Tradeshow-SocialMedia.jpgIntegrate social media into all three phases of your trade show strategy.

At trade shows, there are hundreds of other companies competing for your audience’s attention.  You hand out flyers, talk about your products & services, and raffle off promotional items. But are you utilizing social media to your full potential?

 77% of event marketers use social media to promote before and during their event and 61% use it after their event (Event Track Study)

 Social media can take your trade show experience up to the next level. It can be used to bring awareness that you will be at the show, during it to drive foot traffic to your booth, and after the show to continue educating your prospects on your company. By integrating social media into all three phases of the trade show strategy, your company can get the most out of the experience.

 Before the Show

Amp up your audience before the trade show through your social media accounts. For the people who already follow your accounts, it gives them a sneak peek of all the exciting things happening at your booth. You can post previews of marketing materials, giveaway items, and new products or services you will be launching at the show. These tidbits of information get people excited about what you are bringing and give them an incentive to come visit your booth. Other pre-show social media content suggestions are:

  • Introduce who will be representing your company at the show
  • Reach out to connections you would like to personally invite to visit your booth
  • Promote your event sponsorship if you are supporting a certain event or speaker
  • Use the show’s official hashtag

 This beginning phase is also the time to outline what you want to accomplish at the trade show. Goals are one way to determine if your trade show experience was successful. When you are defining your goals remember not to create too many. You want them simple and easy to measure. Your trade show goals could be to increase your exposure on social media through hashtags, build your marketing list (newsletters, emails, etc.) or to generate more profile traction to gain new followers.

During the Show

Interacting with booth visitors during the trade show on social media gives your audience another level of brand interaction. Through your timely posts your company can promote your booth number, location and what the booth looks like to make it recognizable to guests. Content ideas for during the show can include:

  • Videos featuring product demonstrations
  • Photos with booth visitors
  • After hours photos
  • Behind the scenes of setting up
  • Share best of notes, quotes or stats from the educational sessions you attend

 Key motivators for your content is to make people who are not in attendance to feel connected to the show and continue to engage the people who are there. You want to get involved in topics that attendees are talking about online. It is important to remember that you need to be a promoter of industry knowledge ontop of a promoter for your individual business. Shy away from only promoting your booth number and giveaways by instead sharing valuable content from you and other show vendors. In addition to posting, respond and begin conversations. These chances give you the opportunity to build relationships and talk about what you know best, your company.

If you have been to a trade show you understand how hectic they can be. Constant streams of people keep you on your toes. Even though you have put the time into creating a social media plan, it can be hard to put it into effect. Your team is going to get busy and social media is not going to be their main focus.

This is where a social media leader comes into play. This leader is responsible for the full-focus job of posting, engaging and monitoring all your social media channels and hashtags. They document your team doing what they do best, educating on your product or service, and share that with show attendees. Having a social media leader provides your brand with a consistent social media trade show presence.

After the Show

The communication never ends when the trade show does. Your business is always promoting and educating your audiences. Social media is an easy way to follow up and stay connected with individuals you meet at the show. Continue to engage your audience with content such as:

  • Announcing contest question answers and winners
  • “Thank you for visiting our booth” graphics
  • Blog on your experience and answer most asked questions
  • Promote future trade show appearances

Social media provides the power of a quick turnaround time for following up with prospective clients. You are able to provide valuable content right after the show, and there isn’t a lag between the show and when your follow up is received in the mail. This keeps your business fresh in the prospects mind.

 The final phase of your post-show social media is to reflect. Look back to the goals that your team created before the trade show. Did you reach your goal? What was successful? What could you improve on? Answering these questions can assist you in measuring your success and what you can adjust for future trade show strategies. Each trade show that you attend is a learning experience and there is always room for growth.

Long after the trade show booths are torn down, social media will continue to connect you with your target audiences. Practices will change and trends will evolve but the impact of social media will stay the same.

We want to hear from you: What are your favorite strategies for social media success at trade shows?

Sources:Trade Show Advisor, VIMM, Trade Show Marketing

By: Rebecca Clausen