This year, NSSF’s communications shop is using Twitter to send updates and reminders to members of the media and participants at SHOT Show. They actually got the idea from our use of Twitter to keep folks updated at the Blog Bash last year. From an event standpoint, I can’t imagine not using Twitter. In fact, looking back, I wish I used it for more events during the Bash.* I think between being unsure of how it would go over to the broken foot and not being an active Twitterer prior to the event, I didn’t realize just how useful it could be.
NSSFComm has learned quickly when it comes to Twitter. I notice that someone is replying to a few of the tweets directed at them. I never noticed some of the reply tweets to the Bash account last year and missed replying to them. NSSF has responded to some, and hopefully will engage with other Twitterers even more as the event progresses.
Twittering for event organizing is something, from my perspective, you won’t ever get 100% right. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to master, it’s simply that you’ll end up thinking of some other way you could have used it or some other event you should have reminded folks about via tweet. No doubt that if they continue it next year, NSSF will realize even more uses for the service.
I would suggest that they upload a logo as their avatar and brand their Twitter homepage. While most people won’t be following it during the show via the web, a few will. More importantly, when people follow it throughout the year, they may be more likely to follow via web than text message. NSSF has the capabilities to handle it, and I think it’s one of those key branding opportunities if they really want to be seen as embracing this new technology.
Perhaps the most useful thing about Twitter for industry at the SHOW may well be the search feature. As more users – media and non-media alike – utilize these new technologies, companies could get near instant feedback after their announcements.
Let me pick on Ruger again since they debuted new products today. Searching for them on Wednesday afternoon, I found the results in the attached image. (Click the image to enlarge.) Those highlighted in blue are about Ruger products in general. Those in gray are about the new Ruger models announced. (Those which aren’t highlighted seem to be about a dog and a baby.) When you click through to those accounts, they have a total of 161 followers. Now, that’s not a huge number. But consider that:
- SHOT hasn’t actually started yet;
- when I search for the term “SHOT Show” on Twitter, most of the tweets on the first search result page are from people noting that they are preparing to leave to arrive tonight or tomorrow morning; and
- getting a tweet about a product from someone you know is the kind of word-of-mouth advertising you can’t buy.
In other words, the potential for very targeted communication with customers is very high with Twitter. Even if starting a Twitter account and conversation isn’t in the plans, companies should be tracking their brand via Twitter. When things get busy on the show floor, attendees who are on Twitter will literally be able to text out a tweet and send it to dozens of their closest friends before you can even introduce yourself. It will offer the opportunity for real-time response to positive and negative feedback about your product pitches.
I’ll be tracking some of the other top companies during SHOT to see what pops up. They might be shocked by just how many are now using this service. In fact, if companies wanted to make it easier, they would encourage their employees to tweet about their experiences during the show, and create a tag for easy tracking. For example, Smith & Wesson might encourage folks to use #S-W and Barrett might opt for #Barrett or #BRifle. If they had a new media presence or information at their booth about their then they could build a community on the show floor with little extra effort.
* Word of warning to Bash participants, it will be the key form of communication for 2009. You have been warned, sign up and have it send Tweets to your phone via text before May 14.