In marketing the real and only king is content!

The battle for attention becoming more difficult. People are turning their back to advertising and traditional PR. They are much more interested in what their peers think of a product or service, they do research online, visit the reviews sites. And they are using social media for that. They want to engage and interact with organisations trying to sell them products or services.

Actually, any person or organization can now act as a media company and create awareness, inform and entertain people. Think of YouTube Channels. Or Twitter as customer service channel (best example here is KLM who has moved most of its passenger service to Twitter). And from a “PR 2.0″ perspective: clipping and editing relevant news from social media networks, creating ‘social media news releases’, maintaining ‘social media newsrooms’ and sending this out to multiple online channels and social media networks to reach your target audience.

Rather than buying advertising time and space, organisations should look at ways to source, create and publish engaging, relevant and inspiring content to the social Web. Not only does this add to building awareness, increasing trust in you and your products and services, it is also much more cost-effective and through the viral affect of social media can reach and engage the audience much better than traditional advertising and PR. Bloggers now how powerful maintaining a blog can be. Bloggers also know they cannot be successful if they use blogs, tweets and messages only to beat their chests. Like the traditional marketeers and advertisers are still doing. This also goes for organisations working in MICE, tourism and destination marketing. And we can help with setting this up and more.

Another difference is that marketeers should not be thinking only in ‘campaigns’ anymore. As a matter of fact the notion of a ‘social media campaign’ is in fact a contradiction in terms. And if you look closer most social media campaigns are advertising campaigns in disguise. And people do not like that (see above in this post). Engaging people with social media and creating engaging content is an on-going process and not just a one-off of short-term promotional activity. We will have to re-educate our organisation!

So in new marketing content has finally become king. Long live the king!

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Of angry birds and social mice…

At the end of last year we exhibited at one of the biggest trade shows of Amsterdam, IBC 2011. IBC focuses on the broadcasting industry (TV, radio). We exhibited a giant iPad: a 55 inch touchscreen with Angry Birds on it. People loved playing it and tweeted about our stand! With the immediate effect that more people visited us during the trade show. Unfortunately the organization had messed up the hashtags for Twitter (#IBC, #IBC12, #IBC2012) weakening the viral effects of Twitter for this event. What I saw there I believe is a great example of what is happening in our industry. It is wakening up to web 2.0 and social media but not yet using it strategically, based on goals and planning.

It has taken some more time compared to other industries, but finally the meeting industry, event organisers and exhibitions and destination marketing organizations are catching up and turning to social and other new media. The year 2011 will be remembered as the year when a lot of things changed in MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions). First we had the credit crisis and on top of that the advent of social media has been dramatically changing the ways in which we communicate and how we are doing business. Sharing knowledge in online social networks has become the norm. We look for information from our peers and base our decisions on reviews in sites like TripAdvisor. Every day in LinkedIn discussions about MICE, tourism, social media marketing are started in groups. Facebook has become a popular channel for destinations and Twitter is the place to be for the latest news and more! We are already seeing new meeting concepts being developed in which offline and online concepts are combined.

Exhibition and conference organizers, location owners and destination marketers are looking at new ways to deal with this new situation. I meet many people who are afraid that the meeting and event industry and destination marketing as we knew it before 2009 will return again. They still insist on calling web 2.0 and social media a hype and argue that MICE is a business which can only be done face-to-face. The fact is however that the organizations combining face-to-face with a strong presence in social media on the Web will come out strongest. And we are happy to help you all become ‘social MICE’!

I would like to hear what your views are on what is happening in our industry and whether you are also moving to new ways of interacting with your customers.