If you were to ask a Belgian what exactly imec does, they probably couldn’t answer with much clarity.
“A lot of people don’t know,” imec Communication Officer Arne Schauwers says. Because the nature of the work is highly technical, the general public doesn’t understand how imec’s research impacts society. Innovations in healthcare, smart cities, and energy, for example, were born in imec labs.
“We wanted to show the world what we do and why we do it,” Schauwers explained. Imec’s upcoming event bringing nearly 2,000 people together in Antwerp, Belgium would be a prime marketing opportunity.
Every year, the organization hosts a series of events across the globe called Imec Technology Forum (ITF). This year was a turning point for imec’s marketing efforts. The firm had become more active in social media and leaders realized the potential of capitalizing on social media during this jampacked event. To succeed, imec needed a solution that would inform, engage and entertain attendees both on-site and online.
The imec team decided to use a Social Media Wall through Seenspire’s platform. Because the Belgium ITF event would be the first time executing a social media strategy via digital signage, organizers needed a solution that would be easy to learn upfront and easy to manage during the two-day event.
The Seenspire platform was especially helpful because of its intuitive interface, Schauwers said. He and his colleague quickly learned how to add original posts and moderate incoming posts from attendees.
“It was important that I could control what came along and decide what showed up on the big screen,” Schauwers explained. “We wanted to filter out what wasn’t relevant. Sometimes, people were tweeting the same things, and it was really easy for us to filter throughout the event.”
Schauwers and his fellow marketing colleague prepared well for the event. The Social Media Wall stood at the entrance near the demo booths to ensure maximum on-site visibility. Prior to the forum, event organizers began promoting the official event hashtag, #ITFBelgium, to everyone who had registered. Then they reinforced the hashtag campaign through every presentation, which referenced the hashtag on the first slide. In some cases, the hashtag appeared on multiple slides.
From the first presentation onward, attendees were actively posting quotes from speakers, new information and photos they snapped from the presentations.
For two days, Schauwers and his marketing colleague moderated activity on the Social Media Wall from their laptops. Schauwers recalls observing people’s reactions as they experienced the Wall: They would tweet a photo, then watch the digital display in anticipation. When their photo would come up, they’d give an ecstatic “Yes!” As Schauwers recalled, this interactive post-and-watch routine energized people every single time.
Evidently, the Social Media Wall helped some attendees come out of their shell and join public conversations. ITF events typically bring together a highly technical crowd eager to learn. This time, the Wall offered a more interactive experience. The crowd seemed especially open to sharing their experiences with fellow attendees and their online followers.
In addition to attendees, exhibitors from 50 demo stands were also busy posting images and videos from their booths. The Social Media Wall allowed them to create a buzz around their offerings. Exhibitors could highlight their booths through photos and video clips published on the big screen. And the cycle continued throughout the two-day: visitors would come and get featured on their posts, which then brought in a new stream of curious passersby.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the sheer volume of posts from attendees and exhibitors. Ultimately, #ITFBelgium campaign generated these results in a two-day period:
- 511 posts
- 143 people
- 184,210 reach
- 2,446,161 impressions
The most impressive statistic: #ITFBelgium was trending for two days. The Social Media Wall helped imec become one of the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter. According to Twitter, trends are determined by an algorithm and are tailored for users based on who they follow, their interests, and their location.
Imec’s event organizers plan to use the Belgium ITF event as a Social Media Wall benchmark for future events. Schauwers says the imec team plans to discuss how to enhance the Social Media Wall experience even further at upcoming forums.