Getting Unhooked from Our Smartphones

Posted on July 27, 2017 by: Ryan Estis

How many times will you stop reading this blog post to check e-mail, text messages or social media?

The heaviest smartphone users click, tap or swipe on their phone 5,427 times a day, according to the research platform dscout. The rest of us still touch the addictive things 2,617 times a day on average. That level of connection is wreaking havoc on our ability to focus on tasks that require more concentration than it takes to post a status update.

Adam Alter, author of “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” warns that many of us — youngsters, teenagers, adults — are addicted to modern digital products. Not figuratively, but literally addicted.

In a New York Times interview, he explains:

In the past, we thought of addiction as mostly related to chemical substances: heroin, cocaine, nicotine. Today, we have this phenomenon of behavioral addictions where, one tech industry leader told me, people are spending nearly three hours a day tethered to their cellphones. Where teenage boys sometimes spend weeks alone in their rooms playing video games. Where Snapchat will boast that its youthful users open their app more than 18 times a day.
Behavioral addictions are really widespread now. A 2011 study suggested that 41 percent of us have at least one. That number is sure to have risen with the adoption of newer more addictive social networking platforms, tablets and smartphones.

We increasingly struggle to look away from our screens.


Mine was. The frightening thing about the addiction was that I didn’t realize the impact it was having on me until I went into “detox.” During the first few days of my initial digital detox, I desperately wanted to check my phone. I felt low-grade anxiety and was completely out of my comfort zone. Ironically, eight days later when I got my phone back, I left it off for a few hours to fully absorb my transformation. In that moment I was much more aware of the impact technology was having on my ability to be fully present.

Yes, the internet has fundamentally transformed the way we connect and communicate. It’s launched a whole new economy where anyone with an idea and an internet connection can start a company and connect with a global marketplace full of opportunity.

For that very reason, we’re living in the golden age of entrepreneurship! However, letting technology intrude into nearly every waking moment isn’t healthy and the time to create a little more discipline around it is now.

On a recent road trip with Seth Mattison, we discussed how to be more intentional in our relationship with technology and how we know when it’s time to unplug. Case in point, notice the irony of our full immersion into tech while talking about the benefits of a digital detox in this video!

VIDEO: On the Road with Seth Mattison

The key is to get off of autopilot and become a bit more aware and intentional in managing our technology so it isn’t managing us. Give the digital detox a try this weekend and DM me on Monday to let me know how it went!

Ryan Estis helps companies and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance. Each live event blends original research with compelling stories that move participants to take action. Ryan has 20 years of business experience working with the world’s best brands to initiate change, inspire innovation and deliver growth. Learn more about Ryan Estis.

Source: Getting Unhooked from Our Smartphones

The Value of Virtual Communities in a Face-to-Face Industry

Originally published in Trade Show Executive, Apr 2014 Issue

There is no doubt in the minds of any of us in this industry that coming together face-to-face to start new business relationships and affirm existing ones is truly the best way to succeed. And our exhibitions, no matter how massive or defined, exist to meet the needs of the buyers and sellers. Many of these events lately have been breaking attendance records. Further underlining what IAEE is hearing and airing from our show organizer members, the CEIR Index Report which was released early this month, is reporting continued, positive growth for the industry in 2014. Based on this annual projection, as well as 14 quarters of consecutive growth, it would seem that we have it made and could just focus on promotion of our events with tried-and-true traditional means, but this is not so.

One of the key areas IAEE’s Future Trends Task Force identified as especially important for exhibitions and events industry professionals to watch is the emergence of online communities and how social media plays a pivotal role in face-to-face events, even though there is no in-person interaction. Several years ago, the industry was buzzing about virtual events and how they will affect face-to-face events, especially given the storm of 9-11 and then the Great Recession. For some, virtual events had perfect timing to allow attendees and exhibitors to meet without leaving their home base. Webinars and education sessions were held. Expert keynote speakers were retained. Research was reported. And after listening and observing this new platform, we are finding that humans still want to see each other. We want to experience an exhibition to engage our senses and experience the satisfaction that comes from finding a new resource or product to grow a business.

Additionally, we found that as a result of the virtual communities and social media platforms, exhibitions not only gained ground since awareness increased, but also new niche markets were engaged and 365-day-per-year forums evolved. Face-to-face events grew as a result.

Last year, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the Digital Playbook. The collaborative effort with George P. Johnson, EXHIBITOR, the ASAE Foundation, IAEE and INEXPO proved to be a very worthwhile and needed study in how brand marketers, trade and consumer show producers and association and independent show organizers are using social media and digital marketing tactics to achieve greater ROI.

At the time of the study, it was reported that 40 percent of B2C show producers rank social media as one of the top three most effective digital tactics for generating revenue. Additionally, 32 percent of brand marketers and 27 percent of B2B organizers felt the same way. Within the group of respondents, 69 percent anticipated spending more on mobile, tied with social media for the highest anticipated future spend on digital tactics. Reinforcing the findings of this study, IAEE has experienced an increased concentration on our social networks – both on MemberLink, the members-only network as well as public networks like IAEE’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

For example, in the past two years, we have seen a 52 percent increase in the number of active participants on IAEE’s Expo! Expo! LinkedIn page, 30-40 percent increase on IAEE’s general LinkedIn and Facebook pages and a 50 percent increase in the number of Twitter followers. We have also seen a 100 percent increase in the number of YouTube subscribers to the IAEE channel.

Also gaining traction is the number of users of our show app. Two years ago, many attendees still relied solely on the printed show guide to get the information they wanted about the event. However, now in addition to a streamlined, tangible guide, hundreds of attendees are leaning toward the app – not only to find what, when and where, but also who and why. When we compare the past two years of participation and app downloads, we are finding a 13 percent increase, which is quite exciting knowing that both attendees, and even members who could not attend, are downloading the app to be part of this unique community.

With these sizable increases, there is no doubt that IAEE members and industry professionals trust the individuals who are online and the content that is being shared, and we anticipate those numbers increasing.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President and CEO

Turning Point – Trade Show Executive

Originally published in Trade Show Executive, Jan 2014 Issue

Show organizers and exhibitors spend an extensive amount of time attracting attendees who have previously attended an event or are likely to do so, time and budget permitting. IAEE’s Future Trends Task Force identified a market that is at times overlooked and easily neglected since they do not represent a direct revenue stream for an event – or do they?

IAEE’s Future Trends Task Force chaired by Francis J. Friedman of Time and Place Strategies, Inc. released its white paper at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition held this past December in Houston, and among key findings “Non-attendees always represent potential show-community members, as well as potential revenue sources to show owners, producers and exhibitors. By definition, non-attendees are not-present at the live event, but this does not necessarily mean they are not interested in what is taking place at the exhibition itself.”

This perspective struck me as particularly important because we now need to determine how to use technology and social media to engage, influence and capture the non-attendee. For the exhibitions and events industry, which exists based on the core value of bringing buyers and sellers together face-to-face to do business, convincing non-attendees to adopt the value proposition for an event and carry its message forward is a strategy that is essential in any marketing plan.

The task force also found that “programs integrate technology and social media applications to emulate the “experience” and onsite engagement before, during and after the event” so these tactics could create a conduit to a new universe of influencers who could become champions for a new or existing exhibition. “Technology currently allows for hybrid events to create an opportunity to attract the virtual audience to a live presentation, which also subtly re-defines the “attendee.” This aspect of extending the value and concept of a show must be included in the ongoing look at technology, and the concepts of what constitutes a “modern” exhibition.”

Social media is quickly becoming, if it has not already, the “go-to” medium for engaging loyalists and an ever-increasing community of curious onlookers. Not only is it essential for the conversations to remain fresh and relevant, but it is essential for show organizers to watch vertical markets and competitors to understand key topics and how to use them in search engine optimization (SEO) to engage non-attendees and potentially convert this audience to live attendees.

The white paper pays special attention to SEO and the value it offers to exhibitions: “The exhibition industry movement to build 24/7 communities will require that show producers have high-level skill sets in SEO and keyword utilization in their plans. These skills are fundamental to utilizing social media to its full potential, as both an audience discovery tool and an audience conversion and satisfaction measurement tool. The successful use of SEO/keyword tools enables show producers to gather high quality information upon which to make decisions. These tools also make it possible for show producers to find non-attendee/non-engaged audiences which they can then use to test new show/ marketing approaches and gather high-quality feedback about how these approaches convert non-audiences to participants without a great deal of risk.”

IAEE created the Future Trends Task Force to identify and address major trends it felt will impact the exhibitions and events industry. This white paper presents the results of 13 future trends the task force anticipates will impact and shape our industry. Future Trends Impacting the Exhibitions and Events Industry examines the following points:

  • The broad range of generations co-existing in the workforce and their different communication styles
  • Collecting “Big Data” to hone in on the most relevant information
  • New technologies for data capture, recording and reporting
  • The impact of emerging technologies in the business environment
  • Social media marketing
  • Creating year-round communities for an exhibition or event
  • Experiential trade shows
  • Addressing and capitalizing on non-attendee engagement
  • Educating exhibitors in the ongoing value of face-to-face marketing
  • International trends impacting U.S. exhibitions
  • Variables affecting internet connectivity at exhibitions and events
  • Private events in the corporate marketing plan
  • The complexity of managing these elements in the future

For the complete white paper, visit

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President and CEO