In mid-August, the industry hashtag to follow was #CECI15. It was the third most trending hashtag on after only three days, AV Nation’s Chris Neto (@chris_neto) reported.

The CE Pro and Commercial Integrator Summit is a highly exclusive, invite-only hosted-buyer event for select manufacturers and the industries’ top integrators, so it lacks the size of the InfoComm Show or CEDIA Expo. The fact that the #CECI15 hashtag was trending on Twitter after only three days — in the middle of summer — says something about social media trends in the AV community. We (the group collectively known as #AVTweeps on Twitter, or the ‘Tweeps if you’re one of us) are a fun, powerful, and growing team of integrators, consultants, manufacturers, reps, programmers, bloggers, PR reps, end-users, and other influencers. Says who? DailyDOOH statistics, for one.

Tracking Social Media Trends

DailyDOOH, the website that provides insight, knowledge, and opinion on digital out-of-home technology, tracks statistics for the InfoComm Show’s Twitter activity. In 2013, the AV community sent out 10,903 tweets using the hashtag #InfoComm13, spread across 1,838 users.

In 2014, the number of tweets grew by about one-half, with 17,195 tweets from 2,549 users. This year, Twitter activity during InfoComm exploded, with nearly double the number of tweets (33,936) and close to double the number of users (4,010). KMB was proud to make two of DailyDOOH’s #InfoComm15 top ten lists: Users Most Replied To and Users Most Replying to Others. We trained hard in advance as callused thumbs and bleary eyes became the norm. It took time, planning, and lots of fast thinking to spot trends and react. Our clients, peers, and friends, those who shared their wares and chimed in on the chatter were brought into our fold and we helped promote them, reaching a wider audience than ever before imagined.

What’s different this year is that the industry-wide social networking momentum continued long after the show wrapped. Twitter brings us closer together, no matter how geographically widespread we remain. Every day is like a virtual trade show, with learning opportunities, potential leads, great stories, networking and camaraderie all at our fingertips.

But for industry members with limited time and budgets, is it worth it?

Social Media ROI

Social media experts consider impressions, reach, and action (clicks, likes or RTs), to name just a few analytics, when they calculate the ROI of social media.

Consider a well-timed, engaging tweet with a link that sends visitors directly to a conversion page on your website. Where do they go from there? Do they call? Email? Look for a sales rep (if they are a dealer) or a dealer (if they are an end-user)?

Social media provides the capability to track the actions of your prospects up to the moment they sign up for your mailing list, call for more information, or place an order. You can see where in the funnel you lost the sale, or know that all the elements were in place to win a new customer. (Go, you!) Social media, in general, allows you to track leads and results on a more granular level than traditional publishing does.

There are also indirect benefits, such as SEO and brand visibility. As @tech_chi (Heather Sidoriwicz of Southtown AV) tweeted:

“I have a few big leads from ‘The Web’ and social is part of that.”

“I find it’s the wide world of connections and introductions and current news that are the biggest values. I’ve met a ton of peeps via social media that I may not have had an opportunity to share ideas with or meet in person,” Malissa Dillman (@MalissaDillman), training and education manager for Kramer Electronics, said in a direct message.

It’s Also Fun and Games

Don’t be fooled. Just as the ISE, InfoComm Show, CEDIA Expo and the CE / CI Summit are not all about networking, leads, and learning… neither is Twitter. One of the biggest social media trends in the AV industry involves gamification.

On Thursdays and Fridays since June, @AVHashtags has been bringing us the #AVHashtag game. Write pick-up lines AV geeks may use. Share your favorite #AVMovie titles. Talk about #AVaFruit. You never know what the challenge may be, or whether the entries will be witty, silly, or self-promotional. (Ideally, a combination of all three…)

@AVCaptions is the industry’s weekly caption humor game, where you create a funny, A/V-related caption for a specific photo. We’re expecting it to pick up steam, because who doesn’t love writing silly captions instead of bids or ad copy?

And there’s the rub. The challenge with Twitter, or any social media network, is to maintain a fun online persona that helps you fulfill your marketing objectives while engaging on a personal level with your network. It’s all too easy to get sucked into the vortex of clicking every interesting link you see, or tweeting about bacon all morning. Or to go the other direction and become the social media version of an AI drone spewing out marketing-speak but never actually interacting.

In our (not-so-humble) opinion, the AV Twitter community has done an excellent job of finding, and encouraging, that balance to create an engaging, warm, and personal environment where people share ideas, laugh, and connect. We’ve become a family. (Maybe it’s time for more #AVTweeps to join in with the hashtag #FamilyPhotoFriday, whether they share photos of their own family, their work family, or their extended AV industry family!

Join Us

Are you an #AVTweep who’s only dipped your toes in the Twitter conversation waters? There’s nothing wrong with being a lurker, but we’d love for you to join our fun. How?

Tweet early. Tweet late. Tweet often. But not too often. Unless it’s a trade show or you’re playing the #AVHashtag game. Use #AVTweeps, #LiveInstall, #WiHA, and other relevant hashtags so we can find you. If someone asks a question, reply. Ask questions of your own. Show us your products and share your opinions, and take time to be friendly. Not only does that make social media more effective, it makes it more fun! Even if your Twitter handle belongs to a corporation, it’s no secret there’s a real person sending those tweets, and it’s okay to act like one. Follow the rules and don’t provoke a fight. This is about networking and growing a community.

Although social media trends change rapidly, authenticity never goes out of style. Social media is part science, part art, and part just being yourself (or your company’s brand) in 140 characters (or less). Let us see your personality. Because there’s always room in the AV community for one more personality.

With CEDIA right around the corner (#CEDIA15, that is!) it’s a great time to engage for the first time or strengthen social relationships. Make sure you have plenty of bandwidth and get those thumbs ready!

Do you have a Social Media success story? Let’s keep the conversation going via Twitter. Use hashtag #KMBAsks.