When Meet Puerto Rico decided to offer social-media services to its meeting and event clients, it sought out a marketing agency that specializes in online platforms. “We know where the market is going,” said Joyce Martinez, vice president of business development and sales at Meet Puerto Rico, “and we’re putting all the pieces together to become leaders in how social media is used in the events industry.”
Enter Sparkloft Media, a Portland, Oregon–based social-media-strategy firm. Meet Puerto Rico has collaborated with Sparkloft for almost a year, and will be the first destination to use the agency’s Eleventes suite of services, which is designed to help planners leverage the power of social media before, during, and after their events. Eleventes is available to meetings booked for 2015 on a complimentary basis. Sparkloft will work with each client to craft a comprehensive social-media plan.
“Planners don’t have time to think about how social media can be used at their events in a strategic way,” Martin Stoll, president and CEO of Sparkloft, told Convene. Specifically, many organizations don’t take the time to collect and analyze social-media metrics, which detracts from the value of a social-media campaign at an event. Stoll outlined a number of strategies that Meet Puerto Rico’s clients can employ at their meetings.
1. ADVANCE COORDINATION
“Eleventes will help us offer experts who will work hand-in-hand with clients,” Martinez said. For example, organizations may be advised on how to buy Facebook ads that specifically target students and professionals in their industries. An important part of the program for social-media newbies and veterans alike is identifying the best hashtags to use on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest during events. Meet Puerto Rico will also help planners coordinate with speakers to create shareable content like infographics that can be pushed out on social-media channels.
Organizations can also get advice on setting up on-site “social-media command centers” to help attendees share content with each other as well as their own personal networks.
2. COMMAND CENTER
Organizations can also get advice on setting up on-site “social-media command centers” to help attendees share content with each other as well as their own personal networks. Using Eleventes, planners can monitor their meetings’ top influencers and track how many attendees are using each online channel.
3. SORTING IT OUT
After an event, planners can use third-party tools such as the aggregator service Storify, which integrates images and videos that were shared on social media into a timeline, to tell a “compelling story” about their events. Meet Puerto Rico’s program can also help collect social-media shares and then export that data into Excel, making it easy to sort, analyze, and report back to stakeholders. Planners will also be able to analyze social-media trends from their events to gauge future interest in particular topics
Stoll shared an anecdote that underscores how the wrong hashtag can undercut social media’s impact at an event. “I was at a conference three weeks ago in San Francisco,” he said, “and there were four conferences going on around the world at the same time using the same hashtag. It’s so hard to capture those conversations and also create engagement, because the conference in San Francisco was competing with a conference in Mexico and one in Belgium, and another one in San Francisco, all using the same hashtag. It was a huge missed opportunity. You have to do your homework before [the event] and see if there’s any chatter already happening.”