To limit this year-end list to just five biz bloggers doesn’t do justice to the dozens – hundreds, really – of other business bloggers. But these five have always enlightened me, entertained me and yes, informed me with cutting edge material. Good stuff.
Seth Godin – long considered the granddaddy of permission marketing, Seth Godin’s blog is deceptively simple. Short and thoughtful posts are the rule, with few exceptions.
David Meerman Scott – David went from a corporate type to speaking and writing about social media and PR. He’s given his books away as free PDF downloads, which has garnered him attention, speaking gigs and a pretty good career.
Chris Brogan – “Learn how human business works.” I don’t get to Chris’s blog as often as I’d like, but when I do, something tasty is always waiting there for me.
Brian Solis – “defining the convergence of media and influence.” Brian has been blogging since before it was called blogging. Known as a thought-leader in the business and social media world.
Jeff Bullas – leading commentary on social media and how it affects your company.
Here we are getting down to the ‘smaller’ blogs. Yet they pack a punch. I like the blogs operated by a single person or a small company with information and posts from dedicated bloggers. It’s refreshing and illuminating to see what types of posts come out of the smaller blogs.
So, here are my favorite five event-related blogs for the year.
In spite of Classic Exhibits’ support of this blog, that’s not the reason I’m including them. I always find unusual, entertaining and informative blog posts from Mel White and Kevin Carty, the two main bloggers. They’ve been in the industry long enough to know what’s important enough to blog about. You may feel there’s a little too much self-promotion on the blog, but it’s tempered by a lot of posts that are just damn useful
Covering event marketing from Facebook and mobile marketing to creating a YouTube channel for your event, the Event Manager Blog gets a lot of things right. Plus it’s a nicely designed blog, making it easy to spend time there – a big plus in the crowded blogosphere.
I wish Ken blogged more often – he’s that good. Funny, thought-provoking and informative, Ken’s goal is to make you a better exhibitor – and entertain you at the same time. Also one of the best tradeshow presenters in the biz.
One of my favorite bits of TechCrunch is TechCrunch TV, which regularly features interviews with interesting (both known and unknown) folks in the social media/technical world. That and a lot of solid content keeps me coming back.
Of course it’s absurd to call any set of five videos ‘the Top 5’ but it’s fun to create lists, anyway. For the past week I’ve been reviewing videos of 2011 to see which ones floated to the top. There are a lot of social media videos (of course), but these are the five that grabbed my attention.
Social Media Revolution 2011
This video captured the zeitgeist of the various social media stats floating around and presented them in a compelling way:
Egypt’s Uprising: Tracking How Social Media Stirred Action
Social media is changing the world, and giving voice and freedom to a generation that won’t sit still while the current leaders try and keep the status quo. Here’s an interview from Dubai-based News Group International on how social media affected some of the uprisings in the Middle East:
As part of my creation of an upcoming social media event marketing training site, I’m putting together a number of videos on how to use various social media platforms. Watch for the site to launch in early 2012. In the meantime, here’s one of those videos – this is a review of the types of LinkedIn accounts – which one is right for you?
No, not the kind of engagement where you have to buy the girl a nice diamond ring that costs three months salary and leads to you saying “I do” in front of hundreds of people. We’re talking social media engagement, the kind that starts when you post something interesting on your Twitter or Facebook profile and people share it because they liked it so much.
So what does it take to be good at social media engagement?
Bottom line: what is interesting? If you find something interesting, chances are that someone else will find it interesting, too. While it’s a simple concept, like many simple things, the actual implementation of ‘being interesting enough to re-tweet’ is harder than it sounds.
First, you have to know your audience. What kinds of people are following you? Or more importantly, what kind of people do you want to follow you? Because if you push out some really fun and engaging tweets, they’ll get re-tweeted and you’ll continue to pick up more followers – the kind that like your type of tweets!
Second, you have to be able to articulate in a very short space what you like and what you find engaging and interesting. That may mean sending links out with your tweets or Facebook posts – which is certainly okay; after all, those longer form posts just won’t fit in a tweet – but when you send out a link, realize that you’re doing the same as 90% of all the other people tweeting. Most are sharing links. Can you create a tweet that stands on its own without a link and is still fun and engaging, or clever? If you can do that, and leave some space for someone’s Twitter handle, chances go up that it’ll get re-tweeted over and over.
If you’re paying attention to the kinds of posts and tweets that get shared again and again, and you are able to create similar posts, you’ll find that your audience is engaging with you.
Admittedly, doing this is not the easiest thing in the world to do for most of us. We are in awe of those people that seemingly invent clever tweets in a moment’s time that relates to something in the news. So, pick your moments. When you find something that is interesting to you, think about what interests you about it. What makes it interesting? Can you put your thoughts or observations into a short, pithy tweet? Can you find a new twist on it? Even if it’s not perfect, get it out there.
Find out what your community is interested in and then be interesting to them.
That’s how to get more followers that can’t wait to read what you’re up to today. That’s the art of engagement.
It makes sense to drum up as much interest before an event as possible, even prior to any official promotion launch. In fact, social media is ideally suited for just this task. By putting a blog post or video together, for instance, on what is coming at the event (even though it may be months away), and driving traffic to that blog post or video through social media, you’ve already primed the pump to whet people’s appetites for the event.
Also, by searching for and keeping tabs on Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups and discussion boards and Twitter accounts you can slowly expand your reach and build momentum. One key to this effort is to uncover which of the social media platforms your audience hangs out at the most. You should be able to do this through searching for hashtags on Twitter, groups on LinkedIn and association or event pages on Facebook and examining the number of people involved and the level of engagement by those people.
Before the Event
Depending on the size of the event, you should consider building a small event-related blog. WordPress blogs are easy to set up and customize and domains are about $10 a year. If you’re the promoter, this is mandatory so you have a landing spot online for information related to your show. Here’s where you’ll include all pertinent info, including cost, times, dates, contact info, how to purchase a space, etc.
If you’re an exhibitor, it’s still a very useful piece of your pre-show promotion. It’s easy to share blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and relevant LinkedIn groups, and a blog legitimizes your platform more than just a Facebook event listing.
But don’t forget the Facebook listing, either. It’s easy to set up, and easy to invite people. Don’t invite everyone – although Facebook gives you this capability – because it’s a waste of time. People across the country or in another country don’t care and people who can’t relate to your event won’t bother to respond. So pick and choose.
Set up a LinkedIn event page as well. Here you can only invite 50 people once the event listing is created, but this is good in that it forces you to choose carefully who to invite. Focus on those who might actually come and benefit from the event.
During the Event
Not every exhibitor is working hard on social media to engage show visitors, although at times it seems like that. Still, you can make your efforts stand out by offering great value in your booth, such as high-profile guests, demonstrations, high-value giveaways or downloads and other enticements.
Be sure you know what the standard hashtag for the event is. While there is no official repository of hastags (that I know of) since they come and go quickly, a medium to large event should have a hashtag that is getting used by exhibitors and attendees. Once you determine what the hashtag is, use it in every single event-related tweet.
During the event, someone from your staff can be in charge of creating content for either your blog or for other social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook. This might also include videos for YouTube or Facebook, which might include testimonials, demonstrations of products or explanations of services.
If you’re able, set up a Twitter board. It’s easy enough to put up a large flat screen hooked up to a laptop that displays real-time tweets using the show’s hashtag. This does a couple of things: first it shows people that you’re on the cutting edge (although not so much as a year or two ago), and secondly, it gives people a reason to tweet about your booth and your company, just so they can see their tweet show up in real time. Believe me, it happens!
Be sure to shoot a LOT of video. The more you shoot, the more you have to share after the show. As the weeks and months go on, if you can still offer pertinent information via your social media outlets, you’ll continue to stay in your prospects’ minds. Even if you don’t shoot much extra video, use information from the show (comments, insights, etc) to create more blog and Facebook posts.
This is just a start – no doubt you can find more ways to promote your tradeshow, event or conference using social media. If you think of something I didn’t mention, be sure to add it in the comment section below!
Setting up a virtual tradeshow website for your tradeshow appearance is as easy as setting up a new website. Mainly because that’s exactly what it is. While I’ve seen a number of ways to do it, having a blog platform for your virtual tradeshow gives you the most control and flexibility.
There are some platforms that allow you to set up an virtual ‘booth’ which looks graphically much like a booth, replete with branding, graphics, aisles, floor sections and more. The trouble is, it looks like a website from 1998.
With a WordPress blog platform, you can customize it to no end and maintain total control over the process, look and feel and content.
So why set up a blog that’s specific to a single show appearance? Because you can funnel lots of eyeballs there, and once those eyeballs arrive, you can drive them to other useful things, such as opting into email lists, downloading branded white papers, ‘liking’ your Facebook page or more.
A well-built site that’s specific to a show will be packed with content. Some of that content would optimally be posted before the show to prep the world to the site. While this would be very useful for search engines, it is also a prime opportunity to invite your current clients and newsletter subscribers to check it out. Once the show is underway, have a plan to post videos, articles, interviews, photos and more on the site. Make it a place for people to find general information about the show, and specific information about your products and services and company.
Even though you have the virtual tradeshow website, don’t forget about Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter. Use those outlets to inform the wider population by the use of hashtags (Twitter), keywords (YouTube and Flickr) and ongoing conversation (Facebook). Those social media platforms will help raise awareness and drive traffic to your main site, even though much of the content is the same.
Two recent examples of the use of virtual tradeshow websites come to mind: the site set up for Osram Opto Semiconductor for Lightfair and the site put up by Griffin Technologies for their appearance at CES in 2010. Both were quite successful, and should be used as models for how to set up your own virtual tradeshow website.
So, the short list:
Set up a blog that focuses on one event
Register a domain and create a name for the blog that describes your company and appearance at the show
Create some content before the show, mainly teaser material
Post obsessively during the show: videos, articles, photos, interviews, product reviews, testimonials, booth guest schedules, demo schedules, etc.
Post much of the same material to Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, using keywords, show and company hashtags, links back to your site.
After the show, continue to post updated material or video and information from the show for at least a couple of months. It’ll help keep the site high in the search engines. Plus, if you can keep material dripping onto the site for the rest of the year until the next show, it’s a great set-up for the next year.
Your payback for your time and energy will be much more visibility and a unique record of all the materials you took and archived at the show.
It can’t be the easiest thing to post video from a tradeshow floor, there amongst the chaos and cacophony of exhibitors and attendees.
However, if you make a plan to get some video out during the show, you’ll surely benefit from it!
So to make a plan, make sure you have the pieces you’ll need:
YouTube or Facebook account
Video camera: Flip or Kodak; Smartphone with video capabilities or similar
Online access, either via a laptop with direct ‘net access or w-fi, or your Smartphone
Ability to edit video (or at least be able to shoot short videos that are ready-to-upload immediately upon shooting)
A list of types of videos you’d like to shoot
Once you have the first four items – the technical ability to shoot, edit and upload video – your next step is to create the shortlist of types of videos you’d like to shoot.
Some of those that you might consider include:
Guest appearances in your booth (authors, tech guys, creative folks who don’t normally see the light of day!)
Brief discussions with company reps (CEO, Marketing folks, etc) that discuss pertinent topics taking place at the show
Once you create the list, you are ready for the show. To implement your plan, put someone in charge. Create a schedule, which may include dates and times for product demos, guests, etc. If you can schedule testimonials with your raving clients, do so. Other testimonials may just grow out of random visits from clients or customers. Look for opportunities to put them in front of the camera. If you have room in your booth, leave the camera up on a tripod and ask if they have a few minutes to discuss your product and how it works for them.
If you can follow this type of shooting schedule and compile several raw videos during the show, chances are you can find a few per day to upload to your YouTube channel or to Facebook (or both). Hopefully, you’ll have a lot of videos that will give you plenty of material that you can edit and release over the next several months, hopefully right up to the promotion of next year’s appearance at the same show.
You’ll benefit from posting video in numerous ways: showing non-attendees what’s going on by including them in your show; showing off the various people who do attend (people love the attention); increasing brand awareness, showing how a product works to someone who might not have otherwise ever seen in, which might create a new customer; putting a face on company employees who might otherwise remain nameless and faceless, which makes your company more attractive to people who like to know the kinds of people they’re considering purchasing from, and much more. No doubt you could add to this list of reasons why shooting video at your tradeshow is beneficial – in fact, feel free to do so!