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

2016: Year in Review

David DuBois_cropped for WordPress

Originally published by Trade Show Executive, December 2016 Edition

As is typical with most of us around this time of year, I would like to take a moment to reflect on what I believe to have been another great year for the exhibitions and events industry. This year, I have traveled more than 150,000 miles to meet and speak with IAEE members and industry leaders across the world. I can attest to the solidarity of our industry, and it brings me great confidence in the direction our industry is headed when I hear of the future plans our global community holds for exhibitions and events.

IAEE is first and foremost a trade association, whose primary concern and function is to serve our members. In fact, you could say our members are our raison d’être. This year, IAEE achieved an incredible milestone by being able to serve more than 10,000 members in 52 countries. I am very proud of this accomplishment because, as you’ve heard me say many times, the “I” in IAEE is not just a letter. The global reach of IAEE members is in a constant state of growth, which means our industry in a constant state of growth – and that is always a good thing.

For many years now, one of IAEE’s crowning achievements has been its CEM Learning Program, and this year is no different. As 2016 closes, we have welcomed more than 300 new CEM graduates! The CEM Learning Program is now offered in 28 nations, reflecting yet again that continuing education and common ground in terms of best practices serve as ties that bind the power of our industry across the globe.

Speaking of the power of the face-to-face industry, this year’s Exhibitions Day and first-ever Global Exhibitions Day strengthened awareness about the economic impact of the meetings industry and drove home the message that Exhibitions Mean Business. IAEE and 20 supporting organizations were successful in bringing together more than 100 exhibitions and events professionals to Capitol Hill to educate members of Congress about the industry that contributes $80 billion to the U.S. economy. In addition, social media channels were profoundly effective in spreading the message of how our industry contributes to local, national and global economies.

Another powerful voice of the industry is that of our female professionals, aptly reflected in IAEE’s wildly successful Women’s Leadership Forum. This event sold out yet again in 2016, drawing more than 200 attendees interested in advancing and collaborating on topics of interest to the women who contribute to our industry’s success.

And, of course, Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Anaheim caps off the year’s success with incredible education and networking opportunities that serve to not only close the current year with the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie so familiar to those of us in this industry, but also to inspire and motivate us for the year ahead. Speaking of which, we have some great things in store for 2017 – such as a new Certified Exhibitions Program and Women’s Leadership Initiative. But I will tell you more about those initiatives next month!

I would like to close this year’s column by sharing with you my deep gratitude and appreciation for the members of our industry. I make no bones about my respect for the great people whose hard work and personal contributions make our industry one in which I am proud to be a part of. From the industry veterans who have laid the solid foundation upon which we continue to build our upward successes, to the impressive young professionals who bring their enthusiasm and innovative ideas to the table – we have cause to celebrate! And while I know many of us are already rocket launching ourselves into the coming year (that’s just how we roll), I encourage you to take the time to congratulate yourselves on an incredible 2016.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO
IAEE

Beyond the Humblebrag: How to Own Your Success Without Feeling Braggy

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Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 15 November

“I have no place to put my new award! I’m running out of wall space in my office!”

“So don’t love my new haircut, but three people told me it makes me look younger. Are they lying?!”

We’ve all rolled our eyes at similar “humblebrags,” whether they’re comments made in meetings or posted on social media.

And yet, there is a genuine reason that professionals must promote themselves and their personal brands. It’s highly strategic to own your successes and to convey your value confidently — whether it’s in an email introduction, interview, keynote speech, cover letter, client pitch or performance review.

But many attendees of my speeches about personal branding ask me how to self-promote without sounding too braggy. (Or, as Peggy Klaus asks in one of my favorite book subtitles, how do you “toot your own horn without blowing it?”) If you feel like you’re bragging when you share your accomplishments, consider these off-putting phrases and learn how to correct them.

Instead of saying “I’m a creative, intelligent leader,” provide examples of your work.

When you’re touting your best traits, it’s best to use the “show, don’t tell” theory. In other words, instead of saying what a great communicator or strategic planner you are, show people how you used your creativity or organizational skills by telling a story that bolsters the claim.

Try using the proven formula of “problem, action, result.” For example, if you want to communicate that you can motivate a team, first describe the lack of morale you inherited in your department. Then share how you implemented team-building events and better communication to help create buy-in, and therefore retention improved under your watch.

Instead of saying “I accomplished this, and it was amazing,” include other people in your stories.

Speaking of stories, you’ll find that there’s more than one character in most stories. That’s why you should acknowledge those who helped you with your achievement (without unduly giving away too much of the credit). Talk about how you led a team and were really proud of the work they did: “We had to fix this problem ASAP so I worked with my team to find a solution that would allow us to stay within budget.”

By sharing the love, you prove that you’re confident enough to compliment others and authentic enough to realize that no one goes it alone.

Instead of saying “This sounds braggy, but…”, just share your good news.

You don’t have to apologize; just be genuine and share the great thing that happened. You could say “I’m proud to let you know I got a promotion,” or “I’m humbled and honored that my team nominated me for this award.” You could even say, “This is something I’ve really wanted and I am so happy I have done it.” People will respect you when you share good news with authenticity.

Don’t say “I did this. And that. And, come to think of it, this, too!”

Ultimately the level of your perceived bragginess will depend on your track record and how you typically position things. First cultivate the habit of paying it forward. If you’re never commenting or congratulating others on their news or “liking” and sharing their posts, they may be less eager to be supportive of you, especially if your “good news” seems to happen all.the.time.

Also, consider context. It’s one thing to post a picture with your medal when everyone knows you’ve been working hard to get healthy and tackle a marathon, and another when you’re already a fitness queen and you crow about losing a pound.

When you choose your moments and share news that is truly meaningful, other people will be happy for you. (P.S. If you’re a parent, these go for your kid posts, too. Just sayin’…)

How about you? I’d love to hear your strategies for sharing good news without being braggy. Please share in the comments!

Desktop Promotional Products with Style

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Originally posted by 4imprint

If you are looking for promotional products that customers can’t wait to get their hands on, take a look at these calendars, sticky notes and notebooks.Perpetual Block CalendarIf you plan to give your customers a calendar as a year-end gift, the Perpetual Block Calendar is a fresh alternative. Bold colors will draw attention to your brand.Perpetual Block Calendar l 123645 l Promotional Products from 4imprintThe playful design features the month at the base, while the cubes can be turned daily to display the date. The calendar is easy to assemble and perfect for a small space on a desk or shelf. And, its perpetual design means this promotional product can adorn a recipient’s desk year after year.

BicTM Sticky Spring Note

To combine a bit of fun with a traditional office product, try one of our new paper products, the Bic™ Sticky Spring Note. As its name implies, these notepads spring open like an accordion!

Bic Sticky Spring Note flat l 131869 l Promotional Products from 4imprintBic Sticky Spring Note l 131869 l Promotional Products from 4imprintThe die-cut comes in three other options—a star, heart and house

Coaster Desktop Calendar

Just like its name suggests, the Coaster Desktop Calendar does double-duty. Monthly calendars double as coasters while the coaster-holder stores pens and pencils.

 

Coaster Desktop Calendar l 123648 l Promotional Products from 4imprint

The calendars come in a variety of styles so you can personalize the gift according to recipients’ tastes. Choose from Tapestry (shown above), Craftsman, Watercolor and Craft Brew.

Sorbet Pocket Notebook with Curvy Stylus Pen

For a notebook customers will reach for again and again, try the Sorbet Pocket Notebook with Curvy Stylus Pen. Available in a range of bright colors, this 4imprint exclusive includes a customer-favorite, the Curvy Stylus Pen.

Sorbet Pocket Notebook with Curvy Stylus Pen l 125649 l Promotional Products from 4imprint

A cover pocket – inside and outside – makes it easy for the on-the-go user to stash must-have documents.

Vintage Calendar Cards

These vintage Calendar Cards will add a work of art to an office desk every month.

Calendar Cards Vintage l 129055 l Promotional Products from 4imprint

A small easel keeps the calendar propped up to bring style and fun to any workspace. The cards come with a decorative band for easy storage. (But, who would want to keep these beautiful vintage graphics hidden?)

As these promotional products show, bright colors and fresh looks can help you turn a useful promotional product into an unforgettable giveaway customers will reach for throughout the day.

SOURCE: Desktop Promotional Products with Style

Show Floor, Education and Networking: An All-Inclusive Tale of Expo! Expo!

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By Jessica Finnerty, CEM; Manager, Meetings and Events, Auto Care Association

Last week, I wrapped up my annual expo. A year’s worth of work culminated in just a few short days. While the work was exhausting and strenuous, I would do this all over again in a heartbeat.  Fresh with ideas I am inspired to learn how to make improvements and create a better Auto Care Association expo for next year. What better way to learn cutting edge trends than by attending Expo! Expo! in Anaheim, California?

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This will be my third year attending Expo! Expo! and let me tell you what you can expect – the best and the brightest; the new and exciting; the tried and true. From event technology to attendee acquisition and so much more, the expo floor is chock full of everything that an event planner could need to help make his/her show a success. Already, I have received meeting requests from industry leaders about products and services spanning the entirety of the industry. In addition to the meetings already on my agenda, I am excited to walk the show floor and discover new innovations that could be beneficial to me and my organization.

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However, the show floor is only part of the Expo! Expo! value. The 2016 educational offerings address topics for all aspects of planner life. These sessions are critical, particularly to me, because unlike so many other sessions for event planners, these sessions focus primarily on the exhibition side rather than the meetings. I find more relevant content in these few days than I do throughout the rest of the year. Of particular interest this year is the MATSO agenda. The challenges for large-show organizers are different compared to organizers of smaller shows and it’s great to have the opportunity to collaborate with others who are in the same boat.

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Of course, what is a conference without the networking? After all, isn’t the power of face-to-face interaction what we are selling? Getting the chance to meet and connect with so many industry professionals has been instrumental to my career because I can talk shop with other planners, or hear tales from the other side of the aisle. From the familiar faces at my local chapter event to the friendships that have yet to be made, I am looking forward to all of the interactions in just a few weeks.

Check out the 2016 Expo! Expo! Feature Networking Events!

My show is in the automotive sector and our tagline is “Ahead of the Curve” (see what we did there?). This is not only our mission statement, but our promise to both attendees and exhibitors alike – attend AAPEX to keep your business ahead.

Thanks to Expo! Expo!, I can keep MY business ahead of the curve, the competition and the expectations.

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Expo! Expo!

David DuBois_cropped for WordPress

Originally published by Trade Show Executive, November 2016 Edition

We are only a few weeks away from Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Anaheim, California and I could not be more pleased with the program we have in store for attendees. With more than 70 education sessions on and off the show floor, great networking opportunities and social events, this year’s meeting is all about the experience of sharing information with colleagues and keeping our industry thriving.

This year’s show focuses on five key strategies that provide an “inside out” approach to the Expo! Expo! experience. We will offer show organizers inspiration and solutions that they can apply to their own events, which includes providing product/service providers the appropriate platform to educate on their unique offerings. Here is just a taste of what to expect at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in December.

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Interaction and Engagement

There is no denying the power of conducting business in a face-to-face setting. The connections made at exhibitions and events are all potential investments – at the end of the day, this is serious business! At the same time, we are not robots (at least not yet) and the ability to connect on a personal level with current and potential associates is an essential part of doing business. With this in mind, Expo! Expo! has integrated various tools of interaction and engagement such as mobile app beacon programs, crowd sourced content, a general session backstage tour, IAEE chapter meet-ups, networking events for young professionals and LGBTQ meet-ups.

Check out these Expo! Expo! Featured Networking Events

Innovation

Whether you are a technophile or technophobe, Expo! Expo! has something for you, even beyond knowing what is available or what is new. What is your technology need? Are you interested in collecting big data? Tracking attendee behavior? Maximizing your marketing efforts?  Or, perhaps, your goal is to have attendees walk into your show and simply say, “oh wow!” The innovation is out there; quite often the challenge lies in deciphering the best approach to meet your objectives. That is when you take full advantage of Expo! Expo!’s Tech Center Showcase, Tech Start Up Pavilion, Beacons, New Product Showcase and Show Tech Partner Highlights.

Giving Back: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

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There is much information regarding the economic impact our industry has on its destinations. In fact, we are quite proud of the local revenue that exhibitions and events deliver. It is only natural to extend this positive corporate effect and contribute in a social sense to the local communities that host our meetings. For many years, Expo! Expo!’s Gift of Service has exercised local volunteerism and this year is no different. This year, we are working with the Orange County Family Justice Center. In addition, proceeds from the eighth annual Humanity Rocks: A Celebration with a Cause will be donated to the organization. Last year, we launched the IAEE Chapter Challenge that extended our CSR to a national level, with each chapter contributing to their local communities through various activities. They will be reporting their results in Anaheim.

Encouraging a Global Spirit and Community

By now you already know that the “I” in IAEE is not just a letter – it is a call to action. Expo! Expo!’s International Reception celebrates attendees who understand and embrace just how globally connected our industry is, and who are ready to take the power of face-to-face meetings to the next level. Our gracious host Visit Anaheim has welcoming programs in store, and Expo! Expo!’s concierge programs are ready to serve attendees at every turn.

Learning: Plan, Perform and Lead

As I mentioned in my September column, we have taken a very thorough approach to our education programs at Expo! Expo! We have meshed cutting-edge principles of neuroscience with good, old-fashioned industry experience to create an innovative array of learning opportunities for all levels of job experience and functions.

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Expo! Expo! is a great opportunity to surround yourself with the best of the best in the exhibitions and events industry, and I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim at the “show for shows”!

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David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO
IAEE

CEM Faculty Spotlight on Steven Hacker, CAE, FASAE, CEM

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Following a notable 40-year career as CEO of several non-profit associations, Steven Hacker, CAE, FASAE, CEM is now the Principal of Bravo Management Group, an organization that provides strategic leadership, governance, marketing and event planning expertise to associations and trade show organizers around the world.

IAEE sat down with Steven to discuss why he joined the exhibitions and events industry and how the CEM program has helped shape his future. Steven began his association management career in 1970 and became involved in the exhibitions industry when he was hired as IAEE’s CEO in 1991. Steven’s continued involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program stems from his personal involvement at IAEE and overseeing the development of the CEM program as it operates today.

I stepped down as IAEE’s CEO in 2012 and began teaching CEM courses that same year.

The 2017 CEM Learning Program course schedule is now available!

What was your most memorable experience from teaching?

There is no one memorable experience. Instead, I find that every time I present a CEM module, either face-to-face or online, I enjoy creating new relationships with students. The diversity of students, their very different reasons for studying the CEM program, and their unique personalities are enriching and energizing. I have met some really remarkable people thanks to the CEM program.

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

Overcome the common fear of failure. Students are hungry for teachers who are committed to the program and who are willing to help them through the program. Perfection is not an expectation of students of their teachers, only a sincere commitment to helping them master their CEM studies.

What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM courses?

Teaching CEM courses means that you need to constantly review the source materials, bring in outside resources, and keep your presentation techniques fresh and unique. I find that I have to prepare for each class by devoting three or four hours of preparation for each hour of presentation. I don’t mind doing this because it keeps my own knowledge fresh and contemporary. Things are always changing and teaching CEM courses is a great way to stay on top of things.

How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?

Teaching the CEM program has given me a very intimate understanding of the challenges that students face. We need to remember that everyone in a class is employed in a demanding full-time career and many are also primary care givers, parents, and have additional obligations. Helping students understand how to keep up with their CEM work load is as important as providing the necessary motivation and information that teaching requires.

CEM Salary Inforgraphic_Freeman

Are you involved with any other committees or boards with IAEE or another industry association?

I am still a serial volunteer. I am currently involved with other IAEE members and staff in several committees and task forces. I believe we grow every time we contribute to the group.

Join Steven at Expo! Expo! in Anaheim for his campfire session on IAEE’s Certified Exhibition Program (12/07/16) and The Lawyers Are In: Hospitality Industry Attorneys Roundtable on Thursday (12/08/16).

 

Wellness in the Workplace -Trends to Trust

4imprint for blog station

Originally published by 4imprint.

How workplace wellness programs make you healthy, wealthy and wise

In many workplaces, new trends in employee health and wellness are starting to pop up that break from the old standbys. It’s not limited to just a few wellness initiatives that make a company look good. There is a smorgasbord of different programs and services that can benefit employees and their families in many different ways. Even common wellness programs are being revamped to make them more exciting and worthwhile.

In this Blue Paper, we will take a look at how employee health and wellness programs help organizations and show how you can implement the latest trends in your workplace.

Why wellness at work works

Wellness in the workplace has real, lasting benefits. According to the 2016 AFLAC® Workforce Report, employee satisfaction increases when a company has a wellness program. And when your employees are happy, you’re likely going to be really happy. Why? Fast Company reports that happiness leads to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy people were 10 percent less productive.

Work and play in athleisure apparel

The combination of “athletic” and “leisure” makes it easy for employees to go from work to workout and back again.

But it’s not just the companies saying these things. Employees agree.

  • Those who took part in company-sponsored wellness programs reported more job satisfaction (80 percent) than those who did not (58 percent).
  • Workers enjoy wellness programs. Of those workers who reported being happy with their benefits package, 76 percent took part in a workplace wellness program.
  • If a company didn’t offer a wellness program, job satisfaction dipped to 57 percent, and less than half of employees (46 percent) were happy with their benefits package.

Wellness programs give back what you put into them

Wellness programs are a big plus for employees. But what about the employer? We know that productivity goes up when people are feeling good about themselves and the company. But how else does a keen focus on wellness help?

For starters, employees are generally healthier. A study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans looked at the value on investment (VOI) of wellness efforts in different organizations. It discovered that wellness programs led to reduced healthcare costs at 56 percent of the companies surveyed. Thirty-one percent had lower disability and workers’ compensation claims. Plus, over half had reduced absenteeism. You start putting those numbers together and the benefits are obvious. Need proof? Almost 40 percent of employers said that improved financials and growth were tied to workplace wellness initiatives.

Here are more incredible facts about the VOI of wellness in the workplace:

  • 42 percent noticed increased productivity
  • 33 percent showed an improvement in recruitment
  • 21 percent said turnover dropped

One-fifth of employers mentioned decreased turnover—that means those really good employees you want to keep likely will stick around. Other facts from the 2016 AFLAC Workforce Report showed that 52 percent of employees who didn’t use wellness programs were likely to begin a new job search. But only 46 percent of wellness program users were ready to look elsewhere. Six percent may not sound like a lot, but that’s three employees out of every 50 who are more likely to stay than to leave. And what if those three employees are some of your best?

Garden-variety workplace wellness programs

What kinds of wellness initiatives do you have in your workplace? What are other companies doing?

Many wellness programs are pretty similar. Check these out and see if you’ve been with an organization that offered any of the following:

  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Flu shots
  • Health risk screenings
  • Fitness challenges
  • Disease management
  • Health coaching
  • Healthy food choices
  • Weight management
  • Employee assistance

Often, when an organization looks at the benefits of wellness in the workplace, they look to programs that have had at least some success everywhere. The problem is that if every company offers a similar program, how do you differentiate yourself to both attract and retain top talent?

Let’s get trendy—Employee wellness ideas that make you stand out from the crowd

There’s a simple solution: Ask what different employee wellness ideas you can champion. To help, we’ve compiled a guide to the latest trends in workplace wellness—ones that go beyond the ordinary.

Tracking fun and fitness

A few years ago, the top fitness-tracking tech was a pedometer that clipped onto your pants and, if you were lucky, gave a reasonable estimate of how many steps you took in a day. Those are long gone, replaced by fancy, state-of-the-art fitness trackers. Some are purely functional, but others are designed to look like fancy jewelry or a stylish watch.

Not only do these devices count the steps you’ve taken (and far more accurately than their pedometer predecessors), but they can also follow your sleep, nutrition habits, heart rate and more. Some have a built-in GPS that can track exactly where you’ve been, great for runners and cyclists who want to know just how far they’ve traveled.

What else do these gadgets have going for them? Peer pressure. Social networking is a powerful accountability tool, letting people share their results with each other, pushing themselves along the wellness path. What’s more motivating than the “I can do that, too” feeling that comes from a friend sharing their morning run?

Tracking employees’ wellness with these devices is a fast-growing trend in the workplace. In fact, according to CIO.com, Fitbit® offers group discounts on its trackers to encourage their use for workplace wellness. In some companies, employees track their fitness levels on trackers or web apps, report results, and earn rewards or prizes. The CIO.com article featured several employers who use fitness tracking in wellness programs and reported positive results such as:

  • Greater workplace engagement and morale
  • Shared workout tips and healthy recipes
  • Decreased absenteeism and increased productivity
  • Decreased medical expenses

There are drawbacks, however. CIO says that few—likely a minority of employees—will be willing to participate and share results. Also, if companies are expecting to buy fitness trackers, they face a high up-front cost.

New ways to beat stress

According to the 2015 American Psychological Association Stress in America survey, 60 percent of Americans say work causes stress. Yet, one in five says they don’t do anything to relieve or manage stress. Long periods of feeling stressed out causes people to overeat or eat unhealthy food, lose sleep and become irritable. This, of course, negatively affects productivity at work.

Many workplaces have noticed the trend and implemented ways to help reduce and manage stress:

Quiet time: Corporate Wellness Magazine® says more companies are creating space during the day for employees to quietly journal or even daydream. Companies that lead stress-management efforts also are offering on-site meditation instruction.

Knitting: With all the emphasis on new workplace wellness trends and finding different ways to do things, sometimes old is new again. Knitting—using decidedly low-tech needles and yarn—is becoming a beneficial component of corporate wellness programs.

Fifty-three percent of consumers aged 18-34 who took part in the Craft Yarn Council’s 2014 Tracking Study knit or crochet daily. And for good reason! Corporate Wellness Magazine says there are many health benefits to knitting. The repetitive motions calm the mind and body, which helps create a more relaxed mood. The math involved in knitting patterns (counting rows and stitches) helps keep the mind sharp and focused. Because the benefits are numerous and noticeable, many companies are adding knitting and crocheting activities to their wellness education programs.

Office gardens: Once in a while, you’ll find a little Zen garden on a coworker’s desk. “It’s for de-stressing,” they’ll say. But what if there was a different type of garden with more benefits?

Getting people away from their desks and bringing them together for fresh air, sunshine and friendly cooperation, office gardens are growing in popularity for companies of all sizes, says Corporate Wellness Magazine.

They’re low-cost, requiring little more than space, sun, dirt and seeds. Steve Bates, gardener and manager of online editorial content at the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM)®, says that gardening “hits a lot of themes. Companies pay tons of money for off-site team-building things, or bring in high-paid, high-powered consultants. They accomplish the same things with seeds and a strip of land.”

Of course, gardens are fantastic sources for fresh flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables. Employees can take them home and share them with their families or support their local food pantry by donating their crop.

Athleisure for all

Combining “athletic” and “leisure,” this clothing trend trades buttoned-up pantsuits for buttoned-down comfort, yet still keeps a stylish corporate edge.

Athleisure apparel is like the cool kid everybody wants to hang out with, and its popularity is growing. Randi Dukoff, Partner/CEO of The Corporate Wellness Consulting Group, says athleisure “is becoming bigger than a trend.” And with the right combination of layers, it’s becoming easier for people to go from work to workout and back again.

These clothes are a brilliant combination of function and form that can be worn almost anywhere. Big-name designers, such as Tory Burch and Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Hudson, are creating fashion-forward athletic wear that not only looks great, but feels great all day long. According to the HR Daily Advisor®, feeling great in athleisure clothing translates into less stress for employees. Many companies are rewriting their dress codes to include athleisure where it fits into their policies and culture.

Feeling good by doing good

Looking at all these fantastic employee wellness ideas, everything is centered around the employee. But why can’t wellness in the workplace go beyond the walls of the company? As it turns out, that’s exactly what many companies are doing.

According to WebMD®, people who volunteer have stronger hearts and immune systems, and have less pain. One study by UnitedHealth Group® shows that 76 percent of people who volunteered within the past 12 months say they feel healthier, and that 94 percent say volunteering improves their mood.

Lately, more companies are tying charitable giving to fitness goals. One example is Target® which, in 2015, gave $1 million to the charity of choice for the team that won a month-long fitness challenge. For smaller businesses, a company charity challenge could be as simple as earning points for walking during lunch breaks, with the winning team choosing who receives the donation. Or participants earn points toward an award every time they volunteer with a community organization. The possibilities are endless.

Beyond physical health

So people are getting their bodies in shape. Fantastic! But some progressive companies are also investing in their employees’ minds. The Society for Human Resource Management says that many wellness initiatives now emphasize social and community networking and financial planning, including investment recommendations and prepping for college and retirement.

The bottom line on wellness programs at work

How do you know if your workplace wellness programs are improving the lives of your employees?

There’s a simple, one-word answer, according to Phil Daniels, co-founder of Healthiest Employers®. And that’s data. “Employers are auditing and evaluating claims data, biometric results, and pharmacy usage to feed predictive modeling forecasts on a near real-time basis, instead of waiting for the year-end snapshot,” Daniels says. “This allows a much more flexible approach to adjust spending throughout the year for the greatest impact and ROI.”

For a purely dollar-based return on investment (ROI), the RAND Corporation says overall ROI on wellness spending is about $1.50 for every $1 spent. But actually measuring ROI is an inexact science. Mike Tinney, CEO of Fitness Interactive Experience, told CIO.com that you just might have to go with your gut. “You can measure health improvement through biometric screening,” Tinney says. “You can measure engagement and retention. You can count calories and steps. But a hard ROI is challenging, because your biggest expense relating to health is insurance, and many external factors influence the cost of insurance coverage. If you’re willing to buy into the notion that a healthier human being is more efficient, sick less often and happier, then investing in these programs for your employees (and yourself) makes a lot of sense.”

So go ahead and get excited about what wellness in the workplace can do for your organization. Do a little dance. Have a bowl of something tasty. And track it all digitally. Pretty soon, you may have an entire company full of healthier, more energized and extra-productive employees!

SOURCE: Wellness in the Workplace-Trends to Trust

Need a Break? Ideas for a Digital Detox

digital-detox

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 4 November 2016

Feel like you’re sending even more email these days? You’re not just imagining it: Recent research from Adobe found that people report spending 17% more time checking email this year compared with last year.

In our “always-on” culture, we respond to emails after work, on weekends and on vacation. It’s not all bad — consider that you might be responding after hours because you dipped out to a lunchtime yoga class as part of the increased demand for work/life blend — but sometimes everyone can use a break. We all need uninterrupted time to read, relax or hang out with family and friends.

If you’re looking for new ways to establish boundaries at work, the following tips should help.

A Healthy Email Culture Has to Start at the Top

“The world has arrived at a place where instantaneous information and response is the norm, but is that the culture you want to embed in your workplace and team? How can managers continue to handle their administrative tasks at times that are convenient for them, and at the same time allow team members to unplug? One way is by writing emails when they provide you the work-life balance you want, then save them as a draft to be sent during work hours. Communicate with your team about your work style – and be equally clear of your expectations from the team. Reward a culture of balance, discuss time off activities, praise employees for being ‘unplugged,’ and respect the boundaries that you and your team set for an effective balance.” — Read more at SHRM.

Try an Email Break

“People are so plugged in that they are now taking frequent ‘email detoxes.’ Almost 45 percent reported attempting a self-imposed break from checking email. Tech workers were the most likely to report taking a detox: 66 percent versus 39 percent of non-tech industry respondents. The average email detox reportedly lasted 5.3 days, with the majority of people claiming a positive impact from the disconnect.” — Read more at The Business Journals.

Save Non-Urgent Messages for Later

“In terms of late-day emails, consider leaving them for the next day. Phone calls can go to voicemail, which you can check just to make sure that there’s nothing urgent. In those cases, you will respond accordingly. If the message is not urgent, resolve to take care of it the following day.” — Read more at SmartBrief.

Practice Spending Part of Your Day Tech-Free

“London-based life coach Carole Ann Rice believes that digital detoxes are something one needs to ease into. ‘In order to completely sever your dependency, it would be a good idea to first simply set small limits for each day. Be this during exercise time, your lunch break, or when out shopping, if you slowly eliminate technology from various parts of your day, your detox will be easier to stick at. Habitual rituals help us achieve our targets, but only if they are achievable themselves.’” — Read more at The Telegraph.

Set Your Own Boundaries, or No One Else Will

“Early on, [Tom Tierney, cofounder of Bridgespan, former CEO of the powerhouse global consulting firm Bain & Company, and author of the philanthropy guide Give Smart] understood that while he wanted to achieve financial and career success, his family came first. Based on this overarching value, and even while rising through the ranks at Bain to become its CEO, he did not work on weekends. Instead, he spent considerable time with his sons, coaching them both to the level of Eagle Scout. Eschewing work on the weekends…required discipline and an uncompromising ability to focus on what mattered most to him.” — Read more at Harvard Business Review.

 

CEM Faculty Spotlight on Michelle Monteferrante, CEM, CTA Regional Director of Business Planning & Event Execution, Freeman

michelle-monteferrante-headshot-299x299

Michelle Monteferrante, CEM, CTA is currently Director of Business Planning & Event Execution for Freeman, based at the Anaheim, California office. She received her B.S in Hospitality Management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and began her career in the hotel field with a position at the Sheraton Corporation as a Corporate Trainee. This started a 10+ year career in various hotel locations and companies around the United States in sales management. After the hotel phase of her career, she moved back to Las Vegas to pursue a new career direction by working at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in event space sales. This position introduced her to the trade show industry when, a year later, she took a sales position at Freeman. Currently at Freeman, Michelle is part of a financial team that works on the top 250 accounts for our company. We focus on improving efficiencies and customer service.

IAEE recently spoke with Michelle about her experience in the exhibitions and events industry, as well as her involvement with the CEM Learning Program.

How long have you been in the industry and how did you become involved in it?
I have now been in the industry for more than 25 years. Both of my parents were in the hospitality industry, which led to my own involvement.

What drives your involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program?
I strongly believe in our industry’s future and I want to give back to an industry that has given so much to me. This led to my desire to join the CEM Faculty a year ago. Michelle has served on the IAEE Southwest Chapter board for more than six years as director, treasurer, vice president, chairperson and now, past chairperson.

Are you ready to get started on your CEM? Click here for more info!

What was your most memorable experience from teaching?
Teaching 70 students in China who had a desire to learn was very memorable.

What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM?
I truly enjoy meeting new people and hearing about other people’s different experiences. Being on the CEM Faculty also allows me to hone my public speaking skills, as well as share my experiences and what I have learned throughout the years with others.

How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?
I see the CEM designation as a symbol of commitment to our industry and to the craft.

CEM Salary Inforgraphic_Freeman

Do you have any advice for other CEMs who may want to start teaching?
It is very rewarding to teach and give back to our industry. If you have a passion for imparting your knowledge and experience to others, and feel comfortable speaking publicly, this is a great opportunity!