Recently, the following question was posted on a LinkedIn group:
What are your top tips for persuading a client who is completely against the use of social media for their event?
As event planners who are highly engaged on social media, it's easy to forget that there are many areas where social media has not made much of an inroad. This is particularly evident among many senior management teams. It isn't always easy to win support to use social media for corporate events and meetings, but it can be done.
Here are 12 tips for encouraging clients to embrace social media.
- Ensure that you are really clear about the goals and objectives for the meeting or corporate event.
There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" approach to social media.
- Don't be blindsided.
If you assume clients will react enthusiastically to your suggestions for social media use, you'll be ill-prepared if there is resistance.
- Prepare a list of customized benefits that are directly relevant to the specific industry/sector, organization and event type.
- Benchmark. Gather information about how social media was effectively used for similar events.
Information about competitors or industry leaders in a particular vertical can be really powerful.
- Collect information about current social media use in the organization.
This can easily be accomplished by adding questions to participant profiles to identify who is using social media.
- Present a number of plans so that an approach can be selected within the comfort zone of the client.
When I was trained as a professional counselor, tuning-in was a concept that was emphasized. It means listen and tune-in to be sure you understand where the client is coming from.
If the client expresses concerns, it's extremely important to do more listening than talking. Be sure you get a clear picture of the areas of concerns and address them using the data you have compiled.
- Be prepared to take baby steps.
Staying with is another important concept from the counseling professions. it means move at the client's pace.
While it's easy for event planners who are active on social media to be chomping at the bit to introduce it to clients, small steps at a pace within the client's zone of comfort are the way to go. Pushing clients to move more quickly than they are ready to move can backfire.
- Provide training and coaching.
- Consider reverse mentoring to help executives become more comfortable with social media.
Coaching and support can be provided by employees that are already engaged on social media including younger members of the team.
- Make it fun through gamification.
For some groups, a board game (e.g. Social Media Monopoly), card game, contest, scavenger hunt, or other upbeat, interactive approach would help boost comfort with social media.
- Track, measure and document results.
Photo Credit: esther vargas