Trade Shows, CVBs Try Pinterest on for Size

July 4, 2012

Attention trade show organizers: just when you thought you’d established a solid presence on all the key social media sites, not to mention figured out how to maximize their potential for your events, there’s a new digital platform that you might want to take note of: Pinterest.


So what’s the premise of this emerging social media tool that everyone seems to be talking about?


Pinterest is a virtual photo bulletin board that allows people to share images and links that they find interesting or inspiring, allowing users to create thematic “boards” and “pin” images on them.


What makes it social is that users can “follow” each other, browse each other’s boards, comment on them, as well as “re-pin” images that they like to their own boards.


Since its launch in 2010, the site has grown rapidly, expanding from 10 million to 17 million total visits in early 2012 alone. More than 80 percent of its users are women.


Simple and easy to use, Pinterest can be a good fit for trade shows, especially those that are visually compelling, says Melissa Yao, chief marketing officer of the Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau, which was one of the first destination marketing organizations to establish a successful presence on the site.


“It depends on the event, but I think Pinterest can be very appropriate for trade shows,” Yao said. “The premise of Pinterest is the pictures, things that look good, things that appeal to people’s senses, so (the show should) be image-rich and image-heavy.”


She added, “Pinterest also helps drive people to your Web site or your blog … our blog traffic has gone through the roof because of Pinterest!”


Organizers can create boards depicting images that embody their show’s brand, post photos from recent events, create boards for speakers, attendees and staff, as well as encourage show participants to post their own photos.


While many CVBs have been jumping onto the Pinterest bandwagon, only a handful of trade shows are using the site at this time.


Case in point is the annual BookExpo America, which started using Pinterest last February to compliment its robust social media marketing campaign, according to Kimberlie Leon, BEA director of marketing.


Recently held at the Jacob K. Javitz Convvention Center of New York June 4-7, BEA created several Pinterest boards to house a variety of images from event, including pins of keynotes, educational sessions and show floor photos, she said.


“By giving BEA a presence on Pinterest we have another tool in the marketing mix of creating buzz for the brand and increasing awareness within our target audiences,” Leon said.


She added, “We were able to leverage BEA’s presence on Pinterest by cross promoting it on our other social channels so all the social communications were working together in harmony toward the same goal of creating brand excitement, increasing engagement and driving attendance.”


But before running out and setting up a virtual board for your next event, do your homework and make sure Pinterest is a good fit for your show and the industry it represents, said Jamie Hill, marketing manager of National Trade Productions, which produces Coverings, an annual trade show and conference for the tile and stone industries.


“If your audience isn’t on Pinterest, then it doesn’t make sense to be on it,” Hill said. “A lot of our exhibitors, attendees and speakers are on Pinterest, so it made perfect sense for us to also be on there. Definitely do some research and see how other businesses are using it.”

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