140 Characters Go a Long Way

Tradeshow executives know that it’s difficult to keep their annual events on the minds of exhibitors and attendees between shows for an entire year.

It’s twice as hard for Grace Cular Yee, director of sales for the Food Processing Suppliers Association, who oversees exhibitor sales, industry relations and sponsorships for FPSA’s Process Expo. After decades as an annual show, Process Expo switched to a biennial format in 2011.

When Cular Yee joined the association four years ago, she wanted to build brand awareness for Process Expo but, she says, “There was no budget. I said, ‘No problem. There are so many free social media tools we can use.’”

While it was easy for Cular Yee to set up social media accounts for Process Expo, it was more difficult to educate her colleagues on using them. “You can’t just post and expect people to come. You have to build and nurture your social presence,” she says.

To be social, Yee explains, “You have to listen to what people are saying and make an effort to be part of the conversation. Otherwise, it’s like going to a cocktail party and going from person to person only talking about yourself.”

Cular Yee has created a presence for Process Expo on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn, but Twitter is the platform she uses most often, typically posting about five times a day.

Cular Yee is trying to reach two groups on Twitter, first, manufacturers of equipment for food processing, which are exhibitors or prospects for Process Expo, and, second, food processors, her clients’ customers.

“I found out who the influencers were, including trade magazines and bloggers, and started following them.

Then I looked at what those people were retweeting and marking as favorites,” she says. Cular Yee then set up Google Alerts so that she could tweet out breaking news about the companies and topics that interested them.

Tomorrow: Cular Yee talks about what she has done to use Twitter to keep her show foremost in people’s minds.

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