In the first part of this blog, I focused on what companies can do to increase the benefits they get from attending industry shows such as the annual Electronics Distribution Show. In this concluding part, I address how social media is being used by everyone, including conference attendees to raise corporate visibility and advance the entire industry.
My focus in the first blog was on the three pillars of networking, education, and industry improvement that together make industry shows relevant. (See: EDS Through New Eyes: Part 1.) TTI got social at EDS, and we wanted to find out how others in the industry were using social media. Although weather cut our trip a little short and WiFi was sketchy, we learned a lot.
There is a place for social: Before we left, we created the #EDSshow hashtag in the hopes that people on Twitter would see it and join the conversation. Not only did we see other people adopt the hashtag for their own tweets, but it led to us meeting other folks at EDS who are interested in bringing social media to the front page. We found that even though Twitter was where the most activity was happening, other networks like Facebook probably would have been just as successful.
There is desire for social education: We found multiple opportunities to educate people who want to take part in social media, but just don't quite know where to start. In fact, we ran into more folks who fell into this category than any other. Both at the executive and representative level, people are clamoring for knowledge about harnessing new media and making it work both on a professional and personal level. Barriers commonly identified were time, access, knowledge, and security of information.
The future is already social: Didn't expect this one, did you? While at the show, we had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with fifteen students from eight universities around the nation who were visiting EDS through ECIA's “Project Host.” The students were nominated by their professors to attend EDS as part of their ongoing education in electronics distribution.
We learned a lot from these students, not just from talking to them but from observing them. Their phones are their personal portals, and most were making Facebook and Twitter posts from the show. These are tomorrow's crop, poised to enter this industry, and they are already social. Not only do we need to make some improvements to relate to them, but we need to learn to speak their language in order to attract them.
So how do we make the jump? Together, I hope. As I mentioned in several conversations at EDS, we have set up a group on LinkedIn for those who want to take part in moving social media forward for our industry. The group is a place where we can post best practices, how-tos, and links to resources we have found useful. But most of all, it's a place to continue our discussion and keep the momentum. So spread the word; share this link, and join conversation.