While on average 10-20% of delegates at a conference or tradeshow are active on Twitter, almost 60% of ICCA Congress delegates were active on Twitter before, during or after the 53rd ICCA Congress, took place 1-5 November 2014 in Antalya, Turkey.
70% of the delegates using Twitter said it helped them to increase the value of their ICCA Congress experience, and almost 75% claimed that Twitter helped them to increase their interaction with other members.
7,180 Tweets with hashtag #ICCAWorld were sent in the 3 weeks before, during and the 1.5 weeks after the Congress (13 October – 14 November), The #ICCAWorld hashtag reached almost 2,5 million unique users and had almost 15 million impacts*.
There were 887 delegates at the Congress. On 6 November, one day after the Congress, there were 963 unique #ICCAWorld contributors. In the 1.5 weeks after the Congress this number quickly climbed towards 1,500. 1,329 of the 1,611 Tweets in the week and a half after the Congress were retweets.
“These numbers are great, but obviously it is not about the quantity”, ICCA’s Communication Strategist Mathijs Vleeming said. “It's great to see that our post-congress survey showed that so many members thought being active on Twitter really helped them to increase the value of their ICCA Congress experience and to increase the interaction and connectivity with other members, before, during and after the event.”
Hashtags with a purpose
ICCA created and communicated “hashtags with a purpose”. Mathijs Vleeming: “Just communicating your event hashtag is not enough. We spelled out what we wanted delegates to do with the hashtags and how to make the most of the online conversation.”
ICCA specifically asked delegates to share the hottest content and key takeaways of education sessions with the ICCA community, using hashtag #ICCAWorld. Mathijs Vleeming: “Why take notes on a piece of paper if you can share them and allow the world to see? Have a look at the Storify with key takeaways from #ICCAWorld Congress participants: https://storify.com/iccaworld/take-aways-from-the-53rd-iccaworld-congres-in-anta. They read as shared notes from the ICCA Congress education sessions. How useful is that?!”
The large amount of #ICCAWorld retweets (62%) indicates that the content shared with this hashtag is perceived as being valuable.
ICCA used its community hashtag #ICCAWorld as the event hashtag, to encourage their members to take the value of the offline ICCA member network to social media and use it throughout the year. “Besides, everybody knows it is 2014, right?”, Mathijs adds.
The critical window of opportunity on social media for events is not only during the event itself, but also in the 2-3 weeks in the run-up to the event. In order for social media followers and friends to see that they are going to the ICCA Congress and what they are missing out on, ICCA asked delegates to share images, tips and advice on their journey to- and preparations for the #ICCAWorld Congress in Antalya. There were 753 tweets which include #RoadtoAntalya (See the Storify on #RoadtoAntalya).
Gerrit Heijkoop, who was supporting the social media strategy on a consultancy basis, said: “It was great to see that the #RoadtoAntalya hashtag worked so well and I think it can be copied by other event planners and conferences. We know event delegates are preparing for an event in the weeks before it takes place. They are reading the proramme, they are packing, and they are waiting in airports: That is the moment you are getting into the mood for the event, and we were leveraging that with the hashtag #RoadtoAntalya.”
Tremendous Twitter traffic
Mathijs Vleeming wrote a blog post “15 Reasons ICCA had tremendous Twitter traffic at the 2014 Congress” on MeetingsPR.com to share ICCA’s case study with other meeting planners, in which he asks if ICCA did just get lucky as the meetings industry is increasingly using social media, or that ICCA hit the right spot with its social media strategy.
Gerrit Heijkoop, who is involved in many other major meetings industry events and tradeshows, said: “On average I see 10-20% of delegates at a conference or tradeshow being active on Twitter. I was overwhelmed by the number we saw at this year’s ICCA Congress!”
ICCA Congress speaker and social media expert Michael Heipel wrote a blog post on it after returning from the Congress: “I find it fascinating to see how social channels were used by the ICCA Congress audience to network, exchange ideas and propel the key findings that they consider interesting. It is definitely key to a good engagement level to educate and brief the delegates about the social strategy, so that everyone is on the same page. ICCA provided a clear overview of the social activities and how to make the most of joining in the discussion.”
“After my own session, I found more than 50 @Mentions in my Twitter stream, commenting on the session, plus a lot more reactions without my own Twitter handle. Wow!”