Remember the good old days when social media was just for playing Farmville and connecting with friends? MySpace was still popular and Facebook wasn’t the giant it is now, but all of that has quickly changed. Social media has rapidly become the thread that pulls together strategic marketing campaigns the world over. A properly done marketing campaign seamlessly weaves together social media, PR and SEO, but because 78% of people trust peer recommendations over advertisements, a poorly planned social media marketing (SMM) campaign can quickly kill the marketing you do for trade shows. So the question arises, how can you better use social media to market your business at trade shows?
Step #1. Understand the primary reason your company is exhibiting at the trade show. What are your goals?
- In-show transactions
- Brand recognition
- New product/service launch
- Engaging with customers
Understanding what your company’s goal is for attending an event is the first step in building a killer marketing campaign that will be both useful and effective for your company. Knowing this bit information helps you determine which social media strategies will help you define and achieve your goals.
Step #2. Keeping your goals in mind, develop a social media strategy for the event. What are some of the main social media vehicles that are used to drive your SMM campaign?
- Company Blog
- Press Releases
Decide which social media vehicles you want to use and create a well thought out social media strategy. Pre-event social media should be used to connect, listen, engage and analyze what connections, event sponsors and attendees are saying about the event and your company.
Step #3. Utilize Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn before, during and after the event. What are some strategies that can be used to achieve your goals via social media?
- Invite company contacts to see you at the show
- Search for and connect with people you want to meet at the event
- Introduce and connect with trade show sponsors and attendees
- Introduce your company, sales team and tradeshow information to sponsors and attendees you have connected with
- Join and participate in industry relevant groups on LinkedIn
- Join and contribute to discussions that are event specific on LinkedIn
- Encourage interaction on all social media platforms
- Ask the community’s opinion on an industry relevant topic
- Post pictures of your booth, your team and booth visitors on Facebook and Twitter
- Upload videos of customer interaction on Facebook and Twitter
- Create and upload a pre-show interview with your company’s CEO
- Create a branded and unique hashtag for your company and booth on Twitter
- Organize a Tweet-up at the event
- Schedule your tweets and posts
- Tweet about the event’s success, people you’ve met, and things you like at the show
Step #4. Utilize your company blog, Blogger or Tumblr accounts to promote the event to your target audience. What are strategies that can be used to achieve your goals through a blog?
- Write blog posts before the event about event preparation, event information, and company plans for the event
- Obtain quotes from booth visitors to use in an post-event blog post
- Write blog posts after the event about your company’s exhibit, consumer reactions, and your company’s event experience
- Ask select (and qualified) booth visitors to guest blog on your company blog
- Write success stories about the leads you obtained from the event
- Video interview booth visitors and feature and tag them on your company blog
Step #5. Utilize collateral, QR codes, and giveaways to help promote your company at an event. What extras can be used to achieve your goals in connection with social media?
- Print out plenty of collateral material, flyers, and brochures for the event
- Print out plenty of business cards for the event for networking purposes
- Print out QR codes that enable attendees to like you on Facebook, go to a specific service you provide, or follow you on Twitter.
- Send out a press release announcing the event utilizing proper keywords and links to relevant content
- Have several different branded giveaways for attendees (USB drives, mugs, pens, etc.)
- Create a contest that can be announced on your social media channels to create a buzz at the event and drive more people to your booth
Which social media strategies did and didn’t work for you?
We’d love to hear about which social media tradeshow marketing strategies and tactics did or didn’t work for your company. We’re also interested to hear about your company’s SMM strategy and tactics which aren’t on this list – especially the unconventional ones! Feel free to comment with your insight!