#icca12 Case study social media for events: from follower to sender to moderator

As two-thirds of the ICCA Congress delegates are senior level CEOs and Managing Directors, many of them are of an older age group, which provides a challenge for the implementation of social media around our annual Congress and GA.

In 2010 we only followed and slightly moderated the online discussion around the ICCA Congress in Hyderabad, India. In 2011, when we first started to roll out more extensive social media activities we were primarily sending messages and trying to get delegates engaged, but we still only had a small group of early adopters who actively contributed to the online discussion (See also #icca11 Case study social media for events).

At this year’s 52nd ICCA Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico we had many more delegates who actively contributed useful ICCA Congress related content via our social media channels. This meant that for a large part our role has changed from “follower” to “sender” to “moderator”.

So why were more delegates active on social media during this year’s ICCA Congress, despite the fact that we had 700 delegates compared to 1,000 last year? Is this just a natural evolution, as there are now more social media users in general? Or did we do a good job in actively managing and stimulating the online discussion?

Go with the flow!Gangnam-226x300

Well actually, it was actively made to happen by building on top of trends and encouraging and enhancing the natural social flow rather than creating an artificial current.

If everyone is dancing Gangnam style to weird, nerdy K-Pop during the CAT Night it surely does not come as a surprise that a picture of the Asian CAT Team dancing Gangnam style receives so many likes! If a flow exists, exploit it! Don’t fight it by insisting on Abba…

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s social media activities around #icca12.

1. Before the Congress 

1.1. Pre-event social media setup

Last year we already had the basics in place. We learned from last year that we had to start communicating the ICCA Congress hash tag early (at least 3 months before the Congress takes place), and we actually already introduced the #icca12 already at the end of the 2011 ICCA Congress.

These are the social media channels we used before, during and after #icca12:

We had also created a Facebook Event Page for this year’s Congress, but ended up not using it. Instead, all our ICCA Congress related communication was channeled through our main Facebook page as this is much more visible.

1.2. Driving content: Combining channels

Like last year, all pre-congress communication was combined through the different channels (ICCA Congress Bulletin and Event Information Emails, the website and the hard copy Congress Programme). The difference with last year is that we had a much broader integration of social media channels in all our communication already:

  • We have added social media links to our email signatures and E-newsletter
  • We added an ICCAWORLD Twitter feed on our homepage
  • We have integrated “Follow” and “Share” social media buttons on our website
  • We introduced QR codes to our social media channels
  • Much of our content is now regularly shared through our social media channels

1.3. Identify brand ambassadors
ICCA members who were most active on social media were identified as “brand ambassadors” and were stimulated to keep the online discussion going, as well as any Congress delegate who contributed to the #icca12 discussion. Also, more ICCA staff members were contributing pictures and content of sessions they visited compared to previous year.

2. During the Congress

2.1. Offline social media support during the Congress

  • Social Media Desk: Like last year, we set up a Social Media Desk during the Congress, which was located next to the registration desk. It was staffed by ICCA’s Marketing Executive and ICCA’s Manager Marketing & PR, to help delegates with all their questions about social media. This year we also communicated the Social Media Desk as being the central go-to point for ICCA’s media members for the latest ICCA Congress related news. We also had some tech support questions (like how to connect to the WiFi) which we were happy to answer.
  • Free WiFi was available in the HQ Hotel and in the whole congress centre throughout the congress, which is of course crucial in making your social media activities a success
  • Screens with live feeds of our social media channels were displayed on 5 large screens throughout the venue. This year we created our own feeds (see screenshot) which included an #icca12 search feed and a feed from the ICCA World Facebook page. We created the Twitter feed ourselves and used http://zooshia.com to create the Facebook feed. By far the most of our delegates used Twitter instead of Facebook though, so in the future a Twitter feed only will be sufficient.

Social media screens at #ICCA12


Twitter feeds

As a backup for our own live feed page, I did some research into existing tools that can provide a free Twitter feed for on-screen display during events. The following were on my backup list:

For more information on this also have a look at Michael Heipel’s blog post 7 tools to present a Twitter stream at your event.

When you are designing the layout of your own social media screens it is vital to keep in mind that your feeds should be visible from a further distance. We had some issues with the sun reflecting on the screens and the screens being visible from a further distance only, which made some of them not very well readable.

2.2. On-site content, monitoring and moderating

If you provide all these social media channels and are stimulating an online discussion, it is obviously very important to monitor and moderate the content on your channels and to answer questions directly, in order to keep the interaction going.

This year we mainly used Hootsuite (http://www.hootsuite.com/) to monitor and moderate ICCA social-media channels in real-time on-site. Hootsuite is a social media dashboard which gives a clear overview of social media channels for monitoring and an easy interface to directly post new content to different social media channels. Hootsuite has an iPad app as well as a browser version and we used both depending on if we were at the social media desk or in sessions.

We also used Sprout Social (http://www.sproutsocial.com/) which has the same monitor, moderate and posting options as Hootsuite, but Sprout Social excels at creating social media statistics and reports.

2.3. Social media competition

This year we did a little experiment to stimulate engagement of delegates and try and convert them into “ICCA Congress in Puerto Rico ambassadors” by setting up a competition:

Enter the ICCA & Meet Puerto Rico Social Media competition + win an iPad 2!
Post your best picture of “meeting in Puerto Rico” on the ICCA Facebook page (http://Facebook.com/ICCAworld)! Tag the pictures, comment on them, share them! The picture with the most likes on Wednesday at noon, will be announced winner at the end of the CaseHunters’ Social Media session on Wednesday afternoon (WE204: How to apply Social Media to destination marketing? Lessons from the CaseHunters.)

Almost 20 pictures were posted on the ICCA World Facebook page and the winning picture was from Karyl Leigh Barnes from DCI with 52 likes:

ICCA & Meet Puerto Rico Social Media competition : Karyl Leigh Barnes from DCI

Some other notable entries:

ICCA & Meet Puerto Rico Social Media competition from ICCA Scholarship student Katharina Schuh.

ICCA & Meet Puerto Rico Social Media competition entry: Asian Chapter goes Gangnam Style

The winner received an iPad2 sponsored by ICCA and other good entries received Puerto Rican prizes sponsored by Meet Puerto Rico from Gerrit Heijkoop from HCIBS, who did a Hybrid session, combining a virtual Google Hangout table with live round table discussions in the Case Hunter’s session on Social media for destinations. http://www.slideshare.net/ICCAWORLD/how-to-apply-social-media-to-destination-marketing-icca12-wednesday-24102012

2.4. ICCA Daily online

For the first time this year, we also had the ICCA Daily available online (http://daily.iccaworld.com), which provided quality content for our social media channels for ICCA members who were in Puerto Rico as well as members who were not attending the Congress.

The ICCA Daily contains ICCA Congress related news as is produced by ICCA media member CAT Publications. Without going into details here, the visitor statistics of this new online version were already quite good, so we will definitely extend the ICCA Daily Online activities in 2013.

2.5. Pictures

All ICCA Congress pictures were uploaded to ICCA’s Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/iccaworld/sets/ on a daily basis during the Congress and a selection of pictures was also shared on Facebook.

2.6. Videoblogging

New ICCA media members Meeting:the World http://www.meetingtheworld.com posted a couple of videoblogs live from the ICCA Congress on their Facebook channel http://www.facebook.com/MTWORLD, which provided some very good and social-media friendly material:

  • ICCA CONFERENCE SPOT ME APP: Every delegate at this year’s ICCA Conference, currently taking place in Puerto Rico, has access to this excellent app to help them get the most from the event. Here one of the many Spot Me’s Jeremy Pros talks you through its functionality… http://tinyurl.com/8q6dh87
  • ICCA INSIGHT EXCLUSIVE: DELEGATE BOOSTING – Should meetings suppliers, such as venues, destinations and other support services, be helping associations increase delegate numbers? Eduardo Chaillo of the Mexican Tourist Board thinks so… http://tinyurl.com/9224c6z
  • ICCA INSIGHT EXCLUSIVE: ONLINE CONTENT IS KING FOR DESTINATIONS – DCI’s Karyl Leigh Barnes discusses her company’s latest destination research, which uncovers a number of fascinating findings, such as the importance of rich online content for destinations. http://tinyurl.com/9owyldh

3. Post-congress social media follow up

After the congress ICCA uses social media to extend the online relationship with the #icca12 attendees, and all ICCA Congress information is shared through the combined channels, with links to the videos, pictures and presentations on our social media channels;

4. Statistics

To further analyse the social media activity related to our 52th ICCA Congress we monitored all our social media activities and compiled these in a statistical overview. Below you can find a general overview as well as an overview for individual channels. The statistics are generated with Sprout Social (http://sproutsocial.com).

General overview
In the data below you can see an overview of ICCA’s total activity level on both Twitter and Facebook from the week before the Congress (taking place Saturday 20 until Wednesday 24 October) until the Friday after the Congress. Please note that all comparisons with last year are made in the same period as in 2011 (17-28 October 2011).


Group Stats

This year we had 2k interactions by 1.1k unique users and a reach of 1.2m impressions. In 2011 we had around 1k interactions by 500 unique users and a reach of 560k impressions

Twitter statistics

The Twitter statistics below show an overview from 15-26 October; from the week before the Congress until the Friday after the Congress (the Congress took place Saturday 20 until Wednesday 24 October):


Twitter Stats

General stats:

Number of followers before ICCA Congress: 2,936
We had 188 new followers during this time period, which makes 3,124 followers after ICCA Congress.

As a comparison: we had 144 new followers during the same time period in 2011 and a total of 1,713 followers after the 2011 Congress in Leipzig.

  • @mentions (how often a Tweet has been sent to username @iccaworld): 511 (2011: 314)
  • Messages Sent (the amount of messages sent out): 371 (2011: 276)
  • Messages Received (the number of messages received, including direct messages): 513 (2011: 317)
  • Clicks (the number of clicks on links in our Tweets): 124 (2011: 36)
  • Retweets (the number of retweets of our messages): 256 (2011: 118)

Key indicators:

Engagement here means the level of interaction with the audience (e.g. replies, retweets, private messages, one-on-one-conversations). Like last year we had an engagement level of 71%. However, the engagement level during the Congress alone (20-24 October) this year was 77%.

Influence means the rate in which your audience will view, read and/or interact with the content you send out. During the Congress this level was very high at 90% and towards the end even at 100%; last year this percentage was 87%.

You can clearly see that the engagement level rises dramatically with the start of the congress and then keeps a steady level and drops again after the congress.

Follower demographics:
Shows Twitter followers by age range and gender. Last year the age range 25-34 was the largest, this year the age range 35-44?. In 2011 48% of our Twitter followers were male and 52% female, this year it is 50-50%.

Facebook statistics

The Facebook statistics below show an overview from 15-26 October; from the week before the Congress until the Friday after the Congress (the Congress took place Saturday 20 until Wednesday 24 October):

Facebook Stats

Number of Facebook fans before ICCA Congress: 1,097
We had 100 new fans during this time period, which makes 1,197 Facebook fans after the ICCA Congress.

As a comparison: we had 98 new fans over the same time period in 2011 and 610 Facebook fans after the 2011 Congress in Leipzig.

Page impressions:
This year we had a total of almost 140k page impressions. On Tuesday 23 October we had a record number of almost 33k page impressions.
As a comparison: we had 50.5k total impressions over the same period in 2011.

Page impressions

General Facebook fan demographics:
Shows Facebook fans by age range, gender and location. In general we have younger (25-40) and more female fans on Facebook compared to Twitter (56% female on FB compared to 50% on Twitter).
ICCA’s Best Marketing Award winner Meet Taiwan apparently had generated a good buzz around their ICCA BMA entry! Also the Asia Pacific Chapter “Gangnam Style” picture generated a lot of shares and views.


Facebook sharing statistics – Stories and share type:

Over the period from 15-26 October we had 1.4k stories created by 868 users; last year 579 stories were created by 346 users over the same time period.
A story on Facebook is created when a user likes your Page, posts to your Page’s Wall, answers a Question you posted, RSVP’s to one of your events, mentions your Page, photo tags your Page, checks in at your Place or likes, or comments on / shares one of your Page posts.
1.2k people have commented on a page post, 102 have liked the ICCA World page and 36 have posted on the ICCA World Facebook Wall.

Facebook sharing statistics – Demographics:
71% of people sharing our stories during the Congress were female and most of them were 35-44 years old.
The top 3 of our “sharers” of ICCA Congress related content were based in The Netherlands, Norway, the USA and Mexico and most of them speak English.
Like last year, the Facebook posts related to the CAT Night and the Dress to Impress Awards were most engaged.

5. Evaluation and sharing our experience

Apart from this statistical analysis, questions on our use of social media during the congress are part of the general post-congress evaluation surveys, which will help us to fine-tune our social media strategy for #icca13.

We are currently working on compiling a “Social media for events” publication for association meeting planners and others, which functions as a manual / reference for future events. This publication will include this case study and much more useful information which will hopefully inspire you in the organisation of social media activities around your events.

The next stage of the journey?

I think we can conclude that you can actively stimulate the online discussion around your event by building on top of trends and encouraging and enhancing the natural social flow rather than creating an artificial current. This strategy requires active moderation and of course close contact with your delegates so you get a good grip on what lives amongst your delegates at your event.

So what is the next stage of the journey? At the Shanghai Congress in 2013 what role will ICCA play: will we still just be a “moderator” of the social media flow, or will we progress to become a “conductor”, helping our members to feel part of a giant harmonic social orchestra?

One comment on “#icca12 Case study social media for events: from follower to sender to moderator

  1. Pingback: 15 Reasons ICCA had tremendous Twitter traffic at the 2014 Congress | MeetingsPR.com

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