Trade Shows 2.0 – The Next Generation

Today we begin a two-part series on Trade Shows 2.0. This time, we’ll cover Web 2.0 technology tools for both exhibitors and shows. In the next episode, we’ll talk about how some groups are reinventing the traditional trade show format.

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Social media … Web 2.0 … YouTube … blogs … podcasts …
How many of these tools are you using in your exhibiting program?

If your answer is “none,” then perhaps you need to think again. These tools are beginning to explode in popularity, and it only makes sense to incorporate them into your exhibiting program. While there are many tools in the Web 2.0 toolkit, they can be broken down into three functions: communicate, collaborate, and co-create.

Communicate (inform & entertain)

The most well-known members of this category are blogs and their close cousin, podcasts. For show organizers, these tools should be a no-brainer. Create a podcast to build anticipation for the show, as well as extend its life long after the show floor closes. For exhibitors, you can also create a blog or a podcast to promote your participation in various shows, or simply keep in touch with customers or prospects you’ve met at shows.

To see a great example of a show blog, check out the National Stationery Show Girls. Here are some tools to help you create your own blog: Blogger, WordPress, and TypePad.

In addition to Trade Show Insights (thanks for listening), you may also want to check out the EXPO Magazine podcast. Here are some of the best-known services to locate and listen to podcasts (known as “podcatchers”): iTunes, Podcast Pickle, Podcast Alley. You could also try doing a Google search for your chosen podcast topic. Here are a couple of examples of show podcasts:

And another cool tool for free video conferencing – Skype.

Collaborate (inspire community)

Trade shows are great places to create community, but why not enhance the relationship building online?

The first cool collaboration tool is social bookmarking. If you work on multiple computers, then you might find this to be a handy tool. You can also create bookmarks that are shared with others. Some of the popular services include: Digg,, and my personal favorite, Kaboodle, which goes a step beyond to add photos with the links.

While the most famous social networking tool is probably MySpace, it is certainly not geared for business! Other sites that are business-friendly include LinkedIn (see my sample page) and the recently restructured Facebook (sorry, you can’t view my profile until you become a member). Here’s an article from Medical Meetings magazine called “MySpace for Hand Surgeons,” which gives you an idea of how this technology comes into play for meetings and trade shows.

Co-Create (user-generated content)

Invite content before, during and after the show. Let attendees upload their own photos or videos of the show. Flickr is a popular photo-sharing Web site (click here to search for “trade show” photos). For viral videos, check out Google, YouTube or Revver.

And don’t forget wikis, the universal knowledge base. Most famous is Wikipedia, which has become even bigger than Encyclopedia Brittanica. Within the meetings and trade show industry, MPI is creating a member-generated wiki. To create your own wiki for free, check out PBwiki.

Now here are some open-source software tools for co-creation:

  • Backpack (a Web-based service for project management)
  • Google now has document creation, spreadsheets, calendars and more

For even more Web 2.0 tools, here’s an article from EXPO Magazine called “The Wizardry of Web 2.0” (see a list of tools at the end of the article).

And speaking of cool tools …


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