I’m pretty sure that’s how that song by Tina Turner goes, right?
Hmm, anyway…moving on 🙂
Around the time when SXSW was going on, you could generally find three kinds of statements.
1. OMG I’m so excited!!!!
2. I’m not going to SXSW. I’m going to be making money.
3. I wish I was at SXSW or barring that, I wish I didn’t have to see all of the tweets about it.
It was at this point that I really “got” what a huge difference there is between my everyday, work-a-day world and the world of Social Media.
See, in the B2B world, there are tons of trade shows, conferences, and educational events, but they are not really about getting seen with the right people or getting too drunk to remember where you are. The point of these conferences is actually to find prospects, meet with customers, maybe meet with your sales team, and have a little fun in between. Now, the problem is that the B2B world could probably use a dash of Social Media style engagement, and Social Media could probably use a dash of B2B philosophy at Social Media events. In all cases, having creative ways to engage with people is essential.
The Social Media Event
It’s possible that at Social Media events, the problem is not a lack of engagement but rather too much engagement. You always see a lot of great informative tweets based on talks and break-out sessions, and you always see a lot of pictures of people posing with “big names” or friends they enjoy seeing at these things. The question for these events is not how to be engaging. Rather, the question is how you can make that engagement count.
Ironically, using Social Media in advance of and during the event can help you do this, but I don’t often see these tools being used in the best possible way when big shows like Blogworld are going on. Here are some ideas.
1. If you’ve been to the event lots of times before, or if you’ve been to events in general, send out a tweet geared towards people who are saying it will be their first big Social Media event. Offer to have a meet-up so that you can offer pointers, introduce people to each other, and help make them feel comfortable. If you’re a Social Media consultant, this is also a very simple way to meet potential customers.
2. Similarly, if you’re going to a Social Media event but you’re coming from another industry, use Twitter or Facebook to see if anyone else in your industry is going. They may be prospects of yours or they may be peers, but in either case, solidifying a relationship with them and learning about Social Media together could be a great way to plant a seed for the future.
3. Send a quick little video to your new contacts instead of throwing your business cards at them. It doesn’t have to be more than 15 seconds long. You could say, “Hey, it was great getting to know you here at xyz show, and I hope we can connect again sometime soon.” They won’t have to worry about matching the face with the name. It’ll all be right there.
What are some other neat ideas for making your presence at Social Media events count?
Trade shows or B2B events
Now, trade shows or conferences are very different from Social Media events. You have aisles. You have booths. You have a lot of people trying to lure you in so they can scan your badge and count you as a lead, right? Well, why not spice things up a little bit by taking some engagement tips from the Social Media world? For example:
1. Set up a Facebook page in advance of a show and start a contest there to get people involved with your page. Build up the interaction and then, when you meet people at your booth, you’ll already know who they are (and you’ll have people coming to your booth who have already passed one layer of being interested in your products or services).
2. Tweet from your booth. If your company already has a Twitter account, don’t be shy about saying things like, “Wow, so and so just came by. It was great to talk to him in person!” Again, this also serves as a reminder to the person that they came by your booth and engaged with you.
3. Do you find it hard to answer everyone’s questions when you have a busy moment at your booth? The use of QR codes on your booth panels that lead to instructional videos can answer a lot of questions. This also helps you track your booth traffic, and it gives you a chance to have a more buyer-focused conversation with the visitor. This also prevents people from feeling ignored or unimportant as they wait to speak with you.
4. Instead of handing out lots of stuff that will probably end up being forgotten, why not create ways to begin an actual engaging relationship with visitors to your booth? Special cards with a QR code that leads to a video is an easy way to remind people of their visit with your booth, for example.
How else can you bring a little more engagement to your professional trade show?
A merging of tactics
If Social Media events become places where engagement is more carefully planned out, and if engagement is made a higher priority at more traditional trade shows and conferences, the possibilities for growing your type of business would skyrocket.
Don’t you think?
This is post #58 in the Engagement Series. Thank you for hanging in there with me! I hope you’re enjoying it 🙂
Image by Russell Hugo. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bearcatroc