Nov 4, 2013

Get onboard with the boat show’s social media coverage

Get onboard with the boat show’s social media coverage
BY Peggy Nordeen

B2B | Marine | SFBJ

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

While few events are as large as the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, it provides a great opportunity to observe and participate in the good and not-so-good use of social media. And, it’s in Fort Lauderdale through Monday – #FLIBS, for those of you who want to start reading and sharing the tweets.

If you’re a baby boomer like me, a lot of this tweeting, posting and general online communicating does not come naturally. But if you are a business in sunny South Florida, you will feel the brick-and-mortar and online economic impact of the boat show. Like bees seeking honey, boat show attendees swarm over our area to buy things.

You can use your mobile phone to find your way around the boat show by searching for “my boat show events” in your smartphone’s app store. While the app isn’t the most streamlined in design, it is full of useful information about the eight venues you must traverse to see the entire show.

One sponsored ad at the front of the app, Navionics, sends all clicks immediately to an order page for its own mobile apps, hijacking the audience. This is an effective way to target an audience and walk them through the selling process. Of course, not everyone who looks is in the market for Navionics, but if you are, you are caught in its mobile trap and encouraged to buy now. It is likely that the pricing of this kind of ad sponsorship for any event app will skyrocket in the future.

One thing about the boat show app: The dining section was only about options at the show. So, if you are an outside dining or entertainment establishment, the opportunity to have boat show specials in a tweet or a post with the hashtag #FLIBS may get you noticed by hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees who are reading those tweets.

Additionally, one of the big successes of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is the award-winning dining app Fork Lauderdale, used by tourists, boat show enthusiasts and locals.

Whether or not you audit the boat show online or on a specific social media platform, here are some helpful guidelines for you and your company to follow when you participate in any event where you want customers and prospects to come to you.

Pre-event activities that drive success

First, if you are part of a large event like the boat show, make sure you use the boat show hashtag #FLIBS when tweeting or publishing any info about your participation in traditional or online media. It is also a good idea to establish your own company hashtag and publish it, as well. You can use two hashtags in a tweet or a post, such as #FLIBS #SFlaBizJournal.

Second, create the event in Facebook and Google+, and communicate how fans and friends can find you on those and other social networks, such as Twitter and YouTube.

Third, generate awareness and excitement in the days leading up to the event. Tease via your social networks with countdowns, hints or content about the event. A fun way to do engage your audience is to host Twitter or Facebook trivia contests with random drawings based on integrating the hashtag into communications. The more someone inserts a hashtag, the greater his or her chances of winning.

During the event, keep the buzz alive

First, create a social media command center to monitor the comments and activity. Make sure your command center leader is armed with a plan for keeping the conversation about the event alive in all media.

Second, consider a “Twitter wall,” where tweets about your event appear on screens. Or, live-stream the event on your website to keep all engaged whether they are at your event or simply interested in the activities.

Third, have set times to announce a series of sweepstakes or contest winners online or through opt-in SMS text messages to keep the focus on your company and product.

Of course, there are many other creative ways you can use social media surrounding your event to maximize attention and business. That is the exciting part of this opportunity to literally “steal the show” when you are connected to business events.

As our media world turns and our opportunities continue to blossom to reach local, national and international customers through social engagement, we must all keep learning and communicating. Like any other business activity, the better you plan, the better the outcome.