Social Media Strategy for Trade Shows

Attending a trade show is a huge investment for any business, however it can be one of the most valuable marketing opportunities around. All companies face the challenge of creating an impression so people remember them and not their competitors. A successful social media strategy can help you make that lasting impression and could be the difference in an attendee stopping at your booth or walking past to your competition.

It is essential to learn how to use social media to get the most out of attending your next trade show. Below I’ll explain what you should do prior, during, and after the show.

Prior to Event

The weeks leading up to the event are extremely important to attract attention and even new customers who might not be aware you are attending. Three things you will need are a company Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin page; if you don’t have one or all create them ASAP! After your pages are set up follow these tips in the weeks leading up to the event:

  • Grow your following as much as possible. Join groups and pages on Facebook and Linkedin associated with the event you will be attending; participate in discussions and make your presence known. Find the account of the event you are attending on Twitter and follow the followers of that account. Try running a Facebook Ad campaign targeting the demographic that will be attending the trade show.
  • Start a Facebook event and Linkedin group for your company. This will allow you to post updates, give attendees a chance to network, and attract people who might not be aware of your company’s presence at the trade show.
  • Create a venue on foursquare. Title the venue with your booth number so attendees can easily check in. Offering an incentive to check in is a good way to increase participation. To add a new venue: https://foursquare.com/add_venue
  • Establish a Twitter hashtag and encourage users to tweet in advance. Create a memorable hashtag for your followers to use and encourage them by tweeting in the weeks prior to the event.  Also find out what the hashtag for the event is, participate in chats, and engage users who are tweeting with that hashtag. To find an event’s hashtag simply visit their website or contact them directly.
  • Pre-schedule tweets. Take the time to pre-schedule a few tweets in case you get sidetracked and cannot log on your Twitter account. Try checking the agenda for your event and schedule tweets around the appropriate times you will be at your booth.  I recommend using Hootsuite.com or Tweetdeck.com to schedule tweets.
  • Create a blog post. Write a blog post to announce your company’s attendance at the event, booth number, reasons why they should visit your booth, and any new products or contests you will be promoting.
  • Brainstorm an offer. Think of a few offers and incentives to promote on your social media channels to be used during the event. A few ideas would be entering guests who “Like” or follow you in a drawing to win a prize or giving out a gift to guests who come to your booth at a certain time you specify.
  • Build a Buzz. Post some teasers to give attendees an idea of some of the promotions and contests you will be running. Encourage users to check your social media pages to stay informed.

During the event

It’s showtime, event day is finally here! Time to engage your attendees and crush your competition. Follow these tips to stand out amongst your competitors:

  • Be active on Twitter. Start a twitter chat if you have established a hashtag. Have a few questions ready to ask and be ready to respond to any users. If you have not established your own hashtag, search for the trade show’s hashtag and join in on the conversation.
  • Promote your offers. Tweet and post to Facebook the offers you thought of in the previous weeks. An example of a tweet would be: “The first 50 people at our booth #1234 in the next hour will receive a prize! #eventname.” You can also give out small promotional cards with a saying such as; “Like us on Facebook and you’ll be entered to win a (insert prize)!” Include a link to your Facebook page and QR code for guests to easily scan.
  • Update pages and groups. Be sure to post any updates to your social media pages to keep attendees up to date on your company’s activities throughout the duration of the event.
  • Take videos and photos. Make sure you are taking photos and videos along the way posting to your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube channels. Snap photos of any winners of the contests you offered, and try filming a video of visitors participating in any activities at your booth.

After Event

The event is over, time to get back to the daily grind and engage all the new leads you have from your social media campaign.

  • Recap. Recap the event posting a review on your blog with photos and links to any videos taken. Share this blog post on your social media channels.
  • Follow up.  Take time to follow up with new followers you’ve gained, and thank any attendees for their participation in your contests. Be sure to post any winners of the contests if you haven’t done so already.
  • Evaluate.  Take a look at how much your social following has grown and keep track of new friends and followers. Use this data to see how many new customers were generated through your social media campaign. Compile any questions or comments received by these new followers to be used in future blog posts.

There you have it; everything you need to know to create and execute a flawless social media strategy for your next trade show!

Have you utilized social media at a trade show before? Feel free to share any success stories or challenges you faced. Post below or Tweet us @icsfdc,
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