In the MBSJ2012, we used #mbsj2012expo as the official Twitter hashtag for exhibition related information. We linked to this hashtag from Ponzu, the online program system. The JBS2012 had a similar system, which used the iOS, Android application to display a feed of recent updates from exhibitors.
Neither of these turned out to be an attractive news resource for the participants. As seen in the screenshots below, the news on both of these feeds was dominated by a small number of exhibitors. The vast majority of them did not participate although the #mbsj2012expo Twitter hashtag fared much better than the JBS2012 system, which had only two exhibitors posting stuff.
This means that we need to do something more, or something different.
One large obstacle is that the number of exhibitors that regularly reach out via social networks is still very small, and even smaller in Japan (Many suppliers in the USA use social networks for marketing. However, success has been sporadic. Not many suppliers in Japan use social networks). Therefore, most likely, exhibitors haven’t decided who should be responsible for posting updates, and what content they should be posting. We could try to support them by educating with various materials, but still, it would be difficult to provide a good incentive to do it, especially since the JBS2012 system failed so badly.
We feel that at least for the next couple of years, it will be difficult to encourage exhibitors to take an active role in posting feeds. Social media based advertising is still too new. Instead, we should pursue more passive ideas which do not require any new action from the exhibitors’ part.
A brief list of some of the ideas;
- Integrate the exhibitor booth descriptions into the program search results. For example, anybody searching for presentations on “next generation sequencing” will also be shown a list of exhibitors with products.
- Add booths to the “like” system and actively notify the exhibitors who “liked” their booth.
- Have somebody in the organizing staff go around each booth, posting photos and updates to the website.
Basically, we shouldn’t rely on the exhibitors to do something special. IT alone will not solve the problem. We have take the first action on the ground.
JBS2012 iOS application exhibitor feed