With a little juggling of resources, Xerox created a buzz at the Drupa print fair in Düsseldorf via a social media café and acrobat performers
Drupa is the Olympics of the print world. Held every four years for a fortnight, it is the largest trade show for the printing industry and this time around, Xerox was determined to be the star exhibitor.
“The problem was, we were quite far down the pecking order in terms of the space we had at the show,” says Xerox Europe’s head of marketing communications, Darrell Minards.
So how could Xerox ensure it had the biggest impact and created the most buzz of all the vendors, while strengthening its association with the important channel of social media? Minards’ mission was to get 100,000 of the 320,000 overall visitors to come through Xerox’s hall. Then, he needed to engage with those people and show them how social media could help their business to grow.
“Our main focus at the show was on helping businesses, so we judged everything we did against that primary objective,” says Minards.
To fulfil the brief, Xerox had two levers to pull, says Minards. “The first was a new Xerox proposition called ‘Freedom to Focus on What Matters Most’. The second was our pre-existing sponsorship of Canadian circus troupe Cirque du Soleil. The first would resonate with customers and the second could help us tell the story.”
The next step was to brief social media manager Andy Hill to create an integrated experience, taking these factors into account. Of the options he explored, two stood out: a social media café and social media clinics, both of which would use special Cirque du Soleil performances to help attract traffic.
“With the café, our idea was to create a relaxed and informal setting where you could chill out, drink a coffee and ultimately start having conversations about Xerox.
“To help initiate those conversations, we had a social media wall which was a 72-inch plasma screen with engaging and colourful content capturing all the conversations about Xerox and Drupa. In addition, we had a social media visualiser – a live infographic showing all the conversations on Twitter that mentioned the word Drupa, as well as creating a tag cloud highlighting the most popular topics,” says Hill.
The social media clinics were relaxed one-to-one sessions where print service providers could get help from Xerox social media practitioners on using social media and seeing its value for their business, he adds. “To back this up, we created guides on things like taking your first steps in social media and how to set up accounts on separate platforms.”
Hill had experimented with a tweet wall at a closed Xerox event the year before and was surprised by how well received it had been. “I wanted to take it to the next level. One of the great things about any social media campaign is that it’s so easily measurable,” he says.
Minards was confident that the strategy worked with the overall brand message, which focuses on “real business”. “Helping organisations manage their day-to-day business in such an authentic and open way couldn’t be a better fit,” he says.
Although the budget for the social media café was £15,000, the real investment was the people, whose time wasn’t on the budget, says Hill. “There were three of us on the stand and every day we tweeted about what was going on and posted Cirque show photos onto our Facebook page.”
Blogging was done by an onsite Xerox blogger, and Xerox colleagues around the world were encouraged to show the social media wall in their showrooms and thereby join the conversations. Visitors were also able to share their experiences of the stand, as well as sharing pictures of the special Cirque performances which, by the second week, had standing room only.
“The partnership with Cirque played a big part, reminding people when the sessions were on and helping to create the buzz on the floor,” says Hill.
But the majority of activity focused on the Xerox social media café, says Hill. It offered people a place to meet contacts at Drupa while allowing them to view the trending topics via Twitter from the Xerox visualiser.
The café had a casual, yet purposeful feel, he says. “There were plenty of natural opportunities within conversations to lead into individual businesses’ digital marketing challenges and how we could help them, and that’s where the one-to-ones came in. It was very interactive and educational.”
Xerox was the undisputed leader in Drupa’s social conversations according to the Visible Technologies Listening Report for Target Social Networks, which put it ahead of the likes of HP, Oce, Kodak, Landa and Canon. Additional proof that buzz was created around Xerox@drupa came from the appearance of Xerox’s XMPie Facebook Connect application in the local newspaper Bild Düsseldorf.
The social wall in the café, which Minards says was busy throughout Drupa, had 4,672 pieces of content appearing on it, featuring everything from pictures to commentary to video, with approximately 3,900 of these coming from attendees of Drupa.
Meanwhile, the visualiser, which captured Twitter conversations, showed 2,300 page views. “It was great to see the increase in interaction between show attendees and Xerox, revealed by a 482 per cent increase in retweets for@XeroxEvents, a 117 per cent increase in mentions for@XeroxEvents and a 78 per cent increase in mentions of@XeroxProduction, the handle that targets companies interested in large production equipment,” says Hill.
In all, more than 140 social clinic consultations took place, with 145 print provider guides and 140 field guides given out. “To me, this was the most important outcome,” says Hill. “I have stacks of business cards from people I’d never normally meet and it was fantastic to inspire them and get them thinking about how to use social media marketing for business.”
“It would have been easy to keep social media as a back-of-house activity, all done back at the ranch,” says Minards. “Not least because it was quite an investment to staff that stand for 14 days. But by making social media the focus of the stand, we hoped we’d get more followers, more engagement and more buzz, and that’s exactly what happened.”
From a PR perspective, it helped that this was unique, he says. “Nobody at the show was doing anything like this and that alone attracted interest, including from those producing the daily show newspaper.”
Among the pleasant surprises for Xerox was the worldwide feedback. “Receiving one-to-one feedback from partners as far away as Australia was great, even though my main focus is Europe,” says Hill. “I was also surprised by how much we learned from the people who came to the stand. It wasn’t just them learning from us.
“Then there was the shock of seeing just how much people loved sharing photos and commenting on them. We now know that whatever event we have, there has to be some kind of photo-sharing aspect to it.”
Things they’d do differently next time include engaging the Xerox community ahead of the event. “We waited to build momentum at the show itself, but really we could have done that earlier,” says Hill.
“I’d also like to have gained more feedback about the one-to-ones. You get swept up by the crowds and now I wish I’d interviewed people afterwards about how useful they found them.”