Even Engineers Love a Good Photo Opp

October 26, 2013

The IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) Exhibition - the show covering radio frequency, microwave, millimeter wave, and THz frequency technologies - hosts approximately 600 exhibitors and 10,000 engineers annually.

At the 2013 event in Seattle, planners used a secret weapon to turn the normally introverted attendees into social media mavens.

Implementing a two-fold strategy

Louisville, Colo.-based MP Associates, the firm charged with managing the IMS exhibition, developed a social media strategy for the event. The cornerstone of the plan involved getting the visiting engineers to learn how to use social media while not having to use their own social media accounts to do it. They also had another goal. “We had run out of sponsorships and were looking for other opportunities for companies to sponsor,” says MP’s Amanda Scacchitti, the meeting planner in charge of IMS’ marketing and promotion.

Turning to a familiar partner in technology

Scacchitti was introduced to a2z’s ChirpE Photo Booth last December at IAEE’s Expo! Expo! trade show. The booth is an easy-to-use iPad-based solution that allows visitors to post photos of themselves to the event’s Facebook page and add comments (usually a response to a question, such as “I love XYZ show because...”). The testimonials appear in the photo along with the show’s hashtag and other brand messages. “We were already using [a2zFloorPlan] for onsite booth selection so we decided to give Photo Booth a try too,” Scacchitti explains.

Capitalizing on the fun factor

The photo booth gave show managers a low-risk way to demonstrate to attendees how to use social media platforms and generate buzz in a controlled manner. Post-show analytics revealed a ten-fold reach. For every photo generated, an average of ten other individuals viewed it on the event Facebook page. “It reconfirmed what we already knew; people like photos and seeing their friends in photos,” Scacchitti says.

Using photo opportunities to jumpstart conversations

There were other advantages for Scacchitti’s team. Show managers used both stationary and portable versions of the app. Although Photo Booth doesn’t require that users have their own social media accounts, the app served as a great onboarding tool. “We walked around to the exhibitor booths and set up Twitter and Instagram accounts on the spot. We found that the photo booth solution provided a great avenue for discussion and engagement,” she adds.

MP Associates’ experience with the social media photo booth application opened up a number of opportunities for the organization. Because it allows logos and branding from individual exhibitors, the show can offer companies smaller sponsorships. While Scacchitti has a goal of three to four photo booths for next year’s show, she would consider having up to eight on the show floor, using them to drive traffic to booths and as part of a game activity. The photo booths will be one of several social media outreach initiatives for the event along with Social Media 101 webinars and other activities that Scacchitti is planning.

Click here to view the IMS2013 photo album on Facebook.

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