Monday, October 28, 2013

Event Marketing: ISPA Conference

The International Spa Assoication (ISPA) hosted its annual national conference Oct. 21-23 in Las Vegas. In order to generate hype and continue the conversation, ISPA utilized social media for pre-, during and post-event marketing. Here is a closer look at how ISPA used social media to advertise the conference.

A month prior to the conference, ISPA posted photos, videos and text on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn and the organization's blog to help build hype for the event. Some of the posts prior to the conference included photos of different vendors preparing for the show, including their booth number; discounts to different vendors at the show, registration and show details, images of prizes that would be auctioned off, and videos of speakers who were presenting at the conference. Above is an Instagram post that ISPA posted prior to the conference. The post said, "Everything is all packed up in the Conference truck and on its way to Vegas! Can't wait to see everyone in just one week! #ispa2013."

During the conference, ISPA posted photos, videos and text on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Some of their content included photos of different sessions and booths at the conference, information about when keynote speakers were speaking and when certain sessions were taking place, quotes from keynote speakers, and questions asking participants what they were learning. The posts during the event informed people at the conference of different things that were happening around them, and they informed those who weren't able to attend what they were missing out on. The question posts on Facebook and Twitter also encouraged those who were attending the event, to join in the conversation. By showing all the great events happening at this year's conference, ISPA created incentive for people to come to, or return to the conference next year. Below is one of ISPA's Facebook posts encouraging participants to attend the last general session with keynote speaker Bill Rancic.

After the conference, ISPA kept the conversation about the conference going through social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The content after the event included posts thanking sponsors and vendors for making the event a success, posts thanking attendees for attending, posts asking participants to share their photos from the event on Instagram, retweets from attendees saying what a great time they had at the event, and posts asking attendees what they learned at the conference.

The ISPA conference had large followings on all social media platforms, but the organization's Facebook page seemed to get the most engagement throughout the conference. The post that seemed to garner the most engagement was a Facebook post on Oct. 24, thanking attendees for coming to the event and wishing them safe travels, (right). This post received 35 likes and nine comments. This post was successful because by liking or commenting, attendees showed their connections or clients that they were at the event, which paints them as an industry authority.

ISPA included "#ISPA2013" and "#GrowYourWorld" in their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. By creating hashtags for the event, they helped with event branding and allowed attendees to converse. In several of ISPA's posts, they used "#ispa2013," which I thought took away from the event's branding. The hashtag should have been consistent throughout, so participants weren't confused.

Excluding the varying hashtags, ISPA's message seemed to be consistent on all social media platforms. It appeared as though the organization used a marketing tool like HootSuite to post the same message on Facebook and Twitter. Although this helped give the brand a consistent message, sometimes not creating messages for each individual channel didn't pay off. On Oct. 8, ISPA posted, "Be sure to stop by the ISPA Resource Center on the Expo floor to pick up one of these fun ISPA sticky flag booklets! Perfect for leaving reminder notes in your Conference Guide or on the ISPA Expo Map. #ISPA2013." While this message with the complimentary photo worked well on Facebook, it wasn't as effective on Twitter since over half of the message was cut off (below).

Throughout the event, ISPA would retweet the content participants were posting about the event. By posting attendees content, the organization gave all attendees an incentive to write about their experiences at the conference. The retweets also showed what a great time people were having at the conference and how beneficial the conference is for attendees.

ISPA posted social media content thanking sponsors after the event had concluded, but I was unable to find other social media posts talking about the sponsors. ISPA should have talked more about individual sponsors on social media. By giving sponsors free publicity, ISPA could have given sponsors a reason to sponsor next year's event.

ISPA did a good job of integrating their marketing efforts across social media and their other marketing platforms. The organization has it's own magazine called Pulse, and the October edition featured an article about the 2013 conference. A link to the magazine and article were posted ISPA's Facebook page (right) and Twitter feed. A link with the photo of the magazine cover was also featured on the organization's website. Because the link was shared on multiple platforms, ISPA's message reached a larger number of people.

The event's marketers also did a thorough job of advertising ISPA's other social media channels. There were Twitter and Facebook posts encouraging follower's to get involved in conversations, share photos and share their experiences on Instagram and ISPA's blog, (below).

The social media post that stood out the most for me, was the Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter post about Bill Rancic speaking. Highlighting a celebrity speaker not only catches people's attention, it makes people want to attend the event in the future.

There were several area's of ISPA's event marketing that I thought they could improve. To have a better IMC strategy, ISPA could have posted more content about the conference on their LinkedIn page and blog. The only thing on the organization's LinkedIn page was a very brief bio stating the date and location of the conference, with a link where individuals could register to attend. After the event, the organization could have created a blog post talking about what happened at the conference, how successful it was and details for next year's conference.

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