The Social Tradeshow by Traci BrowneLeveraging Social Media and Virtual Events to Connect with Your Customer is what The Social Tradeshow, written by Traci Browne, hits at the heart of now and is the future of success in the trade show industry. Companies that do not take advantage of social networking to build their community, around their niche, and their products is missing out on the massive impact that social media can have on their business sales.

The Social Tradeshow covers:

Practical advice, realistic examples, and actionable ideas for companies of all sizes, in both B2B and B2C markets. Discover how to:
* Create goals, measurable objectives, and strategies
* Identify the tools and techniques most likely to work for you
* Integrate social media and virtual events with existing pre-show, at-show and post-show tactics
* Avoid older virtual techniques that have been proven to fail * Make the most of live streaming, video interviewing, mobile polling, and other innovations
* Expand and enhance your community of customers and prospects year-round
* Demonstrate the value of social media to key decision-makers

I met Traci Browne via Twitter via Smash Hit Displays Twitter account as I was doing research on finding Twitter chats to find people within the trade show industry and stumbled across the weekly #ExpoChat. After participating in several of the chats, I realized that Traci was close to publishing her book and knew that with my background as a social media consultant for several companies and managing our companys social channels, I wanted the chance to interview Traci and share her book with our community and customers.

How did you get your start in the world of trade shows?
I would say I got bit by the trade show bug back in the late 1990s by way of COMDEX. That was back in its glory days. I was an IT Director then for a tech startup and anything that plugged into a wall was my responsibility. Since we had stuff that plugged in the "wall" at COMDEX I was also now the exhibit manager. Id never been to a trade show and was completely blown away by how huge it was. During setup I watched as labor "laid" the ethernet for the show. They used cross bows to shoot it from one end of the rafters to the other. Thats when I fell in love with trade shows. Remember, they didnt call it geek week for nothing.

It wasn t until a couple years later that I was working full time in exhibits for the Pharmaceutical Industry. I was lucky to be involved in those shows during their glory days as well. There were not the restrictions there are today and buckets of money were being spent. As fun as it all was, I think budget restrictions can sometimes improve what is being done at trade shows. You get back to the basics and focus on why you are really there.

Why did you get involved in the weekly Twitter #ExpoChat?Expochat
The #eventprofs group had a great chat twice a week and for a while that was enough. But eventually the community evolved into more independent event planners and special event folks. Those of us in the expo world didnt have a place to gather on Twitter. Dana Freker Doody, Stephanie Selesnick and I felt it was time to start a chat just for those of us in the trade show and expo industry. We didnt know what specific topics wed tackle but we did know the focus would be on the trade show floor. We also knew we wanted the chat to be about new ideas and innovation.

We reached out to our network and invited show organizers, vendors and exhibitors and the trade media to join us. We also asked them for input on the best time to hold the chat and what topics they wanted to hear about. Our first chat was on July 20, 2011 and we had over 40 participants. Weve been averaging about 20 active participants per chat and we think quite a few lurkers. Many have been there since the beginning but we get new people coming in and out all the time. Its an incredibly creative and fun group and we dont take ourselves too seriously. There are no egos on #ExpoChat. To lighten things up we always try to find a fun and relevant video to post along with the topic.

I always walk away from every chat with tons of great ideas. We post the archives of every chat on our website so anyone who misses a chat can still get access to those great ideas. Its actually an excellent resource for people searching for new ideas. They can just find the relevant topic and comb through the archive. If the subject you are looking for isn t there, please let us know. We are always looking for topics for the weekly chats.

What drove you to write your book?
There was certainly no shortage of information on Social Media out there. But there was nothing specific to trade shows. There were some blog posts here and there but much of it just scratched the surface and it was very tactical. I felt exhibit managers needed to be more strategic when incorporating social media into the exhibit program. Social media has so much potential as a tool in trade shows but people werent using it as a tool. They were making it their strategy. Twitter and Facebook are not strategies.

Also I kept hearing exhibit managers complaining that their role was not respected. As I asked more questions I discovered that was because they were focused on tactics. If exhibit managers wanted to keep their jobs or advance in their career they were going to have to pay a lot more attention to strategy. They needed to think about how what they did fit into the overall marketing program and the companys business plan. The book is about how to first create a strategy and then incorporate social media tools into that strategy. But in reality its really a marketing strategy book. Just replace social media with another tool and it still works.

One thing people keep commenting on when they read the book is that no one could possibly do everything I have in there. It was never my intention for people to do it all. Just pick one or two things and master them. And while you are picking, be sure to pick the thing that will best help your company achieve their goals and therefore help to advance your career.

I appreciate Traci taking the time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts with me. :)

I highly recommend that if you are looking to increase your company reach via social media for your next trade show display system, picking up a copy of The Social Tradeshow.