After months of planning, organizing, designing marketing collateral, and mountain-size piles of promotional giveaways, the day has finally come. You arrive hours early to your trade show booth to set-up and organize. With minutes to spare the attendees begin to trickle in. Minutes turn into hours and before you know it, the trade show is almost over and traffic to your booth was only subpar. Sound familiar? The reason might be your online presence. Most attendees have an idea of the booths and industry professionals they want to visit ahead of time and meet prior to check-in. That is why it is important to keep them informed days and weeks before shows. Utilizing social media platforms can be an efficient way to do just that – plus it’s free!
As of January 2019, there was a total worldwide population of 7.7 billion. Of that number, 4.2 billion of the total population uses the internet. Of that number, 3.397 billion internet users are active on social media and on average, have 5.54 social media accounts they access multiple times a day, making social media campaigns an effective way to promote your business during a trade show.
Benefits of social media for trade shows
Planning ahead with social media can drive traffic to your booth by:
1. Allowing you to market toward a mass audience with minimal resources
2. Offering attendees a brief overview of what to expect
3. Tailoring advertising for your booth
4. Generating excitement (preview of new products, new demos, etc.)
5. Providing your booth location, easing the pain of searching
In this post, we will discuss how to use social media to boost traffic to your booth before, during and after trade shows.
Before the show
1. Choose social mediums to leverage. While there are dozens of platforms to pick from, I suggest selecting five or less as more may become overwhelming. The best social media sites for businesses include LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
2. Use the show hashtag often and if possible, create a custom hashtag. Using relevant hashtags will increase engagement and interest on your posts while also increasing the number of views. This is especially true on Instagram accounts.
3. Build excitement by uploading behind the scenes and sneak-peek content of your exhibit, along with reminders of your booth number.
4. Pre-schedule most of your social posts (with the exception of Twitter) to minimize stress. You will be working with visitors to your booth and the last thing you want to worry about is configuring posts for social media. There are plenty of scheduling tools to choose from and many offer a free base plan, like Hootsuite for example.
5. Join social conversations. While it’s possible to pre-schedule posts, it’s impossible to pre-schedule conversations; therefore, connecting with other attendees online before the big day is highly recommended.
6. Communicate your plan with your team and encourage them to participate. Your sales team, for example, are in front of customers on social media more than the company’s account would be. By encouraging them to re-share the company’s posts you are increasing the likelihood that the target audience views your marketing efforts.
During the show
1. Live tweet and stream videos of the show. This is an excellent method for showcasing real-time content, drawing traffic to your booth and sparking conversation. However, keeping content flowing throughout the duration of the show can be a challenge. While there should be a social media leader to maximize content flow, encourage staff members to lookout for potential content opportunities and virtually connect with attendees.
2. Draw attention with a contest. Social media contests will not only offer a massive boost to social media channels, but also increase engagement in a cost-effective way. In addition to an increased following, contests are great sources of consumer data for future communications, such as email marketing. Finally, it makes the customers do the marketing for you. Interested customers will advertise on their personal accounts, spreading awareness for the brand. Huge win!
3. Make social connections with visitors. Attendees shouldn’t be the only ones leaving with business cards. Making social connections with visitors is crucial to expanding your audience. Exhibitors should strive to end every show with an expansive list of contacts that can be used toward future marketing communications.
After the show
1. Post an event recap. Remind attendees of all the fun they had with a video reel of highlights from the show. Recommended platform: YouTube.
2. Social interaction follow-up. This is your opportunity to re-connect with leads. The sales team should follow-up within a week after the trade show while you and your brand are still fresh in their mind. Recommended platform: LinkedIn
3. Write a blog post. Tie together pre-show, show floor, and post-show activities in a blog post. Blog posts are useful for continuing conversations with your audience and receiving feedback. Recommended platform: Cross-promote on all active channels
Considering the facts, it’s not a surprise that social media is one of the top promotional tools used by business professionals. With its large user base and cost-effective platforms, your brand can easily reach a mass audience quickly and efficiently. Knowing it’s importance, EDE provides resources to assist our customers in continually improving their social media plan and execution
Does your company utilize social media to drive traffic at large-scale events? Let us know in the comments below.