IAEE Expo! Expo! 2016 Was All About Action and Results

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Originally posted by a2z

Exhibitors and attendees at IAEE Expo! Expo! 2016 were primed to take action leading up to and during the annual events industry’s prime gathering. Building on the success of recent years, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) once again collaborated with a2z to offer online planning tools to attendees along with brand-promotion opportunities to exhibitors. a2z’s contribution included the expo management solution for the show management along with the online interactive floor plan, exhibitor galleries, and Connect™−the online matchmaking, networking and scheduling solution.

Significant Engagement
The Expo! Expo! Connect website enabled buyers and suppliers to easily and securely request appointments with each other to make their time at the event much more productive. This year, appointment and email activity was at its highest with more than 4,400 emails and appointment requests being exchanged between registered participants. In addition, IAEE utilized the Connect platform to seamlessly generate and coordinate over 600 Hosted Buyer appointments.

High Exhibitor ROI
For Expo! Expo! 2016, the exhibitors were familiar with the online promotion tools available to them in their online console from the get go. They added a significantly higher number of product listings, videos, press releases, and show specials to their online profiles. This produced deeper and more extensive engagement from attendees and website visitors. The online galleries were viewed four times more this year than last year. This increased engagement garnered exhibitors on average seven qualified pre-show attendee leads.IAEE Expo! Expo! 2016 Connect Engagement
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Congratulations to IAEE for a tremendously successful event in 2016!  We can’t wait to see what this year brings!

SOURCE: IAEE Expo! Expo! Was All About Action and Results

8 Answers to the Question ‘Why Use Promotional Products?’

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Originally posted by 4imprint

Whether used for branding, lead generation, gifts or fundraising, promotional products get the job done. The vast majority (87 percent) of recipients remember the business their promotional item came from. And, each and every time they use that item, they are reminded of the same business. Here are eight more reasons to use promotional products.

Lasting impressions start with promotional products.

Promotional products leave a lasting impression.Recipients of promotional products from a business have a more positive perception of that business, are more likely to recommend it and are more likely to buy from it.

Promotional products live on and on.

Promotional products live on and on.Sixty-three percent of U.S. consumers give promotional products to someone else when they’re through with them. Seventeen percent save their promotional items. Only 20 percent throw them away.

Promotional products are a form of advertising people love.

Promotional products at the top-rated form of advertising.Promotional products are the most-liked type of advertising. Newspapers, radio, magazines, television, internet and mobile fill slots two through seven, respectively.

Expect positive word association with promotional products.

Promotional products make people happy.When consumers were asked how they feel about organizations that gave them promotional gifts, they most often said: “happy,” “generous,” “awesome,” “grateful,” “great” and “good.”

Usefulness matters when it comes to promotional products.

Usefulness is the No.1 reason people keep promotional products.The No. 1 reason people keep promotional products is because they’re useful. Computer products, health and safety products, and promotional pens, pencils and highlighters are the highest rated for usefulness.

Promotional products take you closer.

One in three carry promotional products with them.Of people who received a promotional gift in the past 12 months, about a third of them carried the product with them. Talk about getting up close and personal with a brand!

Promotional products help you stay in touch.

Promotional products help you stay in touch.Buttons, badges, ribbons, stickers and magnets are most often kept for contact information. Electronics, electronic accessories and computer products also are retained for contact info. Only 35 percent of advertisers use promotional products to share contact information. What an opportunity!

Promotional products are used regularly.

Promotional products get regular use.Almost three-quarters of people who receive promotional products say they use them at least once a week. And, about 45 percent use the product daily. In the end, your brand has numerous opportunities to appear on well-loved and often-used promotional items. With so many choices, you’ll gain business and fans!

Promotional products can be a great way to leave a lasting impression. Give them a try for your business!

SOURCE: 8 Answers to the Question ‘Why Use Promotional Products?’

Messe Frankfurt North America goes to Expo! Expo!

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Great write up about #ExpoExpo 2016 in Anaheim by Messe Frankfurt NA

Blog by Messe Frankfurt North America

Pictured above (L-R) Dennis Smith – President & CEO, Carina Whitaker – Operations Director, Kari Martin Bush – Marketing and Conference Manager, Carrie Kittrell – Sales Manager, Brian Hays – IT Director along with (not pictured) Patrick Nohilly – President & CFO and Austin Berry – Business Analyst are all excited to attend this year’s Expo! Expo!  December 6 – 8 in Anaheim, CA!

Almost every trade show professional attends IAEE‘s annual “show for shows” to stay up-to-date with industry trends and technology while networking with like-minded professionals. This year’s Expo! Expo! provides an “inside out” approach, focusing on five key strategies: Interaction and Engagement, Innovation, Giving Back: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Encouraging a Global Spirit and Community, Learning: Plan, Perform and Lead.

Two of our employees who have attended Expo! Expo! in the past share their experience:

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The Importance of Saying ‘No’ at Work

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Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 13 January 2017

Nope, this post isn’t about my “word of the year.” (If you haven’t read about the word I chose for 2017, get the scoop here!) Instead, it’s about another word I believe everyone should employ to be more productive – and quite likely more sane. That’s the word “no.”

You could barely turn on the radio this spring without hearing Meghan Trainor espouse the beauty of the word “no.” Her anthem might have been all about girl power, but this single word remains powerful for any situation, including your work life.

Of course there are times that “no” is not the judicious thing to say for career advancement: Part of the puzzle is knowing when to say “no” and when not to. The articles below have helpful tips for when and how to employ the power of no.

Make Sure it Aligns With Your Priorities

“Prioritization is critical in today’s 24/7 work environment. I keep a list of long-term and short-term priorities and if a task or project doesn’t fit in one of those buckets, 99% of the time I decline it. My best tip for saying no is to be straightforward and not dance around the subject. Explain that the task, project or activity doesn’t align with your current priorities and, if the situation changes, you will revisit the topic. Also, sometimes you can suggest an alternative solution.” — Read more at Forbes.

A “No” Now Is Better Than a “No” Later

“Instead of saying ‘yes’ now and disappointing the person later when you fail to fulfill the request, say ‘no’ now. Do not say ‘maybe or ‘probably.’ It comes across as unclear. Most people appreciate a solid ‘no’ more than a ‘maybe.’ It’s indecision that can drain energy from all parties involved.” — Read more at Entrepreneur.

Or, Soften The No, As Needed

“Release the guilt: ‘I really do appreciate the offer and I wish I could help.’ That opening does a lot to counter the ‘But….no’ that’s the answer at the end of the reply.” — Read more at Bizwomen.

Say No Confidently

“Don’t:

  • Use a harsh or hesitant tone, and don’t be overly polite either. Instead, strive for a steady and clear no.
  • Hold back the real reason you’re saying no. To limit frustration, give reasons with good weight up front.
  • Distort your message or act tentatively because you’re trying to keep your colleague happy. Be honest and make sure your no is understood.”

Read more at Harvard Business Review.

SOURCE: THE IMPORTANCE OF SAYING ‘NO’ AT WORK

CEM Faculty Spotlight on Troy Love, CTA, CMP, CEM

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Troy Love, CTA, CMP, CEM has 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including nine years at the helm of a casino organization. He holds a B.S. in Social Science and an M.S. in Tourism Management. He currently works as the Senior Sales Manager for Visit San Antonio.

IAEE recently spoke with Troy about how he entered into the exhibitions and events industry, as well as his involvement with the CEM Learning Program.

How did you become involved in the industry?

I have been in the hospitality industry since high school, but it wasn’t until I took a Tourism elective during my senior year in college that I got hooked on pursuing this industry professionally. Loving to travel and meeting new people greatly motivated me.

What are your responsibilities in your current role?

My responsibilities primarily include promoting San Antonio as a convention, meeting and incentive destination while securing definite commitments from associations and corporations to utilize hotel rooms and meeting facilities.

What drives your involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program?

I’ve been involved with IAEE since my first Expo! Expo! in 2007. I’ve always had the desire to give back and help others in their professional careers.

Are you ready to get started on your CEM? Click here for more info!
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When did you become a member of the CEM faculty?

I joined the CEM Faculty in October 2013.

What was your most memorable experience from teaching?

My most memorable experience is always seeing students that were in my class walk across the stage at IAEE Expo! Expo!.

What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM?

  1. Being a part of something larger than yourself.
  2. Building new relationships.
  3. Learning from your students.

How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?

My CEM designation has kept me abreast of the changes in our industry, as well as provided me the new connections I needed to continue to learn and grow.

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Do you have any advice for other CEMs who may want to start teaching?

Do it! Teaching is a great feeling and it provides a wonderful connection to all the new CEMs.

Your Guide to 2017’s Top Executive Promotional Products

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Originally posted by 4imprint

Executive promotional products are a great way to not only look good to execs, but to make them look good as well. To get an idea what corporate giveaways will really win them over this year, keep reading.

For high-tech executive gifts, you can’t miss with Bluetooth® audio.

Wireless audio is a great giveaway for tech-savvy execs. In the first half of 2016, Bluetooth headphones drove more dollars than wired headphones, making it clear that people are taking their music everywhere they go and leaving the wires behind. With many top-end smartphones dropping their corded connections, the perfect personalized executive gift is a set of Mojave Wooden Bluetooth Headphones. They’re just the thing for catching productivity podcasts on the go. Or pump the tunes on the pint-sized yet powerful Addi Bluetooth Speaker.

Travel gear is an always-welcome corporate giveaway.

Outfit executives so they can travel in style.
With an estimated 457 million domestic business trips taken in 2016, busy executives are constantly on the go. Many executive promotional products are designed to make their lives just a little more comfortable. A Kinney Packable Jacket resists wind, rain and cold, yet rolls up into a convenient, compact size, just right for stashing in a travel bag. Speaking of bags, give a personalized executive gift that doubles as an office on the go–a fashion-forward Kenneth Cole Colombian Leather Dowel Laptop Bag or Isaac Mizrahi Sloan Laptop Tote.

Keep executives moving with terrific tech toys.

Portable tech is perfect for executives always on the go.
According to Pew Research, 68 percent of Americans own a smartphone. If the executive you know is always running out of cell phone power, give him or her a sleek yet powerful Dual Power Bank. It carries enough power to charge most cell phones—twice! Or if someone is counting not only calories but also their daily exercise, a Smart Wear Bluetooth Tracker Pedometer may be just what the doctor ordered.

Use personalized executive gifts to be remembered in the office.

Useful, professional items often find a home on an executive’s desk.
Because the average worker spends 35 percent of his or her time behind a desk, keep your name within clear sight every day with executive promotional products just for the office. An Executive Desk Pad exudes a first-class business vibe. To keep an exec’s favorite tech tool nearby—a cell phone—make it stand tall with the Brando Clock Desk Organizer. Or for a sleek and stylish way to get your name in front of everyone, hand your favorite executive a Prestigious Business Card Holder.

Some of the top executive gifts deliver a welcome break from work.

Executive gifts like games can create precious time with family.
Everyone needs to take their mind off their job sometimes, and busy executives are no exception. This is especially important when it comes to people with families. The Pew Research Center® says 39 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads say they don’t spend enough time with their kids. So, grab the 7-in-1 Traditional Game Set and have a family fun night. Or, for some fast-paced sports action, get your competitive juices flowing with an Air Hockey Desktop Game.

If you need to connect with those in leadership roles, executive promotional products can be a great way to leave a great impression that lasts long after the handshake.

 

SOURCE: Your Guide to 2017’s Top Executive Promotional Products

Millennials Manage Differently, and That’s a Good Thing

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Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 17 January 2017

I’ve shared before that I think it’s time to stop shaming millennials. One of the reasons: They’re no longer all young 20-somethings just starting their careers. More millennials are stepping into management and leadership roles every day. In fact, The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey found that 80 percent of millennials currently define themselves as leaders.

And, in my opinion, their ascent is going to be highly beneficial to the workplace — today and in the future. They bring different experiences, skills and mindsets to the workplace that are well suited to current business challenges and opportunities. Here are four ways that millennials differ as leaders, and my take on how millennial leadership will shape workplace dynamics for the better.

More feedback

Buh-bye, annual review…and good riddance. Millennials are embracing the need to provide ongoing, constant feedback to employees of all generations. As leaders they provide more feedback because it’s what they’ve said they want as employees — one survey found that almost half of millennials crave weekly feedback.

Expect to see more on-the-spot coaching, especially in the form of apps that provide instant feedback. By moving the focus from backward-looking reviews to up-to-the-minute improvements, millennial managers will help their teams make micro-adjustments to enhance performance and results.

More movement

Much has been made of the Deloitte survey that revealed two-thirds of millennials expect to leave their current job by 2020, but it is has significant implications for millennials as leaders. Accustomed to change, they are likely to be more adaptable to shifting team members, and will find it easier to manage employees who work remotely or those who join the team to perform one specific strategic task on a contract basis and then move on.

Millennial leaders are likely to move too, contributing to the concept of a professional trajectory as a lattice rather than a ladder. As they move from one company or department to another, they will bring with them their best practices and fresh ideas, shaking up the status quo that can occasionally plague companies with long-tenured employees.

More work/life integration

In a 2015 EY study, 35 percent of millennial leaders said that managing work-life balance is more challenging in their current role. But that doesn’t mean that they’re shrugging their shoulders and giving in — they’re doing something about it, and that is contributing to the rise of better work/life blend for all.

Since technology infuses nearly everything millennials do, tech is a driving force in their hunt for better work/life integration. They book reservations online at work and answer work email from the comfort of their couch at night. I expect that millennial managers will increasingly jettison the concept of “face time” to focus exclusively on output. This will benefit all generations of workers.

More focus on mission

People and profits will continue as a critical theme in how millennials manage. A whopping 90 percent of millennials say they want to use their skills for good, and 77 percent say culture is as important as salary or benefits, according to a survey by Virgin Pulse.

Fortunately, a culture of purpose and one of profits are not mutually exclusive. A Deloitte survey found that 91 percent of respondents who said their company had a strong sense of purpose had a history of strong financial performance as well.

Millennials will be focused not only on doing good work, but doing good, period, and that will impact the company’s overall culture and goals, while still driving performance.

The best news about these shifts? In my opinion, millennials are taking action on outdated workplace issues that have begged to be addressed for decades. They are starting the ball rolling — and all generations will score.

How have you noticed millennials managing differently? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

SOURCE: Millennials Manage Differently, and That’s a Good Thing

IAEE Awards Spotlight on Jacqueline Russo: 2016 Woman of Achievement Award Winner

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By Mary Tucker, IAEE Sr. PR/Communications Manager

Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., has been a dynamic leader within IAEE with more than 25 years of consistent service and heavy involvement across many capacities. She has served as a mentor to other women as they entered the industry, and is well known both nationally and internationally as an asset to the exhibitions and events community.

In 2016, she was recognized for her contributions to the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry as the recipient of IAEE’s Woman of Achievement Award. Here, Jackie shares with IAEE her perspective about what she has learned over the years, being actively involved in IAEE’s chapters and committees, and the rewarding experiences that come from getting to know your colleagues.

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Awards presentation during the Networking Luncheon at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2016 in Anaheim, CA. From left to right: Representing the IAEE Awards Committee, Randy Bauler, CEM; Jackie Russo; and IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA.

IAEE: How did you get your start in the exhibitions and events industry, and at what point did you realize you were “in it to stay”?

JACKIE: Like many in the exhibition industry, I fell into it by working for a company that was scheduled to be an exhibitor in Fire Asia, Singapore.  A fire/safety show, it was my task to ensure all of our materials were sent to the show and would be on site and ready to use when our team arrived. I was terrified and called the official logistics company to assist with my transport and delivery. I spent countless hours working on the paperwork and even went to the logistics company’s office to check the goods. After the show was a success, logistics company offered me a job.  My goal was to do international business and see the world.  The exhibition industry offered me the chance to do both.

 IAEE: How have you seen the role of women in the exhibitions and events industry evolve over the course of your career, and are there developments you would still like to see?

 JACKIE: The most exciting growth has been women in management roles. We have many female business owners of all sized companies. Additionally, many traditionally male jobs are now also female roles.  I would like to see more young women recruited to begin a career path within exhibition organizers and suppliers. If we codify the opportunity and provide a path, we will allow women to shine.

 IAEE: You have been recognized as a generous mentor within the industry. What do you most enjoy about sharing your knowledge and experience with those new to the industry?

 JACKIE: That is large question. I have open arms and open mouth to anyone who is interested to listen. It is not just young persons; but all career people need an ear and an unbiased opinion/advice regarding their careers. Hearing the facts and discussing strategy allows individuals to seek those roles or solve those problems which are most important to them. It also allows people to see opportunities they may not believe are available for them.

 IAEE: You have served on various IAEE committees and task forces. Why is volunteerism important to you, and what tips do you have for those considering serving on a committee/task force?

 JACKIE: Volunteering in IAEE has been the best decision of my career. We often discuss team in the description of our careers. There is no better team than a committee or task force whether on the local or national level of IAEE. The other volunteers are extremely professional and bring knowledge, points of view and a willing spirit to the group. It is possible to grow and individual and as a business person. My closest friends and even close competitors are all colleagues when we work together on a committee or task force. When choosing the type of volunteering, it is important to choose those opportunities about which you have an interest, expertise or concern. Even if you do not know anything about the topic, it is a way to learn and grow while contributing. Volunteering takes time. It is imperative that you do not make a commitment that you are unable to fulfill. The other members are counting on you and your help. Make a lifelong friend!

 IAEE: From a woman’s point of view, what do you find most challenging about a career in the exhibitions and events industry? What do you find most rewarding? (whether from a woman’s view or overall)

 JACKIE: My challenges have been less gender related and more career related. We all talk about balance. Balance is tough and sacrifices have to be made if the goal is to reach pre-chosen targets or titles. In this current environment “we have an app for that” means there is a lot more clerical work; we do our own proposals and presentations and travel and carry them in our bags and go through security and wait and wait. This is the tough part for all career persons.

Most rewarding, everything else. We have a sense of accomplishment daily. We work on high-performing teams that meet at 5 a.m. and leave each other at 10 p.m. mostly with a smile. I help non-U.S. individuals make their way through the U.S. system of exhibitions. We share a laugh even when we don’t speak the same language. It is human. I share a department with people who know the value of a good job and a strong employer. Friends.

IAEE: You have been a member of IAEE for more than 25 years. What is your favorite part of being an IAEE member and what advice would you give someone who has just joined the organization?

JACKIE: My favorite parts of IAEE are the members, the local chapters and the experiences. If you have an open mind, it is possible to take yourself and your career to the next level. Participation may take you out of your comfort zone. It took me out many times and this was just what I needed to grow. It is good to be uncomfortable with yourself sometimes. After all of the hand-wringing, you are stronger and ready to take on the next challenge.

IAEE is accepting nominations for the 2017 Woman of Achievement Award! Click here to learn more about the IAEE Individual Awards and submit your nominations today!

My Word of the Year for 2017: Essential

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Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 11 January 2017

In 2016 my life became a lot less hectic as I employed my word of the year: Simplify.

I added more breathing room in my schedule – and my closet – and adopted a general mantra that “less is more.” My year of simplifying was so fulfilling and freeing that I knew I wanted to build on the concept in 2017.

My 2017 word of the year came to me as I was doing yoga (cliche I know…). While standing in tree pose, I was thinking about my core, which led me to ruminating on core values, which led me to: What is essential? And that’s when it dawned on me. 2017 will be “The Year of Essentials.”

Every time I need to make a decision this year, I will ask, “Is it essential?” That goes for how I spend my money, how I spend my time and how I spend my energy.

The Fruits of a Simpler Life

When I look back on 2016, I feel peace and satisfaction that I was able to spend time doing more of what I wanted because I simplified. I could focus on spending more time with family and close friends and giving more of my time to fewer clients and to my daughter’s school.

When people think of simplifying, they often confuse it with “giving something up,” but it’s actually the opposite. Instead you’re concentrating your time and energy on fewer, more important things.

Financially, as a business owner, my quest to simplify included making sure I am working with the right vendors for me, and carefully tracking my finances on business development and other activities.

Deciding What’s Essential

And that is what leads me into my 2017 theme. And I wanted to share it with you because it is universal, but also very personal. What is essential to me may not be essential to you. For example…

  • Practicing yoga? Essential to me, but maybe not interesting to you.
  • Having a pet? Not essential to me. But for many of my friends, a pet is an essential source of joy.
  • Continually learning and reading? Essential to me.
  • Attending big networking events? Not essential to me. For someone newly starting their career, that might be at the top of their list. Right now I’m finding more value in small group events and one-on-one meetings.
  • Mentoring young people? Essential to me. My recent TEDx Talk clarified to me that we need more people championing millennials, and that is an essential part of my mission.

What will I do when I’m uncertain? I will remember the words of Greg McKeown, whose book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, made a huge impression on me (clearly) and is an — ahem — essential read if you haven’t already checked it out. McKeown wrote:

“If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”

The whole purpose of my Year of Essentials will be drilling down to what is most essential — to me and me only. One essential that will not waver? The dialogue I continue to have with my readers. So, for that, I thank you for being part of my 2017 journey. I know it’s going to be a great year!

SOURCE: My Word of the Year for 2017: Essential

Platform Overload—Choosing the Right Social Media Sites for Business

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Originally posted by 4imprint

Choosing the Right Social Media Sites for Business

First came the inaugural class of social media platforms: Facebook®, Twitter® and LinkedIn®. Then came the second wave: Instagram®, Snapchat® and Google+®. Now, there’s an entirely new team of social media players with an ever-evolving list of ways for people to connect, share and promote what matters most to them. From a user perspective, it’s a veritable buffet of delicious options. Choosing is as simple as finding where your friends or professional contacts are or selecting the venues that interest you most.

From a company perspective, it’s much more complicated. How do you choose the right social media sites for business? Bottom line: if you’re overwhelmed and don’t know which platforms to choose, we can help.

The importance of social media for companies

The truth is, social media for companies isn’t negotiable anymore—it’s almost an expectation and an issue of legitimacy and sustainability. Businesses that don’t have a social media presence are missing opportunities to engage key stakeholders, customers and employees, and are ignoring a potentially powerful pipeline for sales conversions and future success.

But where do you start? And more importantly, where do you draw the line?

Whether you work at a large company, or are seeking social media for small businesses, consider your budget. Resources often require businesses to focus their social media efforts. After all, the only thing worse than having no presence is having poorly-managed social media profiles. The implications can be widespread and potentially damaging to an organization’s reputation.

Managing social media for companies effectively depends on focused efforts on strategically chosen platforms. Don’t worry, we’ve simplified the legwork for you. Read on for your five-step guide to finding the right social media site(s) for you.

Step 1: Determine which social media sites your target market uses most

You already know who you want to reach, right? (If not, it’s time to define your target markets and/or develop your customer personas.) The first step is to figure out where your target audience is spending time on social media—and where they are active. In “Which Social Media Accounts Really Matter and Why” marketing expert Neil Patel explains that it’s important to look past big user numbers on social media platforms. “For example, there are over 1 billion Google®users, but only 35 percent of those users were active in the past month. Twitter, too, has a lot of members with [a] relatively low number of active members … A social media user needs to be active on a social media site in order for them to be of any use to you.”

That’s a key consideration when developing your social media business strategy. You can determine which social media platforms your target market is actively using in a number of ways.

Ask them.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? You can survey your existing customers, clients and contacts by using one of the online free survey sites, or by polling them via your email list. Or, you can simply ask them when they enter your brick-and-mortar business or at checkout online.

Look at the research.

Social media demographics are widely available online, and the data is robust. You’ll want to know the demographics for your current clients and the target markets you wish to reach. Information like age, gender, income and education can be helpful in your decision-making process.

In “Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy,” Michael Patterson says in-depth information is available about market demographics for many of the popular sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest® and Snapchat. Use that data to determine where the majority of users live, their income levels, their gender and much more. From there, you will be able to glean insight into which platforms your target markets are most likely using, and which social media sites for business are right for you.

This offers you a strong starting position, according to Dominique Jackson in “How to Find the Best Social Media Channels for Your Business.”

“For instance, if you’re primarily targeting women over 50 years old, Instagram probably isn’t the best option. You’re better off with Facebook or Pinterest,” Jackson says.

This is just the beginning of your process, but it’s a vital step. Patterson points out that the strategy you develop based on this data shouldn’t be written in stone. Rather, consider it an organic, ever-changing plan. “Smart marketers constantly tinker with their segmentation strategy, working tediously to ensure that the right message is reaching the right people at the right time,” he explains. “With the rise of so many platforms across the vast social media landscape, this has never been more important—or more challenging.”

Find where your content, or similar content, is already being shared.

Even if you aren’t on social media, chances are your name is there. Consider logging on to various sites and searching for your company name, related product lines, competitor accounts or areas of interest among your target audiences. Look for places where that conversation is happening: your target audience has a presence there that you can work with. As a bonus, you may also learn what your audience thinks of your business, what they wish you would consider tweaking, what they love about your products and services, and even how your staff is performing from a customer service standpoint. Jackpot!

But having the demographic data isn’t enough, Jackson says. “In addition to these statistics, you should also do a manual review of the social networks where you’re interested. Look at the content being published, and who are the actual content creators. If content related to your industry seems to resonate well, it’s a good sign.”

Lastly, consider which social media sites are already driving traffic to your business. You can do this with the help of Google Analytics. Jackson suggests checking out the data under Acquisition. Then choose Social and Network Referrals.

Step 2: Define your social media for business capabilities within the resources you have available

You know it. We know it. Everyone knows it. Resources—both time and money—are limited. Obviously, managing both wisely is important, especially when considering your social media strategy. So the question is: what is your team capable of doing within budget and scheduling limitations?

It goes without saying—poorly-used resources could result in a very low return on your efforts. Spread your time and staff too thin and your audience engagement could suffer. A single person with an existing full-time load of responsibilities likely won’t be as responsive as your social media audience would like. And at its core, that’s the point of social media: it’s a conversation, and it’s about building relationships. If it’s a one-sided conversation and customers can’t reach you, you may send the message that your business is not interested in providing excellent customer service. Customers have become accustomed to nearly immediate responses and online customer support with a real person on-demand.

In “6 Social Media Trends That Will Take Over 2016” Jennifer Beese said, “Social media thrives on real-time engagement, but each year the window for response becomes smaller and smaller.” According to Search Engine Watch, 70 percent of Twitter users expect a response and 53 percent want a response in less than an hour. That jumps to 72 percent when they have a complaint.

Allocating the right resources to the right platforms is essential. No one wants to wake up to negative reviews of their company. Make sure you have enough staff to stay on top of issues and address concerns. In 2014, consumers took to social media to complain about brands 879 million times, according to www.sproutsocial.com. Worse, the majority of those messages went unanswered, even after three days. The good news is that there are tools out there that can help. Automation and social listening tools can help you streamline your efforts and provide useful data to hone your strategy. Overall, they can help make the most of the time and money you devote to social media.

The bottom line: by strategically choosing your platforms and taking time to calculate what you can realistically do with your resources, you can maximize your return on investment (ROI) and delight your customers when they engage with you on social media.

Step 3: Decide what kind of content you will share

So far, you’ve considered how much of your staff and financial resources you can dedicate to your social media strategy. But don’t stop there. It’s vital to consider your strengths. Each social media platform has a unique set of capabilities, and some will be more applicable to your business than others. For example, if you run a professional photography school or an art studio, photo sharing sites like Instagram would provide a great platform to showcase the visual aspects of your business. If you provide drone videography services, you may find sites like YouTube® work better. Look at each channel and consider how they will work with your business. 

In “How to Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business,” author and online marketing expert Scott Levy suggests, “When it comes to choosing which social media platforms you’ll utilize, select those that offer the best potential for reaching your ideal audience and broadcast the type of media you’ve decided is best suited for your company.” When it comes to selecting social media sites for businesses that are large, or social media for small business, most companies don’t have the resources to be successful on every platform. So, instead of having lackluster representation in a lot of places, be amazing on a few of them.

Here are some popular platforms and the type of content they work best with, according to Levy. 

Pinterest

This online bulletin board is great for content sharing because it allows users to save items for future reference—pinning—and share them. Pins are image-driven, so strong visuals are important. Users can comment on pins, and click on pins to access external webpages. Says Levy, “If you focus on wedding planning, travel destinations, interior decorating, fashion or foods, you can say a great deal about your products and services through your stunning photos or videos.” 

LinkedIn

According to Levy, LinkedIn is great for connecting people, engaging in group discussions about specific interests and showcasing your expertise. LinkedIn is also a popular publishing platform. It is a great option to get exposure for your original content, and to position yourself as an expert in your industry. 

YouTube

YouTube is a great sharing site for videos. The key, says Levy, is to make your video engaging, as no one will watch a boring video. But that doesn’t necessarily call for high-end production. What makes a video good? Levy explains, “It’s a good idea to watch a number of YouTube videos and see which ones generated hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of hits. Videos that show people how to do something, demonstrate your product or service, or introduce a new or unusual (visual) product can help you benefit from YouTube.” 

Twitter

This platform provides a continuous real-time conversation in short, text message-like posts. It’s ideal for companies that want real-time engagement with their audience and are willing to put in the effort to maintain it. “If you have breaking news, updates, questions for your followers, or if you want opinions now or even need to announce a recall, Twitter is the way to reach out to people,” Levy said.

Facebook

Facebook has extensive reach and power. Its worldwide user-base is enormous. While there is some sense of immediacy, Facebook doesn’t have the same rapid-fire vibe that Twitter does. It’s more about building a relationship with the audience. “Almost any business can benefit from having a Facebook page,” says Levy. “But Facebook isn’t about selling. Your goal in using Facebook for business is to let customers get to know the people behind the logo … If done correctly, your fans become loyal followers and Facebook can be a very significant lead generator.”

As you can see, the type of content you want to share has a big role in choosing the right social media platforms.

Step 4: Consider large, medium, small and niche platforms

The temptation for many businesses is to focus on the largest social media platforms, like these:

Big Social Networks’ Monthly Active UsersFigure 1: Big social networks’ monthly active users

Depending on the size and scope of your business, going for the most popular platforms could be a valid choice. But social media is about more than the number of users. It’s important to remember that the bigger the site, the more competition you face. A social media campaign that could easily get lost on a popular site could gain real traction on a niche site. So when you’re considering platforms, dig deep. It may require a little legwork, but you could see a huge payoff in market saturation. Here’s how to go about it according to Patel.

  • Consider joining what Patel calls the big four: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Patel says Google+ is a social media game changer. “When you combine Google authorship with the world’s dominant search engine, and create a social media platform that integrates them, it’s no wonder that Google+ is turning up as a dominant form of online social interaction.”
  • Consider what Patel calls the lesser three: Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. You may also want to consider location-based sites, such as Foursquare® and Yelp®, particularly if you have a brick-and-mortar presence.
  • Consider even smaller sites. Patel clarifies that these sites are still massive, but they appeal to people who have shared interests. These sites include Tumblr®, StumbleUpon® and Reddit®.
  • Lastly, explore niche sites. A social network that is specifically created for your target market may provide more return on your investment of time and energy. How do you find the right niche social site? Patel recommends simply putting your keywords, along with the words “social network,” in a search engine to see what’s out there. Niche sites won’t have the big user numbers that Facebook has, but you’ll get a more accurate sample of your target market when you find the right group.

Step 5: Research future social media platform capabilities and rise to meet them

Remember how we said your social media strategy shouldn’t be set in stone? In “The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends Dominating 2016,” author Jason DeMers says it’s helpful to look at the trends that are taking center stage in social media right now. This information allows you to tweak or even overhaul your social media strategy to capitalize on current conditions. Here’s what’s trending:

  1. Hyper-relevant content rules. Users are beginning to prefer in-the-moment content, and most platforms sort posts by relevance. That means better posts get better play.
  2. Live streaming is gaining momentum. Video has been increasingly popular on social media, but these days, users want more. With the advent of Facebook Live, chances are, demand for live-streaming content will only increase.
  3. Social interaction is changing. New types of interaction are emerging, including one-sided conversations on Snapchat and applications like Messenger for Business on Facebook, aimed at customer service. The range of options is constantly growing and new capabilities are emerging. Staying on top of this can put your business on the cusp of the next big thing.
  4. A more personalized experience. As we mentioned, users want content that is relevant. Social media platforms have heard the demands for customization, and they’re doing their best to meet those demands.
  5. Social media apps are trying to keep people in-app for as long as possible by offering greater functionality. Experts say this trend will increase as it relates directly to app revenue. “Some of these functions include in-app search functions, embedded content, and in Facebook’s case, even a personal digital assistant,” DeMers says. Savvy marketers don’t have to adopt all of them, he says, but will want to recognize that broader app functionality is a trend that will likely shape the future of social media marketing.

So, there you have it: five steps to finding the right social media sites for business. Once selected, you’re well on your way to discovering success in user engagement, sales conversions and brand loyalty. Remember, you don’t have to do all platforms well; the key is to select the platforms that work best for your business. Focus on communicating effectively. In time, armed with a thoughtfully-developed strategy, your business can experience measurable ROI, improved customer relationships, and business growth through the power of social media.

SOURCE: Platform Overload—Choosing the Right Social Media Sites for Business