Social media is everywhere. It is part of your personal life, it is in the office and in your pocket, redefining how people communicate and do business. In today’s business reality social media is not a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn – it is advertising, customer care, reputation management, community outreach and a way for people to get to know you and your brand. With ExpoRooms focusing on business events, we decided to look into how event organizers and fairgrounds are behaving in the post social media era.
Is social media something event organizers consider? Has the social media craze reached its peak in the sector? How many events have Facebook and/or Twitter accounts? It took us well over a month and the effort of 4 people to manually gather approximate numbers and try to answer the questions above. Our research is based on a sample of 2,650 European trade fairs, conferences and exhibitions, taking place in Europe between 2014 and 2018.
Social networks in focus: Facebook and Twitter
Other social networks: Not included in the survey are Instagram, LinkedIn, Xing, YouTube and VK. Events and event organizers with stable social presence tend to have those social channels in their mix, however it is far from being a rule of thumb. Instagram, with its implied simplicity and devotion to #hashtags is a whole different beast and deserves a research of its own. It is a platform definitely on the rise and with paid advertising being an option since September 2015 it will definitely change the landscape in the year to come.
Notes: It is not rare to see profiles created for one edition of the event. After the event is due, social profiles are more often than not closed down or become stale. These events rarely have more than one year of social presence. Many discontinued or canceled events too don’t bother to remove their social profiles. The former applies to events changing their name – a new profile with no reference to the old one is created, starting from zero each time.
55% have a Facebook profile
Facebook is definitely the network with the strongest presence, however a considerable portion of the pages look abandoned and/or only active during the event dates. Many of the organizers, especially the German ones, prefer to register their fairs using the event option of Facebook. These events are opened around the time event registration starts, it goes up in popularity before the event and after its end the page moves in past events section, or in other words – Facebook’s events dumpster. For the next edition a new event is created on the page of the organizer and so on.
33% have a Twitter profile
Despite fewer, event organizers with Twitter accounts seem to be much more active. Follow, unfollow, tweet, retweet, favorite – there are so many TO DOs and account holders keep themselves busy. We noticed it is hard for event organizers and fairgrounds to come up with interesting content most of the time. During events activity peaks only to plummet the day after.
29% have both Twitter and Facebook
Nearly 2/3 of all fairs in the data sample have ignored social media for the most part. Only ¼ (26%) are on Facebook only. There are some fairs that took an entirely different approach and went with Twitter as their social network of choice. In other words, 4% have only a profile on Twitter. Almost all events having Twitter also have Facebook and nearly half of the events having Facebook do not have Twitter.
39% do not have Twitter neither Facebook profiles
It seems social profiles come with the territory. Agriculture, Building and Construction, Military, Manufacturing, Metallurgy are the ones likely to not have any social profile whatsoever. On the flip side IT, fashion, the automotive industry, services, travel and leisure thrive on social media.
Social media seems to serve fairs best when they take place, facilitating communication between exhibitors and attendees. Hashtags do more for exhibitions, conferences, and business events in general, more than their social profiles. People tend to use the most common name of the event they attend to network.
Event organizers can benefit from riding the #hashtag wave, interacting with their audience, prolonging the contact and strengthening the connection along the way. A major takeaway from our research is – Build your social media presence and be consistent. Be there for your audience year round, not only during the fair. Know where people are (hashtags … cough, cough) and don’t start over next year.