There is no denying that social media marketing  is here to stay, and this includes the MICE industry. Social media is influencing the way people read and search, behave and meet and travel today. An entire new generation has grown up since the rise of social media. As a result social media has changed the way the MICE and travel industries market their events, services and destinations.

Trends are confirming  for several years now that the MICE industry is back. There is more demand for meetings, exhibitions and events for brainstorming ideas, showcasing the latest innovations or simply for networking and attracting clients. Travel companies are offering customised MICE services and countries are promoting their destinations as attractive MICE venues. New meetings and conferences can be found all over the place and within diverse sectors. Social media is playing a big part in promoting these events and the destinations hosting them.

Social Media Marketing for the MICE industry

The goal of any MICE planner is to design an event that will have an impact on attendees as well as to fulfil its objectives in terms of marketing; and social media can be extremely effective for both. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have a huge influence on popular culture. Photo sharing platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr can be used to inspire new ideas and garner excitement for travel and events of all types. LinkedIn connects you to professionals worldwide, which can be very useful in spreading your message.

Also be sure about your strategy: ask yourself if you want to use your website or blog as your central landing page, or if you want to market on a more holistic approach on various channels equally.

Speaking of blogging: everyone in the MICE or travel business should create their own blog. It should be short and updated frequently with current information that’s useful about the events, services or destinations you are trying to promote. Topics should be practical, like what you would have liked to know before you travelled there. Add a lot of photos and of course video throughout your blog. Make your blog interesting and informative and you will continue to garner readers. But be aware: it cannot be all about self-promotion.

So, why are social networks so effective at hiking ticket sales and engaging participants at an event? They offer the ideal medium for the two main features that draw people to events: educational content and networking opportunities.

There are so many social media channels and tools out there marketers can use for social media marketing for the mice industry, and nearly every month we can present the launch of a new service. To cover all, this blog would burst, so we talk about the most popular at this point. We also recommend to focus only on the channels which suites you best and not to trail off on too many platforms.

The most popular social media sites for promoting and supporting MICE and travel industry:

  • Facebook 

With no doubt (nor surprise), Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world and amazingly effective when it comes to promoting an event, travel opportunity or destination. It can create the kind of buzz that has impact. Use Facebook’s upcoming events feature to announce and promote your event or travel opportunity. Facebook’s new video feature is a massive social media marketing tool.

Hotels, resorts, restaurants, attractions and rental car companies use social media to ensure their guests enjoy themselves and share their experiences with others. They use it to maintain good customer relations and to avoid possible crises through timely communication. 

  • Twitter 

This platform is meant for simple updates in real time, announcements and even live streaming, which can be done during an event. Twitter is great for engaging people, whether attendees at an event or travellers. You can run contests on your Twitter feed. This spurs engagement and excitement, even if it’s just answering a trivia question offering free tickets to whoever answers correctly.

Twitter uses hashtags for identifying messages that relate to a specific topic. It is a word or phrase with the hash symbol preceding it. Using the hashtag #travel on Twitter helps travellers search for travel packages, tours, destinations, etc. They can also share their experiences with others. Travel businesses would use #travel in their promotions and in connecting with customers.

Now that Twitter allows users to attach photos businesses are using this to full advantage. Ask your guests to share with others by tagging both their Twitpic and Instagram photos with your dedicated hashtag created for the purpose.

A great option is to use social media to target travellers abroad. Just scroll through the Twitter hashtags that are relevant like e.g. if you are in the adventure travel business, #whattodo, #activities, #travel, #sports, plus local hashtags. This is the perfect way of finding potential customers interested in what you are offering. Launch competitions for people who share your Facebook page or Twitter with others. Write a blog and contribute guest posts as much as you can on other blogs to find new leads and customers.

  • Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr

These are the sites that feature photos and videos, a great way to spark interest in any event. Pinterest allows you to communicate with others with inspirational quotes and event or travel information. Flickr has a creative commons feature whereby links and embeds get mirrored elsewhere like on Wikipedia Commons. Instagram now has a video feature letting users post a 15-second video. 

Images are huge on social media, considered “eye candy,” they dominate as Instagram has clearly proven by passing Twitter at the end of 2014 in its number of users. If the saying is correct that a picture is worth 1000 words then a photo posted to social media is worth $1000 or more. Since Twitter introduced photo sharing on its site, Tweets with photos attached are retweeted far more than tweets without photos.

As a destination company, use social media like Instagram to increase your inventory of photos with user generated photos. Create a competition for users to participate and thus find and map out potential locations throug Instagram and create a social buzz at the same time.

  • LinkedIn

This social networking site is for professionals in every imaginable field. There are now more than 300,000,000 profiles and users on LinkedIn. In planning a MICE event use your company’s LinkedIn page to promote it. You should be updating your page by adding events with all the details. Join related LinkedIn Groups and start a discussion on one of the main topics you are planning to discuss at your conference. LinkedIn discourages outright promotion, but there are many ways to do this subtly. By participating in the discussions of others you can become known and gather a following. You should also be constantly adding connections to your personal LinkedIn profile to increase your reach. Be active by providing regular updates on thought-provoking topics. Be social.

  • YouTube

This is still the most used channel when it comes to online videos. You can create brief bios of key people in your business, a peek behind-the-scenes of an event or trip or even a tour of your office. There are so many creative ways to use YouTube, just let your imagination flow and let the videos already uploaded inspire you. If you’re in the travel industry the opportunity here is endless. Don’t forget to be entertaining. 

Define your strategy

If used strategically, social media can be amazingly effective for marketing for the MICE industry. Social Media can be an impressive communications tool for business, but if it’s done randomly, without a digital marketing strategy and a consistent brand message, it can backfire. Again, your message should not always be about promoting and selling, it must be about establishing a relationship with your target audience. In the context of MICE and event planning, social media channels can create a lot of pre-event excitement and buzz. With today’s technology you can interact during the event, which enhances the experience for everyone participating. For post-event, you can use social media to extend the life of the event by encouraging participants to share their experiences.

What is your opinion? Do you actively use social media marketing for the MICE industry? Let us know!

The article Social Media Marketing for the MICE Industry was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.