Social media is nothing new. Many popular sites have been around for a decade or so by now. Yet few exhibitors are using these tools to their advantage.
One of the best aspects of social media tools is that they open up the lines of communication far beyond your own individual circle of influence. By using the various tools, you can reach not only your clients and prospects, but also industry thought leaders and members of the media. After all, one of the top reasons attendees come to shows is to discover new ideas or solutions – give them a reason why they should come see you! Here are a few tips to help get your social media strategy in place.
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Before the Show
Find out if the show has an official hashtag (as in #ABCexpo), then begin using it when you mention anything about your presence at the show. Share behind-the-scenes planning and perhaps some sneak-peeks into what they can expect.
Post an open invitation for people to come meet your team and see whatever it is you’re featuring. Make it intriguing with some kind of teaser (think movie trailers) that gets their curiosity going. You can also tweet out links to news releases, videos of your products, blog posts about the upcoming show, etc. (Don’t forget to use a link shortener to save characters in Twitter.)
And no matter where you’re sharing your posts, be it in your blog, on Facebook or Twitter, or with a photo on Instagram, be sure to include your booth number so they can find you onsite.
Use LinkedIn to personally invite your contacts to meet you at the show, either in your booth or elsewhere. And if your team has the time to coordinate it, invite people to a “TweetUp” in your booth or a favorite spot after the show floor closes for the day.
But don’t make every post about you! Listen to what’s being said (following that hashtag) and be generous with retweets, likes and shares of other people’s posts. Offer to be your audience’s eyes and ears at the show (i.e. “Follow us for updates on what’s hot at #ABCexpo”) and curate great ideas and tips.
During the Show
Trade shows are a visual smorgasbord. So take advantage of that by posting photos of not only your booth and people interacting with your products, but also other activities around the show floor. Film videos of attendees who are enthusiastic about their experience with your company (with their permission of course). And don’t forget photos or videos of any team members who are presenting educational sessions.
And speaking of photos … why not sponsor some type of contest that invites people to post selfies from your booth or interacting with your product?
However, in keeping with the “it’s not all about you” concept, also share things overheard in sessions or from attendees. Reply to or retweet their posts, too. Be sure to use their Twitter handle (for example, @ImageSpecialist) so they see you’ve been talking about them … in a good way.
After the Show
Post a summary of the overall show experience – including photos and/or videos – in your blog, as well as in the various social media platforms. If you had presenters at the event, post their session slides on SlideShare (which is now affiliated with LinkedIn).
Follow and retweet people you meet at the show. Make connections with them on LinkedIn.
Repurpose whenever possible. If you write a blog post, pull out snippets to tweet or share on Facebook. Grab stills from your videos to post on Pinterest or Instagram. And provide those testimonial videos for sales reps to use in their sales calls (with proper permissions, of course).
And a Few More Tips …
Don’t get stressed out and forget to post in the days leading up to the show or while you’re there. Use a service like HootSuite, TweetDeck or others to pre-schedule tweets and posts. You can also use these services to filter and monitor other people’s posts, and even keep an eye on what’s being said about you.
Remember to keep your tweets short to make it easy for people to retweet you. (Short Twitter handles help here, too!) One great option is to use the “quote” function so you can add your own note onto the author’s original post without sacrificing characters.
And be sure that you have guidelines for your team on what is and is not allowed for postings. There’s nothing worse than an inaccurate or inappropriate post going viral … that’s NOT what your brand needs!
Remember: Trade shows + Social Media = Smart Marketing (and yes, you can tweet me on that!)
With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.