Seven Social Media Insights on CES

By now you’ve probably had more than your fill of analysis from the many, many products and announcements revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Now that I’ve had a few days to decompress, I thought I’d do something slightly different and provide a few insights from a social perspective.

CES is not a social media conference (duh)

CES is, first and foremost, an electronics show. It attracts a very different audience compared to conferences like SXSW or BlogWorld. While those social-focused conferences are fertile ground when it comes to social media programs, CES is full of salespeople and executives who, generally speaking, are less socially-savvy than conferences in the social media bubble.

I spoke to a rep at one booth who was giving away high-value prizes to followers who showed up at the booth and showed them promotion-related tweets on their phone; they said it took an hour for the first person to approach them the last time they ran their promotion.

That doesn’t mean there’s no place for social media, though – far from it.

Raise awareness ahead of the event

If your company is attending CES, take the opportunity to create awareness of where you’ll be and what you have to offer ahead of time, both through public channels (e.g. your blog, Twitter, Facebook etc) but also by mining your databases for people and companies that you want to connect with at the event and seeting-up meetings with them ahead of time.

Create and amplify content for non-attendees

CES is full of cutting-edge new technology. If your company is there showcasing their products or announcements, take advantage of that to create content for non-attendees:

  • Go behind the scenes on your booth
  • Go in-depth on your products
  • Get reactions from show attendees on camera
  • Get interviews with partners

CES can be a content goldmine if you approach it correctly.

Remember that other people are creating content, too

You’re not the only one thinking about content generation at CES. The world’s tech media, from traditional to hybrid to social, gather in Vegas for this event. There’s content being generated constantly. That means you need to be on your game – you need to treat everyone you speak to as though they’re a journalist (because they could be), and you need to watch your words because you never know who could be walking by.

Listen and learn

With the amount of content generation – and subsequent online discussion – that goes on, social media monitoring can be a goldmine of insights (and issues management). Makes sure you pay close attention to the conversation surrounding your brand and its competitors – not from a superficial “ooh there’s a pretty chart” perspective but from one of driving and optimizing your content calendar throughout and beyond the event, and from one of bringing product-focused insights back to the business.

Plan your visit using social media

With over 3,100 exhibitors and over 153,000 attendees in 2012, planning your schedule at CES can be overwhelming. Take some of the stress out of it by leveraging social media tools to help plan your visit:

  • Use tools like TripIt and Plancast to see which of your contacts/leads/key vendors will be in town for the event
  • Use LinkedIn to identify key people from the companies you want to connect with, and reach out to them ahead of the show
  • Use Foursquare to see where your connections are during the event (although, as mentioned, this can be less effective than at events like SXSW where Foursquare becomes central to staying on top of what’s going on

Create meetups to connect with influencers

While you may find that throwing a fan event at CES is tougher than at other events, the top tier of tech influencers is in town. Tailor your approach to throwing events to this audience – give them a reason to come along (exclusive access to company insiders, or exclusive information, for example) and differentiate your event from the masses. Remember, most people will be triple-booked most nights so you need to stand out (and not just by throwing the biggest party).

Social media can (and clearly does) have a very important place at events like CES, but it’s very different from social media-focused events like SXSW – you need to think differently, and you need to execute differently.

What do you think?

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.