that posted a little less frequently.
The convention centres that scored the highest on Twitter engagement rate per post were those that seemed to be addressing a particular audience on the platform, and not all possible audiences. They have identified who their target market is, what interests them and the type of content that they will engage with.
It is possible for convention centres to score highly by sharing content without the need for creating their own. Adopting this approach would help them increase their reach and further establish their authority in the industry.
The types of content that they could share with their audience could include customer generated content, for example. Most events will have an event hashtag, which event organizers and delegates will use as they share images and videos throughout the event.
Retweeting and sharing this content is not only great for engagement all round (and their clients will thank them for it!) but it will also be of interest to future clients. They want to see how an event is delivered by the convention centre and there is no better way to demonstrate this than by showing off other events taking place at the venue.
It’s also a good idea to make the most of any high-profile events that are taking place; if there’s a celebrity speaker or big brand in attendance who’s sharing content about the event, retweet them!
Interacting with respected industry publications and sharing their content such as events related news and trends is also a great way to keep an audience engaged. This is particularly key in times of uncertainty such as the current global COVID-19 outbreak, and how this will affect events worldwide.
People often turn to social media to stay up-to-date with news, and will have more trust in a supplier who appreciates that there is a critical business need to keep them informed, rather than only bombarding them with ‘salesy’ content.
Facebook and Instagram
After Twitter, the convention centres we researched also had presences on Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Instagram.
Some years ago, when Facebook was at it’s height, it would have been considered for use by businesses wishing to engage with their audiences. It suited certain types of business in sectors such as events, travel and sport. In the sample set of convention centres that we reviewed, some are still investing a lot of time and attention to Facebook as a platform.
This is no longer necessary.
LinkedIn is the number one B2B social media platform in 2020. While it doesn’t have the same numbers as Facebook, it does have a highly engaged audience of business people. If you are in the business of B2B, you must be on LinkedIn. Our advice to you is to stop Facebooking and move over to LinkedIn. You will benefit much more readily from it.
Admittedly some convention centres may have a B2C communications need. In that case, they would be far more effective to utilise Instagram, which is the number two social media platform after Facebook, but one that has far more engagement in 2020. It is no longer just the remit of influencers and fashion people. Instagram has gone mainstream.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram users have always welcomed businesses and brands. In 2023, 90% of Instagram users follow a business or brand. While Instagram isn’t a key platform for doing business, it is a lot of fun and many event buyers use Instagram to share content and will use the platform as part of their research when planning events.
It’s visual appeal and ever-increasing number of engagement tools such as Instagram Stories, Lives and stickers lend an interactive element which will boost engagement.
Highlights are also a fantastic way to showcase past events, ‘meet the team’ type posts and the venue’s facilities. When it comes to Instagram though, it’s important to get it right or efforts will fall flat.
A number of the convention centres we reviewed didn’t do too well at all on Instagram; posting was sporadic with bad quality images, boring captions and many didn’t make the most of it’s features, such as Instagram stories and highlights. Also, they often didn’t have an effective hashtag strategy in place and almost never responded to comments.
The Opportunity That Is LinkedIn
Half of the sample are posting on LinkedIn Pages (formerly known as LinkedIn Company Pages). Engagement is low here because all the action on LInkedIn is happening through profiles. There is a huge opportunity for convention centres to build real relationships with their audiences by simply switching over from Pages to Profiles for sharing content on LinkedIn.
That is what we recommended to a client late in 2019. The advice has been followed and the results have been extremely good.
Metrics worth tracking on LinkedIn are search results, profile views, engagement on posts, and of course direct messages.
We consider direct messages as the lead and it’s up to the individual to take that lead and convert it by taking the contact offline and engaging via a call, video conference, or meeting.
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Director of Marketing & Communications, The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD)
Maryrose is very knowledgeable and skilled and she took time to fully understand our business before delivering a bespoke solution. I found Maryrose and her team from Brightspark to be very responsive, supportive and I felt we worked together as partners rather than a client and agency.
If you are looking to move your social media up a level, be more strategic in your activity or simply sense check your existing work, then talk to Brightspark!