As communicators in business, meeting planners would do well to be agnostic about the best way to reach their audiences. There are more options for sharing information with co-workers, vendors and customers now than ever before, and more than enough blogs covering the pros and cons of each to keep you reading for years. Therefore there is no need to rehash the best practices for blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, emails, print, phone apps, micro sites, YouTube or any other media.
Instead, let’s look at how to choose the right tool for your intended audience, and how to ensure it’s performing its intended function. This is especially true with the advent of what might be referred to as “the cult of social media” among the event community. There is a sensibility that “everyone” (whoever “everyone” is) is using social media, so planners had better get onboard or look hopelessly outdated.
What many planners may not know is that even the global advertising and PR community is in tremendous disagreement about the real effectiveness of these social media for building brand loyalty and conversion, and there is strong evidence that when it comes to B2B communications (which most meetings are) social media is a nice, but unnecessary add-on, not a core communications delivery tactic.
The deciding factors in selecting your communications tools are threefold:
- Know thy audience. How does the intended audience prefer to receive communications? Even in this day, large populations — especially in franchise, distributor and dealer organizations — are not especially tech savvy. They still prefer to receive most communications in printed form and continue to keep the old fax machine humming along. This means that email communications cannot be your only outreach, and phone apps are a waste of money. If you haven’t done a communications audit on your audience, now might be a good time. Just ask them where they get most of their information, and how they like to receive information.
- The time and money Equation. Social media and email are definitely a faster and less expensive communications platform than traditional media when viewed in isolation. But we often fail to consider the cost of not reaching your intended audience. Even if an email does land in someone’s inbox, there is no guarantee the receiver will stop and read it. In addition, many companies continue to restrict employee access to social media, which limits meaningful engagement during the workday.
- Integration. Marketers are forever talking about “integrated communications.” Why? Because communication is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Even an individual who typically prefers email might miss a critical communication that hits her spam folder for reasons only platform algorithms can divine. Layering communications with a certain amount of repetition ensures more of your important information gets through at the right time to the right individual.
These reminders about best practices for event marketing communications are simple, and for many, may be a bit basic, but they are equally applicable to our daily communications with each other around the office – and our families. Texts fail to go through, calls are dropped, differences of opinion need to be addressed face-to-face, not in email, and on and on. The questions about understanding the person we are trying to communicate with and their perspective, recognizing the cost of misconnection, and reaching out in a variety of media are not just a good idea — they are a practical necessity.
Next: MBEC 33.04 — Make effective presentations