I set out to practice what Greteman Group preaches at this year’s Heli-Expo. From the opening ribbon-cutting, to the closing ceremonies, the right cocktail of social media let me document, dialogue, and diary the Heli-Expo 2013 experience.

The first tool unleashed from my arsenal was the hot new microvideo-sharing app, Vine, which let me share the ribbon cutting during the opening ceremony. Next, I tweeted the opening statements of Chris Erickson, Chairman of Helicopter Association International (HAI), based in Alexandria, VA. HAI’s event-driven mobile app allowed anyone a quick overview of the day’s schedule.

Plan ahead

In social media, planning leads to peak performance, and that couldn’t be more true than making sure your mobile device is ready for every eventuality. If you’re going to be on your feet all day, having the right outlet for what you want to share with your audience is essential. That, and your charger.

It paid off when it came to making the most of my time at Heli-Expo, hosted March 4-7 in Las Vegas, Nev. The world’s leading international helicopter tradeshow boasted its sixth consecutive year of record-breaking growth, making the 20,393 attendees the largest turnout to date. The sheer numbers of people milling around 1.5 million square feet of convention space could have been daunting. It was essential to have a plan. I used the tools HAI had put in place, and the information it had touted with online media, to identify ahead of time and locate in person whom and what I was looking for among the 736 exhibitors and 60 helicopters.

Engagement propels traffic

Successfully multitasking through the maze of booths, helicopters and Iron Man photo ops could have seemed like an impossible feat, especially when there were so many factors competing for my attention. But it only involved spending a few moments of my time to include myself in the dialogue taking place between companies, vendors, HAI, attendees and those checking in from afar. I didn’t have to keep my mobile device in my hand at all times, I just knew where to listen and how to contribute. While at the show I joined the ongoing Twitter conversation under hashtag #EXPO2013. Our agency’s Heli-Expo interactions drew more than twice as much traffic to our Twitter account @gretemangroup. More important, we made connections with people and continue to engage with them even after the expo has ended.

Speak up

It’s not enough to be present at an event. Through Twitter, Facebook and Vine, I was able to be current, interacting with aviation industry big hitters like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, and Ramco, and share up-to-the-minute information with people thousands of miles away. I wasn’t a social media wallflower and it showed in the conversations that were sparked. Despite enormous attendance, social media can ensure your voice is heard and felt. You may have a beautiful booth, but being aware and engaged in an event’s social media presence allows you to escape the confines of your rented space.

Next year’s Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim, Cal. will undoubtedly be even larger. The conversation has already started. Will you be talking to us next year?

*Originally published in SpeedNews on March 14, 2013.