The percentage of people in the incentive travel and motivational events industry who use social media to do business has nearly doubled in the past two years, according to the Site International Foundation — the fundraising and research arm of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, or Site — which has released the results of a new survey on the use of social media in designing, promoting and delivering programs and events.

Called “Site Index: Focus on Technology and Social Media,” the survey asked 106 people in 16 countries — 91 percent of them incentive providers/planners — about their professional use of social media. A follow-up to the last Site Index Technology study, which was conducted in 2010, it found that usage of social networks has increased “dramatically” in the last 24 months.

“When comparing this Site Index report to the 2010 Index, it is clear how the tools of our industry can change in a relatively short period of time,” said Site International Foundation President Stephen Powell, senior vice president of worldwide sales for InterContinental Hotels Group. “Businesses are missing important motivational and revenue opportunities if they are not actively using social media in the promotion, on-site communication and networking of incentive programs. Moreover, the best use of social media is when everyone on the management staff is utilizing and engaging social media for the program’s success. This Site Index study provides compelling documentation for industry professionals to build the business case that social media is an effective communication vehicle to drive the momentum of motivational programs.”

Key Findings From the Study:

  • Eighty-one percent of respondents reported that their companies are connected to clients through social media, with 76 percent maintaining corporate profiles on two or more platforms. Facebook is the most popular social network (70 percent), followed by LinkedIn (65 percent) and Twitter at 28 (percent).
  • Among respondents who reported using social media in their daily business, 46 percent use it for marketing promotions and communications and/or their incentive program operations. Twitter, in particular, is used by 30 percent of respondents during an event to motivate non-participants to aspire to attend future programs.
  • The most common tool for measuring ROI from social media is increased website hits, according to respondents, who also reported ROI metrics such as increases in “likes,” “shares” and “tweets,” or in “friends.”
  • Sixty-three percent of respondents employ a dedicated staff member to manage their social media.

“The results of this survey on technology and social media reflect opportunity,” said Mark Bondy, chair of the Site International Foundation Research Committee and partner/president of Viktor Incentives & Meetings. “In recent years, social media has transcended individual use to become a key marketing tool for the business world; yet, the opportunity has eluded many as they grapple with new concepts and technological options. This study will help industry professionals improve their business. We encourage practitioners to employ new strategies identified through our Foundation’s research and to contribute their own views and insights by signing up and participating in future Site International Foundation surveys and studies.”

(Successful Meetings)