Melissa Case shares how she and her team at Citrix use the company’s annual Citrix Synergy event to shape their social media strategy

In May 2019, Citrix held their annual customer event, Citrix Synergy. The event, which has been a staple of Citrix's customer strategy for the past 15 years, hosts 7,000 people on average — with even more joining through their online broadcast.

And, according to Melissa Case — Manager of Social Community, Campaigns, and Content for Citrix — every year they do more with their social platforms to promote it.

Melissa said the planning process around the event takes several months.

We wanted our audience to get involved and have a good time. Melissa Case
“When it comes to content, we have to think about which features of the different platforms we want to use,” she said. “It depends on what our product announcements are and what's going on within the company itself. But every year, each platform offers new things, and we are always game to try new things and experiment with new types of content.”

In their planning meetings, she and her team work to come up with nonstandard ways of using the different pieces of each platform.

“As part of our company-wide goals with the event, we always endeavor to do more and better things than we did the previous year,” said Melissa.

Once the initial planning is done, the team maps out different phases to drip out event-related content to their audiences and raise awareness.

“This year we started doing our promotions for [Synergy] in earnest in November,” she said. “It was mostly about education and awareness, so we shared content around what we do and why we make products that will make your workday easier and more productive.”

Once they get closer to the event and the attendee list is more concrete, they move into logistics and content that builds excitement around what's going to be happening at the event.

“Then during the event, there's lots of prep that goes into talking about the product announcements themselves, and we work up pieces in advance to share around that,” said Melissa.

They also worked with a creative agency to develop short form video, infographics, and other dynamic media.

When it comes to content, we have to think about which features of the different platforms we want to use. Melissa Case
That content included a series of videos and images around two cartoon owls — “Tobias” and “Prudence” — that started as part of their early bird special (owls are wise and want to save money!), but were so popular that the team wove them through all their promotional phases.

“We've found that kind of content really increases our audience and the degree to which people are paying attention to what we say,” said Melissa. “And social media is fun! We wanted to show we could exceed our goals and have a great time while doing it.”

For the event itself, the entire social team was onsite to monitor what was happening in real time and run their event activations.

At the event, they had a social media hub where people could come and meet the team, get involved with contests, or network with other attendees. They also had screens up in the hub with social media leaderboards for who was engaging the most and how many people were talking about Synergy.

“We wanted our audience to get involved and have a good time,” said Melissa. “We set up branded areas so people can share pictures on Twitter or Instagram to show they're at the event.”

For several years, they've also brought Citrix branded LEGO figures for attendees that they can then share online. “The first time we did that, we had a line of 400 people waiting to get them, and they're still just as popular as ever,” said Melissa.

For video content, Melissa and her team ran “Man on the Street” interviews live at the event to spotlight their customer innovation award winners, executives at the event, and attending customer partners.

Aside from the content they pushed out in real time at the event, Melissa and her team had a full content calendar going in based on what they knew was going to be said.

Being prepared is key. We had our whole content calendar written out and ready to go so we could have time to capture all of the Citrix Synergy action in real time and still make sure we had all our bases covered. Melissa Case
“Being prepared is key. We had our whole content calendar written out and ready to go so we could have time to capture all of the Citrix Synergy action in real time and still make sure we had all our bases covered,” she said.

That content included all their plans for paid promotions on top of the organic strategy they were rolling out at the event.

According to Melissa, their content and new experiments paid off with a big engagement increase.

“Our engagement increased 194% from last year, and last year was significantly higher than the year before,” she said.

“Over the past year and a half, we really changed the way our social programs work. In years past, we were more doing social for the sake of doing it rather than for a specific strategic reason. Now we are more aligned with teams across the entire company, so our work is now much more a ‘why' than a ‘what', and we're getting better every quarter, every year.”

Their organic engagement rate during the event was 12.5%, and Melissa said their video rates were even higher (and by no small margin). She said they also used Twitter's streaming service this year for the first time to stream their keynote, which had more than 444,000 people watching.

Melissa said these results drove home for her the importance of video to their overall strategy around Synergy (as well as all their other programs) and which platforms give them the best results.

For us, video is the name of the game. There is nothing that's more effective for communicating our message. Melissa Case
“For us, video is the name of the game,” said Melissa. “There is nothing that's more effective for communicating our message. And Synergy is the real focal point for our yearly strategy, so it's exciting that it's made such an impact this year.”

In terms of the technology and platforms they use, Melissa said Twitter and LinkedIn are where they find the most success — with LinkedIn being a resource for their high level, thought leadership content, and Twitter for their more fun, real-time content.

Once the event is over, Melissa and her team get together over the course of several different debrief meeting to assess their results and start planning for next year's Citrix Synergy.

“The first has a broad focus on how everything went,” she said. “Then we break into specific meetings, such as what photography worked the best or how the product announcements played out on social. We tend to get into the tiny details about what we can do better next time.”

But, Melissa said, just because they saw good results with what they did this year doesn't mean they're going to stop experimenting any time soon.

She emphasized their focus is primarily data-driven, so they look to see what's resonating with people. She said the best advice she can give is to make friends with Google Analytics as much as you can, because your story is in those numbers.

“Even if we thought something was fun and we had a good time doing it, if it didn't resonate and we didn't have people talking about it, we don't do it again,” she said. “Even if it seems like a great idea, what's the point if it's not reaching people?”

For any event of this scale to be successful, Melissa said having a well-executed strategy makes a huge difference.

“This has been a big catalyst for revamping our social program over the last two years. Because we got into the data around not just Synergy but our programs as a whole, we were able to double our social actions the first year and then did that again the second year,” said Melissa. “That's the name of the game, and that's how we're going to keep iterating and improving.”

Melissa Case has been a member of since 2015. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.