Trend 1: Re-establishing trust
According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Report, 60 per cent of people no longer trust social media networks. This might be alarming for brands that have poured countless hours into producing content to grow and nurture their audiences, but all is not lost. Forward-thinking brands are spending less time chasing impressions and more time fostering genuine, meaningful engagement within their communities, even using their own employees as a human voice.
Opportunities within the MICE industry abound, as events are a fantastic channel for real human engagement between brands and their customers. ‘Groups’ on Facebook or LinkedIn offer the ideal environment for organisations to foster communities of like-minded users, and to stimulate real conversations about subjects that matter. Using these safe spaces as an opportunity to put a ‘face’ or ‘voice’ to a brand – and to genuinely give back – can go a long way in building trust and respect. ?
Trend 2: Telling stories
We’ve seen ‘stories’ grow 15 times faster than feed-based sharing, and Facebook predicts this will become the primary way people share experiences in 2019. Not only is this a significant format change for content, it also speaks to the mobile-centric way that users now prefer to share these real-time moments (as opposed to the carefully crafted feeds of the past). Ephemeral content feels more personal. It allows for spontaneity and a more honest view of a world – things users seek more of. It’s not without its challenges, however, especially when it comes to measurement. Finding ways to scale this format or to integrate it into your reporting to demonstrate ROI is less straightforward than with more traditional formats.
Given the live nature of events, ‘stories’ are an ideal way to share the experience. And, as high-production quality is not necessarily a factor for success in this format, users can experiment with the various features to see what resonates best with their audience. Featuring messages from speakers, exhibitors or attendees is a great way to bring the event to life. Tracking codes embedded into links can help to deliver the ROI needed to justify the activity. And finally, the best advice for any brand: have fun. The tried and tested formula of ‘educate, entertain and engage’ is truer than ever with stories.
Trend 3: Stepping up the ad game
Long gone are the days in which organic activity alone could build your empire. It’s now widely accepted that paid campaigns are an essential component of any effective social media strategy. In fact, Facebook ad spend alone already accounts for 23 per cent of total US digital ad spending. In this competitive environment, advertisers need to up their game with high quality, creative content to cut through the noise. We continue to see success for brands who go above and beyond to add value in as personalised a way as possible, rather than simply broadcasting a ‘one-size-fits-all’ message. Technology can help with highly sophisticated segmentation, and split-testing tools are widely available – often coupled with free tutorials to help master the craft.
Events are arenas of inspiration, ideas and learning. Use targeted ads not just to push a sales message, but to give your audience something to aspire to. New multimedia ad formats such as carousels, videos and canvas takeovers allow unique engagement opportunities, so use them to add value. Learn from your success and failures, continuously optimise your tactics and repurpose content that delivers strong results.
Trend 4: Embedded e-commerce
In Asia, 70 per cent of people under 18 buy directly from social media platforms. The ability to complete a purchase without exiting an app goes a long way to removing barriers to purchase. While this trend applies mostly to retailers, B2B companies can employ similar tactics for product education and lead generation efforts.
In the MICE industry, registrations, ticket sales and calls for submissions can all benefit from this practice. Ask customers to move from app to website to checkout, and you risk losing their interest. Make it easy to buy tickets or register for an event within one app, however, and they are more likely not only to complete the process but also to refer the event to friends within the platform, amplifying your efforts.
Leveraging these features to create seamless, engaging and social journeys for users to seek more information should be a key focus in 2019.
Trend 5: Personal messaging
Research by web messaging technology experts, Twilio, shows that nine out of ten people would like to use messaging apps to communicate with businesses. Coupled with recent stats that suggest direct messaging helps customers feel more confident about a brand, this shows messaging is here to stay. The question now is how can organisations balance the mix of sales and customer support. While these adoption figures look encouraging, customers do not want ‘the big sell’ in messages, and marketers need to tread lightly. The challenges of scale, automation, centralisation and analytics still need time to be resolved, but early adopters can start reaping the benefits now.
For large-scale events – both in the lead up to, and on the day of an event – chat-bots can make an enormous difference in alleviating human resources to respond swiftly to frequently asked questions. While there is already evidence of success with these tools, businesses still need to be in a position to escalate enquiries to human operators when the conversation expands beyond repetitive and transactional exchanges.