The Trade show opportunity
Over 30,000 trade shows each year are managed by thousands of organisers (who employ tens of thousands of people), mobilise millions of exhibitors, entice hundreds of millions of visitors and generate >US$26Bn in revenues.
From a fringe techy activity, social media at trade fairs has exploded and today is an obligation if you wish to achieve successful trade show metrics.
The importance of social media at trade shows
The Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, conducted a survey of 500 companies of which “83% classed trade shows as the 2nd most important tool in the marketing mix, after their corporate web site”. And there is the link. Today, trade fairs remain as crucial to business development as ever, despite fears that the internet would replace those vital face to face meetings. But there is now a communications space where corporate online and their trade fair offline communications overlap, (the on and offline colliding), a major part of which is called social media.
What exactly is this burgeoning, much bandied, misunderstood term “social media”. Amongst the many good definitions, one that is short and sweet, social media: “is a social instrument of communication”. I like it as we get the social – the people – that is, you, me, everyone, up front. The instrument is interesting as it is open to wide interpretation, which justly reflects the thousands of tools currently used and those in development, in which we can work and play. And of course communications: those conversations that we all enjoy and even those less enjoyable ones. A more detailed definition states that social media, “is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking , social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media”.
The social media opportunity
Social media means different things to different purveyors and works differently with regards to their respective targeted audiences. A text book case study are the trade shows which have distinct and competing social media voices and ears, including: the organisers, exhibitors, visitors, speakers, sponsors and journalists. This vocal multitude, ensures an element of competition in a closed environment, which can give rise to shouting, and hence an almost impossible social media din. The targeted audiences, crowded with noise in the end cannot hear the messages of the purveyors. Social media at trade fairs is at an interesting point of development. We are at the beginning of the trade fair social media story, a brave new frontier for command of those $Bns in revenues mentioned above.