Twitter and Facebook are great tools for a sanguine girl like me. It's awesome to be able to banter back and forth with hundreds of different people from different cities and countries without having to break away from my work here in the office. There is actually a whole group of us promo people that start our days by greeting each other. Friday mornings are the best. I sign-on to find that my Twitter mentions have already blown up with the east coasters sending out their #FF's. It's a great group of really amazing people. There is also the really exciting part of social media, at least it is for me anyway. The upcoming tradeshow where that supplier you've built this great relationship with will be attending and you get to meet the person on the other end of that Twitter mention. This is the primary reason I attend tradeshows...the new products are of course great to see, but the real excitement comes in making strategic connections. Meeting like-minded people to bounce ideas off of, strengthening relationships with my suppliers, and feeding off of the energy that exists when you put all of our creative genius in one place. The synergy is incredible. There is no other industry that is quite as dynamic as ours.
To maximize my results at a show I make a checklist beforehand that includes all of the people I want to be sure to connect with. Preparing to attend the last show, one particular Tweep was not going to be there, however made the comment that I should stop by the company's booth, say hello, and mention that I am so-and-so and have been talking with this person online. While on the show floor me and my bubbly self went bounding up to the booth. I was all smiles while I gave my explanation that I go back and forth with this girl on twitter and mentioned that she sent me to say hello.
Enter the great social media disconnect.
These people (owners of the company) had no clue who I was or what I was talking about. After a good solid minute of blank stares and a few awkward head nods I gave up and walked away somewhat disappointed. It was a huge let down for me because here I am investing my time in building a relationship with this person 'from company XYZ', only to stop by and be just another random distributor.
We hire a social media team to be a part of our army and it really is a full time job (a very important one at that!) As the solo-entrepreneur I wear all the hats so me and my company truly are one in the same. I get that things will be different for larger companies. However, I also understand that social media has evolved from all of us being an anonymous avatar in a random chat room to being a valid means of relationship building. It's a realm where we share our day to day activities, pictures of who we are and where we are, and though thousands of miles are between all of us I can still call somewhat random strangers, friends. Social media is powerful.
So, how do you avoid this social media disconnect?
Bring someone from your social media team with you to events.
I would venture to say that the people that do social media well also do social well in real life. Whenever possible bring them with you to tradeshows and events. Your social media team is every bit the face of the company as the owners and reps are. In most cases probably more so. Use that to your advantage. Plus, with the advances in mobile technology, your social media personalities can tweet and Facebook right from the event. With some creativity in the use of hashtags, product giveaways, and special offers, the ability to interact while at an event through multiple platforms can create a buzz around your booth, product, and/or brand that wouldn't otherwise exist if your social media teammates were left at home.
This works the same way if you are a distributor. Get involved. Bring your social media guru with you to tweet about the education you are receiving, great suppliers you are meeting, and new products you've found.
Trade shows are expensive. I'm not made of money!
Suppliers -- we applaud you. Tradeshows cost money and take up a lot of time. We appreciate you making the effort. Or, at least we should. (Distributors... are you listening?)
With limited budgets it's not always possible to bring additional people to tradeshows.
SO, If you can't bring your social media team with you:
- Do your homework! Make it a point to have the people that attend the tradeshows monitor your social media feeds on occasion. Learn the names of the people that your company is connecting with most frequently and make yourself familiar with the discussion topics.
- Communication is key! Text or call your social media peeps with some highlights throughout the day. Don't wait until the end of the day and give them a full report. Small, time sensitive snippets are important to your followers. Find out about a tweet-up? Have your social media team spread the word! Did someone special show up at your booth? Have your social media team show them some "Thanks for stopping by today" comment love. It's the "I am there even though I'm not" concept.
Simple concept really. At some point in the game online relationships meet real life. If you are taking the time and spending the money to have someone doing your social media, don't do it halfway. Social media eliminates the cold call. Use that to your advantage. Bring what happens online into real life relationships. Avoid the great social media disconnect.