Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on how to develop a social media strategy for an B2B exhibition. Once I’ve learnt how to create a strategy and its been defined I’ll look to integrate it and build it into the existing digital marketing plan. [It hasn’t been easy]
Research research research
I’ve been doing a lot of research on this topic – observing what experts are doing and saying. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time scouring the web, reading books like ‘Web 2.0: a strategy guide‘, talking to folk, reading related tweets (from Twitter) and following the #w2e discussions. It’s been extremely helpful, but I still don’t fully understand a total integratiion path (to creating a strategy). My situation is slightly unique, I think, as I’m not building a social media website – I’m ‘plugging’ social media into an exhibition website. I’m wanted to use social media to build new audiences, communities etc.. to support an existing face-to-face traditional exhibition website. Folk at these exhibitions have been meeting in-person for years – to do business, showcasing their products, be seen to being there, networking, etc.
Look at likeness
So while all my research was taking place I missed one most obvious place – an exhibition/conference website that does social media extremely well (in my opinion) and organised solely for this intent – Web 2.0 Expo New York. The only difference between the two is that Web 2.0 Expo is principally a B2C conference/exhibition whereas my project deals with B2B. I might need to adapt the strategy (perhaps not?), but I think the principle stays much the same (I hope).
So, I started looking around the Web 2.0 Expo website and soon found myself discovering ‘little gems’ splattered everywhere. (Doh – why didn’t I think about this sooner?) The most obvious revelation was the ‘Stay Connected‘ table displaying the various ways visitors to the expo can stay in touch and share their experiences. What better way to communicate with your customers (delegates/visitors) than through a multitude of social media communctaion channels. The principle: use the website’s social channels to communicate (and market the event).
The ‘Stay Connected’ table of channels include: Backchannel, Social Network: CrowdVine, Twitter, Facebook Group Attending? Add to Dopplr, Web 2.0 Expo RSS Feed, Tag with del.icio.us and Sign Up for the Newsletter.
So who’s doing the marketing now?
Looking at what some folk are saying about Web 2.0 Expo seems that most of the commentary is positive (Dion Hinchcliffe on twitter for example is just one comment). Even if they’re not directly praising the event they’re giving a tangable and non-commercial feel about the expo. As I’ve mentioned most commentators are raving about the event… essentially doing the marketing the job for Web 2.0 Expo. Simple social media principles – communicate on a local level and ‘trust’ is earned. Take a look at the Web 2.0 Expo hashtag tweets. Even the organiser (w2e_NY08) has helped set a non-corporate tone that resonates with the audience (albeit mostly informative tweets).
This sort of social media integration doesn’t work within all sectors of business (B2B) exhibitions. In the agricultural sector, for example IOG Saltex, customers are not so digital connected or astute (It’s a huge assumption I know). Even so, by tayloring our social platforms to accommodate our customers, it could work. Perhaps we should be looking at de-commissioning traditional marketing techniques as we know it.
What should WE do (or try and do)?
1. Mashup of ideas (social media)
2. Really understand our visitors/customers and their needs
3. Create the social media entities
4. Develop their personalitites
5. Bring these personalities to life
6. Keep listening and talking to your visitors (repeat repeat…)
7. Reward your visitors (incentivise)