Originally published in PV Solar Report.
Part 2 – For Industry Marketers
Use hashtag marketing to spotlight your solar trade show participation.
The value a trade show provides exhibitors, sponsors and participants goes beyond the physical venue. The event’s official hashtag is the online “room” available for networking and communications before, during and after the live gathering.
A trade show hashtag provides marketers with a critical tool to fulfill many communications objectives relating to a show investment including:
- Promote the company’s message beyond the physical show floor experience to reach a broader online audience
- Embed company posts in the show conversation before, during and after the show floor experience
- Involve dealer/installers in communications
- Drive appointment setting and booth traffic
- Reach publications and key reporters with critical company announcements
- Create an online legacy of the company’s event participation
Tips for industry marketers:
- Develop an event hashtag strategy. If you are exhibiting or attending a major trade show, identify the event hashtag in advance and develop a proactive strategy to leverage it for your company.
Click on the image or here for a list of U.S. based solar industry event hashtags. We will keep this list updated, so check back with us as more are added.
Research the event’s past hashtag feed for ideas for your strategy. With #SPIcon only three months away here are links to this hashtag feed by social media site: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Seen Mash Up.
- Communicate the hashtag! Include the event hashtag in your advance show marketing materials to inform your community about your participation. Showing consistent support for the hashtag will help you get more RT’s and shares from the event organizers. If you are a sponsor of the event, and sharing with no response, you have every right to ask for more support from the event organizers. Communicate your hashtag use via email, event social media graphics and through blog and advance event content. All your advance event tweets and social media posts should carry the official hashtag.
- Graphics: Put the event hashtag and company hashtag, if using one, on all your advance show graphics. Make sure posts have strong graphics and if possible carry your Twitter handle.
- Here is a “laundry list” of potential solar event show updates you can use with the event hashtag to promote your participation:
- Booth location
- New products
- Press releases
- Short video
- Live video
- Tweets from the floor
- Booth photos during and once constructed
- Photos during live event
- Career postings
- RT’s or shares of affiliated companies with whom you work in the market
- Management promotions
- Meeting invites and appointment setting
- Management presentations
- Show specials
- Your overall show theme
- At #SPIcon:
- Panel presentations by company personnel
- Networking and hosted event sponsorships
- Support your hashtag. Delegate staff resources to “hashtag” management as part of your overall social media strategy. This will help ensure your participation in the event hashtag conversation is vibrant and engaging throughout the duration of the event.
- Feature management speeches and event panel participation – increasingly companies promote management speaking engagements right before a major event via a hashtag strategy.
- Use the hashtag to promote content – including white papers related to the event theme, blog posts, management posts, press “reprints” and guest columns. All of this content can be woven into the event hashtag online conversation. Don’t forget to include great graphics to highlight your content.
- Explore using Vine, Periscope and short video to capture the show floor feel – particularly for your stakeholder groups not attending. Your team could be “equipped” with Periscope to feed their experience into the overall show feel. Use the #SPIcon in your Periscope titles and be sure to hit the Twitter icon to feed the clip into your Twitter feed. Notes: Periscope is live stream available for viewing by your followers for 24 hours. You have the option of saving your videos to your phone’s camera roll. There are now services to stream Periscope feed if you post it on Twitter. One example: Streamalong.tv
Organize Employee Live Event Tweeting
Some of your best company social media ambassadors are your key executives and employees. Onsite, live tweeting using the event hashtag will help your company rise above the competition during the trade show. If you have an executive making a presentation or participating on a panel, you can bring the online audience into the speech by live tweeting.
Ideas to help streamline live event tweeting:
- Assign personnel to cover targeted events at the show including panel discussion with company executives, industry trends that relate to your target audience and general sessions with broad appeal to place your firm in the middle of the news.
- Create an advance list of those Twitter accounts you want to track during the show, including top solar reporters and publications. We all know how fast and furious shows move so be prepared with your account list to track and RT those accounts important to your business. This gives you more opportunity to be in the event hashtag feed as well.
- Create as much tweet content in advance as possible and schedule applicable posts using a social media tool. These posts can include content from any presentations being done by your company representatives.
- Identify your best photographer on the team and make sure they are placed at key events to capture photo opportunities, funneling to the person who will post if necessary. Create a “shot list” of important moments you want captured and communicated.
Some #SPIcon 2014 Examples – There are many examples of companies, organizations, media and individuals who used the @SPIConvention #SPIcon hashtag to their advantage at last year’s Las Vegas event.
For the show itself, and sponsors of our #SolarChat #SPIcon campaign, we used Twitter chats, a live show event and consistent posts using the hashtag before, during and after SPI including live tweeting from Solar Power International to drive impressions for sponsors.
Here is one of our #SolarChat SPI campaign Twitter event graphics. This pre-show event alone reached nearly 300,000 accounts on Twitter and created over four million impressions. You can find the recap here using Storify to capture key conversation posts.
Enphase Energy started early and stayed consistent with their #SPIcon hashtag contributions, posting a final show roundup video.
Photos as Hashtag Fodder
The combination of hashtags and photos are a marketer’s dream. Today’s technologies and social media sites give us endless opportunities to combine the conversation garnering power of the hashtag with the worldwide phenomenon of smart phone photo generation.
Here are some ideas for leveraging hashtagged photos:
- Encourage photos sharing using your hashtag during an event. Photos could be images of panel presentation slides, booths, staff in your booth, and network events.
- Expand the reach of your hashtagged photos using albums. Images tweeted or shared with your campaign hashtag along with the event tag can provide rich and compelling content. For the #SolarChat Unplugged event, images were captured before, during and after the Vegas party and loaded on a Facebook album.
Use Tools like Hootsuite to Monitor Hashtags
Tools like Hootsuite not only give your team an easy to access and use social media posting and monitoring platform. They are profoundly helpful in monitoring your list and hashtag streams for your company and industry. Create a stream using the trade show hashtags in which you participate and those you want to track. This gives you an easy process to RT and share those posts related to the event.
Watch for the series bonus on using hashtags in design: How do I add three dimensions to my hashtags? Designing hashtags into marketing and collateral beyond twitter by Aimee Tuck.
About Glenna Wiseman
Glenna Wiseman is the founding principal of Identity3, delivering vibrant marketing to empower a sustainable world. She has been an executive marketing professional in the solar industry since 2007. Her expertise includes work with companies along the solar supply chain from manufacturers to installers, financing entities to solar O&M providers and across continents to international firms making a U.S. market entry. She has fueled growth in start-ups to divisions of Fortune 500 organizations. Glenna is a recognized speaker and author in the solar industry and was recently named one of the “100 people shaping #Cleantech on Twitter.” Contact: Gwiseman@Identity3.com Twitter: @GlennaWiseman
About Aimee Tuck
Aimee Tuck is the owner and Design Director of Corbae Creative. She started Corbae Creative in 2002 to provide creative graphic design solutions to sustainable and renewable businesses. Aimee Tuck has a diverse background in design and marketing communications which allows her to see the “big picture” when approaching a project. By applying a context to client needs and understanding the available options, she helps her clients find effective design solutions for marketing success. She has worked with multiple solar industry companies to help define and refine their print and web design, including Sensata Technolgies/Magnum Energy, Fronius USA, HelioPower, Xantrex Technology, and is listed as a designer of choice for advertisers looking for design assistance in Home Power and SolarPro magazines. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: AimeeMTuck