To quote the famous 1980′s TV commercial, “Where’s the beef?” Or to quote the iconic 1990′s movie line, “Show me the money.” Or to be more specific, the question for this post is this: Can social media improve your trade show marketing results?
It seems to me that social media doesn’t have quite as much buzz any more. My friend who has some Facebook stock now calls the company “faceplant” instead of Facebook. And I can’t help noticing that I seem to hear less now about how trade show marketeers just absolutely MUST incorporate and build their trade show campaign and exhibiting plans around social media. For the last few years it seemed that almost every trade show booth graphic design I saw had a facebook page address and a twitter handle, but now I’m seeing less of that (though fortunately, almost everyone still has a website listed, which I do think is critical). I hear less about social media now, but I still hear a few diehard promoters of social media singing its praise. I was skeptical of social media in the past, and I still am a skeptic today. Yes, I admit I am “old school” and a bit of a trade show curmudgeon (some would even say luddite), but I have yet to see a case study of how social media really improved the outcome for an average-joe trade show exhibitor. I’m not saying social media in general isn’t huge, I’m just not convinced that it is commercially viable when it comes to trade show marketing. I see and hear a lot of personal use of social media. I see people glued to their smart phones texting and watching youtube videos instead of talking to the people around them, but it seems like social media is more used to talk about things like what ones kid did at school, or whether or not Kim Kardashian is really pregnant, and not for learning about some unknown company’s upcoming trade show exhibiting plans. An exhibitor has limited time and resources, so how much time should they put into creating a Facebook page, or tweeting every hour about their latest thought on what they might do at their upcoming show? Is anyone out there really listening, and does anyone care?
Now my rant aside, I’m curious if anyone has read a real-life case study showing that an exhibitor actually had a measurable, positive, and significant return on their social media investment, and how they did it. Are there any “social media trade show marketing” experts with a track record of success who can tell joe-average exhibitor that if they do x-y-z, it will improve their trade show results and by how much?
I admit that I may be missing something. I am a big believer in the importance of having an online presence, which means having a website. But I also think one is better off improving their existing website rather than spending time building a separate Facebook page. I think company blogs can be useful if they contain useful information and are updated regularly. And I believe in pre-show publicity and promotion, but is twitter a viable way to do it? It seems it would only work depending on who is following you, and I’m just not sure how many followers the average-joe exhibitor has.
So feel free to let me know what I am missing and if you know of any real life success stories of trade show exhibitors using social media and being successful at it, especially if others could learn from and implement the “trade show marketing social media” success story. Or let me know if you agree with me and have always wondered what all the fuss was about social media, and have never agreed with the idea that all companies must have a VP of Social Media Development.
Feel free to comment and discuss.