Companies that organize large trade shows always look for ways to offer their exhibitors more brand exposure and ensure their attendees and sponsors are having the time of their life during the event. As The NAMM Show 2023 proved, achieving those two goals might be easier with a social wall.
The NAMM Show is an annual event organized by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), which is considered to be the largest music trade show in North America.
Every year, NAMM Show brings together hundreds of musical instrument companies, from household names like Fender and Yamaha to smaller brands, to showcase their latest releases to thousands of musicians, retailers, and influencers.
In 2023, The NAMM Show welcomed over 46.000 attendees, 3.500 brands, and 1.200 exhibitors on campus of the Anaheim Convention Center. The three-day event held 200+ educational sessions, over 150 live concerts, and countless networking opportunities.
The 2023 Show became the second hybrid event for NAMM, which partnered with Swapcard to develop a full-featured event app. The app allowed attendees to plan their schedules and watch live and on-demand content, network, set up meetings, and see different products 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world.
The Swapcard app featured a social wall page that showcased a carefully curated mix of content from various NAMM’s company profiles on social media, user-generated content (UGC) tagged with #nammshow, and Direct Posts.
The same wall was also displayed in the key area on the campus of the Anaheim Convention Center and embedded into the NAMM’s website to empower the NAMM Show’s community and provide greater exposure for all the parties involved.
We talked to Jessica Duarte, the Associate Director, Strategic Project Management at NAMM, to find out how the event app and the social wall helped NAMM strike a chord with their worldwide audience.
Associate Director / Strategic Project Management, NAMM
The trade show is usually an in-person event, but you’ve added a virtual component this year by partnering with Swapcard. How has online accessibility changed your attendee experience?
We’ve partnered with Swapcard since 2020 for our virtual events, and The 2023 NAMM Show is our second hybrid event with Swapcard. The app is a powerful tool that invites our attendees and exhibitors to connect with each other and our event before, during, and after the show.
Online accessibility keeps us open via mobile or desktop, 24 hours a day, worldwide, so that users can plan their show, check out exhibitors, view products and book meetings. Our show map, exhibitor list and social wall are all pages within the app, easily found on the home page.
It also provides an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the show, even if they are unable to be there in person. This year, we live-streamed over 100 educational sessions, performances, and events, then had the videos on-demand for viewing shortly after.
Our usage improved this year over the last to 50% of attendees (24K active users for the app).
We set up the social wall to feature the amazing content our attendees and exhibitors capture around our show.
The wall was activated a week before to display the excitement leading up to the show on our NAMM Show+ app, and we kept it open for a week after for a compelling recap of events, celebrities, and product images tagged with #nammshow.
As our first year, the photo wall was also a proof of concept to see if we could monetize the wall with sponsorship opportunities in the future.
Where did you display the wall?
During the event, we used social walls in four main locations:
- In the NAMM Show+ app, powered by Swapcard.
- On giant concert screens on Yamaha Grand Plaza Stage.
- On a NAMM.org Homepage Takeover, as a single row display for highlights.
- We also showed the wall during Media Preview Day in the NAMM Idea Center.
The moderating features were very important to us as we were able to approve posts quickly before publishing them to the wall and keep a solid mix of content from attendees, exhibitors, and NAMM.
Using the scheduling with Walls.io was easy, and we could keep an even stream of NAMM event reminders in between the curated content.
We chose a mix of content curated using the tools in Walls.io. Our hashtag #nammshow, NAMM pages including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and search terms gave us a ton of posts to choose from.
We’ve used the same hashtag for shows for years, and it’s widely promoted in our materials and social media posts. We used the search to find additional hashtags like #nammshow2023 to widen the scope.
⭐ Related: Hashtag Tracking: The Ultimate Guide
Do you have any plans for repurposing the user-generated content you collected from the campaign?
Our 2023 Post-Show Report utilized the social wall to provide a visual accompaniment to our statistics. I’ve encouraged marketing to look through the text included in posts as it is very complimentary to the show and could be used in future promotions.
We would be interested in reposting content added directly to the wall in the future.
The NAMM Show is a great example of a curated social wall that empowers the community and brings brand exposure at a trade show on a whole new level. It also shows how important event hashtags and an event app are for sustainable audience engagement.
Let’s break down the key takeaways from The NAMM Show 2023 social wall strategy.
The NAMM Show+ event app, powered by Swapcard, helped NAMM bridge the gap between in-person and enabled people from 120 countries to be a part of the show, even if they couldn’t attend it on-site. It also made the on-site experience more effortless, connecting attendees with exhibitors and featuring all the necessary information in one place.
The app was one of the key placements for the show’s social wall. With it, people could post and interact with the wall from anywhere in the world.
Hashtag never dies
The key factor to NAMM’s exceptional social media coverage of their trade show was using and promoting the same unique event hashtag over the years. By using #nammshow year after year, NAMM was able to connect multiple generations within the show’s community and provide some extra exposure for the exhibitors through UGC.
Jessica shared a great life hack by pointing out that this year, they enhanced their UGC strategy by combining a timeless hashtag with a year-specific #nammshow2023, and were able to widen the scope of their content search.
Content curation is the star of the show
The NAMM Show’s social wall was carefully curated with manual moderation to ensure it has just the right mix of brand- and user-generated content. NAMM’s team used the wall both as a tool to keep their attendees engaged and also as a platform to keep everyone informed during the event with scheduled event reminders.
What comes after
When you collect a lot of beautiful UGC, it’s always a shame if it goes to waste. We applaud the way NAMM is repurposing content from their wall in their post-event report and further communications.