Tech Gets Social – How a Major PC Company Became a Top Social Brand at CES 2012
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Social media and technology have an inextricable tie – without tech devices consumers would never be able to access, update and obsess on and about social platforms. And what better arena for new technology trends than the annual Mecca of all things techie: International CES. Just how big is this showcase of the newest gadgets and most innovative technologies? According to the official CES press release from the Consumer Electronics Association, the 2012 International CES was the largest in the event’s 44-year history. The numbers don’t lie:
- CES saw a record number of more than 3,100 exhibitors on the show floor
- The show drew a record of more than 153,000 attendees, including more than 34,000 international attendees
- Over 20,000 new products were launched during CES
This year there was a lot of buzz around Ultrabook laptops, convertible devices and smart cars. But what resonated long after the show floor was that the key trend in consumer electronics had nothing to do with specs.
Technology needs to be social
For a public relations professional, securing media coverage in key business and technology publications and scoring the most coveted A-list broadcast interviews for a client’s top executives are the traditional measurements of a successful event. But the benchmarks have shifted, especially this year when social media impressions and conversations became the main indicator for a company’s emergence as a top player at the show.
In his article, “How Social Media Is Changing Consumer Electronics, and CES,”Mashable reporter Peter Pachal said, “All over CES 2012 I saw a shifting of focus from hyping technological achievements (Double battery life! Better color! More processing power!) to painting a picture of what those devices really offer, or more specifically, what they connect you with.” He continued on to say the real trend from CES 2012 is that “consumers increasingly want their experience with tech to be social.”
While it’s wonderful that an Ultrabook might come in fun colors and is super fast, the ultimate consumer ask is for a device connecting them to the Internet via WiFi as fast as possible. That way the sharing, communicating, posting and updating never stops. The companies that embraced showing vs. telling and demonstrated the overall experience of their new tech gadgets were the ones that garnered the most online conversations as well as traditional media coverage.
Text 100 client Lenovo is the world’s second-largest PC company and a regular exhibitor at CES. The brand’s approach to social media activity around the show this year included a key partnership with Social Media Club for a blogger night, along with other activities including live updates on Twitter from two press conferences; interactions with press on the LenovoPress media-focused Twitter handle; and shooting both fully produced behind-the-scenes videos as well as quick snippets to give consumers online an idea of what CES is like firsthand.
Was Lenovo’s overall CES presence a successful one? If social media is the key bar to measure against then the answer is a resounding yes. Social media influence measuring site Klout ranked the Top Brands at CES 2012, and Lenovo ranked second, with only Google surpassing it.
Rock Around the Clock, The Road to CES 2012
Lenovo’s internal social media team works around the clock to develop and freshen content (text, images and videos) for all of their social pages. These include Lenovo Vision YouTube Channel, official Lenovo Facebook page, Flickr stream, Lenovo Blog, Lenovo Twitter feed (not to mention various regional feeds) and its customized social media website, Lenovo Social. That last title aggregates all of the different sites in one central location making it easy to provide a macro view of all things Lenovo, social wise. And with a designated media-focused LenovoPress Twitter feed maintained by Text 100, Lenovo has a strong online presence.
To make a lasting impression online and create key influencer and media conversations on various platforms throughout the show took meticulous planning and strategic execution. The goal was to do more than simply push out news and multimedia content; Lenovo insisted on engaging with the right people talking about the show as well as taking social activities “offline.” The internal social media team, with support from PR, created written content for the blog and Twitter, produced videos and shot and uploaded hundreds of high-quality event images.
Gavin O’Hara, Lenovo’s social media editorial lead, gave us an in-depth overview of Lenovo’s social numbers as well as measurement tools from CES. “We used our social media tools to “broadcast” live from Vegas and used tracking tools to reveal just how many people were tuned in and listening,” he said. Here’s a snapshot of the outcome of Lenovo’s social activities during CES, both online and off from Gavin:
- Twitter: Lenovo CES tweets reached a potential audience of 17 million people
- Facebook: Lenovo posts reached an audience of 250,000 people while generating more than 1.3 million impressions. For the week, the Lenovo Facebook page received 3,000 likes, 800 comments & 300 “shares”
- Flickr: Photos of products, parties and people got more than 25,000 views on the Lenovo photo library
- Lenovo Blogs: The behind-the-scenes blog posts got more than 25,000 page views
- YouTube: Lenovo CES-focused videos were watched by more than 50,000 people in a week. An astonishing 25,000 alone watched the Yoga “Hands On” interview.
Ultimately, what was abundantly apparent is that the amplification of real time, online and off line conversations owes as much to the buzz in Vegas as to the desire that we all want to be “in the know.” Social media makes that possible in spades.
BONUS: Q&A With Gavin O’Hara, Lenovo social media editorial lead
Q: What was your key strategy when planning for social media activities during International CES 2012?
A: It’s fair to say that our social media team has a number of goals when we hit the ground in the maelstrom that is CES. (I work on the social content side so this answer will have an inherent bias.) On one hand, we are there to create content, to be “roving reporters” on the scene, and to share all that content out via numerous social channels while it’s still fresh and while the eyes of the world (or more eyes than usual) are on us. On the other hand, we are there to act as amplifiers–Tweeting out links to great press coverage, live-blogging our company press conferences and even mobilizing our fans and followers to vote Lenovo for “Best of CES” awards. Finally–significantly–we are there to be social in the true and original sense of the word, to get off our laptops and meet some of the incredible bloggers, social media rockstars, business partners and employees from places far away who pass through our lounge.
Q: How long was the planning process?
A: It was endlessly long but well worth it.
Q: Why do you think Lenovo stood out as a social media influencer at CES in a sea of thousands of companies pushing out information simultaneously?
A: I like to think we stood out because we had a compelling story to tell. We’re a brand that is rising unfathomably fast in an industry some claim is shrinking. We arrived at CES having passed Dell to become the #2 PC company in the world. And we came to the table showing off some remarkable products such as IdeaPad Yoga and IdeaCentre A720 that illustrate all the ways we’ve grown beyong just being a traditional laptop maker.
Q: Why did you decide to partner with Social Media Club for an event and what are some additional details about that partnership?
A: We’ve done a number of events with Social Media Club (as well as GDGT) in the past and it always feels good when we do. I frankly think we lend them some credibility in different circles than they’re used to travelling in and they bring the cool kids over to Lenovo Land to get a little dose of our latest products and our company meta-narrative. Personally, I love meeting people who barely know Lenovo or who know us only as the makers of ThinkPad. Then I like blowing their mind by showing them our tablets, our all-in-one PCs, our smart TVs and smartphones–all the other avenues our company is going down. The response is almost universally positive from people and it gives me great hope that we are on the right path as a company.