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Social Media Helps Members #SeizeDesMoines

By Kyle Oppenhuizen

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Social media can be a game-changer in your chamber’s events. In recent years, Greater Des Moines has experienced a surge of community pride, and has in fact been named the “#1 Metro with the Most Community Pride” by Gallup. The Greater Des Moines Partnership has cultivated and capitalized on this pride through engaging its audience on social media.

In the Communications and Technology video, part of ACCE’s “Chambers 2025” series, President Mick Fleming refers to research that shows “delivery is tech, but value is touch.” That research has been used as a guiding principal in The Partnership’s social media strategy. Greater Des Moines Partnership events have experienced tremendous success using social media to engage audiences leading up to, during and after events. Allocating $5,000 to social media marketing communications efforts, The Partnership has received an outstanding return on investment, which includes increased event attendance, buzz, attendee engagement and post-event engagement (which helps to promote the next year’s event). The investment in social media also provides The Partnership with the opportunity to share the Greater Des Moines story with the nation and world.

“The key is to be memorable with your social media presence,” says Tiffany Tauscheck, chief communications officer at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “To us, that means asking, ‘What can we do that hasn’t been done before? What can we do that nobody will be expecting? And how do we add a human element to make it personal?’”

Let’s look at a few key elements to The Partnership’s social media success.

Have a Hashtag
The Partnership’s #SeizeDesMoines hashtag has helped it develop a regional calling card. Members and residents have adopted it, and the organization has been able to use it to make a splash nationally during events.

Engage the Audience
The Partnership has successfully engaged investors, members and other stakeholders, but it has also engaged audiences on a national and international scale using social media at its Annual Dinner. In 2015, its social media strategy around #SeizeDesMoines led it to trend nationally on Twitter and The Partnership was determined to do so again in 2016.

To be successful would require doing something unique to generate excitement in a big way and to ensure audience engagement throughout the event.

First, The Partnership announced its goal to the community through the media. This was an important step in gaining community buy-in before the event. The Partnership also has a group of 200 Share Des Moines Ambassadors which help spread significant regional news on social media. This group was called to action to use #SeizeDesMoines whether or not they were attending the event.

During the Annual Dinner, which attracted more than 1,000 business, civic and community leaders, The Partnership made a consistent push to remind people to use the hashtag. Speakers asked attendees a series of poll questions regarding their favorite things about the region, and encouraged them to answer via Twitter using #SeizeDesMoines. CEO Jay Byers tweeted a question from the podium to kick off the event. Throughout the evening, a series of video questionnaires from local news anchors prompted attendees to tweet their answer.

The result? #SeizeDesMoines again trended nationally on Twitter with 4.5 million impressions and nearly 1,300 individual posts. In doing so, The Partnership was able to capitalize on its biggest event by captivating an audience of influencers. The takeaway lesson: Prepare, prepare, prepare! Strategically determine how social media fits into the run of show. Have a list of speaker and sponsor handles ready to go. Preload content such as text, links, stats, photos and videos. Preparation is the key to success.

Target the Right Audience
If you are willing to put just a little bit of money toward paid social media advertisements or boosted posts, you can specifically target your audience by location, gender and interests. The Partnership was successful in this in its promotion of the Global Insurance Symposium, a global event for insurance industry leaders and regulators.

In the months leading up to the Global Insurance Symposium, The Greater Des Moines Partnership used Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to target potentially-interested individuals located in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska. In studying the analytics, The Partnership’s marketing and communications team was able to adjust mid-campaign to hone in on Iowa and Illinois, and remove LinkedIn due to low advertising performances and a high cost per click. They were able to register 30 people for the event specifically through this method, which contributed to a 37 percent increase in year-over-year attendance.

Be Visual
Let us paint you a picture of the power of visuals: According to research conducted by AdWeek, 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. People remember only 20 percent of what they read and 40 percent of what they see. On average, videos are shared 12 times more than link and text posts combined on social media.

The list goes on, but the bottom line is: Use photos and videos on social media. The Partnership rarely posts to social media without including a visual element. In fact, the organization hired a full-time digital media specialist in 2016 to help the organization better tell its story via photography and videography. Post-event photo galleries and videos are standard practice.

Listen and Respond
The Iowa Caucuses in February brought thousands of journalists from across the world to Greater Des Moines. The Partnership’s communications and marketing team used this opportunity to showcase the region and make sure all of its visitors had a great experience. In addition to a general social media presence, Partnership team members were also monitoring reporters for their questions and comments about Des Moines and Iowa. When one reporter made the comment that all she knew about Iowa was the Caucuses, the team was able to let her know via social media that Des Moines is the “#1 City for Young Professionals.” When another reporter asked where he could get his laundry done and folded in a couple of hours, The Partnership was able to give him some options. All of this happened in a public platform, allowing The Partnership to both help people and build brand equity.

The results were 11.4 million #SeizeDesMoines impressions in January 2016, 10,430 media mentions in the months leading to the Caucuses and hundreds of national story placements including positive feature stories in Politico and The New York Times.

Think Outside the Box
Whatever methods you use to promote or build engagement around your events, identify when it makes sense to go big. In all of the instances mentioned here, The Partnership was able to capitalize on big events to build brand equity and share its region’s story with the world.

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