The back story: Without YouTube, you might have been deprived of Chad Vader, Obama Girl, or Chris Crocker beseeching the known universe to “Leave Britney alone!” However, the video-sharing site is much more than parodies, put-ons, or pitiful pleas. Before it debuted in 2005, there were relatively few sites where you could post and view videos without having to be more computer nerd than normal. But its user-friendly interface made it possible for anyone who could turn on a PC to post a video that millions of people could watch within a few minutes. Showcasing a wide variety of user-generated video (UGV), including music, animation, movies, and TV clips, YouTube sowed the virtual soil for a generation of viral videos that spread as fast as swine flu, thanks to its more than 100 million users, who view an average of 62.5 videos every month.

How it works: While anyone can log on to YouTube and watch videos, you have to register to upload them. Once you create an account, you can upload an unlimited number of videos in a variety of formats. You can also attach tags to videos, which are simply descriptive terms you want to associate with your content, such as “trade show,” “exhibition,” or your company’s name. Viewers can then search for those terms to find your videos, or you can e-mail video links to clients and prospects.

How exhibitors are using it: Companies as well as customers often post live-action footage and unscripted interviews with clients on the video site. That was a formula that worked for Intel Corp. Starting in 2007, the Santa Clara, CA-based computer-chip maker began posting videos and images on YouTube and Flickr from its Intel Developer Forums (IDFs). Held three times a year in locations as far flung as Moscow and Mumbai, India, the IDFs draw thousands of developers of Intel-based products but leave thousands more unable to make the international journey. By uploading images from the IDF to various Web 2.0 sites, it showed those who couldn’t attend IDF the products, speeches, and presentations they missed.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show in 2009, Intel again turned to YouTube, this time in an attempt to attract media and consumer attention. Intel’s early experiences with YouTube at the IDFs showed that simple, subtle tactics could maximize how many people viewed its images and create a sense of community about its company. Intel had discovered that customers started looking for videos not just after the show started but also right before, searching for a sneak peek so they could feel ahead of curve. Thus, staff shot video of the booth during setup, giving the footage a behind-the-scenes, we-are-here-live feel. Second, they filmed video clips of new products using its processors, for those who were interested in the latest Intel-inside gadgets. During the show, staffers also shot footage of a wide range of industry-specific celebrities, including influential blogger J.D. Lasscia, as well as top PC gamers whose visits to the Intel booth lent the company cyber cred.

The 21 CES-related videos Intel posted to YouTube garnered 22,891 views and more than 100 reader comments in January, the month of the show — about twice what Intel initially hoped for. “YouTube also allows us to see which bloggers are embedding videos into their blog posts about the company’s technologies,” says Ken Kaplan, Intel’s broadcast and new media manager.

But according to Samir Balwani, videos like those posted by Intel do more than provide YouTubers with footage for their viewing pleasure. When a brand shares images and videos online, it not only builds a community, but it offers consumers “social proof,” says Balwani, online marketing strategist for New York’s Morpheus Media LLC. The footage, almost always showing a company happily engaged with customers, provides proof to those who see it that there are plenty of satisfied customers using the company’s products, while sending the not-so-subtle message: “People like our products, and you will, too.”

The takeaway: Post videos of your booth during setup to build a sense of excitement and behind-the-scenes buzz. Use short, live clips of up to five minutes of high-energy performances, presentations, and/or events, as well as unscripted encounters with clients and company officials. Shoot and upload footage of any new products and related demos that are featured in your exhibit to give your program life long after the show.

Articles from EXHIBITOR Magazine’s Trade Show 2.0 series
Back to Top