In Your Words 10: Catersource Conference Review

Earlier this week, the annual four-day Catersource Conference took place in Las Vegas, where thousands of attendees, chefs and other industry professionals came together to share their ideas.

In order to drum up buzz about the popular conference, Catersource implemented a sound IMC strategy that included a heavy focus on social media before, during after the event. The purpose of this post is to discuss and critique how effective Catersource’s IMC strategy was at this year’s event.

*Please note that this post is for educational purposes only.

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Starting with the Catersource website, the site is easy to navigate and full of useful information on all aspects of the annual event. Drop-down menus provide links to various resources, including info for registration, hotels, mobile apps and the schedule of events. They also published a detailed guide that provided a holistic outlook on every aspect of the event.

From there, you can find links to all of Catersource’s social media outets: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. From that perspective, Catersource is obviously doing an excellent job maintaining active accounts across multiple social media platforms.

Prior to the event, Catersource consistently posted about one piece of content per day on Facebook, often using call-to-action posts such as this:

Hotel

Another example of pre-event marketing on social media was on Twitter, where Catersource was extremely active. In the days leading up to the event opening (March 8), Catersource tweeted at least once per day, though there was a significant increase in Twitter activity during the event. Here’s an example of a pre-event Tweet showcasing a call-to-action post that also utilized a link to a news release.
Tweet

Interestingly, Catersource was not very active on Instagram or YouTube prior to the event. Before this March 4 Instagram post, Catersource’s last post was on Dec. 23. The YouTube channel is rarely updated, and there still hasn’t been any videos uploaded from this week’s conference.

From an outsider’s perspective, it’s clear Catersource utilized three main social media channels effectively and actively during this week’s conference: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. During the days of the event, there were about 15-20 Tweets per day—a huge uptick from pre-event activity.

However, the account has just over 3,700 followers, and there were only a few re-tweets or favorites.

On Facebook, there were eight posts during the event, though none occurred on the final day. I found that to be a little surprising, along with the fact that the page didn’t even have 6,000 likes. For such a well-known event, you would think the marketing team would have done a better job in gaining a larger following and posting more often.

One avenue that was clearly a focus was Instagram. Like I mentioned, Catersource’s account was barely active prior to the event. Catersource posted 10 photos on March 8, eight on March 9, 19 on March 10 and 13 on the final day. That significant increase in Instagram activity was a highlight that stood out to me. And considering the event is based around food, that makes a ton of sense since this is such a visual area. To me, the whole concept of “we eat with our eyes” fits and may have been a reason why Catersource made such a strong emphasis on utilizing Instagram in its IMC approach at this year’s conference. In those posts, Catersource often highlighted important speakers and sponsors like this:

Lisa Dupar

sponsors

Though Catersource was very active in terms of posting content and using hashtags on both Twitter and Instagram, the response wasn’t terribly effective. With just over 1,400 Instagram Followers, most posts received between 10-25 likes, which certainly isn’t a great number.

The only consistent hashtag that could be seen across the three main social media platforms was #CSES2015. Perhaps more hashtags for sponsors and other key speakers could have been utilized to help in terms of promotion, especially on Instagram and Twitter.

From an overall outlook, it seems like Catersource did a solid job using an IMC approach that incorporated the three main social media outlets effectively. As we’ve learned, it’s important to create fresh content for your audience, and they certainly hit on that level. However, the level of response wasn’t particularly encouraging across most platforms, and the lack of hashtags could have played a role.

As a whole, the event did maintain a consistent brand that emphasized a clean, sophisticated look that focused on the speakers, contests and exhibitors who made the conference a success. In the future, Catersource may want to round out its IMC approach with more videos. It seemed concerning that the YouTube channel hasn’t been updated in several months. An event like this would seem to lend itself to having taped interviews and featured videos on sponsors, contests and speakers. This is definitely one area that was lacking that should be improved in the future.

 

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