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HEAD TO HEADvisitor communicationIn what way can social media help to market an exhibition, grow visitor numbers or hinder a show's development?Jonquil Coy EvEnt dirEctor LEarning and SkiLLS 2012,cLoSErStiLL MEdiaSocial media (SoMe) is surely a show organiser's dream. We are able to maintain a level of year-round engagement with exhibitors and visitors that hasn't been possible to such an extent before. Yes, we all put in regular calls as well as email news periodically, and enjoy a lunch or two with exhibitors mid-cycle, but does that really add much meaningful value? What we are now able to do in the Web 2.0 era is properly augment an event with a year-round amplification of the client's marketing activity. By scheduling postings using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, regularly promoting exhibitor news, recruitment needs and sales messages through our own SoMe event channels, we genuinely add value. Event accounts will inevitably attract significant followings (but in varying degrees) on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In the case of a launch, an online buzz provides a timely dimension that traditional lead-time media would struggle to deliver. But all this amplification needs filtering and Web 2.0 is about curation and rationalising the noise into what is genuinely of interest to our audience. That is where tools like 'Storify', '' and '' come in. These enable the aggregation of a topic, a Twitter hash-tag or an entire Facebook page link library into a regular newspaper/magazine format. This can then be tweeted and cross-posted to Facebook as genuinely valuable (and appreciated) marketing for exhibitors, as well as supplying vendor information and content summaries for visitors. On the subject of visitor promotion, a Twitter-supported Facebook page with a time-limited delegate discount code or contextual giveaway will encourage early registrations, and then as 'likers' will provide visitors with an easy platform for pre-show questions and a conduit for up-to-the-minute news. These, together with a LinkedIn networking group, provide a year-round viral dimension. An effective strategic plan begins with goal and metrics identification, implementation of a content strategy and then a results measurement process.Dan SewellMarkEting ManagEr, UppEr StrEEt EvEntSEvent marketeers should be embracing social media as part of their overall strategy to help improve a show's offering while increasing footfall. For every event there is a social media platform that can add benefit to a marketing team's strategy for very little outlay. Any show that dismisses social media does so at its own peril.Deciding on the correct platform is crucial to the success of the campaign. Across the Upper Street Events portfolio we use a range of social media solutions with each being a considered choice for individual shows. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are most commonly used but we are always looking to experiment. For example, Move It has a young audience profile with huge musical and video influences, so we are starting to trial YouTube as a medium.One of the pitfalls of using social media is the amount of time it takes to implement, so make sure you define a clear set of goals and stick to them. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and lost in a world of re-tweets, likes and sheep throwing. Social media provides exhibitions with exciting opportunities to engage with audiences on a completely new level. At Upper Street we have created mini-campaigns through our social channels to help build momentum for an exhibition and raise awareness. For example, this year at Language Show Live we are using Twitter to facilitate a virtual Q&A seminar session for visitors and non-attendees. There are a vast range of statistics you can collect from your social media applications that provide insights for both the sales and marketing teams. This can help bring in new partners and sponsors looking to engage via your social media channels. At Upper Street we do not profess to having all the answers but we have identified that in order to grow our shows and our customer loyalty, it is worth investing money and resources into social media. However, we are cautious about an over-reliance on it and do not see social media overtaking a good old fashioned direct mail and email campaign. well not just yet anyway!ChriStophe aSSelin EvEnt dirEctor ad:tEch,dMg EvEntSI am uncomfortable with the term 'social media' as a standalone marketing activity. The web has been designed from day one to create interactivity among people via information. As the tools and the platform become more sophisticated and popular, the marketing and advertising community has rediscovered the virtue of conversing with customers (that is, a paradigm shift of communication from many to many instead of one to many).The game is less about pushing messages into people's faces (quantity of exposure/impression) and more about seeding ideas and creating stories in the forefront of people's minds (quality of conversation). Well-known social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook offer similar functionalities. The only things that differ are the audience, the context and the engagement. What should remain constant is the narrative.Before our show, we aim to seed ideas, farm information and listen to what people are interested in. As an organiser we are now more responsive and can test ideas in real-time. Sharing fun stuff and challenging your friends have been huge factors in Facebook's success. Using the same insight, ad:tech London launched The Marketing Cow in 2008 - a game that is competitive and viral as a result of people posting scores on their Facebook and Twitter pages. The educational aspect also draws people to the show.The Twitter wall has been used during our show for the past three years and we have never had a problem with abuse: People appreciate it is a public place. It's also an instant show analysis tool.In the past, the relationship between visitor and exhibition providers was extremely disconnected. Visitors now feel they have involvement and it has become more tangible, while organisers and exhibitors are becoming more engaging. Yet the ultimate power still lies with organisers to be gatekeepers of this information and keep it in line with the structure, aims and mission statements of the 21FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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