Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wrong Way - Hashtags at Trade Shows

El Pollo Loco
My friend, Jon Trask and I enjoy reading about social media fails (especially epic ones!) and we have spent many hours podcasting about the wrong way to do meetings and marketing. When I first saw this picture, I thought of him. Driving by El Pollo Loco, you'd probably never notice the small line on the bottom of this sign. I never did until I walked by it. I love the just-on-the-edge-of-offensive humor. Their name translates to The Crazy Chicken, after all. This is consistent and provocative branding. Their tagline is Crazy You Can Taste - so of course they'd want to turn that into a hashtag: #CrazyYouCanTaste.

You can start a hashtag and use it all day long with your own account, but until you get your customers to use it, there's no ROI. In the case of El Pollo Loco, however, I like that they add it to their tweets for the consistency of the branding. They also get a few people to tweet using the hashtag - and that is great! For promotional posts and re-tweeting customers' Instagram pics, it works.

Let's say you are going to exhibit at a trade show. It would be easy to let the youngest person on your staff come up will all kinds of great ideas on how to use social media in the booth. They are probably going to suggest that you promote your own hashtag because in their minds, it is just a competition. You are there to set yourself apart from the other exhibitors and therefore you should have your own hashtag. {WRONG}

You need to capitalize on the event's hashtag so all attendees will see what you are tweeting! Unless they were previously following your handle or hashtag, they won't see your tweets and they won't see the tweets/pics you are incentivizing other attendees to send. If you have created an experience in your booth that people will want to take a picture/selfie of, you want them to use the main event hashtag so that everyone at the event will see it when they are following what is going on at the event. You can setup a photo wall in your booth that only shows the pictures you want to show, even if it is aggregating the tweets/photos/videos from the overall event.

You may be wondering why you wouldn't use both the event hashtag and your own. The simple answer is length and user experience. It is hard enough for people to get one hashtag right, much less two and you don't want to take up more precious characters than you have to when you are limited to 140! Keep it simple. Always try to be part of the conversation your community is having - whether that community is the conference you are attending or the industry your business is in. Add meaningful dialogue to the conversation. If you can get your customers to share their experience with your brand in these same conversations, then you win.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Tech Companies You Need To Know

One thing IMEX America has done for event professionals like me (buyers of services besides hotel rooms) is expand the number of technology exhibitors and attendees. Of course, you still have all of the registration companies and mobile app companies who are racing to become all things to all people. However, I found 5 companies offering very special and very needed services to our industry.

CatchTalk.TV is a free-to-use video platform for professionals. They aggregate and host high-level B2B video content from conferences, events and summits, making high-quality content from industry leaders easily accessible to you. Whether it’s a recent talk or industry-specific opinions you seek, CatchTalk.TV can provide it. You simply sign up with your LinkedIn profile. You will receive personalized recommendations to content that is most relevant for you, saving you time and keeping you up-to-date with business trends. http://www.catchtalk.tv/

Crowd Mics turns iOS and Android devices into wireless microphones. Guests can simply talk into their smartphone or tablet and are instantly broadcasted over the sound system. No more passing microphones or telling your guests to get up and go to the microphone in the middle of the room! Crowd Mics can also be used for sharing text comments and polling. Wi-Fi connection is all that is needed. http://crowdmics.com/

Evenium's ConnexMe is a web and mobile application that allows guests to interact with other guests, take notes, share and promote their experience during events. Guests have access to the guest list and are able to communicate and share information with other guests by synchronizing their social networks. Imagine a fully integrated system that connects your content to attendees and attendees with each other! http://evenium.com/ng/public/corp/products-connexme.jsf

InitLive takes a mobile-first approach to managing teams on the ground. InitLive manages scheduling and communication so the team can focus on other tasks. Through this application, managers and volunteers have access to dashboards to keep them updated on information. These dashboards are used as a gateway to access details surrounding the event. Managers and volunteers will also have access to a master schedule as well as individual schedules for the event. Thanks to this application changes can be made without having to re-print schedules and any changes made on the web will be immediately updated in the app. http://www.initlive.com/

AVforPlanners has been around for a year or two but their concept is so disruptive to the way planners typically source AV, it has taken them awhile to educate the industry. They offer a simple three step process: Free equipment & labor RFP builder, nation-wide AV company directory, and a comparison evaluation of AV proposals. I wish they had been around when I was an in-house planner! http://avforplanners.com/

If you are searching for a partner to help you with your event content marketing process, click on the SocialPoint link above. I’d love to chat with you about social networks (public or private), learning games or experiential marketing for your event or trade show booth.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Does Age or Personality Create Success with Technology?

The "generation" discussion seems to be coming into vogue again. Five years ago it was a hot topic and the reason I chose the digital divide as the topic of my blog was because I saw older people struggling to adopt a new way of networking. I saw younger people having an easier time with the technology, but not having the work/life experience to communicate well.

I'm a late Gen Xer, which really means nothing because I am a product of so many other situations and experiences beyond the fact that my parents are baby boomers. One "Gen Y" trait that I do have is that I am open to technology. This makes me think that the digital divide is the conversation we should still be having and we are stereotyping people the wrong way.

The "generation" discussion seems to be resurfacing - partially thanks to my friends +Joe Martin and +Whitney Wilson. Joe started the #GenYMtgProfs hashtag and they have now presented on the topic at least twice. I was fortunate enough to see one of these panel presentations at the MPISCC Weekend Education Summit. The topic of what future generations want to get out of meetings and events is valuable and I hope they continue to refine that discussion.

I tell people all of the time that I think success with new technology has more to do with personality than age. I know lots of baby boomers who enjoy using social media, cloud computing, mobile apps, etc. At the same time, I hear about younger people who don't use social media (or certain platforms) or are just not interested. Until Gen Yers get enough professional networking experience in the traditional (old) way of doing it, they don't make the connection to how they should be doing it online.

Regardless of whether or not "kids" are using Facebook these days, our entire society has changed and we won't be going back to a time where we don't communicate online anymore. Most people have adapted. It was harder for some than others - depending on age, to an extent - but I think personality as well. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Two years ago, I was contacted (through twitter) by a professional organizer to guest blog for her on certifications in the meetings and events industry. Click over to read my post at Metropolitan Organizing LLC and/or learn more about becoming a professional organizer. Even then, I was writing about advocacy in the meetings and events industry. I guess some things never change while other things are changing rapidly.

The Convention Industry Council just published the Ninth Edition of the CMP Manual. Many CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) hopefuls will be purchasing the book to help them study but I highly recommend it for anyone currently working in the industry, and not just because I'm one of the authors! My affiliation with GMIC and keeping in touch with event professionals internationally through social media is what gave me the opportunity to be involved with this project.

As a follow-up to the guest post above, I thought I'd talk about the manual and the updated topics it covers. Our industry's most dedicated practitioners donated hours and hours of their time to help create this current resource.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Management
  • Human Resources
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Meeting or Event Design
  • Site Management
  • Marketing
  • Professionalism

In an attempt to tackle the issue of advocacy in our industry, the entire manual has shifted to a strategic approach and away from a logistics focus. This is why it could be an important resource for you, even if you already have a CMP or other industry designation.

I'm speaking about meetings and events industry certifications for someone who found me through the MPISCC Facebook group and I'll post that presentation on my slide share page after the event on July 11th.

You may have noticed that this post is about industry certifications, but the underlying message is how social media sets you up as an expert in your field and facilitates connections to people who have opportunities for you that you might never have imagined for yourself.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Managing Information Overload

Are you so overwhelmed by all of the data you deal with on a daily basis? Are you ready to quit Facebook? We all feel the same way from time to time but we don't often talk about it because we don't want to sound like we can't handle it. The topic of information overload was so well received at the Los Angeles Business Travel Association, I decided to speak with Jon Trask about it on the Meetings Podcast.


Let me know if these tips help or if you have others to share!

Big Data 300x201  Social Tables IMEX Franfurt Visit, Handling Information Overload
Building Blocks Social Media - Information Overload Presentation

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Big Idea for Earth Day

Do more than just eliminate bottled water.

Get rid of the trade show.

When we convene at the Green Meetings Industry Council, we talk about a lot of ways to make our events more responsible. The trade show is consistently the elephant in the room. By the way, I'm not suggesting you stop getting people together for face-to-face interactions and business meetings. I'm suggesting you don't build an entire city within a trade show hall of materials that will get sent to the landfill when it is over.

I'm also not suggesting that it is just that easy. I took a 30 year old trade show for MPISCC (their biggest revenue driver) and I eliminated the trade show portion of the education conference. It was very successful in facilitating networking, delivering education and connecting buyers and sellers in ways they hadn't connected at an event before. Not surprisingly, I failed to produce the revenue that the event had once generated. I had all of the opportunities in place to drive the same revenue, but the suppliers hadn't all bought into the concepts I offered. Change is not going to happen overnight and I am hoping to share what I learned so that others don't have to start from the beginning. If you would like to learn more about the specific agenda and sponsorship levels I created for that event, contact me directly. By the way, I didn't eliminate the trade show just to "go green". I was responding to negative feedback from planners and suppliers on previous events and put in hours of conversations with potential attendees about how they buy and sell.

Are you willing to share your successes and failures? I'd love to hear what you think whether you have tried something innovative or if you see the need for change. Let's collaborate!

Friday, April 11, 2014

"The Business of YOU"

The theme of this blog used to be Personal Branding for Gen X and Boomers and I am still very passionate about the topic even though I've never worked in HR, recruiting or any related field. Networking offline and online has been the main reason I have had any level of success in getting jobs, getting clients... getting everything I have.

The topic of last night's LinkedOC event was "The Business of YOU: why now is the best time to build your personal brand" and a few insights from the amazing panelists stand out to me. On a philosophical level, they each discussed the reasons for building a personal brand. Learning and personal/professional development were high on the list for these guys and I would concur. I wasn't a good writer when I started blogging. I used to be very cut and dry / to the point and it took practice to expand my thoughts into longer sentences, paragraphs. If I hadn't taken the initiative to start writing with no other motivation, I would not have been prepared to be an author of the new CIC Manual when I was asked. The panelists all talked about how building their personal brands has allowed them to move in directions that may not have been available to them otherwise - and they all had very successful careers before! The thing that holds people back is they get comfortable with where they are - the job, the family, etc. They don't push themselves to expect more and they don't think about what would happen if they experienced a major change at work or at home. One of them reminded us that even if you do have a job and are happy with it, building your personal brand can help you provide more value to your company - even if you are not in sales!

The panelists talked a lot about their current projects, which social networks they are using and had some tips for all areas of marketing. They had fresh ideas, hot tips and were candid about success and failure. Check them out! (Blogger suggests the person's G+ profile when you start typing in a twitter handle so I used the two that came up here - Sneaky!)

+Chris Dyer of http://www.peopleg2.com/

@SeanEllis of https://qualaroo.com/ and http://growthhackers.com/

+Jason Lankow of http://www.columnfivemedia.com/

Because I love MadMen, I clicked on this article from my Facebook news feed this morning. One of their "habits of successful people": 11. Care for and feed your network. The author suggests you should meet one new person every day and reach out to a person who you haven't talked to in awhile.

Do you feel like you are too busy to care for your network? Do you have tips on how you do it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Do Social Media Contests Work?

SocialPoint sponsored the Social Bar at Catersource / Event Solutions last week in Las Vegas. We showcased our social displays, social leaderboards (displays and mobile), and photo sharing. Many attendees got into the game of climbing the leaderboard by tweeting and taking pictures. Two of our winners let me record them talking about why they were playing the social game. SocialPoint leaderboards are a simple way to incorporate gamification into your event without your attendees needing an additional app or program to play the game. They are using twitter or instagram - which many of them already use - or will start using just to play the game and receive value from the app when they leave the event.

Overall, the event earned almost 19,000 tweets.and over 2,000 instagram photos/videos. 993 individual users were incorporating the event's hashtag into their online conversations. The social bar hosted a lot face to face meetings of the various people who were communicating with each other via social media. It was a successful partnership and we were happy to be part of a new segment of the meetings and events industry.

Video featuring Sarah Lawson @Sarah_Lawson from @Hotel_Laguna and Bar Harbor Catering Company @BHCaterCo. Short Bus Catering Company @ShortBusCater also won an all access pass to next year's conference.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vendors Using Hashtags

Curious about the etiquette of using the hashtag of your client's event? This 2 minute video will give you my take. Let me know if you have any questions or comments! Now that planners and suppliers are becoming more savvy, there are many people "testing the water" out there. Hopefully, this tip will save you from embarrassment. - Elizabeth

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Personal Branding tips from Klout

Good, quick tips: