BIBA19: Tweeting the way

8th May 2019

Ahead of BIBA 2019, Stephanie Davies – Social Media Executive at DAS UK – takes a look at how social media can be used to make an impression and maximise value from the biggest insurance broker event of the year…

As we all know, the BIBA conference returns to Manchester next week. It’s the biggest broker bash of the year, and a key event in the insurance sales and marketing calendar, so it’s guaranteed to be a busy time. At least, it should be.

Once again, the starting point for DAS UK’s social media campaign will be the social listening platform Pulsar to monitor the build-up, the two-day event itself, and the post-conference noise. This enables us to review and analyse the best performing topics, speakers and hashtags – basically the things that create the most interest.

Why do we do this? To gain insight, support marketing activity, carry out industry and competitor research and brand monitoring, and to help us win new business.

But first up, what happened last year? What was the social media story of BIBA 2018?


During the two main conference days last year, there were an impressive 3,700 posts by over 1,100 unique authors. This is in addition to almost 2,000 social posts in the run-up to BIBA (from 1st May) where people really seemed to jostle for position ahead of the big day.

Nevertheless, while you would expect to see social conversations for events like this increase year-on-year, this wasn’t the case last year, with 2017 seeing over a thousand more posts than 2018. As far as I can tell, the drivers of volume here appear to be the identity of the keynote speakers and cool giveaways (a drone was a particular stand out prize in 2017).

Will 2019 see social media use rise or fall once again? There’s an interesting looking line-up, but those giveaways will have an impact. ‘Retweet for the chance to win an Irish Passport’ perhaps? That could get the numbers going…

The stand’s the thing

With the insurance industry favouring traditional face-to-face networking, the popular focus seemed to be getting traffic to go to your stand – by any means possible.

This was reflected in the social media activity at BIBA 2018: All in all over a third (39%) of all mentions made reference to a stand, which might go some way to explain why stand-based competitions remain a key theme of events such as BIBA, with notably almost 10% of all tweets featuring a reference to competitions and prizes. It might also explain why food and drink was a more popular topic than innovation!

So, as we can see, having a gimmick, some decent freebies, a giveaway, special guests, and of course an offer of sustenance – liquid or otherwise – are all tried and tested ways to raise your visibility at the conference. But while the freebies and frothy drinks are great for the attendees, for the many interested people watching from the outside, those tweets make it hard to gauge themes and talking points.

We all enjoy the colourful stands and comedy photos, but people also want to know what is going on, and social media has an unrivalled potential to carry messages well beyond the walls and timescales of an event. So what does everyone talk about?

Conference speakers

Last year social media mentions during the keynotes were relatively few, with the main session speakers accounting for less than 500 mentions – which might sound like a lot, but given the high standing the likes of Inga Beale and Martha Lane Fox have in the insurance world, and the interest in astronaut Chris Hadfield, you might have thought that would be higher.

Were delegates more engrossed in their conversations, or simply a bit scared to voice an opinion? Or perhaps it was due to the scarcity of members holding a ‘golden ticket’ allowing them full access to the speeches. The most likely reason is probably that, for many, the need to have a strong stand presence and networking outweighed the desire to attend the talks.

Of course, we shall see if Huw Edwards, Baroness Manningham-Buller, Freddie Flintoff and Boris Johnson manage to draw people away from their stands this year.

Conference theme

The conference theme last year was ‘Innovate, Evolve, Thrive’ with the industry apparently innovating hard, and that noise carried over into social media. In addition to the messages coming out of the keynote speeches, throughout the conference there were a plethora of tweeters using #Insurtech – albeit for no obvious reason and using no specific examples.

Despite that lack of detail, the data suggests that the most prominent innovation and tech topics at BIBA 2018 were big data, cyber insurance, blockchain, and IoT.

This year’s conference strapline is the extremely broad ‘Leading the Way’, so expect that to feature prominently on social media. And I would not bet against seeing high levels of random and out of context use of the hashtag ‘#leadership’ – a tag so vague so as to be completely pointless.

Final thoughts

With BIBA being arguably the biggest event on the UK broker calendar, companies spend a lot of time and money planning for the events, and their stand is a representation of their brand; who they are, what they offer, and what the future holds for them and their customers.

But getting footfall to a stand should not be the only social media goal, and those who just try to do that are actually missing a major opportunity to engage with the market, and business targets, by providing interesting and memorable content which can help you to stand out from the crowd.

Six tips for social media success at BIBA 2019
  1. Let’s start with the obvious; the #BIBA2019 hashtag. Already used 1173 times by 1 May 2019, it can reach anyone interested in BIBA, attendees and otherwise. Not using this tag is a BIBA social media sin of epic proportions.
  2. Ensure you have feet on the ground – getting out and about at BIBA and meeting people in real terms will correspond with increased social media opportunities and engagements.
  3. Do some of the ‘heavy lifting’ before the event, by using social media scheduling tools such as Hootsuite for some set-piece posts to free up your busy team. You can then add new contextual posts on the days themselves. 
  4. Be a top tweeter at BIBA! Somewhere around 20 posts per day should get you top ten status – easily achievable if you combine networking with some commentary of the keynotes, but beware of spamming your followers.
  5. Referencing and quoting the conference speakers is a brilliant way to increase your exposure, as not everyone at the conference is able to attend the talks. Go get inspired and share it on social – your followers need you.
  6. Finally, be active, be visual, be engaging, be specific, have an opinion and even have some fun. But most importantly of all, be sure to look outside of the BIBA bubble and don’t miss this chance to share your story.
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