This is the second in our Trade Show ‘how to’ features which focuses on the benefits of social media in promoting and maximising attendance at events. Jackie Kaufenberg, (Social Media Strategist), enthusiastically evaluates the combination of social media and trade show marketing as “a great way to enhance your trade show presence.” She mirrors the opinion of other experienced marketers who also understand the need for a three-phase strategy to engage with customers not only at the show itself but also before and after the event.
THE LEAD UP
Questions to ask:
- What should I do to prepare for an exhibition?
- How can I let my customers and prospective customers know we’re attending the show?
- How can I boost numbers of visitors to my exhibition stand?
In the lead up to your big event the main goal is to make people aware of your presence at the show and where they need to be to meet you. Using Social media is a cost effective and immediate way to advertise your presence and location and to build up interest and anticipation with your chosen audience.
Create an event page especially for the show and share pictures of your plans and preparations. For instance, a line drawing of your stand showing the layout, the exact location of it and what visitors can expect when they visit. Are you planning to invite any special guests? Will you be giving an informative speech? Will there be refreshments, giveaways or a place to relax? Will your company sponsor the event or will you be launching a new product or service? Check whether there is an official FB page your company can feature on.
Post a teaser video on any of the above to build anticipation.
You can also put your Facebook page on the homepage of your website so visitors can use it as a portal to access details of the event.
Create an event hashtag for Twitter based on the official show hashtag. A month or so before the exhibition date contact the event organisers for a chat about their SM strategy. Are there any opportunities for your company to piggyback so as to tap into the events vast audience? For instance; are there any key words or phrases you could include in your own campaign to align yourself with the event? To encourage others to share your hashtag develop a special promotion or incentive in which they benefit if they tweet your hashtag.
Create a landing page on your website dedicated to the exhibition. This is a standalone web page that is put together specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor ‘lands’ when they have clicked on a search engine optimised search result or an online advertisement. On this page you can integrate whichever social channels you choose so people can follow you on their preferred platform.
Write all about the show. Your plans and preparations for this and a behind the scenes glimpse of what’s going on with your business. Also include what you like about the event, who you expect to attend and highlight any special features of the show you think are beneficial.
This is also a good time to start monitoring SM platforms and those of customers to identify hot topics of interest or big concerns in the market. You can then raise these questions in your blog and aim to answer them through interaction with customers and other exhibitors at the show. Share your blog across social platforms.
Connect with specific business contacts and invite them along if they are not already attending, offering refreshments and a specific time slot to further develop the business relationship. Don’t forget to advertise your exact location; aisle and stand number.
THE BIG DAY
Questions to ask:
- How can I direct as many visitors as possible to our stand?
- How do I drive conversation with prospective customers?
- What can I do to make visitors stay for a while?
If you have been thorough in your objectives for Phase 1 and successfully created awareness with all the right people that you are attending the show and have something beneficial to offer, Phase 2 should be a doddle. A well-executed and impressive booth or display will do the rest for you. (For guidance on how to create a stand-out stand, see our blog, ‘Wow! Now that’s what I call an exhibition stand!’)
We live in a highly visual society. People love images and videos so make the most of posting plenty of these throughout the day; of your booth, visitors, special moments or funny events to help those who haven’t attended to feel like they have! Live stream snippets from the show and conscientiously monitor all SM platforms so you can quickly add your input or answer questions. There will be a lot going on so enrol one member of staff to do this for you so you can focus on face to face interaction with visitors. Remember to draw into the conversation any helpful tips or useful information for market members.
You can also schedule your basic content for the day in advance using a scheduler like Hootsuite or employ a SM agency to work on your behalf posting live and scheduled posts. Posts could include notes, quotes and stats from educational sessions and seminars and sharing user-generated content from visitors to your stand. To encourage fans and enthusiasts to take photos at your stand, why not make this into a competition offering rewards for the best photo taken?
It’s always useful to record a guest speaker, a member of staff demonstrating your product or even yourself in conversation. Sections of footage can be posted live or used in their entirety after the show as montages or Podcasts. You can video using your own mobile device but remember to check the view is unobstructed and the speaker is audible.
Always include in your display icons, web addresses, QR codes and/or calls to action to your SM Networks.
Questions to ask:
- How can I stay engaged with clients after the exhibition?
- How can I develop longstanding business relationships?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram
Sort through your list of contacts or business cards and divide into hot, warm and cold leads. Find all your hot leads on Social Media, connect and follow them. Send each a personalised message thanking them for visiting your business at the show, informing them of future events and offering incentives to maintain the contact. If you feel you are close to reaching a deal make an appointment to meet up again.
Post interesting images and videos on Instagram, also include music montages or stop motion and fast motion footage of the day’s events to make it more fun!
Give a shout out to vendors and employees and publicise any interesting conversations with market leaders or long-term customers. Repurpose the content you posted at the show and post on all social channels, including photos, videos, comments and testimonials.
Release a ‘white paper’ or an in-depth report on a specific topic raised at the show and share this on social platforms.
On Facebook, create a post-show event page to relive the day. Show pictures, recap the day’s events, thank attendees and share your feedback from visitors.
Write about the day in detail, highlighting entertaining moments, funny anecdotes and interesting facts. Thank your customers and mention event organisers. This is also a good opportunity to announce any competition winners and inform of your intention to attend a forthcoming event.
Keep an audio record of any useful speeches, demos or presentations. These can also be repurposed for use on other mediums, reused on your website or posted to SM platforms so that those who did not attend the show can listen at leisure.
Develop brand ambassadors
Carry out a quick search on all your brand terms and if anyone has mentioned your business in connection with the show, like, share or comment on these. Anyone who talks positively about your brand or company is a potential online brand ambassador and are invaluable in helping to extend your brand reach. Grow that contact by keeping the dialogue going and showing your appreciation and support of their business in return.