Circa 1996, businesses knew that they needed a website, but couldn’t really figure out its value. By 2006, they got it. The same parallel can be drawn with the recent ubiquity of social media. Given its revolutionary and chaotic nature, there’s no way to really grasp hold of and control it. There are, however, strategic methods in which to harness its power to strengthen client relationships, acquire new business and augment your ROI. One of the most popular and effective platforms where a business can leverage its social media efforts is at a trade show. Here are ten tried and true ways to engage in and monetize this new media marketing concept [Source: Bartizan Event Registration and Lead Retrieval - http://www.bartizan.com/blog/?p=355]
- Deals matter most to your online community, and this is what gets shared more often than anything else. Offer exclusive contests, deals and/or freebies to those who attend the trade show and stop by your booth.
- Tag everything. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. Using your strongest keywords, tag all of your content with them including blog posts, photo captions, press releases, directory listings and all company pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
- “Vlog” your event to reach those who are unable to attend, and broadcast video updates during the event on your YouTube channel. Next to Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine. You can even add the YouTube channel to your Facebook page to syndicate content.
- Encourage visitors to share content by adding the “Like” button on your event’s website. Also add this to session descriptions, speaker profiles, blog posts, videos, pictures, etc.
- Recruit other exhibitors, sponsors and attendees by adding your event to LinkedIn Events, and be sure to use keyword-rich content. This will enable your event to rank high in Google’s search results for your event name and its keywords.
- Search for and answer industry-related LinkedIn questions that you and/or members of your company can accurately answer. You can also set up an RSS feed for specific categories to go to Google Reader. When responding, be sure to include a link back to your website.
- Create a unique event hashtag for Twitter. This is an instrumental tool in building your audience before, during and after the event. Use the hashtag every time you tweet to help other attendees and exhibitors find you.
- Keep your tweets short so they can easily be re-tweeted. This will allow followers to add hashtags and short comments without exceeding the 140-character limit. For the same reason, be sure to keep your Twitter name short, too.
- Improve the attendee experience at your show by tweeting unplanned schedule changes, reminders and notifications.
- Add QR codes to marketing material (or virtually any material you want). These can be linked to online information to engage Smartphone users. The sky’s the limit with the level of creativity you can use with this new medium.
Leveraging social media in conjunction with a trade show will not only build a stronger relationship with the show attendees, but can extend the marketing reach to all people who are involved in the industry that the trade show represents. The most noteworthy facet of this rising force is that contrary to popular belief, social media shouldn’t be looked at as merely a two-way street. Instead, think of it as a diagram in which every point can connect to another point, and there are millions of these points. It takes word-of-mouth marketing to a whole new level – one that would have been unfathomable ten years ago. Social media is here to stay now, and the organizations that learn how to tap into this gold mine will have a distinct advantage.