Is it time for you to start using social media to your business' advantage? It will come as no surprise when I state that social media is on the rise and it clearly has no means of stopping. As obvious as that sounds, it’s surprising how many businesses aren’t using it to their full advantage, therefore I want to suggest that instead of frowning at the thought of Facebook and Twitter taking over the lives of our ‘youths’ today, maybe it’s time we all start getting ‘down with the kids’ and start using it to start selling, not only our business' but ourselves too. I mean it’s free advertising at the end of the day isn’t it? So hold off on those expensive radio ads and television commercials and why not start off by using the useful resources you have right in front of you and soon enough I think you’ll start to wonder how you ever created your business without using one of them ‘annoying’ #hashtags.
Taking LinkedIn out of the equation for this post (as it is already recognized as a professional business ordinated social media site) let’s look at the site that generates the most interest by using hashtags - Twitter. Since being founded in 2006, over 300 million users have taken to the site. People are joining to be ‘in the know’ about what is happening in the world as it happens and that is exactly what you need to do for your business – interest those who are interested in you and your evolving business.
So how do you do that? It’s simple - make people want to follow you, make them search for your hashtag and most importantly make them share your page/post… this is how you will get the world talking. And yes it really is as simple as using that tiny hashtag symbol. The more you talk about yourself the more others will start talking about you too. Be interesting – get involved in day to day top trending topics, get your name out there by searching for others on twitter with similar interests and businesses and start following them. The more you put in, the more you are going to get out of it. Twitter is also great for sharing different media too, such as music, videos, links, images etc. This will also keep people engaged – because let’s be honest sometimes as human beings we get a bit lazy and would prefer to stare at a picture rather then read anything.
Don’t know what to hashtag? I don’t believe that for a second! It’s easy and once you start exploring the ‘Twittersphere’ - in particular when you explore the genre of your business - you will see other users with similar businesses/interests, using particular hashtags that are getting them noticed. Things such as up and coming events, projects and news.
One thing I have learnt about trying to up sell your work via social media, is that it can be easy to create interest in your work, but maintaining the interest is where the real work begins. The minute you stop being interested in sharing your business to the world is the minute other people will stop paying an interest in it too, the answer is simply – keep people engaged. Even if it is a retweet about a big sport event that is happening for example The Olympics, this involves many people all over the world, share your interest and other people will share their back.
To summarize my first ever blog – not only for Showplans – but ever, here are the key points to why you should get ‘hashtagging’ on all social media sooner rather than later:
- Promote your business hashtag – spread the word! Post your business hashtag on your website, on videos, articles, blogs. Don’t be afraid to promote it everywhere
- Ask people to use your hashtag – tweet, favorite, retweet, follow within the same business field as you and they may repay the favour by following back
- Make it relevant – see what is trending at the time and get your business involved with the trend
- Make it interesting – include photos/videos/articles/blogs to keep people interested
Cherrelle Jefferson | Client Account Manager @ Showplans
Wednesday April 13
Revolutionising the floorplan
Richard Dove from Showplans Technology Group, explores the changing landscape of floorplans and finds out what exhibition organisers can do to get more out of them.
Over the past 20 years, exhibition floorplans have evolved from a basic necessity to a key tool for adding value to both stand sales and the event experience.
All organisers have different needs, but it’s always crucial to get the basics right.
When talking about floorplans and how they can help solve challenges, we should to expand the conversation to floorplan solutions, which includes the technology that is used to create and manage floorplans.
Lots of new technology promises the earth, but when it comes to the crunch some just don’t get the job done. Making the wrong selections might put organisers off new technology for life, without ever understanding the potential it has to help them.
There are two main advancements in organisers’ approach to floorplans; one comes from a gradual shift in perception, and the other from technological developments.
It’s not all that long ago that these plans were drawn out by hand, but even CAD plans are printed out and scribbled on as the layout changes and stands are booked.
Event sales and ops managers are steadily growing to realise how their floorplan gives them more stand space to sell and improve aspects of their show such as visitor flow, access to key areas and improved visibility for exhibitors.
Additional resources are now required to turn all the notes and documents coming in from different salespeople and operations staff into something the floorplan designer can make sense of – otherwise there could be a long wait to get the finished plans back.
It used to be odd because the floorplans were often a free add-on in a shell scheme package, so even though there was no pressure on contractors to provide a specialised floorplan service, the knowledge required simply to use CAD software and understand which pitfalls to avoid meant that operations managers couldn’t do their floorplans in house.
Now there’s software available that allows stand bookings to be recorded, with several people making sales at a given time and instantly seeing updates made by others.
One of the key developments is the rise of visitor apps and online interactive floorplans – these can add value to an event, but there is a risk too – exhibitions are face-to-face, not virtual reality, and technology needs to enhance this interaction rather than replace it.
Another thing I touched on earlier that I’d like to reiterate is the opportunity for experienced operations staff to really be the gatekeepers of their floorplan management. Because they’re not floorplan designers, for this to work the tools they use must be created by a skilled service provider who understands floorplan best practice and how to turn it into user-friendly technology. If designed and managed correctly, a floorplan is the biggest source of income for an event, but cutting corners can have disastrous effects.
Helping clients feel safe with technology and supporting them when pitching to the key influencers in their organisation, who are often sceptical, is an important aspect that is often overlooked by technology suppliers – as is after-sale support and help with promoting the technology to the visitors and exhibitors who will benefit from it.
There’s a lot of room in the industry for new technology, and plenty of early adopters who are willing to keep competition alive by taking risks on promising new solutions rather than just going for the established ones, but the specialist nature of floorplans means that any technology in that area is easy to get wrong. Because of that, the floorplan technology providers who survive will be those who truly understand floorplans and get their customers.
This article was first published in the July issue of EN.
Wednesday July 01
60 seconds with… Adam Jones
Adam the Jones, CEO and founder of Showplans, is next in our 60 seconds with… series where he tells us about his first step into events, the red tape of the industry and growing up with the likes of The Prodigy in his ears.
Describe yourself in five words or less.
Easy-going, logical, hard-working, and very organised.
How long have you been in your role?
Just over six years, but I have been in the industry for 11.
How did you get into the events industry?
Whilst scrawling job search websites I found a CAD role in Hampshire, it was terribly paid and the office had a whiff of fish and chips. I turned down the chance of working for some well-known sports brands to join that company, foolish maybe, but it was the event industry was where I thought I could make a biggest impact.
What do you like and dislike about the events industry?
For me, I like seeing a design realised and the positive impact that good design can have. I dislike unnecessary red tape, it makes the UK less attractive to international businesses.
How has the industry changed since you first started?
Maybe it’s me getting older, but there does seems to be a lot of younger event professionals than there were 11 years ago, when I first started in the industry. It’s great to have a healthier balance of youth and experience.
Best event you’ve been to?
Glastonbury was always pretty special for me back in the day, The Prodigy in 1995 made a longhaired 14 year old very happy. More recently The Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace was a great event and Farnborough International Airshow is always a great specticle.
What have been your key achievements to date? (Doesn’t have to be work related)
Getting my degree, starting Showplans, getting married and winning three Exhibition News awards and one AEO Award.
Which team do you support?
Being a West Country boy, the mighty Yeovil Town.
If there was a film about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
The school years would probably need to be Daniel Radcliffe, my school, aptly named Sexeys School in Bruton, Somerset is probably the closest you’ll get to Hogwarts.
The sequel would be Rhys Ifans, I think he’d be able to portray the uni days in Swansea pretty well.
What do you do outside of work to let steam off?
I play football at the weekend, and I love any motor related sports. I wouldn’t say no to a pint of proper cider on a Friday night.
First song that comes to mind?
It’s the song that’s playing while I write this, End of a Century by Blur.
What are your goals for 2015?
When you run your own business it’s hard to separate company and personal goals, they’re pretty well interconnected. My main goal though is to really accelerate the growth of Showplans from late 2015 through to 2016. We are rebranding soon and will be launching four new services: ShowFloorplans, ShowHub, ShowLive and ShowVision. It would be nice to take holiday soon.
Friday June 19
Who needs people when you’ve got smart technology?
There is nothing else quite like it. Deadlines are looming and you can’t ask for an extension like you could back at school (although I may have tried this once too often with my teachers!)
It doesn’t matter whether you’re organising the Olympic Games or the local village fête, once the date has been announced there is no way of going back. The impact of cancelling or postponing an event can be felt for years afterwards.
There is so much to do in the run-up to the event and there will always be that one thing that happens last minute as you race to get everything shipshape before opening time.
So is technology the answer to all our problems?
We are forever being told that it is; that it will do tasks for you and reduce your costs at the same time. But precisely that notion, in my opinion, is a key misconception that is the biggest culprit for the misuse, and ultimately distrust, of technology among event organisers.
To illustrate my point I’ll give you an example from another industry. Over the last few years, the Border Force in the UK have been introducing eGates – you know, those gates you see at the airport where you can scan your passport, and all your information is analysed through a computer that decides whether to let you into the country – a fantastic piece of technology, I think most people would agree.
Both the USA and Canada have also introduced the eGate system over the last couple of years, but interestingly they’ve had significantly more success with it. Why? Because their technology strategy is very different. On the other side of the pond, the technology assists the border official by removing the administrative tasks while allowing the official to make any decisions, focussing their time on the skills that only a human can possess; intuition, years of experience and that gut feeling.
In the UK on the other hand, the technology has been brought in to replace the falling numbers of Border Officials, and as a result it’s been plagued with issues.
In a nutshell, the two contrasting strategies for using technology are:
- to replace the individual
- to assist and enhance the individual
A long anecdote, but hopefully the relevance to the event industry is made clear by this example.
People are at their most effective when they’re being supported by technology. When people and technology work in unison the results can be outstanding. When one is favoured at the expense of the other, it’s likely that efficiency will suffer.
Event technology has moved on massively over the last couple of years, whether it be mobile apps, interactive floorplans or event websites. These tools will significantly improve the relationship between your event and your delegates while giving you, the event organiser, more time to focus on your most important tasks and key issues – as long as you use them to assist you and not to do the job for you, of course.
Right, that’s enough from me – I’ve got deadlines to meet!
Monday May 11
Most of the time you probably don’t need your suppliers to turn work around overnight, and it might not matter if they don’t reply to your emails until the following afternoon – or even the next week…
On the other hand, if your service providers consistently complete requested work above standard and well before the deadline, you may be tempted to save a bit of cash and go for one who can do a similar job but at a slower pace and for a lower price.
So is it seriously worth spending the extra for a guarantee of reliability and efficiency? After all, the costs can add up…
We know from experience, though, that in that moment when you need a quick turnaround without compromising on quality, you really, really need it – and a supplier that lets you down in that situation could cost a lot more in future business than they’ve saved you over the years.
If it’s happened to you, you probably feel the same way.
Did you like this post? Do you agree (or disagree) with something you saw here? Or do you want to know more about our reliable, efficient floorplan service?
Either way we’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below or get in touch to continue the discussion.
Friday October 17