Tradeshows are a gift to social marketers. Thousands of people, interacting with you, your company and your product. Think of the photo opportunities for your Facebook page. The opportunities to get customers to follow your Twitter accounts (product, company news, tech support etc etc). The opportunities to create buzz, interest and traffic.

Infocomm

So, with great interest, I ventured onto the floor of Infocomm ’09 to see how many companies would use these tools to elongate and enhance the penetration of the show into their customer base.

Simply put, it was a desert. Not one company I saw was driving or enhancing the show through social marketing. There were individuals tweeting from and about Infocomm (#IC09) but hardly any companies were tweeting corporately. Audix, Draper and NEC tweeted about product launches and Crestron tweeted from their party but, as far as I could tell, no one exploiting social marketing tools to gain extra penetration.

Relationships Rule

I used to service the AV industry and checking back in with some of my old dealers revealed an interesting pattern. Those dealers that focused on building relationships, communities and engaging users have weathered the economic storm better than those that focused on closing the sale.

I maintain that social marketing is not difficult it’s just time consuming and requires planning. The extra effort required to provide a social marketing perspective to a tradeshow is minimal. All that is needed is a plan and briefing of the guys working the booth. If those manufacturers and dealers who focused on the relationship have succeeded to keep their revenues ticking along I’m wondering why there was so little attempt to build the relationship through the show.

What I would have done.

  • Start a specific tradeshow/new product LinkedIn group.
  • Start a twitter feed for new products.
  • Get photo’s of booth visitors, get their names and permission to post to Facebook.
  • Tweet about product demo times/launches.
  • Follow up tweets on products launches.
  • Ask the customers if Twitter would be useful to disseminate information (shipping info, order status, support ticket status etc etc).

Next year I hope to find companies building relationship using social marketing tools. It’s not difficult, it won’t hurt and the worse thing that could happen is that you and your customers may get to know each other better.

What was your experience at Infocomm? Was there more social networking going on than I was aware of? Let me know, I’d love to know.