Social media at exhibitions

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The dominance of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in our personal and professional lives is increasingly influencing the way organisations position their brands, products and services. Latest industry figures show 2.5 million Twitter users across the UK and 145m or more worldwide, along with over 500m active Facebook and 50m LinkedIn users globally.As a result, digital marketing incorporating social media strategies has become a key weapon within the marketer’s arsenal. At the same time, mobile multimedia communications, driven by the Apple iPhone at the consumer end, and RIM’s BlackBerry in the corporate sector, are also changing how individuals receive and relate to information.The Ad:Tech exhibition and conference, organised by the Daily Mail Group subsidiary DMG Events, was held in London Olympia’s National Hall from 22 to 23 September and aimed at delivering new insights around social media and other digital marketing tools. Pre-show marketing incorporated 20 per cent offline and 80 per cent online activity. Email marketing was a key element of this, show director, Christophe Asselin said. One online improvement this year enabled exhibitors to set different landing pages for prospective visitors to reflect content for specific industry segments. “With all the acronyms this industry uses, it can be daunting,” Asselin said. “An exhibitor might want to go after new advertisers, or companies and entrepreneurs who spend a lot on digital marketing but who don’t know the language.”As part of Ad:Tech’s Expert Pathways, or “themed topic” approach, delegates could also set-up their own online programme of seminars to attend by selecting their key objectives from the event, as well as area of interest and desired outcome. This ranged from branding and advertising to lead generation, recruitment, market research and customer engagement. “The Expert Pathways aim to organise the overall content of the show in vertical [expert] and transversal [activities] themes,” Asselin explained. “If you decide that you are interested in Mobile Marketing for instance, I’ll let you know which exhibitors you should meet, which seminars or conference you should attend. It seems stupid, but most of the shows are missing this bit.”Registration was also given a facelift with the introduction of an avatar to guide visitors through the different steps. The tool was provided by online video production company, Gatewebvideo. To generate more visitors, DMG used a new online IQ test, branded ‘The Marketing Cow’. According to Asselin, 3,000 people undertook the web-based quiz to register for the show in the lead-up to the Ad:Tech event. As well as featuring across show newsletters, the quiz was promoted through social networking sites. Asselin said its aim was to attract people by challenging their knowledge of the digital market and positioning Ad:Tech as a way to learn.On the dayMobile and technology usage was also the name of the game once delegates hit the show floor. Barcode scanners read mobile phone registrations and also helped reduced paper waste, Asselin said. Other features included the targeted Mobile Marketing show and the Apps Zone centre of excellence and social networking area, as well as dedicated Google sessions.  Speakers on the day reflected the social media focus and included Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook. During sessions, micro blogging and Twitter featured prominently. Asselin said it employed a real-time Twitter wall to open up Q&A during show sessions and encourage more attendee engagement. In addition, DMG’s Webjay feature, now in its second year, provided on-the-spot editorial commentary and links to topics, historic campaigns and key points raised during presentations.Market conditionsThe sixth annual Ad:Tech event featured 170 exhibitors, as well as more than 120 workshops in seven theatres. Over 7,000 people attended the exhibition in 2009, according to BPA audited figures. Asselin claimed unaudited figures for 2010 showed an increase in attendance. Not surprisingly, the show was reviewed and discussed heavily online. But despite the digital buzz, Asselin said live events continued to be a necessary part of building relationships and awareness.“Nothing replaces the old face-to-face contact, the first-hand info and the great feeling of getting together and experiencing the buzz of a vibrant industry,” he said.
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