by Tim McGugan, Dalton Agency Social Media Manager
On my recent trip to Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to take a big gamble and hope that I would walk away a winner. No, it wasn’t a bet that I was placing at my hotel casino. Instead, I was wagering I could take my client’s social media presence and grow a greater audience at one of the largest industry trade shows in the country.
The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference (SHOT Show) is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the sport shooting, hunting and law enforcement industries. It is the world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics and related products and services. SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries (source: shotshow.org).
What client could possibly have a chance in standing out among the sea of names, logos, promotions, marketing strategies and celebrities? Well, an American icon for one.
The legendary gun manufacturer, Colt, is a brand that has withstood the test of time for over 175 years, and shows no signs of slowing down. The past five months have marked a dynamic time in Colt’s history, with the recent launch of the brand into Social Media.
After focusing on growing and stabilizing a significant community on Facebook, a secondary initiative for Colt has been to strengthen and improve its outreach through Twitter. What better place to have a conversation and network with like-minded individuals than at an event that every industry partner and competitor would be attending.
Of course, walking booth-to-booth and shaking hands with over 60,000 attendees and exhibitors would be a long and difficult process. Plus, who’s to say a potential audience is contained to a physical structure? So my goal was to attach the Colt name with any instance that SHOT Show was mentioned online Social Media space.
The audience we wanted to reach weren’t only those in attendance, but the thousands of others who were interested in our product yet could not attend the show. These were the people I wanted to talk to and these were the brand loyalists who were depending on the updates of the companies they follow.
So how would I get our message out to people who were not following Colt’s Twitter account or were unaware it even existed? To me, the solution was simple–– “own” the SHOT Show official hash tag on Twitter.
After reviewing and researching the type of conversations that were taking place on “#SHOTShow“, I developed a strategy to give those not at the show something that previously only show-goers could get. Writers and company representative were discussing what they had seen and what new products were coming out, but no one was engaging the listeners. No one was giving back.
With that in mind, I launched three Twitter contests to reward those who promoted our message. Retweeters would have a chance at exclusive prizes that typically you could only get if you attended SHOT Show. All they needed to do was attach #SHOTShow to their messages and join the conversation from wherever in the world they were at the time. There would be twelve total winners over a four-day Tweeting frenzy. Overall, the contests were a great success in generating a buzz about Colt and SHOT Show. But it wasn’t until the last day of the show that I realized just how much conversation had taken place with the Colt name.
I started looking the analytics on the plane ride home. 40 retweets for one message? Ok, that’s pretty good, but I had seen that kind of re-messaging before. Then I went back and looked at some of the associated retweeters. Some of these accounts had pretty large audiences. Hey, these contests could be kind of a big deal, I thought. I shared the success with the client, saying that we’d had some good reach with our messaging, and hopefully we’d be on the level with some of the other industry accounts. What I didn’t know was no one else was getting the same traction.
Friday evening, the last day of SHOT Show, and just a few hours after the final display booths had been torn down, an interesting tweet came through the Colt account:
My jaw fell open. Most discussed brand? In all of SHOT Show? Wow. What happened?
I went back and started looking at the Colt stats. During the four day period of SHOT Show activities, the Colt Twitter account had 180 mentions, 200 retweets and almost 2,700 clicks. The account also gained over 450 new followers, an increase of over 270% from the previous number. I should mention at this point, I was hardly neglecting Facebook. By posting live updates, photos and videos from the week’s events, the Colt Facebook page saw some our highest activity as well. Between the Twitter posts and status updates on Facebook, Colt’s Social Media platforms gained over 320,000 impressions in this four-day span.
I was interested to find out what numerical data our friends over at @Airbana – Airbana Airsoft Mapping could offer based on the graphic they had shared with us. After a few tweets back and forth and an email or two, my new friend Gareth at http://blog.airbana.net gave me some interesting numbers he’d complied. According to Gareth and Datasift, the monitoring software he was using, over 10,000 Social Media public mentions about SHOT Show were recorded from January 16-20.
In a trade show that houses the largest names in law enforcement, military, outdoors, and shooting sports, an event that has 60,000 people attending and 10,000 online conversations, standing out from the pack was no small feat. The credit for elevating a brand such as Colt to a new height in awareness and connections should be given to one group: the Colt fans and brand enthusiasts.
For over 175 years people have been talking about Colt. The same passion our great grandfathers had for the brand lives on in today’s in the online community. Vegas has shown it’s a safe bet that Colt will continue to grow into this new frontier of Social Media.