Digital Insights: Tradeshows and Twitter: Take It or Leave It?

We’ve been tracking Twitter at recent pharma tradeshows, but most conference-goers have other things on their minds.

By Michele Vaccarello Wagner, Senior Digital Editor

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Twitter is being used for almost everything under the sun these days: to track bus routes, to complain to Comcast for poor Internet service, and to win free Chipotle burritos. Every trade show has a Twitter stream for participants, on site and off, to follow. The online chatter adds to the collective buzz of the event. But was Twitter a hit at one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing tradeshows of the year? Not so much.

Interphex 2011 brought thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors, but the Interphex Twitter stream was sluggish. A handful of companies used the #interphex hashtag to promote videos and special offerings at their booths, which seemed successful (we received good feedback from our tweets), but the anticipated show commentary and banter was pretty much absent—many Twitter voyeurs but not much active participation.

At the Pittcon show earlier in March, the #pittcon Twitter stream was very organic and active. Lots of opinions, promotions and successful tweet-ups (i.e., meetings arranged via Twitter), which you wouldn’t normally expect from a more technical, targeted trade show. Our magazine’s team tweeted out several promotions and invitations during this show, too, and with good results.

But though Interphex organizers had promoted the show via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube for weeks leading up to the event, and even offered a mobile phone app and interactive show floor map, Twitter and these other social media tools didn’t seem to gain much traction. That said, Interphex goers tapped into another web-based phenomenon, the always-viral Flash Mob. Kudos to EMD Millipore for staging quite the hilarious Flash Mob at the Registration Booth. (See it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvcwOSXAc5Y.)

Who knows, maybe Interphex exhibitors and attendees were all busy negotiating deals and having meaningful, live conversations about how to improve the industry. Whatever the reason, here are four ways to use Twitter at your next trade show, courtesy of tradeshowcoach.com:

  1. Start early. Establish your Twitter presence long before the show opens. Post amusing or informative links, resources, observations, and announcements.
  2. Share Twitter names. When you get contact information for people, get their Twitter ID. Make sure yours is on your business card, as well as on your web site.
  3. Keep tweeting! During the trade show, use Twitter to keep attendees informed. For example, “The next demo will start in 15 minutes at Booth 212.”
  4. Follow up. After the show has ended, use Twitter to maintain contact with new acquaintances. Make sure you add them to your “following” list.

Do you have some ideas about how Twitter can be best used at trade shows? Is it just a passing fancy? Let me know what you think: mvaccarello@putman.net.

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