It’s no surprise, or secret, that new Social Media Conferences are springing up every month in a variety of categories. It’s important to make the most out of each conference attendance and use your time wisely to network, meet new people and solidify relationships with the people you’ve been connecting with online. Even though we’re living in a digital age, face-to-face communication can’t be beat!
The MMC Social Media Team really enjoyed participating in BlogHer 2010 and the Healthy Living Summit conferences and offer the following tips that can be applied to any trade show participation.
- Find Your Niche: The Healthy Living Summit (sponsored by our Arnold/Oroweat and Thomas’ Bagel Thins clients) was the perfect conference for a food company to sponsor. In general, food bloggers are very eager to take pictures of each of their meals, in addition to the ingredients that make up those meals. Not only did they post product reviews, but they also linked to brand websites, coupons and included branded tips during and after the conference.
- Engage in Advance: It’s important that we share our participation – be it through sponsorship or hosting a booth – with conference attendees before we hit the ground. In a highly cluttered space, knowing where you’ll be, when you’ll be there and what you’ll be providing can make all the difference. In the weeks leading up to BlogHer 2010 (sponsored by our Audiovox/RCA client) , we corresponded with all of our online influencers asking them if they’d be in attendance and letting them know where we’d be so they could stop by to say hi. Our booth traffic was significant as a result of our advance engagement.
- Media Monitoring Strategy: While online coverage is not a primary objective of most conference sponsorships, there are instances when placements may result from participation. It’s a great idea to have someone at the office conduct media monitoring every few hours to capture placements and tweets in real-time. If you secure placements while you’re still at a show, you’ll want to see them immediately and this way you can quickly pull top-notch placements on a BlackBerry or laptop.
- Capture the event: A strategy we encourage is to work with a photographer to document the event. Even if you can’t afford a professional, be sure someone from your team is snapping a ton of pictures to be uploaded to a photo sharing site like Flickr or Facebook so influencers can tag themselves and use those pictures in future posts.
It’s not every day that you get the chance to meet the woman behind one of your favorite online resources. This week, I had the chance to meet with Lisa Lillien, founder of Hungry Girl, to talk about our food clients including Arnold/Oroweat (she’s a huge fan of Sandwich Thins) and Post Cereals.
If you’re not familiar with Hungry Girl, it’s a website and daily newsletter full of tips and tricks for eating well, and making smart caloric choices. It’s your first destination for low-calorie alternatives to your favorite indulgences – where taste is their number 1 priority. Some of my favorite recipes have come from the Hungry Girl team.
My visit to HG headquarters was full of conversation on food, favorite products, leveraging Social Media for your brand and the fabulous design of their office.
Lisa created Hungry Girl back in 2004 and while it’s always been an online entity, we had the chance to talk shop a bit about the role Facebook and Twitter play in content promotion and growing your brand. (If you’re a Hungry Girl fan, be sure to check out her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.)
For anyone who loves food, the HG headquarters is full of design ideas. The diner style dining area coupled with the cupcake table and candy bar pillows (see photo) make for delicious décor. Everyone needs to indulge every now and then! It’s only a matter of time until they add my coveted ice cream sandwich bench.
If you haven’t grabbed Lisa’s latest book, Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet, click your way to Amazon now!
Thanks, Lisa, for being a great host.
For obvious reasons, the Food & Beverage Team at MMC loves any excuse to partake in eating and drinking (see Amy’s post about Bacon Bash). So when we learned that April 12th was National Grilled Cheese Day, we knew a celebration was in order. What’s more, we wanted to use this opportunity to showcase our client Arnold/Oroweat breads and share them with our co-workers.
Fellow foodie Amy Grosheider and I set out to the local grocery store, armed with a grocery list and a dream. I headed straight to the bread aisle where I carefully selected some Sandwich Thins, a loaf of Arnold Country White, and one of Arnold 100% Whole Wheat. We chose several different types of cheese: mozzarella, cheddar, American, and Pepper Jack as well as bacon, prosciutto, tomatoes, and apples (is your mouth watering yet?)
Upon returning to the office, we broke out the panini press (yes, we have one at the office for these types of occasions) and started to prepare all the fixings for a grilled cheese feast. All it took was the scent of cooked bacon wafting from the microwave to quickly pack the 12th floor kitchen with hungry co-workers.
I found myself in somewhat of a conundrum—what do I put on my sandwich? I decided to go with a little of everything: cheddar, bacon, tomato, and apple on Arnold Country White bread. Well, I didn’t hate it!
National Grilled Cheese Day 2010 = success!
This weekend, hundreds of online influencers flocked to Nashville, Tennessee for the opportunity to network, learn and kick-back with their “Web friends” at Blissdom 2010. We attended the conference on behalf of our client, Arnold Bread, the Blissdom Lunch Sponsor. While we were there, we had the chance to meet many of the women we speak to daily via the Internet in person, a real treat! We also made new friends and can’t wait to stay in touch with them in the future.
All of the women at Blissdom were there to further share their personal stories, and in our opinion, they did so in a big way! I now have at least 100 new sites to add to our RSS feeds and dozens of new Twitter followers. The attendees left Blissdom feeling inspired and refreshed, saying they had learned valuable information. We left feeling motivated and full of key learnings!
- Engage in advance: Don’t be afraid to say hello before meeting someone in person, whether it be via tweet, blog comment or private message, the main reason influencers attend these conferences is to network. We listened to online chatter about Blissdom prior to the show, waited for key opportunities to connect with attendees, and when appropriate, introduced ourselves and shared information about Arnold. Many of the influencers we engaged in advance were excited to stop by our booth and say “hi” in-person. This helped forge new relationships, while simultaneously driving booth traffic.
- Add value: Everyone loves free swag. In the end, it can help keep your Brand top-of-mind with key influencers, but to develop deeper relationships, enhancements relevant to both the Brand and the influencer should be offered in the booth. Arnold Breads offered free nutrition consultations with our registered dietitian, helping attendees understand the importance of a balanced diet that includes whole grains, like the ones found in our breads. Influencers engaged with us in a highly personalized, intimate manner (even sharing their weight and waist size!) resulting in a positive, lasting Brand experience.
- Provide inspiration: Our sponsorship consisted of a variety of different touch-points, from pre-conference couponing to consultations in our booth. Perhaps the most valuable interaction was our sponsored lunch, which offered influencers the opportunity to taste a variety of unique sandwiches made with Arnold sliced breads and Sandwich Thins. This drove immediate trial, which we believe our influencers will seek beyond the conference. Attendees experienced key Brand qualities and learned that nutritious can also be delicious.