Following the success of Jacqui’s recent guest blog for Merlin Events, one of their fantastic Events Managers, Emma Greenfield has kindly taken the time to return the favour. Working for one some of the most famous venues in the world, Emma knows a thing or two about events, and the social media that work for them. She tells us how she started with Merlin Events, and how important their social media Channels are to the Company.
How did you get into the Events Industry?
When I was in school and college I worked part time in a hotel in West Sussex ‘South Lodge Hotel’, it is a beautiful historic building located in the stunning Sussex country side. I was a conference and banqueting waitress, but I worked on some fantastic events including car launches, lavish weddings and Bar Mitzvahs as well as many corporate dinners. I was talking to an event planner one night and decided that was what I wanted to do! I studied Events Management at Bournemouth University and was lucky enough to get a placement year with Merlin Events back in 2008 which gave me 6 months experience in sales and 6 months experience in operations. It’s a fantastic programme for students looking to get into the industry. I then returned to the company in January 2011 and haven’t looked back since.
How do Merlin events utilise social media sites such as Pinterest / twitter / facebook / linked in / you tube?
We use all the above and more, but it’s taken us a few years to develop a successful strategy and I think most people fall down on using the same channels for the same content. We now try to develop 360 degree campaigns that will deliver different content across the channels to different audiences. We use pintrest to develop great theme boards which inspire our clients, check out one of our latest boards ‘Bem Brazil’ which is going to be a popular theme with the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. Our You Tube channel now has videos which have over 75,000 views and we have recently started using Vimeo as it has strong visibility on search engines.
Which do you enjoy using the most? And which do you find most effective?
We love all of them for different reasons but we do love the spontaneity of twitter! After our launch of the London Dungeons this year we had some guests tweeting great pictures of their experience. That is the beauty of social media, consumers can amplify your brand instantly!
Do you find that you get different client enquiries via different social media?
Yes however Linked In is a wonderful tool for finding event buyers, I think everyone writes this channel off for ‘job searching’. We have found some fantastic potential clients on Linked In and often use this channel to invite them to VIP experiences, connect with our Head of Events Michael Aldridge and we might just invite you too! We often receive enquiries on here as we get our clients to recommend our products on our company page.
Do you find that different social media work better for certain venues than others?
Not necessarily, but I do think certain social media channels work better for certain content or certain types of events. We do not use Facebook to reach event buyers, instead we use ‘Facebook photographers’ on events that upload the guest photo’s to our company page which means if a guest has been to an event at Madame Tussauds they can now download their picture of them and George Clooney from the page or make it their profile picture. Their friends will then see they have been to an event at Madame Tussauds and might mention it to a colleague as an idea for a Christmas party. A simple way of reaching our audience.
Do you think Merlin Events’ presence on social media has had an effect on enquiries/bookings at the venues?
It keeps us at the forefront of people’s minds, on twitter a lot of our followers are party planners or agents, if they can see we are developing fun campaigns, competitions and pop up events then we are seen as current and innovative which of course makes people want to work with us!
How do you think the use of social media has affected the Events Industry as a whole?
Unfortunately the event industry is very behind the rest of the world. I sat in a venue meeting 2 years ago with 78 venue representatives, we were asked who uses social media and 6 people put their hands up. My chin dropped to the floor! Everyone is catching up now but I do think people need to think about HOW they use social media and what audiences they are targeting. You might have 5000 followers on twitter but are they the right people? You want social media followers to be your brand ambassadors who will shout about your product so more people find out about it.
The best users in the industry are those who organise pop up events and commercial events, I recently found out about the world’s first 5k yoga run which I would have had no idea about unless I saw it on a Facebook advert. Giving your social media followers exclusive content gives them more reason to follow you. I was at Glastonbury festival this year where festival goers will sometimes get a surprise act arrive on the smallest stage mid-afternoon, however within 20 minutes it’s heaving because someone has tweeted that instant news!