Social media marketing has shifted from a supplementary practice to front-and-center status. Here, Nicole Buraglio, marketing director for Ad:tech and noted speaker at Expo’s Tradeshow 365 Marketing Summit on Nov. 21 in Chicago, talks to ExpoAssociate Editor Arti Patel about the importance of using the latest social-marketing techniques and leveraging community feedback to drive event attendance.
EXPO Magazine: What are some examples of the things you are able to do now that you've begun working with crowdsourcing?
Nicole Buraglio: We’ve certainly found, especially with the audience we serve, that it works really well. For our New York event coming up in a few weeks, instead of creating an educational program internally, we went out to our industry and our audience and asked them to tell us what they wanted to see. It was hugely successful.
People come to an educational program and they complain about not seeing the content or the speakers that they want to see. For our program of about 30 sessions, including keynotes, we basically just went out to the industry and, once the call for sessions was complete, we did a call for speakers.
We took that info and pushed it back out to the industry to have them vote on it. That’s how we come up with our final content for the educational program. We’ve received great feedback so far.
EXPO: Have you used crowdsourcing for anything besides selecting speakers and sessions?
Buraglio: We’ve done that, as well, with our San Francisco event, which took place in April. We created a gamification pavilion that would showcase vendors in the digital marketing space that provided gamification tools and technologies for the digital marketers who come to our event.
Once again, we went out to the community—this time strictly through social—to name that area of our event. That helped us create something that provided value to our audience, but also gave them a stake in the game in naming it and branding it so that it really resonated with them.
EXPO: In terms of marketing events, what are some goals you have been able to accomplish by utilizing and leveraging the power of social media?
Buraglio: We’re not converting or driving all of our call-to-action messages about our event through one channel. We’re doing it in every way, shape or form we can possibly imagine, and social is a big part of that. We’ve increased our social following in the past six months by 30 or 35 percent across different platforms.
We serve a wide range of marketers who are implementing digital marketing in their efforts on a daily basis. We’ve got to be able to touch every single one of them no matter what level or what stage in the game they’re at—the guys looking for all the latest and greatest and those who [are] more traditional with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We have a schedule for all of our platforms everyday that includes frequency and timing and we use contests a lot.
EXPO: Can you give me another example?
Buraglio: We might have a sweepstakes where, if you register within the next 72 hours, we’ll pick winners who will receive a cash prize or have a game where, if you post a picture of you using your favorite technology, we’ll pick winners that receive complimentary passes to our event.
That’s a big draw for our audience. Passes to our educational program are expensive, so we get a lot of participation because people want to come, but they may not have the budget to pay the price tag.
EXPO: What types of revenue sources, if any, do you think social media will open up for the tradeshow industry in the next few years?
Buraglio: I’ve seen how digital advertising and social media have differed [in] the industry. In digital marketing, these are the types of things that we don’t capitalize on.
For instance, having a web site for an audience of construction tool manufacturers might warrant selling banner and advertising space because they’re reaching this very specific audience. You might be able to generate a lot of revenue from that.
Same with social. You might start doing some sponsorship opportunities there. With digital marketing, we can’t really compete. Our exhibitor customers are spending their money on web sites like AdWeek and Mashable because they’re getting this huge reach that we would not be able to compete with.
We tend to think of social advertising opportunities to be part of doing business with us, and a value add. I don’t think we would have any plans to try to generate revenue there. There’s definitely an opportunity out there, but it just doensn't work for our business.