The International Association of Amusement Parks Association (IAAPA) has long impressed us with their numerous innovative audience engagement programs. We found their Twitter-based campaign during the space allocation at IAE 2014 especially exciting because of its success in engaging a large number of members. As seasoned social campaigners well know, creating an enthusiastic group of engaged followers on Twitter, and that too organically, is no mean achievement!
After the 2014 annual event, we reached out to IAAPA’s team and requested them to share their strategy and experience with our audience.
We are excited to share the excellent insights into IAAPA’s live tweeting campaign that their communications team members shared with us via email.
a2z: Could you please tell us a little about IAAPA’s live tweeting campaign for your space allocation program? What did your team look to achieve with this campaign?
IAAPA: A goal year-to-year is to use the Twitter campaign to inform exhibitors of the progress of the meeting and status of the trade show floor with real-time updates on square footage, number of exhibitors placed, etc. This allows companies to know when they can expect to be placed and have an understanding of the booth space available on the floor.
We also had a goal this year to increase member engagement and to build buzz around IAAPA Attractions Expo. We thought the increased attention might entice additional companies to exhibit and create early interest among potential attendees.
a2z: What is the most unique thing about this initiative?
IAAPA: One of the unique aspects of our campaign is the role exhibitors play in its success. We did our best to include Twitter handles in messages mentioning companies and found that many exhibitors retweeted, favorited, or replied to the tweets. Each time they engaged IAAPA in that way, they inserted the association and our trade show, IAAPA Attractions Expo 2015, into the timeline of the users they influence, increasing IAAPA’s exposure.
— Sally Corporation (@SallyCorp) January 14, 2015
a2z: How have your space allocation program and the social campaign evolved together over the years?
IAAPA: The biggest change we’ve seen with the campaign and Space Allocation meeting over time is how we get real-time information to exhibitors. The conventions team uses traditional means like email and telephone to communicate directly with companies when they are placed on the floor, but in 2008, we began to use our blog to report in real-time to all exhibiting companies the progress of the Space Allocation meeting. We continued to live-blog the meeting until 2012 when we switched to Twitter, which has enabled more opportunity for exhibitor engagement and event promotion through shared content. We also noticed that more tweeters other than the exhibiting companies were following the live tweets during those two days and as a result, we have added messages to promote IAAPA membership and additional IAAPA events and opportunities.
a2z: Can you give us some insight into the effort involved, and the resources your team leverages to run it successfully?
IAAPA: First we establish our goals and from there we develop the strategy and tactics to achieve them. The tactics involve a lot of the prep work which is key to success. For example, we compile a list of exhibitor Twitter handles to have with us, which makes it easier to engage the companies in the moment. Understanding the association’s high visibility during Space Allocation, we develop a list of prewritten tweets to also promote membership benefits, educational opportunities, and other IAAPA events around the world. We also established an event hashtag, promoted it to our members, and informed them in advance how to follow along or join the conversation. On-site we dedicate an IAAPA communications team member to tweet the updates and information.
a2z: How do you define/measure the success of this campaign?
IAAPA: In terms of numbers, we measure how many followers we gained and the overall engagement, retweets, mentions, etc., during the two days. This year, we experienced more retweets, mentions, and favorites the two days of the meeting, than any other day that month. In fact, those two days accounted for more than 30 percent of our Twitter engagement for the month of April. However, while numbers are important, this effort is also a member service so we monitor feedback and comments to ensure the effort provides value to our members.
a2z: What advice would you give to your peers from the trade show industry who could benefit from a similar program?
IAAPA: The key to our success is setting clear goals for the campaign and dedicating time to strategize, plan, and prep. Remember, social media is not one-size fits all. There are a lot of great ways to use social media, but they may not all be right for your company or your campaign. Take the extra time in advance to ensure your goals are clearly defined and that they relate back to your overall business strategy. Then, take the time you need to prepare and develop a plan. And have fun with it!
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