How do you make a big impact with just a small presence at a trade show when you have little control or options? My answer is to own the social sphere around it.  How do you do get people to tweet about your product? How do you get them to line up to do it? Find a super geeky way to give away tchotchkes and turn the crowd into your poor man’s botnet!

For VMworld this year my goal was to make sure that VxRail was featured continuously on social media when any one searched on the show hashtag AND when the social streams were displayed on the large monitors around the event. I was given two small spots on the floor – each 10×10 and was going to make the most of them. So, we built social media enabled lockers – imagine a standard cubbyhole locker that has been absorbed into the Borg collective. Our lockers had actuators that opened and closed all the doors controlled by a Raspberry Pie that was connected to the Internet.


When an attendee tweeted the correct hashtags – #VMworld and either #VxRailRocks or #VxRailDelivers (one per locker) the locker would randomly open one of the compartments and the attendee could take one of whatever prizes we had packed into it. We filled the lockers with a 6 different items of different values so people were encouraged to come back and try for a different item.


And it worked. Both VxRail hashtags were in the top 10 for the show – you couldn’t go to VMword on twitter or any of the other social feeds and not see VxRail.

Update: I neglected to keep any video of the locker in action at VMworld, but we reprogrammed them with new hashtags for Dell EMC World and I made sure I did: