Fabric Freedom
Crafters Companion Limited
Hunkydory Crafts Ltd

Social status

Simon Burns, managing director of ICHF Events, discusses the impact of social media on the show organiser's communications strategy

Social status: Image 1 Which social media platforms does ICHF use?
That depends on the show. For our trade event, CHSI Stitches, the dominant platforms are Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, while Facebook and Instagram are key for consumer exhibitions.

Has social media changed the way the company promotes its events?
Yes, without question. For us, it's an opportunity to communicate in a more colloquial and conversational way – we've found that crafters welcome this as it's such a friendly community. Engagement is key and we love the fact that social media opens a two-way conversation. One example of this is our Cake Lives video campaign, where we livestream an artist demo on our Cake International Facebook page. The last few broadcasts have had between 7,000 and 12,000 views and hundreds of comments. Our campaigns work through a blend of organic and paid-for reach. When it comes to the latter, we target geographically according to region and use targeted ads for different demographics.

How can exhibitors tap into this resource?
We have a strong social media following across our shows and we are always keen to team up with our exhibitors to profile products, launches and techniques before each event.We can also support companies by hosting competitions and profiles. Equally we'd encourage our exhibitors to run competitions on their own channels in the run-up to shows. This can result in some very strong engagement if organised in the right way.

Does social media play an important role during each exhibition?
Absolutely. It's one of the most important ways in which we shout to the wider world about what can be found at each event. We have an on-the-ground team at every show to gather social content including demonstration videos, interviews with exhibitors or visitors and Instagram-worthy images, giving further added value.We also work with bloggers across our campaigns, and our shows are key points when we are sharing content and connecting on social.

Do you think this form of communication will become increasingly important as a business tool?
Yes, I think social media as a concept is here to stay. It has connected the world in an entirely new way and that has meant huge changes and opportunities for business communications. The channels themselves will evolve and change and we will undoubtedly be getting on board with new platforms in future.

Are there any channels that you would recommend for craft companies?
For consumer-facing businesses Facebook and Instagram are key. The image-led style of Instagram lends itself perfectly to our industry and you only have to spend a few minutes on there to see how much craft is being talked about. For trade-focused communications Twitter and LinkedIn also work well.

CHSI Stitches runs from 16-18 February 2020. Find out more at www.chsi.co.uk