August 23rd, 2011

Boston GreenFest 2011: Green Gone Bad


Last Thursday, August 18th through Saturday August 20th – City Hall Plaza hosted the 3rd Boston GreenFest. Having gone in the past, I wanted to return to this popular event to learn about new green solutions that companies and non-profits had to offer.

What I found was a bunch of pushy car salesmen-like reps who would speak at me with a rehearsed, un-personalized pitch. On the opposite hand there were a lot un-staffed tables or staff who were sitting and looking down at their mobile devices. I initially (and excitedly) thought was to monitor and engage with their Twitter following – but I learned that was sadly not the case. An alarming percentage of (B2C) companies I spoke with had no social media strategy (at all) apart from tweeting the ole; I’m at @BosGreenFest from 12-6 or setting up Google Alerts. Many of them had shunned their following – by not replying or even following them. I also saw a lot of overflowing trash and unsanitary food prep. The free juice samples were nice, but the event staff could not answer how sustainable the manufacturing process was – except having all natural ingredients. Thought there was a handful of vendors who were upbeat, prepared and engaging – my overall experience was that it felt flat and not genuine.

So what would have made the event a success? How could the event organizers improve for next year? First, I’d recommend allocating resources and volunteer time to improving GreenFest’s website SEO and usability – and utilizing social media to truly connect with audience rather than just pushing out event info while helping to set example for exhibitors and sponsors. Creating an event hashtag as well as identifying digital ambassadors would allow the conversation to play out simultaneously online as well as at the event for word-of-mouth and ROI optimization. Including links to exhibitors’ websites (and their social media channels) would also help to further engage visitors and help keep this event top of mind.

As far as vendors? I would have liked to have seen more listening – and less me, me me. Again, utilizing social media to identify and connect with people who were talking online about the event/company/organization would have been an easy way to acknowledge the very people (and their following) they want as customers/members. I also noticed a ton of paper collateral and only one vendor with a QR code. I would have also liked to have seen an exhibitor develop and execute a social media campaign designed to showcase their though leadership on how their unique solution helps address an environmental concern. To that end, most companies I spoke with could also benefit from watching a recent talk by Laura Fitton (@Pistachio), titled: Social Media Bootcamp for Startups and implementing her advice to; listen, learn, care and serve…not just push-out marketing info. Because no one wants to be subjected to used-car salesman monologues, and especially not online!

How was your experience? What did you find interesting or disappointing?

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Joanna Hamblin

About Joanna Hamblin

A results driven marketing and communications professional, Joanna has over 7 years of experience in developing marketing strategies that generate leads, raise awareness and grow market share. Working with clients of various sizes and stages she’s helping to build strong foundations for the clean tech, energy, sustainability and local food verticals by developing marketing strategies that are effective, scalable and provide consistent ROI. Her specialty includes project management, web 2.0 and social media planning, event management and corporate communications. To learn more about Joanna and her work you can follow her on Twitter @GoodNatureGirl .