You might initially think that trade shows and social media are opposites. One’s an old-fashioned, feet-on-the-floor physical meet and greet, while the other is all about connecting online. But at second glance, you’re likely to see they both have the common goals of networking, relationship building and creating buzz.
Social media can and should be used as a complementary tool to your trade show efforts. It can go a long way, in fact, in extending your reach both to actual show attendees and to those who aren’t there but would like to be kept in the loop. Used effectively, it can attract more people to your booth and incite conversation that extends far beyond the dates of the event.
Here are a few easy ways to support your trade show investment with social media:
1. Get the word out. Use your blog or social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook to let people know you’ll be at the event and to hint at big announcements you’ll be making. If you’re sponsoring an event at the show, create an “event” page on Facebook or LinkedIn so people can “sign up” in advance and see others who plan to be there, too. If you’re on Google+, consider organizing a pre-show Google Hangout and offer some “draw” to attendees who join the videoconference.
2. Offer special promotions and insights to social media followers. Include the show’s hashtag on tweets and make special offers – such as a promotional item that’s being given away to those who come by your booth in the next hour. Have something fun going on at your booth, or did a tech “rock star” just stop by? Have a “big thought” regarding a presentation? Post about it on all your social media platforms and incite followers to share the info with their networks, too. Including the show’s hashtag in tweets and in posts on all your platforms is a vital way to engage your business in the bigger conversation about what’s going on at the event. (Another tip: Assuming you’ve collected their contact information, you can immediately socially engage a visitor who has come by your booth by sending a personalized “nice to meet you” tweet, post or direct message, or LinkedIn “Join my Network” invitation.)
3. Make things easy with a QR code. QR codes are a great way to make it easy for those on the showroom floor to connect with you online. There’s no need for a pen or paper or business card – they simply point their smart phones and click. QR codes can take attendees directly to your Twitter feed, your website, blog or a custom app. There are also lots of services out there for creating them. Two to check out: Kaywa and GOQR.me.
4. Create compelling content on the show floor. Interview customers or experts who are at your booth on camera and then create web-based video for your blog or website later (since this blog’s inception, we’ve talked about the strong appeal of video for driving traffic and boosting SEO). Even easier, consider taking selfies on the floor for posting. Snap a camera phone image of you with the keynote speaker or other recognizable industry personality and post it immediately to social media. Images and video get much more attention over text alone!
5. Provide a round up. Use your blog to provide a personalized perspective on the event afterward. What did you perceive to be the big takeaways from the show? What trends were all the buzz? Then use social media and email marketing to let people know the blog is up. Be sure to invite other attendees to share their thoughts in the comments section. (Case in point: Our own Kathy Cabrera shared her experiences at the Digital Summit 2014 event on our blog and tweeted to several key speakers that they made her event recap. Those tweets were favorited and shared by those speakers to their own networks and followers!)
In many ways, trade shows are one of the last big holdouts of traditional PR and marketing. They’re still considered to be integral within many industries for establishing a presence, continuing your education and networking with others on a personal, face-to-face basis. Use social media to get more bang for your trade show buck by promoting your presence and by establishing an ongoing virtual connection with those attendees you meet on the floor.
Do you currently use social media to bolster your trade show presence? If so, tell us how.