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Social Media Makes a Splash at Print 09

September 12, 2009

Print 09 (a tradeshow for commercial, transactional, package and quick printers) started yesterday (9/11/09) at the McCormic Center in Chicago. It’s a 5-day show that gathers the industry once every 4 years (GraphExpo fills the years inbetween).

In the past years printing tradeshows were places one went to see big commercial printing presses, large sorting and fulfillment machines with incredible speeds. This year, based on just the first few hours of the show there is a breath of fresh air… There are fewer large machines on display while emphasis is on digital and rich media. There is lot of glitter of new interactive demos including Kodak’s Pipeline of Innovation (a 24-foot-long digital display with continuous stream of visual images), live streaming seminars and plenty of elaborate stage displays.

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There is another positive chance I am witnessing even though I am observing the show from afar. It is social media being heavily utilized to engage audiences on the tradeshow floor as well as those who could not make it to Chicago in person. There is Twittering, Facebook updates, live video and audio streaming and picture sharing.

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There are many approaches companies are taking to using social media for event activation as well as viral marketing. I am happy to notice that for Print09 the question whether to use Social Media for event activation has been replaced with what types of Social Media activities to explore. How exciting coming from the commercial printing industry that has not shown a lot of interest in Social Media in the past!

During the first few hours of the event I have been glued to Twitter monitoring #Print09 hash tag.

Here is what I’ve noticed.

VARIETY

I am seeing a great variety of channels and approaches being utilized to keep social media participants interested and engaged regardless what social media channels they use. Twitter is definitely one of the most favored channels because of the speed of updating. But twitter is also being used to draw attention to daily blog posts that recap the activities of the previous day on the tradeshow floor (e.g. Kodak’s daily floor  udates) images of equipment, booths and events that are being uploaded and tagged on photo aggregators (Flickr images) and discussions going on in niche social media channels. Videos are being created and uploaded to video aggregators in real time ( Print09 videos on YouTube ) and live video and audio streaming is used to extend the tradeshow’s reach.

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SUSTAINED HIGH VOLUME

Most brands are beginning to realize that in order to sustain high level of engagement having a handful of corporate social media outposts is not enough.  The solution? Companies are enabling and encouraging all of their employees who come toPrint09 to be active in social media and describe their experiences while making personal connections. Great strategy. It’s not only sustainable but it leads to lasting relationships leading to leads and sales.

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REAL TIME NOTIFICATIONS

Twitter rules when it comes to issuing timely notifications of upcoming events across the tradeshow floor. Seeing lost of that at Print09

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POLLS & SURVEYS

We love to find out what others think. Marketers are using quick polls right on Twitter to find out what their customers and prospects think and to increase traffic to branded outposts.

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REACHING THE INFLUENCERS

Personalized demos and after-hour events on the tradeshow floor as well as online events are all organized to reach social media influencers as well as traditional media who adopted social channels as means of sourcing content.

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Another new trend I am seeing this year – inviting customers and prospects for after-hour tweetups.

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GIVEAWAYS

New spin on traditional tradeshow giveaways this year. No need to come to the booth to sign up any more. You can win by tweeting answers to questions.

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BEING HELPFUL

Many marketers are shifting their approaches and incorporating what Shel Israel calls “lethal generosity.” Being part fo the social media means giving a little to gain a lot.

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It will be interesting to see the ROI on all these new activities in Social Media.

For those of you on the tradeshow floor please continue to share and keep us updated. Just be careful what you say 🙂

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