The MICE Exchange, Episode 1: TikTok for events

The MICE industry is being adaptive to the current situation involving live events not taking place in the next weeks, perhaps months, due to the global coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, event professionals are shifting educational content and networking to online channels. 

Sabrina Meyers from Hot Hospitality Exchange and I had a discussion two weeks ago about ways to network and collaborate. Because we are not able to meet face to face right now, we think it’s important to keep in touch with each other and the industry. Out of this discussion, a new idea was born to initiate a weekly Instagram Live series called The MICE Exchange—a combination of our names The MICE Blog and Hot Hospitality Exchange. We’ll aim to do the live streams regularly and touch on current and trending topics or familiar topics from a fresh angle. On these episodes, we’ll be chatting about a new topic every week and invite you to join these discussions on Instagram (with write-ups available here). 

To kick start the series, we decided to talk about TikTok for events. Yet unexplored territory for corporate events, both Sabrina and I see the potential and wanted to share our experience.

Why have you decided to start TikTok? What’s your objective?

The fact that it was the second most downloaded app in 2019 can’t be ignored. I (@themiceblog) joined TikTok in December 2019 and Sabrina (hhexchange) in January 2020. For Sabrina, her previous experience with TikTok was seeing her young niece and nephew (who are 11 and 14 years old) on it. She heard about TikTok around Christmas time when they watched people dancing and lip-syncing, which was entertaining but not suitable for a business target audience. Therefore, she initially dismissed it. 

Both Sabrina and I follow Gary Vaynerchuk, who often talks about why TikTok and LinkedIn are the two most important platforms right now, and for both of us, two of his videos resonated the most in terms of us getting on TikTok.

For Sabrina, it was when he said to just spend time on the platform, learn how it works, interact with other accounts and learn about the various content types posted there. Sabrina understood how it can be applied to the MICE industry, and used by event planners, hotels and MICE destinations. 

What resonated with me the most is when he stated that it can teach us transferable skills, even if the platform becomes irrelevant in the next year. That is, for example, what happened with Snapchat and Instagram when Instagram incorporated the story feature.

Is your audience (really) on TikTok?

TikTok’s audience is predominantly aged under 24 years. However, the number of adult users is increasing, which means the content is changing. Content creators who are on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, have also made the jump or are embracing it and use it to add to their social media arsenal, so the demographics is evolving. 

To answer the above question—not the audience yet, but just like Instagram and Facebook, it will evolve. TikTok could also be interesting for students and young professionals entering the MICE industry, when they do their research or just stumble upon your account, and you are there on TikTok to win their attention. This is the chance for suppliers, destinations and agencies looking to tap into new talent and demographics. It’s where the future customers are.

Amanda Thurlow—event professional and blogger—commented on why there could be more potential for event planners joining TikTok, ‘That’s why we need to expand the event community on TikTok so the platform sees what we are interested in, and I’ve seen it increase to more value-driven content as opposed to viral entertainment content.’ 

Can TikTok be regarded as a B2B platform or is it purely B2C?

When Instagram started, people never thought it could be a B2B platform. Hotels didn’t see the point at first, and that’s what venues and destinations are also thinking now about TikTok. According to Sabrina, it’s a creative social media platform, so if you want to get creative online, it offers this opportunity. 

For example, MICE hotels can create fun, creative videos from everyone who works at the hotel and document the hotel experience: from checking in to setting up a meeting room etc. This content can be applied according to the trends and challenges happening on TikTok, turning it into a TikTok hotel (which is active on TikTok and where guests will enjoy making TikTok videos). MICE suppliers can make it into whatever they want, so there is definitely potential for B2B businesses. In B2B, it is also important to understand that it’s not the number of viewers, but the quality of the lead, so users shouldn’t be discouraged if they don’t go viral on TikTok. Booking a MICE product is more complex, more expensive and requires a longer lead time, and TikTok provides an additional touchpoint to convert the lead.  

If there is, for example, a hotel doing TikTok videos, and the viewer wants to go to that hotel to do videos with them, that’s already one booking.

Do you think it will impact other social media channels negatively, positively and how? 

According to Sabrina, TikTok is the new kid on the block. It’s competition, and because they are not owned by any other platform, there will be a negative impact in the sense that they are driving traffic from other platforms. It will take attention away from some platforms because TikTok is new and the algorithm favours new content. Hence, there are more opportunities to grow and make yourself famous, and that is appealing to a new audience to join. 

What is also important to note is that people’s attention spans are becoming increasingly short. Therefore, stories on Instagram are particularly popular, and for TikTok, it’s their core business. Videos are short, and it’s impressive what can be done in 15 seconds. That’s where the competitive advantage at the moment lies, in that people can access more content, in a short period of time, and the platform is about to hold user attention longer than any other platform—that’s why it has such potential.

How does it work, and how do you go about creating your content? 

According to Sabrina, a lot has involved watching other people’s videos. It’s important to try to spend time watching different videos on TikTok to get an idea of what’s out there; this content can be potentially used for MICE, so a lot involves getting inspiration from others. I then take notes, see what content I already have and try to repurpose it for TikTok. I also try to like the videos that I find interesting so the algorithm shows me more similar content in the ‘For You’ page. Try to create ideas around what could be possibly trending. It’s worth getting strategic with it.

For event professionals, it’s a good time to test because no one in the industry is watching. Users evolve as content creators, and it takes time to learn the platform. Try different formats and styles until you find yours. 

What content engages you on TikTok? Who inspires you?

Gary Vaynerchuk produced some excellent content for TikTok that we both watch. Sabrina views further content on social media marketing from content creators and digital marketing experts. They are informative videos but in a fun way. Sabrina also follows TikTok celebs to see what’s trending; for example, dance and lip-sync challenges. When you see a variety of videos across fashion, beauty, travel, digital marketing, you can take elements from the videos and create your own. You just learn how to present it in a different way that can be fun and exciting for other people to watch. 

The ones recommended by Sabrina are:

Gwen Lane
Mady Dewey
Diana Bricerio
Gary Vee
David Dobrik
Trusted Travel Girl
Moby Siddique

You just need to find your style, and there is no need to dance or sing.

I love Gary Vaynerchuk’s videos because he shares snapshots of his talks and highlights a key message. If event professionals took the same approach to highlight their content from events, they’d have sufficient content to repurpose for the entire year on TikTok.

You have a few videos that have gone viral, with over 60,000 views. Can you tell us the secret?

According to Sabrina, as event planners, we do so many interesting things at work that can be used as content. When I did this video, my thought was not about what I would find interesting, but what my niece will find interesting. So Sabrina made a video with an LED Robot at an event that got over 60,000 views. Furthermore, it’s also about posting at the right time, and each user can see these analytics online. There’s no secret—it’s just creating the content and seeing what happens. The video has to be interesting, fun and creative, and it must be different and catch people’s attention. 

Event planners need to understand the language of TikTok, and that comes with spending more time on the platform and seeing how people present their content. As a result, event planners can then customise and create their own niche content in the format of TikTok.

Choosing music can be difficult, but TikTok has sections with viral songs that increase the chances of the content going viral.

Why should event planners join TikTok?

As with any platform, we need the community, and we need inspiration and representation. Furthermore, for event professionals, it’s important to understand their clients and ‘speak their language.’ TikTok is part of culture— youth culture—and if we organise an event for this audience, we can understand them better.

What content can/should event planners post on TikTok?

Hotels, destinations, venues, suppliers etc., can be presented with an education-led content. It can be lists, such as ‘essential things for #eventprofs’ or ‘5 hotels venues in Berlin’. But it can also be short speaker quotes and testimonials, or you could choose a more entertaining angle to it.  

According to Sabrina, once you’re on the platform, you watch, and you do videos yourself to learn about it. Then, once you have an event coming up, once you’re onsite, you’ll start thinking ‘That will be a really fun TikTok’, and then you ask people to make a TikTok with you. We have so much content already from previous events that you don’t even need to create new content straight away—you can repurpose it and make new videos. 

Breaking down a long piece of content, extracting key messages and making it a 15-second long story to be seen by a new audience—that’s where the opportunity lies on TikTok. 

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