The Future of Ad Agency Promotion at Events Through Social Media


Social media can enhance your special event experience and make networking for new business easier.

Without a doubt an industry trade show or conference has been a beneficial professional networking event for business opportunities. Social media has transformed these events and taken them to a new level.

“I think social media is changing the nature of interaction surrounding conventions,” said Steven Paganelli, vice president of business development-DMOs/CVBs for the Washington, D.C.-based, TIG Global. “Certainly, the opportunity to connect on a higher, more meaningful level face-to-face has always been at the heart of meetings and conventions, but social media tools and new technologies are making it easier for delegates to move beyond their comfort zone to meet new contacts, share ideas and engage in these events in deeper ways.”

In an American Express OPEN Forum article, Scott Belsky, Founder and CEO of  Behance, shares insights from his 4-day experience at this year’s South By Southwest Interactive Conference. I’ve taken Scott’s main take aways regarding the future of advertising and self promotion to highlight the future of ad agency promotion at events through social media for new business:

1. Curation is a great tool for agency self-promotion.

Scott identifies one company that stood out above all others at this year’s SXSW event by serving as a curator of of  event information.

“AOL set up a booth where they sorted through the day’s news at the conference and streamed channels of information for particular interests. In effect, AOL was serving as a curator of the overwhelming amount of stuff, and people gravitated toward the booth.”

This is a great social media strategy for ad agency promotion. Become a curator of information by allowing your agency blog and website to be a repository of helpful information for your prospective clients. Scott says, “If people like your taste—or just the way you display information—they will tune into your message.”

I was able to interact with attendees of Ad Age’s first Small Agency Conference. From my social media interactions I was able to create this article: 50 of the Best Insights from Ad Age’s First Ever Small Agency Conference.  The amazing thing – I wasn’t there!

I was able to create this list of the 50 Best Insights in an article for my blog and propagate it through my 50,000 + followers on Twitter before the conference was even over.

I also helped spread the word of the conference, create buzz and assisted in generating traffic for the conference sponsors: AdAge andAOL Advertising.

It put me on Ad Age’s radar: @adage And it’s not even over! RT @michaelgass 50 of the Best Insights from Ad Age’s First Small Agency Conf #smallagency

2. The Future of Advertising (networking) is Education.

I wasn’t able to attend this years SXSW event, but according to Scott, the future of advertising was one of the main topics of discussion.

“With brands in the hands of the people, a new genre of advertising will arise that is more authentic and borderline educational. Companies will tap their expertise as a way to win people over. For example, GE knows a lot about the future of energy and jet engines, Pepsi knows a lot about marketing and beverages, The New York Times knows a lot about journalism.

While you would likely skip over any commercials from these brands, you might be interested in their perspectives in areas where your interests intersect.”

Social media can play an important role in defining your agency’s brand. To be successful with social media you are compelled to lead prospective client engagement with benefits and value rather than agency capabilities and credentials. Check out these “Top 10 Benefits of Social Media for Ad Agency New Business.”

Education provides a great networking platform to build value for your prospects and positioning of leadership for you and your agency.

3. The value of attending conferences lies with personal connections, not panels.

Some people believe that we are so connected online that offline conferences, seminars and trade shows are losing their importance. Scott’s takeaway is just the opposite:

“In a world of increasing remoteness and virtual relationships, the benefits of physical engagement only increase. I would argue that conferences will become MORE essential as our lives become more digital.”

Social media has transformed offline events and can maximize the personnel connections with prospective clients. Your involvement with blogging, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can change your whole experience. You can “get to know” many of the exhibitors, speakers and event attendees from your online interactions that will propagate and enhance meeting them in person.

I recently received this note from Tom Matter, CEO of MAX Advertising in Atlanta. Tom’s agency specializes in law firm marketing and had this to say after attending the Legal Marketing Association’s Conference in Orlando:

“I wanted to tell you how fast we have been noticed by the national legal marketing community. We are easily the most talked about new marketing strategy and creative shop in the business.

All the blogs we followed last year to get started are all now following me for content ideas! They told me this themselves. I

had women stop me and ask to get my picture taken with them because they love The Matte Pad!! No joke. So many people read it and follow it with their RSS reader.

It was great validation for all the hard work we are putting into it. MAX Advertising is a great social media success story. We will get so much work from the conference it’s not even funny.”

Tips for participating in special events using social media:

  • Include a banner for the event in your blog’s sidebar.
  • Information about the event in your email newsletter.
  • Invite one of the event organizers to write a guest post.
  • Write your own article prior to and/or after the event.
  • Find out if the event already has a Twitter #hashtag set up. If they don’t suggest one to the event organizers. Use the hashtag for Twitter posts about the event, before, during and after.
  • Use the time to network
  • Conduct interviews. Use your iPhone to video and edit podcasts that you can share on your blog.
  • Act an a reporter for the event with live updates via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Set-up “meet-ups” from your online networks of people

Click on the following link to read Scott’s article, “SXSW Interactive Takeaways: The Future Of Advertising & Self-Promotion.” If you are an event speaker, you might find the  “7 Traits Event Organizers Need From Speakers” helpful.

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. I think your final comment is something that many people have never really understood about conferences and trade shows. It is the connections that you make, and conversations you have outside the breakouts that make it worth while. And as connected as we are online, there is no substitute for a chat over drinks.

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  2. Thanks for sharing John. I agree. What I love about social media + conferences and tradeshows, is that it makes networking in person at these events easier.

  3. Awesome post! I would add that before presenting strategies to clients, agencies should adopt social media and execute on themselves. Many agencies, realizing the hotness of social media, see a way to affect their bottom line. they present strategies to marketers and end up looking like social media posers.

  4. Thank you. Very much appreciated. Hopefully more agencies will see the importance of adding social media as an important component to their own new business and be equipped to utilize it better for their clients.

  5. I wrote this almost a year and a half ago about the future of advertising. It plays well with what you’re saying here, although I think the explanation is a bit more simple than everyone wants to believe

  6. Thanks for your article! In your opinion, what is better: Having a wide range of different social media platforms or focusing on a few? 

  7. For now the blog is my central social media platform and provides the greatest return on my time investment. The integration of other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn and Pinterest expands my reach and engagement with my prospective client community. I experiment beyond these platforms but most of my time is spent using these as my core.

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