If you have been paying attention to the latest trend predictions, it will be no surprise to learn (again) that influencer marketing is set to explode in the event industry during 2018. You will have read the statistics and the facts about how traditional advertising is decreasing in its effectiveness, how brands are looking for new ways to reach their target audiences and how 81% of consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by social media posts (Word of MICE). But who are the influencers within the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events (MICE) industry, what do they do, how can you identify them and how can they help you?
For several years, Eventopedia have been gamifying the growing influencer movement in the event industry, by publishing a weekly leader board of the top 250 event planners on social media. What's so special about a leader board? This leader board is a great tool for identifying influencers, those who are dedicated and passionate about the industry in which they work, those that share their knowledge with others, those who offer inspiration and best of all those that cheerlead and support, not just each other but those in their wider network. They are more than just names on a leader board, they are real personalities that people engage with on a personal and professional level. They strive to add value to their networks and develop engaged communities.
Back left to right: Jaroslaw Marciuk, Alan Newton, Kim Goetze, Jomile Nakutaviciute, Robert Dunsmore
Front left to right: Amanda Thurlow, Caleb Parker, Sandeep Rai, Matt Riley
On 15 November 2017 a selection of the top UK MICE influencers, from the Eventopedia leader board, got together at Work Bold in London. This small group, on the day, had a combined following, on Twitter alone, of over 15,000 followers, from across the event industry. From the mobile phone in their pocket, they have instant access to audiences on multiple platforms, audiences that marketers from event agencies, event venues, suppliers and others are also trying to connect with.
The aim of the meeting was to unite the UK based digital community face to face and discuss how the exploding influencer trend would shape up in 2018. Identified influencers have a responsibility to their networks. If influencer marketing is to take force in the event industry, part of that responsibility is to help shape the way it happens and to ensure, that even when working with brands, the authentic relationship with the #eventprofs community is maintained.
General consensus amongst those at the meeting was that there is currently a lack of awareness of influencers and the power of social media within the event industry. The power of digital influencers can be seen in other industries but is yet to develop fully in the event industry. Sandeep Rai used one example within the food industry. The popularity of street food in recent years has increased exponentially, the rise driven predominantly by food bloggers. Travel patterns have also changed, with travellers demanding more interesting holiday experiences. Hashtags like #foodporn and #wanderlust have opened up a whole sense of FOMO. Bloggers and influencers have changed the culinary and travel behaviours in society (particularly millennials) through the lens of their camera phone. This is the power of digital influence.
Photo credit Jaroslaw Marciuk
How then is this influence applied to the event industry? As an example, sales professionals up and down the country work hard every day trying to convince event professionals that their venue offers the perfect place to host their event. They can offer the technical knowledge that event planners need to make decisions. However, influencers share their experience of a venue or product. They generate creative content through a variety of mediums, video, blog, social media posts etc to raise awareness or foster interest in the activities they undertake.
Some debate at the round table took place around whether influencer marketing is PR or marketing. PR is about managing reputation and marketing is about selling, so where does influencer marketing fit? Influencer marketing is not about broadcasting it is about story telling. Influencers are part of the community that they engage with, and therefore can act as a bridge between brands and the industry. They offer perspective through the eyes of their network. In short influencer marketing is a combination of PR and marketing.
MICE influencers are not just great advocates of the event industry but are also committed to improving it. They want to elevate the profile of the event industry and are often keen to be involved or even leading conversations that are effecting the industry. Examples include the EventWell campaign, lead by Helen Moon, championing a proactive approach to wellbing in the work place or the weekly #EventPlannersTalk twitter chats, hosted by The MICE Blog that encourage a variety of topical discussions. The Future in 15 show produced by Caleb Parker shares innovation within the event industry and encourages event planners to think differently. As influencers, these faces of the industry highlight issues and motivate their network into discussing them.
Left to right Jomile Nakutaviciute, Jaroslaw Marciuk, Caleb Parker, Robert Dunsmore, Alan Newton, Kim Goetze, Matt Riley
The #eventprofs influencers round table was just the start of many conversations. After a morning of discussion, those attending went away buzzing with ideas. There will be future meetings and initiatives so watch this space. If you are an influencer and are interested in joining the next roundtable or if you are a venue or supplier interested in finding out more about MICE Influencers then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
To see how organisations within the event industry have already been working with MICE influencers please visit the press and media section of www.amandathurlow.com