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Category Archives: tradeshows

HootSuite Presentation View

HootSuite OwlsI think it is safe the say that the majority of regular Twitter users are divided into two distinct camps when it comes to their Twitter application of choice: HootSuite or Tweetdeck. I started as a Tweetdeck user, but later committed to HootSuite when social media became part of my job and I haven’t looked back since. The program is extremely user friendly, offers time-saving solutions for online community managers and has a proven track record (with me at least) of providing quality customer service and responding promptly to user questions and complaints.

Earlier this week, HootSuite announced a new viewing option available to all users for no charge: HootSuite Presentation View. This new option is designed with Twitter users and hashtag activity associated with conferences and events in mind. According to HootSuite:

During special events – like conferences, speeches, and elections – updates can overwhelm even the quickest of owls. While you can set up a stream to monitor certain keywords, how do you keep an eye on real-time results without refreshing?

The answer: the Presentation View. This view allows users to see updates as they come with a clear and easy interface to show Tweets from all Twitter users – not just those with whom you have a follow/er relationship.

I love a company that understands its users’ interests and anticipates needs.

Being in the association and conference world, my only request for an improvement to Presentation View would be to allow users to customize the theme. Annual meeting signage usually follows a color scheme which is carried throughout the thousands of signs, carpet and drape, bags, printed publications and other telltale components of a conference seen inside and outside of a convention center. What can I say — we like consistency.

Minor kvetch aside, I’m still impressed and pleased with HootSuite for developing this new feature. Well done, owls!


You’ve got your big fancy booth. Now what? Let the shenanigans begin.

Lining the borders of your booth with very attractive, tall sales representatives (or hosts) doesn’t work.

The Ken and Barbie brigade is not inviting. In fact, it is often downright intimidating and leads to the opposite result, causing attendees to avoid eye contact and scurry past your booth. Think of the same effect evoked by the annoyingly aggressive mall kiosk workers, thrusting samples of hand lotion and cheap iPhone cases as you make your way through from store to store. Personally, I can’t get away from these people fast enough – they’re lucky if they get a glance and quick “No thank you!”

So you enlisted the Ken and Barbie brigade to represent your brand. What did you expect to happen?

What happens when you put a bunch of very attractive and young people in close proximity? Especially if they are not actual employees of the exhibiting company, meaning not as much is at stake. There will probably be some flirting socializing. Meaning potential prospects walk past unnoticed. This may not always be the case; however, I have witnessed this firsthand several times.

A tale of two tradeshows – examples of the good, bad and ugly in action.

What follows is a quick example of why spending money and time solely on flash – e.g. attractive staff and a fancy booth – can result in more harm than good.

Over the past 12 months I attended two industry tradeshows. I visited the booth of company A at one show and its competitor, company B at the other show. Let’s just say these were two vastly different experiences . . .

Company A

Company A had a modest booth, probably a 10×20, staffed by a senior level management representative. Meaning he knew the product up and down, had answers for all questions and successfully scored a follow-up lunch meeting. His demonstration of the product in action was flawless. This was almost one full year ago, and I remember a lot about our conversation and their product. And my supervisor ended up purchasing their product.

Not only did Company A save money by opting for a more modest booth, they accomplished their goals for the tradeshow – creating lasting professional relationships, backing up the brand and product’s value and ultimately landing a contract. A very worthwhile investment.

Company B

Company B had a bigger (maybe a 20×20 or 30?) and notably fancier booth, staffed by about 10-15 representatives. I specifically intended to visit this booth while walking the tradeshow floor because I was curious about their product. The young woman who approached me was hopefully a temp and not an actual employee of the exhibitor because what followed was . . . well, pathetic.

She wasn’t prepared to answer questions, and it showed. The giant iPhone she used to demonstrate the product was stubbornly uncooperative almost to the point of hilarity, but ultimately embarrassing for everyone.

Oh, and while it was very flattering, twice during her stumbling monologue she randomly paused to compliment my hair and jewelry. This is a tradeshow. You are there to educate people about your product and form professional relationships. This is not an appropriate place or time to ask me how I curled my hair!

Company B opted for a fancier booth, e.g. they invested a lot more in the show. And unfortunately, seemingly for nothing – except a tarnished image and failed tradeshow experience. If you are going to invest that kind of money to promote your company, spend the money to staff the booth with competent people, trained to effectively demonstrate your product! On equipment that works!

Modest exhibitor:           +1

Flashy exhibitor:             –0

Oh, and I’d almost guarantee that Company B probably blamed show management for their poor booth traffic and lack of leads, rather than reevaluating their strategy and focusing on the true issues.

Le sigh.

How I’m Following Expo! Expo! From 900 Miles Away

Let’s kick off this post by saying kudos to Convention News Television for their excellent coverage of  IAEE’s Expo! Expo!— a conference geared for professionals in the events and exhibitions industry— which is currently taking place in New Orleans. (You can check out the coverage by clicking here.) CNTV offers conference planners a way to leverage video coverage to enhance events, and “provides unique coverage for the meetings industry that can be sponsored… generating a new stream of revenue for our clients.

In addition to providing valuable content for attendees and offering an innovative sponsorship opportunity, CNTV also provides value for those unable to attend the event.

I was fortunate enough to be an attendee of Expo! Expo! in 2009 (primarily due to the convenient and cost-effective venue – just a couple of miles from my then home). Although I know I’m missing out on a great event this year, I am currently sitting at my dining room table (a mere 900 plus miles away) keeping up with the meeting via the interesting and helpful video coverage. The coverage—which is very professionally executed— offers more than a simple glimpse of the meeting’s hot topics and highlighted events. It also serves as an excellent reminder of the on-site excitement, valuable networking opportunities and education that I experienced during last year’s conference. What a powerful and impressive way to generate interest and encourage non-attendees to check out future IAEE offerings!

The only thing on my wish list to enhance the CNTV coverage of IAEE would be the addition of truly impromptu man-on-the-street style interviews* with attendees and speakers throughout the meeting, a la Emilie Barta during EventCamp 2010. Incorporating less formal, unscripted testimonials and commentary from attendees and speakers would liven the coverage up while creating more of a connection for non-attendees.

*I may have missed existing coverage in this format, or it may be incorporated in future coverage I haven’t yet seen.

Finally, although I’m green with envy, I’m loving the Twitterfeed (the hashtag is #expoexpo if you want to follow along) — so keep your tweets coming and have a great time in NOLA!

[Image via the IAEE website]

Kudos to the IAEE Social Media Task Force White Paper Subgroup!

Just came across this post on MeetingsNet discussing the recently published IAEE SMTF White Paper — How to Properly Use Social Media to Enhance and Promote Your Event — and I wanted to share: How to Get the Most From Social Media.

Great job, team! 🙂

And a big thank you to Emily Zeigenfuse at ACC for being so helpful and answering all of my questions while I worked on the case study!

You can view the White Paper directly by clicking here.

Fairguide Warning from IAEE

This scam happened to at least one of our exhibitors. If you are an exhibitor of any type, you should take a minute to read IAEE’s warning about this scam targeting exhibitors: An Important Warning to all Exhibitors about Expo-Guide

Now Available – IAEE Social Media Task Force White Paper

I’m a bit embarrassed at how long it has been since my last update – but oh well, every blogger is guilty of this once in a while.

One of the reasons that I have been too busy to dedicate time to the blog was the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the IAEE Social Media Task Force – and more specifically, part of the subgroup responsible for writing a White Paper on best practices for using social media in conjunction with events.

Without further adieu, I am proud to present the IAEE Social Media White Paper: How to Properly Use Social Media to Enhance and Promote Your Event.

Special thanks to the amazing team for allowing me to be a part of this truly rewarding experience.

Michelle Bruno, CEM, CMP – Lead Writer and Co-Chair

Joyce McKee – Co-Chair
Stuart Aizenberg, CEM
Kelly Flowers

Nate Knight

David Haas
Pat Phillips
Maggie McGary

Christina Stallings
Tim Ward
Heidi Vorhees
Kiki L’Italien
Staff Liaison: Susan Brower, CMM, CCP

Next Steps – Even More Targeted, Relevant Social Media Research – Care to offer some advice?

Year-round, I send out a monthly newsletter to our regular exhibitors. Articles typically cover upcoming deadlines, important dates, registration statistics, advertising opportunities, sponsorship opportunities, etc. Now that my organization has made the decision to move forward with social media initiatives for our 2010 annual meeting, I’ve realized that the exhibitor newsletter opens up a perfect opportunity to explore *exactly* what our exhibitors are doing, or not doing, or are interested in doing, with regards to social media – and their perspective on social media initiatives led by show management.

We are approaching social media with a carefully considered and thoughtful short-term strategy, which will provide us with the metrics to then determine our long-term strategy. One important consideration as we move forward is finding new and creative ways to leverage social media to increase the value of exhibiting and sponsorship in and around our annual meeting. This could range from new sponsor benefits to new metrics to provide in return for sponsorship and/or increased exhibit hall traffic.

The natural first step seems to be surveying our exhibitors to see where they are currently with social media and how they would like to see both their organization and show management using social media.

Please keep in mind that this is concerning a medical meeting, and thus subject to regulatory and compliance considerations, i.e., activities should not be too “carnivally” or “fun” in nature and should reflect a professional tone.

The goals of the survey would include:

Would the exhibitors benefit and appreciate social media initiatives led by show management geared at:

  • Attendees in an attempt to boost exhibit hall traffic; and if so, we would encourage them to provide suggestions to optimize this use of social media
  • Exhibitors to open up the collaborative “town hall” discussion year-round, and to exhibitors of all sizes and types

Obvious survey items would include requesting exhibitors to share their organization’s current social media involvement, the level of involvement for their personal use of social media, their opinion of various prospective social media initiatives (e.g. exhibit hall ‘scavenger hunt’, announcing product theater presentations, exhibit hall hours reminders, etc.) to increase exhibit hall traffic, positive/negative social media experiences at similar meetings, etc.

My question for you all –

Based on the goals of the survey – what unique and helpful questions would you include in the survey (taking into consideration the current regulatory landscape)?

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