Capsule Kitty Spoons

Social Media Makes Fancy Food More Consumable

Stepping into the Javits Center last week for Fancy Food was exciting. After a significant hiatus, Fancy Food landed back on my networking calendar and I was amazed to see how the show had grown. Here are the most recent attendance stats from Specialty Food Association.

47,000+ industry professionals
2,670 exhibitors
400 first-time exhibitors

These numbers confirmed what my feet were telling me on the last day of the show. I need to bring a few additional team members next year to help cover ground. Really, how can one person adequately navigate these show floors that equal the size of six football fields? It certainly can’t be done on foot alone.

According to Specialty Food Association’s recap, The Fancy Food Show dates back to 1954. I don’t know how many exhibitors and visitors were in attendance back then but I can assume the event was easier to consume, pardon the pun. With exponential growth being seen in the food industry, I am thankful yet again for the gift of social media. Why? Social channels make overwhelming social environments easier to navigate, consume and yes, digest.

We attend a lot of tradeshows and conferences. As these important industry events continue to grow, digital conversations are more important than ever. Fancy Food certainly has this figured out. Fancy Food had the gig covered no matter which channels were preferred.

Twitter: #SFFS16
LinkedIn: Specialty Food Industry Group
Instagram: craftcarejoy

Amongst these channels, conversations were lively, images were fruitful and connections were made. For many, Fancy Food began long before the doors opened on June 26. With Twitter being my preferred channel, I noticed the socially-savvy had created a #GoingToSFFS16 stream. Why not, right? Let’s get a head start. Let’s find out who’s on their way to NYC. Let’s talk about what we’re looking to accomplish at the show. Then once underway, conversation turned to #SFFS16. Again just isolating Twitter, through this channel I learned who was launching new flavors and new products. Trends were easy to identify. I learned @TheSharkDaymond was in the house…

Specific areas of the show floor were brought to my attention…

I was able to pass on a few tips of my own….

And, brands of all types and sizes were able to drive traffic to their booths through very targeted, one-on-one tweets.

Yes, the week at Fancy Food was overwhelming and exhausting. The previous week of fasting was critical as people came at me from all directions with their little spoons and sporks. But fortunately, the expansive environment and full sensory experience was calmed by the ability to drill down and have intimate conversations that felt tailored to and for me.

Before Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I wondered if people would begin pulling away from these massive shows. They’re not cheap to attend or exhibit. So at some point do attendees and brands begin to feel they aren’t getting full value? Well, I believe the use of social media in these environments is the answer. Instead of being one of thousands, these tools allow us to be one of a much smaller subset. Social media allow us to tailor conversations and experiences. What Pandora has designed so brilliantly in creating customized radio stations, hashtags and handles allow us to dial in the conversations we want to have and within the environments that feel right.

Before you head off to your next tradeshow or conference, use the following checklist. Attention to these details will help you connect with people and engage in conversations that you may otherwise miss.

1. Identify the organization/show/event social handles and hashtags. You will likely find Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn although don’t forget Snapchat. There's some savvy stuff being done with Snapchat.

2. Do some research to find out who is already following the channels and contributing to the conversation.

3. See conversations that interest you? Join in. Follow, comment, favorite, retweet, post, pin. This shows you’re interested and puts you on their radar.

4. Start conversations of your own. Have a thought or question you’d like to share? Put it out there. Always remember to be positive and helpful though. There are enough Negative Nellie’s in the world. You don’t need to add to that conversation.

5. Listen and participate on the social channels before, during and after the event. Valuable conversations don’t stop when the show floor closes. This is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Where to next? @KellerofCapsule and I head off to Chicago this week for the OmniShopper Conference. And you better believe we’ll be Tweeting it up and blogging during the event. Hope you’ll follow along.



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Categories Business & Marketing, Branding, Design Thinking, Packaging

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