by Amadeus Finlay
In today’s highly-globalized economy, strategic use of social media is as important to a successful exhibit program as any physical component of the booth itself. From pre-show promotions, all the way through to live engagement and post-event activities, social marketing is found at every touch point on the exhibit journey. In my first column on social media strategies in the tradeshow and event industry, I’ll step into the digital realm to uncover the influence of one of the most active forms of communication the world has ever seen, and explain how event professionals can use it to their advantage.
Let’s dismiss a misconception at the outset; social media is more than a handful of apps designed to support the throwaway commentary of millennials and their contemporaries. On the contrary, according to CES By The Numbers, 82 percent of event marketers use social media to market their events, and thanks to the power of this mighty online influencer, social media often carry a brand’s message to more individuals than attended the show in person. Take CES as a case study. While this year’s show entertained more than 182,000 industry professionals on the show floor, it recorded almost one million hashtag and direct mentions, 49 million Snapchat Live story views, and more than 224,00 video views on Facebook.
And which platform came out on top? According to AdWeek, the answer would be Twitter. According to this ever-dependable resource, 93 percent of industry professionals rate Twitter as the most useful social media tool for engaging with events. There is a good reason, too. Unlike similar, conversation-based competitors, Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter has the advantage of permitting unlimited access to any account with which a professional might wish to connect. Additionally, since Twitter is hashtag-driven, users can follow a specific event without expending the time and effort of labor-intensive searching. Finally, it is concise (280 characters, to be precise), meaning messages can be relayed swiftly and with focus, making it ideal for quick and effective communication on the tradeshow floor.
That’s not to say Twitter is the one and only solution to effective tradeshow and event social media. LinkedIn, long the preserve of professionals seeking to add value as thought leaders within their space, has upped its ante somewhat in recent years. Following extensive feedback from its users, the platform now supports hashtags as well as direct profile and personal tagging, allowing for additional ease of use. With these enhanced tools, LinkedIn has cemented its position as the leading platform for professionals seeking to add real digital value to their everyday endeavors. Popular uses include the ability to publish extended essays on nuanced topics, discovering the latest trends through interactions on industry-specific forums and the ability to connect with C-Level executives.
What of Facebook? At this point, almost everyone is on the platform; more than 68 percent of adults in the U.S., to be precise. Given its popularity and widespread use, there isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about Facebook, but the one tool that event professionals should consider using–if they aren’t already–is Facebook Live. Touching on the exclusivity of younger platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook Live allows users to livesteam from anywhere in the world, so long as they have a cell phone (and Wi-Fi) handy. This makes for an excellent method of communication from the show floor, as event marketers can share experiences with those unable to attend with the intimacy of real life.
The takeaway? Without an active social media strategy, brands (companies, as well as individuals) risk missing out on the benefits of an engaged and influential audience beyond the confines of the show floor. One thing is for sure…the pioneers have already blazed the trail; be careful not to get left behind.
Amadeus Finlay is a writer, strategic growth marketer and communications/public relations consultant who resides in Rhode Island. He’s a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and has lived in the U.S. since 2014. He was BlueHive‘s director of media and public relations in Worcester, Mass., senior writer and regional editor for Groupon in London, and was featured in both Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and Pulse Magazine’s 16 to Watch in 2016. Contact him at AmadeusF@ExhibitCityNews.com.
This story originally appeared in the November/December issue of Exhibit City News, p. 22. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_flipbook_novdec2018