Social Media Marketing Tips at Conferences

Social Media Marketing Tips at Conferences

As I once wrote in an essay on how to speak at marketing conferences — events are an underrated marketing strategy because all marketing, in the end, is about people and not keywords, links, and news coverage. However, I write that statement with the caveats that it is first crucial to:

  • Select the best conferences to sponsor or at which to present a talk; and
  • Strategize beforehand in the context of the marcom theory that I always apply

Here’s the first part of that general, step-by-step strategy:

  1. Identify the marketing goal
  2. Identify the target audience
  3. Research the target audience

Here, I wanted to present what, the log analytics software company for whom I am director of marketing and communications, did when we sponsored the Amazon Web Services Summit in Tel Aviv last week.

(Note: I need to thank our CEO, Tomer Levy, VP of Product, Asaf Yigal, and the rest of the team for their important roles in the success of the event as well — the great part of working for a startup is that everyone works together closely!)

The Marketing Goal

Of course, we at want to obtain new leads from people who would be interested in our log analytics platform. Conferences in general are very useful for our purposes because we can show live demonstrations of our product and explain in detail how it works and why it is valuable.

The Target Audience

DevOps engineers, system administrators, and developers are just a few of the people who need to do log analysis in their day-to-day jobs. (And as I also wrote at Moz, technical SEOs also need to use log files.) There are countless conferences around the world that cater to these audiences, so we have to be more precise in our targeting. Since people who use Amazon Web Services would specifically be the most interested in our platform, we decided to focus on them at this moment.

What the Target Audience Likes

On April 1 — April Fool’s Day — I came across this Tumblr post by The Halting Problem:

tech workers and t-shirts

Jokes are funny because they are true. And this joke told me that our target audience loves T-shirts. So, after we had decided to sponsor the AWS Summit in Tel Aviv, we decided that we should bring hundreds of branded T-shirts to give to conference attendees at our booth.

(After, the conference, I saw further evidence of the popularity of T-shirts — a post by The Agile Admin on how to design T-shirts that people will want to wear after tech conference.)

What else do IT people like? Beer, as it turns out. And who doesn’t like beer? So, we decided to bring hundreds of branded bottle openers to hand out as well.

These two items — the T-shirts and the bottle openers — proved to be very important. See below for the results.

Social Media + Conference Materials

As I wrote in a prior essay here on how to get more Twitter followers, the best way to get more social followers — in addition to paying to advertise your accounts to real potential followers — is to incorporate social media naturally into your existing marketing and PR materials as well as your product itself. The social world increasingly reflects the offline world — the method to become big on social media is to become something big in the first place. Build a brand! booth aws summit tel aviv

When we were designing the logs and graphics for our conference booth, I asked our graphic designer to include our Twitter handle as well. I don’t want to “toot my own horn,” but we were the only sponsor to do that. And I have never seen anyone else include Twitter handles in their booths at any conference I have attended.

While it’s impossible to attribute Twitter publicity directly to a booth design, I’m sure that it helped to encourage the success that I will detail below.

Using Social Media for Publicity

So, we at were sitting at our newly-setup booth with a bunch of T-shirts and bottler openers. What was I going to do?

Whenever people ask me to define the difference between marketing and sales, I explain with this statement: Marketing gets people in the door (or to your website), and then Sales sells to them (or responds after website leads are gained). My job was to use whatever was available to get people to our booth, and then my colleagues on the Product team would take over and explain how we’re using open-source log analytics and machine learning to revolutionize log analysis to let people, as we say, “see the logz that matter.”

As I wrote in another Moz essay on the marketing department of the future, “social media marketing” is now an antiquated term because social media networks are simply communications channels that can be used in numerous existing business functions. (Selling “social media services” makes as much sense as selling “telephone services.”) Customer service representatives will use social media to do customer support. Advertisers will use social media to do advertising. Publicists will use social media to do publicity.

And I knew at the conference that I needed to use social media to publicize our booth to get attendees there. I just had to be creative because all I had at the time were T-shirts and bottle openers.

First, part of the publicity work would already take care of itself because we had already researched and found that the target audience would like bottle openers. We saw this random, natural tweet to the conference hashtag that was not influenced by us at all:

Sensing the future popularity of the bottle openers, I tweeted this picture of my aforementioned colleague Asaf:

I also knew that the T-shirts would be a big hit. So, I walked around the conference hall and asked people to pose for pictures with our T-shirts. In the second example, two Amazon employees that were highly visible there were glad to pose — and it led to a cross-branding benefit:

One of Amazon’s own purposes in holding the conference was to publicize their paid certification in Amazon Web Services. Staff would walk around the hall and give paper-cubed advertisements to people. For the co-branding benefit, I straightened out a T-shirt so our slogan was clear and placed the cube nearby so that it would result in a good photo (that was retweeted by two Amazon Web Services employees!):

At the end of the day, I asked the conference hall baristas — two millennials — to take a photo of the team at our booth. Of course, they HAD to do a funny selfie:

As a result of this creative publicity at the conference, our booth received hundreds of visitors from people who came for the T-shirts and bottle openers but stayed to learn more about our product. It just took some prior audience research and strategy to get them there:

So, what will you do at your next conference?

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter. See my marketing speaker page or marketing workshop page to have me visit your conference or company!

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