I recently attended Quadriga University’s 9th Conference Social Media – Social Media as a Mindset in Berlin where professional social media users met and exchanged! The paradox is, while we live and breathe social media every day to connect virtually with friends and peers around the world, working within social media can actually be a lonely profession. Most companies do not have the luxury to employ multiple community managers and so often have just one dedicated staff member to drive the company’s activities and engage with clients on social media. Responsible for our online community, I sometimes end up listening and talking with hundreds of people, sharing valuable content, engaging in discussions, liking videos, and sharing pictures without “meeting” them in person. But working in the exhibition industry it‘s natural that one of my biggest professional hobbies is face-to-face exchange with peers through networking. So it was an incredible experience to meet and mingle with professionals working with, and living for, social media in Berlin. In this blog I want to share some insights that I have carried back to my desk in Paris.
What is the ROI of Social Media?
Who has not heard that question? I am sure everyone has been challenged with this the moment you tried to develop your company’s or association’s activities on social media. But what was your answer? Although today there is no secret about the power of social media and its benefits, everyone I spoke with in Berlin agreed that measuring the return on investment of social media is not optional, but that it’s a difficult task. How do your social media efforts contribute to the company’s broader business goals? People seem to forget that social media is NOT a separate exercise but it is part of the overall digital strategy. Here is how AXA in Switzerland measures its added value generated through activities on social media: Web 2.0 + Enterprise 2.0 = 4x ROI. Maybe this gives you an idea on how to reply next time you are asked why your work matters.
3 trends not to ignore in the next 6 months
A panel of experts, together with massive experience and knowhow from among the delegates, allowed us at the end of the conference to identify the three big trends for social media that will keep us busy within the next six months.
What is more effective than you, or someone you pay for, talking about your brand, your products and services? Yes of course: your end-users, consumers, opinion leaders sharing their own experience, their own stories with and around your company and what you do. User Generated Content (UGC) is already big today, but in the next six months you should try to engage your target group even more, listening to their stories and re-sharing them. Give your exhibition not one face but many, listen to your customers and engage them. After all we are all happy if our blog post is picked up by someone else or being talked about, and if it’s used well by someone else that’s even more exciting. One successful example of UGC I’m lucky to have been involved in was the campaign around Global Exhibitions Day #GED16, when people worldwide shared their support (videos, pictures, articles, interviews, etc.) for the exhibition industry.
Are your followers real?
Did you know more and more twitter accounts are not managed by “real” people? The number of bots in social media networks is set to increase in the next six months. If you are not that familiar with bots let me help you: Bots are algorithms acting in social media networks on your behalf. But to the outside world, they look like a real user, they can like articles and suggest services and products that match your needs, and they interact with you without you noticing that you’re actually “interacting” with a programmed system. They come in all shapes and sizes and are borderline perfect. So do you know if you are engaging with human beings or chatting with robots? Although I see the value of bots for some companies, UFI will not follow this trend. We represent the face-to-face industry, and when we go online we still represent human-to-human. There is no intention to change that!
Continuing the trend from 2015, we can expect 2016 to be characterised by a huge expansion of live streaming on social media. If you work with Facebook, you will have noticed some weeks back that the biggest social network in the world has put in place an easy way to share live videos though their platform. Facebook demonstrates that the ranking of live video is much higher in user’s News Feeds than saved video content. I expect the cutting-edge feeling and interactive nature of live streaming will and should shape the way we report from exhibitions and events. With the falling cost and increasing speed and battery life of mobile devices, I believe this trend to continue. The predictions for end 2016 show that up to 70% of internet traffic and a similar proportion of video viewing will go through mobile devices.