How Social Media Marketing World 2016 (#SMMW16) Earned Almost A Billion Twitter Impressions In 3 Days

Engaging attendees on social media is a measure of an event’s success, even though planners and marketers typically face challenges when encouraging online action.

Social Media Marketing World 2016 is a case study on how to use Twitter to spur online activity from guests, as well as speakers and promoters.

In three days, its official hashtag — #SMMW16 — racked up 968,410,796 impressions.

#SMMW16 Tracker - How Social Media Marketing World 2016 Earned Almost a Billion Impressions in Three Days
This data was generated from a Keyhole real-time hashtag tracker

Below is a look at how the meetup dominated the Twittersphere, which you can use to amplify your next event:

Social Media Marketing World Discouraged One-and-Done Tweeting

As the purpose of a hashtag is to drive and categorize conversations, tweeting once and ignoring resulting discussions can limit its effectiveness.

Doing so draws attention to neither the trend nor other users’ tweets.

Social Media Marketing World organizers encouraged attendees to frequently post and interact with each other by positioning Twitter as the go-to communication platform. They did this by:

  • Featuring keynote speakers who are active on Twitter, allowing guests to ask questions and interact with them
  • Selling virtual tickets, making social media the easiest way for customers to talk to other guests
  • Offering incentives to tweet, which will be covered near the end of this post

In total, #SMMW16 saw almost 70,000 tweets from more than 13,000 users, meaning guests were active on Twitter throughout the event. There were almost 34,000 original posts, more than 32,000 replies and around 3,900 retweets.

Discourage one-and-done tweeting using the same approaches as Social Media Marketing World, and your next event should see a rise in hashtag impressions.

It Harnessed Influencers

Activity from influencers — thought-leaders with large online followings — is largely responsible for earning almost a billion impressions for #SMMW16.

Whereas the typical Twitter user has less than 210 followers, influencers can have thousands or millions.

The value of popular users tweeting your hashtag is clear when examining the amount of impressions they earn.

Here are the top five #SMMW16 posters, in terms of total impressions during the event and a month leading up to it:

#SMMW16 Impressions - How the Event Earned Almost a Billion Twitter Impressions in 3 Days

Social Media Examiner, the event’s organizer, out-tweeted these influencers with 180 million potential impressions. But that’s because the publication posted almost 600 times.

Similarly, many other users generated high impression numbers due to the volume of tweets they sent.

IPP (impressions per post) takes this into consideration. The metric averages the number of impressions a user generates, showing how many a single tweet earns.

Based on IPP, here are the top five #SMMW16 posters:

#SMMW16 IPP by User - How Social Media Marketing World 2016 Earned Almost a Billion Twitter Impressions in 3 Days

Whether you place more value on IPP or raw impressions, both numbers will rise as thought-leaders tweet an event’s hashtag.

READ: How Coke Generated $100,000 Worth of Free Twitter Impressions in a Day

It Used a Short Hashtag

Using a short hashtag over a long one makes it easier to tweet, which helps boost activity.

Including a space and the hashtag symbol, #SMMW16 only takes up eight out of 140 characters.

This allows people to easily post their thoughts, instead of struggling to work within Twitter’s limit. Plus, users have space to add in extra hashtags to increase exposure.

MorrowChris Tweet - How #SMMW16 Earned Almost a Billion Twitter Impressions in Three Days

Keep in mind, data from Buddy Media — which researchers drew by analyzing engagement from more than 320 Twitter handles — suggests you shouldn’t include more than two hashtags per tweet:

Hashtag Use Data - How #SMMW16 Earned Almost a Billion Twitter Impressions in Three Days

On top of these benefits, a short hashtag is also easier to type and remember than a long one. #SMMW16 is self-explanatory and to-the-point. It doesn’t need to be longer and couldn’t be shorter.

You likely won’t see much activity if a hashtag too difficult to key into a smartphone.

It Offered Incentives to Post with #SMMW16

Sometimes, the biggest challenge to running an event that’s a social media smash is the first hurdle: Getting attendees to post.

Event marketers and planners may need a plan to incentivize attendees to take to social media, especially if audience members aren’t closely connected to their social profiles.

To encourage tweeting, try:

  • Offering prizes, such as a free trial, to the most engaged users
  • Awarding coupons to people who follow one of your social accounts
  • Giving perks, including discounts, to the person who posts the top tweet

Social Media Marketing World overcame this obstacle due to the nature of its audience. Marketers and community managers were inherently incentivized to post because of their interest in social networks.

Specifically, they used the hashtag to:

  • Make connections with peers and other like-minded users

Randy Everett Tweets - How #SMMW16 Earned Almost a Billion Twitter Impressions in Three Days

As a result, #SMMW16 hit a peak of almost 4,000 posts within the span of an hour on April 18.

And since the bulk of people tweeted about — and during — presentations and workshops, almost two-thirds of posts came from mobile devices.

Based on its audience, an event may need original tactics to incentivize social posting. Your guests may not even hit the login button if you fail to address the need for encouragement.

But once you do, you should see post after post pop up.

Wrapping Up

One of the quintessential digital marketing events, Social Media Marketing World 2016 generated almost a billion Twitter impressions in three days by:

  • Incentivizing users to post, ensuring a select few weren’t dominating online conversations
  • Getting influencers to regularly tweet with the official hashtag, expanding scope
  • Encouraging guests to tweet more than once and interact with each other

Although each event differs based on its goal and audience, marketers and organizers can certainly use #SMMW16 as a case study about spurring guest participation and interaction on social platforms.

A billion impressions is a lofty target. But with the right combination of guests, thought-leaders and motivations to tweet, it may be more realistic than you think.


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Keyhole is a real-time conversation tracker that provides keyword and hashtag analytics for Twitter and Instagram. Get started for free and search your brand below: 

7 thoughts on “How Social Media Marketing World 2016 (#SMMW16) Earned Almost A Billion Twitter Impressions In 3 Days

  1. But who cares about impressions, in reality? An impression doesn’t mean anything. If an ad is in my feed but I don’t see it, it gets counted as an impression. But what was the point of measurement, because I still didn’t see it, which means I didn’t buy your product.

    Impressions are vanity metrics, no real business worth.

    • Hi Martin,

      What you say about not necessarily seeing an ad or post, yet it being counted as an impression anyway, is true. That, in itself, is an argument for tweeting multiple times and running paid posts instead of depending on organic reach.

      However, impressions have monetary worth and many people care about them. I’d encourage you to read another one of our posts (https://keyhole.co/coke-generated-100000-worth-free-twitter-impressions-1-day/) to gain more insight into the economic value of impressions.

      Regardless, impressions are still valuable in terms of guiding social strategies. If I use a hashtag that earns 10,000 impressions over a week versus another that earns 1,000,000, I know which one has a better chance of reaching more members of my target market — even if a only a small percentage of those people see it.

  2. Yes, a great post! So much tweeting was going on while I attended #SMMW16 in San Diego.
    Definitely a great place to tweet a hashtag is one that you are joyfully attending and wanting to share the great content and memories being created.

    Heather Heuman of Sweet Tea Social Marketing

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