Is social media based registration the future?

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Social media is clearly the future. Anyone that doubts this doesn’t have teenage children or needs to borrow some for a couple of hours. How can I say that? I was lucky enough to listen to Mark Stevenson (www.markstevenson.org) at last November’s ESSA G50+ Conference at Milton Keynes. One of the things that really hit home was that, as a business owner, was that I am employing a generation of people, much removed from my own, and I don’t know or understand how they communicate. Shortly after that I watched my school age daughter sit in my lounge with three friends. How were they communicating? Via iPad and, no, my lounge isn’t nearly that big. ‘Ah but that generation isn’t in business yet.’ I hear you say. No but they will be soon. I was also reminded of my sister-in-law who, whilst she won’t admit it, is closer to 50 than 40 and she lives on Facebook. Even an old dinosaur like me is now succumbing to the wiles of LinkedIn.So what is social media based registration? What it is not is a way to use your Facebook details or LinkedIn account to populate a registration form with some contact details. Pre-populated registration forms and even browser auto-fills do a far better and quicker job. Having a ‘use your LinkedIn account to register’ module on your online registration form without any other functionality is a bit like having Twitter and Facebook links but no-one in your organisation to deliver your Tweets and look after communication – pointless. Social media-based registration is actually a really powerful marketing tool and when event budgets are set, that’s where the cost should sit because that’s where the benefit is. Your social media registration should, apart from the obvious population of the registration form, do the following:1. Alert friends and business associates of the intention to attend via Social Posting2. Invite their friends and business associates via Social Emails3. Look at who is attending the event and network with them4. Arrange meetings at the event with other potential attendees ‘meet me at the bar’You want to be able to get all event participants to promote your event or, more simply, take part in advocate marketing. One such provider of the above is InGo. InGo (www.ingo.me) is an American company that offers, in my opinion, a better solution in that the social media tools are seamlessly integrated into the customer’s existing registration process. While other companies have their merits, we prefer the InGo approach and product. Working with an American company could have caused issues but we found InGo to be remarkably easy to work with and the technical side of the integration process far easier than anyone had expected. A real bonus has been the launch of InGo Europe covering the UK, Germany and Italy with InGo now available both in a sales and technical support environment here in the UK. The proof of the decision was to get an event live with an Interchange/InGo solution which didn’t take long. InGo had already been approached, on industry recommendation, by Grace Turner of Future Publishing about The Photography Show, 21–24 March 2015 at the NEC. The event is a mix of trade and consumer and an ideal showcase. InGo has had remarkable success in the US and has numerous examples of double-digit attendance growth. “We’ve had great success with InGo for ICFF. Through the use of this application we captured an 18.7 per cent increase in registrants,” said Joanne Wheatley, vice president of marketing services at Emerald Expositions. “ICFF utilised every opportunity available through InGo: they marketed aggressively and their social engagement was exceptional.”Will the Photography Show do the same? Is social media based registration the future? Absolutely it is. I am looking forward to working with Grace and her colleagues at Future to produce the evidence to show this and the success of our first venture in partnership with InGo. I am also really excited to have two more UK organisers signed up with events running in June with registration going live any day now and ongoing negotiations with a number of other prominent UK organisers. Watch this space!   This article was first published in the May issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
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