By Shannan Vance, Marketing Director, Liaison Healthcare Infromatics
On Oct. 16, I had an opportunity to join a webinar hosted by Dodge Communications, a business partner of Liaison Healthcare Informatics. The webinar entitled – “Tweet, Meet and Greet: Leveraging Social Media to Boost Your Trade Show Results” provided some helpful information and I thought I would share the key ‘take-aways’.
The webinar was a panel of marketing professionals within the Healthcare Industry, which included Mid-Columbia Medical Center IT Evangelist Brian Ahier, Billian Social Marketing Director Jennifer Dennard, and Healthcare Information Management Systems Society Social Media Manager Cari McLean. The moderator of the webinar was Brad Dodge, CEO of Dodge Communications.
Brian Ahier began his presentation by reminding listeners that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules apply to social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Companies were advised to have a clear social media policy in place before implementing a social media-marketing plan for their organization.
Ahier’s recommendation for using Social Media at trade shows and events was to include “Tweetable moments” within a presentation. These “Tweetable moments” were quickly and precise content that can fit into the 140 character requirement of a Twitter message. He also suggested using SlideShare and YouTube so that presentations could be shared on blog sites. To increase efficiency, he suggested using tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite to post information on multiple platforms and link-shortening sites like bit.ly to make it easier to Tweet web addresses.
Jennifer Dennard’s suggestion for getting the most from Tradeshow presentations was to ensure that content was current, up-to-date, and news worthy. “Content is king” was the primary message of her presentation. She recommended creating content before, during, and after tradeshows. She also suggested that companies who are presenting at shows should know the tools they’re using in advance and establish a plan for promoting their presentations ahead of time. Some of the tools that she has used that provided great response was LinkedIn groups and Pinterest. She stated that Billian’s customarily uses these sites to promote their presence at the shows and establish official hash-tags for the event beforehand.
Dennard’s suggestion for the utilization of social media while at the actual event included: signage exhorting guests to follow their organization on Facebook and Twitter or connect with them through the professional network – LinkedIn. She concluded her presentation by suggesting that companies should use social media to share pictures, post success stories, provide information on content learned and provide a link to any presentations that were presented by Billian’s while at the show.
Cari McLean recommended that companies use social media to share information, engage others, and demonstrate thought leadership. She made a point to state that the use of social media to self-promote, service customers, broadcast, or replace other marketing media could potentially exclude prospects and customers from following your organization. She suggested that Companies should listen to what their audiences are saying — find out what they’re interested in and see how to join the conversation and contribute value, rather than provide a “hard-sales” approach when using any social media.
In regard to trade shows, McLean recommended that organizations focus on generating content, specifically recommending live-tweeting presentations. She agreed with Ahier’s recommendations on bite-sized nuggets in presentations that can be tweeted. In today’s business environment, almost all company representatives carry some form of mobile device and are able to take photos, shoot video, or event Tweet and Blog on the fly. Utilizing Social Media best practices, will help ensure that what is presented about your organization is consistent with the messaging that your organization portrays about itself.
At the conclusion of the presentation, Dodge Communications CEO, Brad Dodge asked the panel about what methods worked best with trade show audiences. The response from the panel was to be connected to the platforms that the show sponsors are using to promote the event. Having a good understanding of the tactics used by the conference organizers will provide a solid foundation to build your organizations’ social media plan for the event. It was also suggested that all social media platforms should be included. Event though Facebook seems to be less “Business-orieted”, many of your initial prospects and customers may have originally connected through this outlet. It is also a great place to connect with new connections made at the event, as it is less formal than LinkedIn and may provide an advantage in the future.
When asked about the most effective social media strategies, the recommendation of using multimedia content like info-graphics, photos and short videos draw the most attention. Heavier content such as white papers and case studies are great assets to have, but should be used separately either before or after the event. The recommendation to have videos on the show floor provides a reason for attendees to stop, even if to take in a quick peak. Having Tweetable quotes, education session materials, and one-sheet info-graphics can set you apart from other exhibitors. The final question regarding generic hash-tags was asked by one of the audience members. The panel stated that these tags could be used effectively if people are contributing frequently and with good content. It was suggested that the number of hash-tags used should be minimal to avoid junked-up Tweets. When there are so many hash-tags within a post, it can result in unreadable information. It was suggested that using the conference tag and maybe one or two other tags related to subtopics would suffice, but not to forget to add creative clickable links to good content – that will resonate with most followers, making your social media plan successful.
I hope you found this post beneficial for building your next tradeshow or event social media plan. For marketers, social media has become one of the most important methods of communicating quickly and effectively with prospects and customers. What a great way to share your organizations “thought leadership” – and an innovative approach to attracting more followers through Social Media.