Social media is a great way to maximize the impact of your trade show schedule and investment. Whether you run complex trade show social media campaigns or simply use social media to boost awareness, there’s always room to learn and improve your tactics. Check out our 13 tips for social media marketing for trade shows.
Use the links below to skim this blog:
Why Use Social Media for Trade Shows?
Mastering the Basics
Before the Show
During the Show
After the Show
Why Use Social Media As Part of Your Trade Show Marketing?
Social media is a powerful tool in every marketer’s kit. Because of its instant accessibility, it can be particularly beneficial in the lead up to an event like a trade show. It can also assist with follow-up and lead gathering after the show. Some of the benefits of social media marketing for trade shows include:
- Accessing a large audience in a cost-effective way
- Setting expectations for trade show attendees
- Generating buzz and excitement for new products, demos, or experiences
- Providing logistical information like booth location, trade show hours, and more
- Harnessing “FOMO” (the fear of missing out) during the trade show
- Re-connecting with leads and attendees after the show
Mastering the Basics
Before you think about using social media marketing for trade shows, there are a few things you’ll want to get in order. Check out these tips to lay a foundation for future social success.
1. Pick Your Poison(s)
These days, there are dozens of social media platforms to choose from. While it may be tempting to post the same content on all platforms, this can dilute your messaging and cause more trouble than it’s worth.
Instead, we recommend focusing on two or three platforms where your audience spends most of their time. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are all popular choices.
2. Create a Paid Ad Plan & Budget
Paid social ads are a powerful part of social media marketing for trade shows. If you plan on running paid advertising, now is the time to:
- Discuss budgets
- Agree on demographics and any other audience characteristics
- Assemble ad content and creative
- Discuss ad goals and performance metrics
Even a small budget can make a huge difference when it comes to promoting your show attendence, so don’t be afraid to give it a try! You can boost a post on LinkedIn for as little as $350 for a 2-week stretch!
3. Build Your Presence
An organic trade show social media campaign will only work if you have an existing following. Spend some time building a foundation with visually-appealing posts about your company, educational posts, and your work to gain a following and help platform algorithms see you as an engaged user.
4. Assemble Your Team
Finally, you’ll need to develop a plan for who will post and when. If you intend to post live from the show, you’ll want to ensure that at least one employee in attendance is comfortable with the task at hand. Sending someone from your marketing team is a great way to overburden your sales or management teams who will be busy interacting with attendees.
Before the Show
Now that you’ve built a foundation for social media success, it’s time to ramp up for your upcoming trade show. Here’s how to prepare in the weeks leading up to the show.
5. Identify or Create a Hashtag
One of the best way to get new eyes on your trade show social media campaigns is to utilize a hashtag. Many events already have a hashtag of their own with an existing following. For those that don’t, you can create your own. And, don’t forget to use other relevant hashtags to increase impressions and engagement on your posts.
6. Build Excitement
As the trade show approaches, it’s time to build excitement for those planning to attend (and entice those who haven’t made plans yet). Your post content might include:
- Behind the scenes preparation
- Close-up sneak peaks of products, demos, or exhibit elements
- Reminders of booth number, dates, and times
- Schedules for any educational events or talks
Increase your posting frequency as the trade show grows closer to keep your audience engaged and excited.
7. Join the Conversation
One of the biggest mistakes companies make with social media marketing for trade shows is forgetting to be “social.” Comment on posts from fellow exhibitors. Connect with attendees to better understand their hopes for the show. And start sealing deals before the show even begins.
During the Show
Once the trade show begins, it’s all about keeping your momentum and creating as much buzz and excitement as possible. Here are our tips for social media marketing during the trade show.
8. Balance Scheduled and Live Content
The key to a successful trade show social media campaign is striking the right balance between live and pre-scheduled content.
Live content is a great way to showcase your exhibit, demos, and products in real time, but it can be challenging to support throughout the entire show. Here’s how to maximize the impact of your live content:
- Focus on photos, tweets, and “stories”
- Don’t stress on quality or creativity – just show what’s happening!
- Keep it short and sweet
- Show off interesting visuals or anything with a “wow” factor
- Tag other exhibitors and be social
Pre-scheduled is a great way to pad out your social media presence without having to be glued to your phone all weekend. Your pre-scheduled content should focus on the “meat and potatoes” of your show attendance, including any new product launches, features, or demos. Be sure to engage with any comments once the posts go live to avoid your content feeling stale.
9. Incentivize Interaction
One of the best ways to get attendees to interact with your company on social media is to incentivize with a contest or raffle (just be sure to check with the trade show on any rules or regulations). A well-run contest can:
- Increase your social media following
- Start conversations between your team and attendees
- Improve social engagement and conversions
- Collect data for future communications like email marketing
Set up your rules intelligently and you’ll have customers spreading awareness of your brand in a highly cost-effective way.
10. Utilize Your Entire Team
If you’re posting on a platform like LinkedIn where employees have individual presences, encourage employees to post content you can repost from your company account. When time is short, teamwork makes the dream work!
After the Show
After the show, take a chance to reflect, recap, and reconnect. Here are the tasks for your post-show social media to-do list.
11. Post a Trade Show Recap
Once the show is over, we recommend posting a recap that showcases any professional photography or videography of your exhibit, demos, and/or new products. Getting back in front of attendees and showing those who didn’t attend what they missed is a great way to leverage social media marketing for trade shows.
12. Create Long-Form Content
While the trade show is still fresh in your mind, brainstorm any long-form content it could inspire. Ideas include:
- A blog on the new product or feature you debuted
- An e-book on a relevant industry topic
- An online course that utilizes video or instructional content from an educational session
Aim to get the long-form content up quickly so you can utilize it as a conversation starter for leads after the show.
13. Reconnect With Leads
Perhaps the most important task of all when it comes to social media marketing for trade shows is to follow up with your leads from the show. Make sure to devise a plan and understand who is responsible for which leads and that everyone reconnects in a timely manner, whether on LinkedIn or via email/phone.