Want to have a successful event? Engage with new media influencers
How do you measure success at events or tradeshows? If you are a brand marketer or a PR pro you might be used to issuing a press release, holding a press conference, staffing your event booth with several sales reps and bringing colorful printed collateral to give out to booth visitors. Sound familiar? Here is the million dollar question though: do these tactics create the type of return on tradeshow investment you were hoping for in 2010 and beyond?
Let’s admit it, it is getting progressively harder to rise above the massive amount of marketing noise being generated at events and even harder to come up with ways to get noticed. You can spend more money on bigger booths or larger banners, but that’s not a sure guarantee of success. Finding ways to help your brand be different and more memorable becomes the biggest success factor for events in the era of social media engagement.
Hope you agree that it is not the best time to begin learning how to blog or tweet while at the tradeshow or event. You should work on those skills in advance along with having an established social media channels to fully participate in this new social media engagement game. If you don’t, you should read this post from Jay Baer first. If you do have the strategy and tacktics under your belt, it’s time to use social media to help you get noticed.
Here is how Pitney Bowes (my employeer) took a different approach to ensure positive brand recognition at the World Innovation Forum 2010. Our tactics were based on reaching out to new media influencers, in our case a group of prolific innovation bloggers, and making sure that the Pitney Bowes brand was associated with their positive experiences at the event. Here are three pointers to help you get started.
1) Spend money on what matters.
Don’t produce massive amounts of fancy marketing materials. Instead focus on things that will help you and your brand interact with social media influencers in more intimate settings. How? Sponsor a bloggers’ luncheon, organize a tweetup or pay for round-table breakfasts.
Consider sponsoring a group of bloggers the way Pitney Bowes has sponsored the Bloggers’ Hub at the World Innovation Forum. One important note: make it clear that bloggers are able to freely express their point of view without being forced to mentioning your brand unless they want.
2) Be there and be human.
The same way you bring marketers and sales people to talk with perspective customers, you must have trained employees in social media to interact with bloggers, twitterers and other content creators before, during and after the event. This includes avoiding your usual marketing message push and simply being visible, accessible and friendly, plus doing everything possible to help bloggers succeed. What’s in it for me? – you ask. Your engagement will pay off overtime by raising your social capital and will eventually translate into positive mentions from content creators that others trust most.
3) Retain a high level of engagement.
Energize all active social media participants by sponsoring a social media friendly contest. Make sure the contest is simple enough and easy enough for event participants to engage in while on the go. Consider investing in programs to help some non-profits your event participants feel passionate about and where the power of many can create a real and sustainable social change. This year Pitney Bowes identified three innovation-focused charities to receive a $9K donation in celebration of PB’s 90th birthday and let others decide which non-profit should get the money. The innitiative generated over 60K votes and counting.
Do you have any additional tips that worked for social media activation at events? Share them in comments