Show or tell?

VenuesQEII Centre
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Roopi Woodall, marketing manager at the QEII Centre, asks if the art of conversation on social media is dead – and how to engage with audiences if that’s the case.

 

I’m putting together QEII’s content marketing strategy for next year. Doing a little audit of QEII’s social channels and it got me thinking about Twitter. Specifically, is it time to ditch it?

 

I’ve spoken to many of my venue industry colleagues and we all share the opinion that Twitter is on the way out. But why? The general consensus seems to be that we are just not engaging with our audiences.

 

Gone are the days of the extensive likes and retweets, now getting any level of engagement is much tougher than it used to be. So, what’s gone wrong? Why aren’t our followers engaging with us? Why don’t they seem to care about the launch of our new menus or pictures of our cool events?

 

I often feel that, as B2B venues, we are shouting into the void, desperately trying to share and having very little traction with content that previously generated interest. We’re talking, but nobody is listening – why is that, when we’re saying exactly what we used to say?

 

On the other hand, my personal account is steadily gaining followers and my Klout score is doing very well thank you, so what’s the difference?

 

In a nutshell, we’ve stopped listening. Twitter is a two-way street. People don’t listen to you if you don’t actively listen to them. We’ve gone from having conversations with our followers to just shouting at them. ‘Read this blog!’, ‘Look at this picture!’, ‘Check my content!’.

 

We have become the social media equivalent of that irritating friend that everyone has had at one point or another, who waits for a gap in the conversation so that they can talk about themselves, again.

 

Ultimately, social is about relationships, and relationships need nurturing. This is easier to do as the marketing manager of a venue, but much harder as a venue voice.

 

Who is following us?

 

Using a nifty analytics tool, I’ve identified that it is mostly suppliers and other venues, as well as event Twitter accounts that are only really operational in the run-up to and few weeks post-event. In short, not the audience of event planners that QEII really wants to engage with.

 

What do I even mean by engagement?

 

Engagement isn’t complicated – all I want is to get a genuine emotional reaction from our target audience, I want them to hit ‘like’ and I want them to comment on our posts. Even more than that, I want them to do this on their own time, not because it’s an obligation of their jobs.

 

What’s my message?

 

Since the QEII Centre re-branded in 2014, the message has fundamentally been about changing perceptions. What I have found is that we can talk (figuratively) about the changes until we’re blue in the face, but event planners won’t believe it until they see it or experience it.

 

Where am I going with this?

 

All of this leads me to the benefits of showing rather than telling; we’ve had to find other ways of telling our story. Over the past two years, QEII’s large showcase events (such as the award-winning ‘Outside the Box’, just a casual mention) have been at the core of our marketing strategy. We have actively moved towards inviting clients and event planners to experience our changes for themselves, to show that we are more than a traditional conference venue by putting on our own creative events in our spaces. I want our audiences to experience the core message, and if they can’t do that then to be able to see it and interact with it in a simpler way.

 

It has become increasingly clear to me that the most useful channels for our business are visual. Yes, we have a blog, LinkedIn, and Twitter, which all have their place, but analytics would suggest that our most personal and genuine interactions are via Instagram. Most users still access Instagram on their phones and a quick look at our best times for engagement shows that our followers scroll through their IG feed outside of work hours. Bingo.

 

A picture telling a clear story invites the double-tap like or the comment that we really want. The showcase event images have provided a wealth of juicy content for our Instagram feed and enabled us to grow followers who have a genuine passion for the content that we are posting.

 

Incidentally, our Instagram audience is mostly made of our target groups, unlike our Twitter audience.

 

At QEII, we believe so strongly in the benefits of telling a visual story that we’ve integrated an Instagram feed into our new website and we have even replaced the running Twitter feed on the video wall in our foyer to an Instagram feed. According to scientists, the average attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds since the advent of smartphones. We have even less time to tell a story than we did before, so let’s say it with pictures.

Nicola Macdonald
Posted by Nicola Macdonald
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