How Catersource Uses Event Marketing

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This week in Intro to Multimedia Communications we discussed event marketing. So, for this week’s post I’m going to review how Catersource trade show promoted their event via social media. Please note that this post is for educational purposes only.

Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow is an annual trade show for catering and events professionals to “come together to learn new ideas and insights and spend time networking” that takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada for four days. This year’s took place between March 8, 2015 and March 11, 2015.

Catersource has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. In addition, Catersource has a Forum, where caterers are encouraged to network, share ideas, and ask questions.

Leading up to this year’s trade show (3 months prior until the week of) Catersource solely used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote the event. The last posts on YouTube and Pinterest were about four months prior to the event, and Google+ posts exclusively consisted of Catersource’s YouTube uploads. It is important to note that much further than four months prior to the event Catersource was not very active on social media, posting infrequently on all platforms.

Catersource primarily used Facebook and Twitter to promote registering to the event, while Instagram was used more so during the event (there were no Instagram posts between December 23 and March 4). On Facebook and Twitter, Catersource shared links for purchasing event tickets, made announcements, shared recipes from chefs attending the event, gave away prizes (and announced winners), highlighted particular speakers and events, shared blog posts, released digital versions of Catersource Magazine, and posted their monthly newsletter. Some examples of their posts prior to the event are below.

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In addition to promoting registering for the trade show on social media, Catersource promoted it in their digital and print magazines. They may have promoted it in other ways (possibly on the radio, in third party magazines and newspapers, digital ads, etc), but I did not find evidence of this online.

During the event Catersource posted eight times on Facebook. Posts included that day’s upcoming events, photo albums from the previous day’s events, and a reminder to download their event mobile app. Catersource tweeted 110 times during the event; 12 of these were retweets. Along with sharing Instagram photos on Twitter, they tweeted about award winners, upcoming events, the mobile app, and event announcements. Finally on Instagram, they posted 40 pictures and videos of food, event decor, chefs, award winners, performers and speakers. On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Catersource used the hashtag #CSES2015, which encouraged other users to do the same. The brand messaging remained consistent on all platforms. The same logo and cover photo was used across all platforms.

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As of March 14, no post-event posts have been shared. Looking at last year’s post-event posts, though, it seems they will post a highlight video on YouTube (and Google+), post event photos on Facebook and Pinterest, and post thank you’s on Twitter.

It’s clear Catersource boosted a few Facebook posts (see the Register Today post above, for example), as most of their pre-event Facebook posts receive about 3-5 likes and 0-2 shares. Their engagement during the event, though, seems to have heightened organically. They received 8-46 likes and 0-19 shares. Tagging people in event photos helped this effort. During the event their tweets received 0-6 retweets and 0-13 favorites. During the event on Instagram, they received 5-57 likes. From this data, I think Facebook is the most engaging. Although on average Instagram received more likes, it is much easier to scroll through and double tap images than it is to like, comment or share Facebook posts.

During the event, Catersource only mentioned a few of their sponsors on Twitter and Instagram. Two tweets and one Instagram post thanked sponsors without naming any in particular. All three Instagram posts that mentioned sponsors were also tweeted. Six tweets total mentioned sponsors. No sponsors were mentioned or thanked on Facebook. Below are the three Instagram posts, which were also tweeted, as well as two of the tweets.

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In conclusion, I think Catersource did a great job of using social media during the event and I think they used the channels appropriately, using Twitter the most to make announcements. I also liked their use of the event hashtag #CSES2015 across all platforms used. I would have liked to see more retweets from event attendees on Twitter, though. This would have increased the number of tweets from Catersource and would have influenced others to use the hashtag as well.

I think they could improve upon their social media presence outside the context of the event. I would have liked to see Catersource be more active on social media year round. They don’t post much until a little before the event and then their activity really skyrockets (this is particularly true of Instagram). I also think they need to use the other platforms they have accounts on (YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+) more consistently. Alternatively, they could take those social icons off their site.



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