The Power of Social Engagement

by Frank L. Williams

Earlier this month, my wife and I attended the largest promotional products trade show in the world, the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo in Las Vegas. We were there to gain ideas for how to grow Pioneer Specialties, our promotional products business and a sister company to Pioneer Strategies.

Additionally, we were there to connect with existing suppliers, meet new suppliers, and learn about new and interesting products. The exhibit hall was HUGE, and there were so many suppliers that it was difficult to know where to start. We decided to simply work from one end to the other, which took us all of three days to do.

While we were at the expo, we regularly posted on Pioneer Specialties’ social media profiles, tagging the PPAI accounts and using the hashtags for the expo. A small number of suppliers actively engaged with us. They commented on our pictures, and they specifically asked us to stop by their booths.

Guess what?  We stopped by their booths!

Because they specifically asked us to visit their booths, we made it a point to do so, and we told people staffing the booth that we were there because of their social media engagement. As an aside, some of the people working the booths didn’t know that their social media teams were engaging with us, which was a communication faux pas on the part of the social media team. If your social media team is engaging with people attending an event, they should let your team members who are working the event know about it to ensure that they are singing from the same sheet of music.

Additionally, we took pictures of the booths we visited because of social engagement and replied to their social accounts to let them know that we had taken time to visit. Most of them replied and thanked us for visiting within a relatively short time.

These exhibitors truly put the “networking” into social networking. They actively engaged and had a conversation with us, and we made it a point to seek them out because they did so. We’re also much more likely to do business with them as a result of their engagement.

Networking is about relationships, whether in person or online. You build relationships by engaging with others. These exhibitors showed how it’s done.

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Frank L. Williams

Frank is the founder and president of Pioneer Strategies.