In the hustle and bustle of travel plans and show preparations, we sometimes forget that the whole purpose of an exhibition is communication. The show is a temporary community where peers meet to exchange dialogue about brands and services. Social media is providing a platform for efficient and greener communication methods, which complement the show environment and extend the community beyond the show floor.
Companies spend a lot of money sending both attendees and exhibitor delegates to conferences with the expectation that they will return to the mother ship with fistfuls of viable new contacts. Social networking provides the tools to connect with fellow attendees, receive electronic versions of marketing materials and establish long-term communication without the use of paper. Used effectively, it is a low-cost, carbon neutral marketing alternative that can replace costly print media during and after a show, while ensuring that new contacts are not lost.
The geniuses at Pathable have created a social media platform just for the meetings and conventions industry. Their program optimizes networking opportunities for attendees and provides exhibitors with a dedicated online community in which to convey their brand and message in a manner consistent with their existing web presence.
Show organizers can use Pathable to establish a social network before, during and after an event. This is a great way to generate buzz and dialogue between attendees before the event even begins. Features include attendee directories, event schedules for sessions and activities, exhibitor maps and handout downloads. Attendee bios can include photos, recommendation algorithms and social media links. You can even make meeting requests with individuals you would like to meet and then schedule them in an Outlook-compatible calendar. It is a little like online dating for business networking. These guys have thought of everything. Check it out at www.pathable.com.
There are also a number of ways to use traditional social media platforms in conjunction with a show. Remember, the first goal for the effective use of social networking is to create long-term relationships by facilitating informed dialogue. Creating a social media campaign around a specific event should not be limited to the event itself. Here are some tips for good, long-term campaigning:
- Build anticipation prior to the event with your existing list of contacts.
- Incent attendees to join your contacts during the show.
- Ask for feedback about your booth, delegates, product, presentations, etc.
- Promote others at the show, either attendees or exhibitors, by posting photos and comments.
- Talk about unique offerings, VIP appearances, or significant contributions from conference presenters.
- Promote green practices and initiatives at the show.
- Follow up post-show with acknowledgements and observations.
If you want to maintain a regular dialogue with your audience throughout the show, you may want to consider formulating posts in advance. This would include drafting content, deciding which medium you wish to use for particular content (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and a schedule for releasing the prepared information in order to keep the momentum constant throughout the show. You can supplement this schedule with live posts as interesting events occur.
Another important thing to remember is that social media providers strongly discourage sales pitches and obvious self-promotion. No one likes to talk to someone who constantly brags about themselves, and they won’t want to communicate with one electronically either. Find ways to engage in authentic communication about information that is useful and topics that are timely in the industry.
Post-show is where the real work begins. Maintaining good social media relationships and nurturing them into beneficial business partnerships is like caring for a marriage. After inviting someone to be a part of your network, they need to hear from you regularly and know that you remain interested in them and their ideas.
Green tip for July
If you are already using social media to manage contacts, think about taking it up a notch. Work with your team to build a creative You Tube campaign. Infotainment gets people’s attention and sets you apart from your competition.
|People on the Move|