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Social Networking Spreads the Word on Floor

Published October 30, 2009

LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)—Chris King marketing manager Chris DiStefano barely had settled into his Outdoor Demo booth when he got wind that Cielo’s new 29er with SRAM XX found its way to the online masses.

“It was online at 9:03 a.m. and I heard about it from someone at work a few minutes later,” DiStefano said. “The widespread release of information from the show floor is exciting. What’s great is that you can use these updates to catch something you might otherwise miss on the floor.”

Because of the growing popularity of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, how retailers, consumers and manufacturers take in information—and how quickly—is much different than even a couple of years ago.

And while the endemic media is still represented at trade shows, it’s John Q Blogger—with an iPhone in one hand and a laptop in the other—who is pushing not only the speed at which information is hitting the World Wide Web, but also the reach of the audience.

Specialized international marketing manager Chris Matthews, who manages the company’s social media, said this is a fantastic way for people who can’t be at Interbike to experience what’s behind the walls, where in essence Interbike has become a “de facto” consumer show.

For companies like Specialized it’s important to be in tune with social networking’s surge—at trade shows and back in the office. The Northern California company, staffs a small team to work on several Twitter and Facebook accounts—all in an effort to reach consumers and retailers alike.

“It’s only growing,” Matthews said of social networking. “It’s not a fad. It’s fundamentally changing the business model. It’s forcing people to rethink how they communicate.”

Interbike marketing manager Rich Kelly, whose Interbike Twitter page has more than 3,000 followers, said social networking’s rise has been a way for companies both big and small “to connect with people, humanizing themselves to show the people behind the brand.”

Companies are now using social networking sites more than ever to supplement more conventional means of advertising leading up to trade shows.

And why not? The message gets out that much quicker, to a more varied audience—and the best part is it’s free.

To think just a few years ago it would be months before any new products from trade shows made their way to print. “Today, you’ve got about 60 seconds from the time the show opens,” DiStefano said. “And the information goes so much further than before. Information from Interbike would make it to North American media first and then spread outward from there. From our experience this year, I heard from a media source in Europe within 13 minutes of a story being posted by another media source.”

Kelly added, “I’ll have a conversation with someone at a trade show, walk away and 30 seconds later see that conversation and photo online.”

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