Conferences are attention competitions. Too many booths, speakers and exhibitors are competing for tiny bites of attention from the passersby.

But still, conferences are great lead generators and offer a unique networking opportunity. It works. Your target audience will be there, and also your competitors. That’s why you can’t afford to skip big industry events.

The challenge is how to make the participation in such big events meaningful.

Stand Out at CES

To answer that, we looked into the social data of the mother of all consumer tradeshows: CES.

CES, the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, hosted over 3,600 companies this January. With this kind of volume of exhibitors, one must find a way to stand out. And it’s worthwhile doing so for the CES audience. They travel from all over the world to attend the tradeshow. From our analysis, most of the people are from the US, but also from Canada, UK, France, India and more. The audience is quite mature, where 35% of the attendees are at the age of 25-34, mainly man (62%). Their main interests are obviously technology, but also music, business, and design. You can almost see a vivid persona of early adopters here.

We tracked the conference hashtags and analyzed more than 500k mentions and conversations around the conference. Here is what we found efficient in standing out in a large scale event:

1. Get Lewis

Everybody wants the press to visit their booth and take some great footage. But that won’t happen. Too many exhibitors, so few journalists, and the big brands steal most of the attention. So when “the rich get richer” you should reach out for Lewis.

Lewis is an influencer. He has a devoted audience that loves his unboxing YouTube videos and tweets. When he uploads a video, hundreds of thousands people watch it. His potential amplification and audience engagement levels are outstanding – for any 100 Tweets he makes, he gets 10k RTs on average. You want him to pay a visit to your booth. Lewis was at CES and filmed videos that generated more than 400k views. The brands that made their way into his videos earned significant attention that exceeded their offline presence.

And Lewis wasn’t the only influencer who made a difference. Huawei, the mobile company, invited Lana, a YouTube influencer with over 700k subscribers and 1m followers on Twitter, to the event. She tweeted a thank you and quickly got Huawei to be ranked with some of the highest engagement levels in this event. 

Lewis or Lana may not be the right influencers for everybody. You need to find your own Lewis. If you need some ideas on how to find and reach out to influencers, our quick guide to Influencer Marketing can be a good place to start.

2. Spoilers Don’t Spoil

Let’s talk about a real-life misconception: Spoilers.

Spoilers don’t really spoil. Spoilers convert. They actually increase the enjoyment from what you’re watching.

Knowing bits of the story won’t ruin it for you. It will increase your joy and attention because you want to know what and how things happened. Ok, but how can you use spoilers for your own good in a conference?

Videos. It turned out that videos worked great at CES. Short videos that disclose what the visitor is going to see generated high engagement levels – shares, replies, and likes. Watching these, you don’t feel like hitting the fast forward, but rather the other way around. It draws you in. It makes you want to get the full experience with your own senses.

Creating short videos that show what’s in your booth in an exciting way can help you convert conference visitors to YOUR BOOTH visitors. Twitter took that video concept to the next level. They didn’t just produce a creative Vine, but also shared a “behind the scenestweet, showing how they created the video. The latter even more popular than the original video.

3. Crowdsource a Feed Attack

Conferences are time-sensitive. You need to grab people’s attention, and you need to do it now. If you want to go viral quickly, you can’t do it alone. You need some help from others.

As it seems, the easiest and most successful way to get loads of shares is by running contests. The Retweet-to-Win concept worked very well for some brands on CES.

These quickly reached the top ranked shareable content on Twitter at CES. Companies like Lenovo, Belkin, and Logitech played that contest game well. With clean images of the prizes and a clear Call-to-Action, like “RT & Follow for the chance to win…”, those brands managed to engage thousands of users and got them spread the word about new gadgets. Feeds were flooded with contests tweets. 

If you need some inspiration here, check Elizabeth Malone-Johnstone’s guide for Twitter competitions, or  check these brands on CES: Lenovo, LG, Logitech, Belkin and Polk. These 5 managed to run super successful giveaway contests that generated thousands of shares.

Don’t Just Attend – Ascend

In mega-events like CES it’s not enough to attend. You need to win this game or others will crush you down.

As we saw at CES, being visible goes through expanding your social nodes, whether it’s by inviting influencers or creating contests. These expansion techniques increase brand visibility on-site and off-site and spread your reach to new relevant audiences.

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