How do you use social media to create a more engaging tradeshow experience? Based on the pervasive hash tags and social media tracking boards at last week’s Cisco Live in San Diego, Cisco has confronted that challenge successfully. Part of the secret is creating a Social Media Hub.
Cisco Live, which is an industry seminar, tradeshow, and user group conference for Cisco customers and partners, featured its Social Media hub prominently on the tradeshow floor. Although a social media hub has been used for several years, this is the first time the hub has moved out from the back office. As many as 5 people supported the tradeshow hub, which featured several live monitors, and was built with the following social media tools:
Kred—This tool is the “scoreboard” for the on-line social community. It tracks influencers and outreach. Influencers are those whose actions drive retweets, mentions and new follows. Those scoring high in outreach are heavily engaged in conversations with others. Kred’s claim to fame is that its scoring methodology is transparent, so that participants know exactly how much participation is required to move up on the scoreboard.
TweetRiver—this platform works as a filter, ensuring content displayed on Twitter boards and monitors is engaging, in the desired language, and free of spam and profanity.
Social Miner—although the Hub focused on Twitter, this platform can also aggregate content from a variety of sources, including blog posts, Facebook public pages, and other public forums. It’s designed as a customer care tool to aggregate relevant content for monitoring and response. Cisco designed and markets this application for contact center agents as a social media work flow manager, but it is versatile and can be used for a variety of situations.
So a Social Media Hub is a pretty cool thing at a tradeshow, but what are its functions?
- Drive engagement among attendees
- Highlight common themes and topics
- Protect the twitter feed from malicious comments or hash tag hijacking. It’s sad to say, but you know your event is a hit when you have to worry about this. The last thing you want to do is to prominently display come-ons for free iPad spam or worse on your event boards
- Create an on-line event presence for those unable to attend in person. They can help to drive engagement within the larger social media audience, in turn building demand for future events.
Here are several tips which can help you make sure your tradeshow social media activities are effective:
Mobile application is a must. When attendees have an abundance of educational sessions, social events, and customer meetings, a huge value add is to have an on-line schedule or calendar application. Since 35% of mobile phone shipments are for smart phones, mobile applications are a highly demanded item. Plus, the application saves the conference organizer flyer and catalog printing expenses, projects a “green” image, and allows for session pre-registration, enabling meeting room capacity forecasting, and facilitating those last minute venue / speaker changes that are inevitable.
Link social to a mandatory application. As is true with desktop enterprise collaboration, when you link the social application to the vital scheduler application, you greatly increase social adoption. The mobile application for CiscoLive had a Social Networks tab, allowing attendees to post to Facebook, or Twitter by connecting their accounts. Or, they could follow the discussion, even if they didn’t have a Twitter account. Video keynotes were available via the mobile application.
Promote, promote, promote. CiscoLive displayed many monitors throughout the venue. Human nature is to check the live content to see the hot topics, and who has their name “in lights.” Individual session moderators need to be sure to remind audience members of both the event and the session hash tag if there is one.
Gamification. Due to crowd size, it would take up to 30 minutes for all attendees to arrive and be seated for keynotes. During that time, a Q&A game with fun Cisco and industry trivia was displayed on the gigantic venue monitors. Audience members registered their multiple choice trivia vote in the mobile application. Those who got the question right saw their names streamed on the venue monitors. It was a nice touch, plus it built familiarity with the scheduling and social media application.
Are the Cisco Live social media tactics working? The numbers speak for themselves: attendance has grown from 9000 to 17000 in the past four years. For those who say social media doesn’t work for B-to-B, I say look again.