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December 18, 2014

How Social Media Helped Improve the ICCA Congress

While on average 10-20 percent of delegates at a conference or tradeshow are active on Twitter, almost 60 percent of delegates at the 53rd ICCA Congress were active on Twitter before, during or after the early November event in Antalya, Turkey. A full 70 percent of the delegates using Twitter said that the social media platform helped them to increase the value of their ICCA Congress experience, and almost 75 percent claimed that Twitter helped them to increase their interaction with other members.

7,180 Tweets with hashtag #ICCAWorld were sent in the three weeks before, during and the 1.5 weeks after the Congress (October 13  – November 14), The #ICCAWorld hashtag reached almost 2,5 million unique users and had almost 15 million impacts (in other words, the potential number of times somebody could have seen Tweets with the #ICCAWorld hashtag).

The congress has 887 delegates. On November 6, one day after the Congress, there were 963 unique #ICCAWorld contributors. In the 1.5 weeks after the Congress this number climbed towards 1,500. A full 1,329 of total 1,611 Tweets in the week-and-a-half after the Congress were retweets.

“These numbers are great, but obviously it is not about the quantity,” ICCA’s Communication Strategist Mathijs Vleeming said in a statement. “Our post-congress survey showed that...many members thought being active on Twitter really helped them to increase the value of their ICCA Congress experience and to increase the interaction and connectivity with other members, before, during and after the event.”

Hashtags With a Purpose

ICCA created and communicated “hashtags with a purpose.”  : “Just communicating your event hashtag is not enough," Vleeming said. "We spelled out what we wanted delegates to do with the hashtags and how to make the most of the online conversation.”


ICCA specifically asked delegates to share the hottest content and key takeaways of education sessions with the ICCA community, using hashtag #ICCAWorld. “Why take notes on a piece of paper if you can share them and allow the world to see?" Vleeming asked rhetorically, noting a Storify collection of tweets with key takeaways from #ICCAWorld Congress participants. "They read as shared notes from the ICCA Congress education sessions. How useful is that?!”

The large amount of #ICCAWorld retweets (62 percent) indicates that the content shared with this hashtag was perceived as valuable.


The critical window of opportunity on social media for events is not only during the event itself, but also in the two to three weeks in the run-up to the event. In order for social media followers and friends to see that they are going to the ICCA Congress and what they are missing out on, ICCA asked delegates to share images, tips and advice on their journey to- and preparations for the #ICCAWorld Congress in Antalya. There were 753 tweets which include #RoadtoAntalya (See the Storify collection of #RoadtoAntalya tweets).

ICCA Congress speaker and social media expert Michael Heipel wrote a blog post on it after returning from the Congress: “I find it fascinating to see how social channels were used by the ICCA Congress audience to network, exchange ideas and propel the key findings that they consider interesting. It is definitely key to a good engagement level to educate and brief the delegates about the social strategy, so that everyone is on the same page.”

“After my own session,  I found more than 50 @Mentions in my Twitter stream, commenting on the session, plus a lot more reactions without my own Twitter handle. Wow!”

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