Using Social Media to Enhance Your Trade Show Marketing Plan
Social media has been in the news lately for many different reasons, none very flattering. And while some among us continue to be unabashed fans, others have begun to feel that social media is a bane pervading every aspect of our private lives. However, there is one truth that even the most cynical of social media observers cannot argue with – the world of marketing has been changed forever by its presence. More than 90% of trades show participants concur that social media is the perfect tool to generate pre-event buzz that directly leads to increased footfall at their booth, and best of all – it’s free!
As an experienced trade show exhibitor, you are already aware of the power of face-to-face marketing. Let us show you how social media can add to this exposure by helping you secure stronger relationships with existing customers, cultivate new leads, increase brand awareness, and directly impact your bottom-line through an increase in sales figures.
When is the right time to advertise on social media?
The short answer to this is ‘always’. But simply putting up ads every other week isn’t enough. You need to come up with interesting marketing strategies that will vary depending on your current social media outreach goal.
There are three distinct stages of trade show marketing over social media that need to work together in tandem to generate just the right impact:
- Pre-event buzz: This is where your strategies need to revolve around teasing your presence at a major event. Provide a sneak-peek of what you have planned, create suspense around big product reveals, or maybe even advertise any major giveaways you have planned.
- During the show: Live streaming takes the cake here. You can let your audience know what’s happening at your booth in real-time, invite people to provide feedback about their experience at your booth and engage with online comments to start captivating discussions.
- Post-show follow-up: Continue sharing any video content from the event, thank the attendees through their social media profiles, and of course, follow up on new leads through personal messaging on various platforms.
Now, let’s take a look at a few tips that can help you maximize your marketing potential through social media.
Tease Your Presence
Winter is coming! Three words are all it takes for GoT fans to start salivating at the prospect of an upcoming final season. And have you noticed how the entire twitter-verse goes into a meltdown every time the Russo brothers reveal even the tiniest detail about Avengers Endgame?
Teasing an upcoming event is the best way for you to pique your customers’ interest and keep excitement levels high among your followers. You can publish posts on every social media platform to let your followers know where you’ll be, you can also give them a sneak-peek into an upcoming product launch or share pictures of a famous guest who will be at your booth. Don’t forget to add a link with your posts so that your followers can easily register to attend the event and support you on the ground.
Create a Catchy Hashtag
You should never underestimate the power of a good hashtag! A unique, branded, condensed and creative hashtag is a must in every single media promotion over all networks. Whenever you post with your own hashtag, you should also use the event’s hashtag. That way, more people will be able to see your posts. You can also ask your followers on Instagram to directly follow your branded hashtag to get a continuous feed of all your promotions.
Promote Important Events That Feature Your Brand
In today’s world, trade shows are not just about promoting your product or putting up snazzy trade show displays. As a keynote speaker, you can crystallize your in-depth industry knowledge or harp on the special value that product lines similar to yours bring to your customer base.
You can create special promotional campaigns on social media highlighting your participation as a keynote speaker. This additional stamp of authority will only add to the interest that people already have in you and your company. If you happen to be sponsoring any events, you can highlight this on your social media platforms as well.
Invite Your Followers to a Post-Event Party
After months of never-ending work, we’re sure you feel the need to let your hair down and relax for a while. Well, you can turn this into an opportunity to mingle with your loyal customers and followers by inviting them to tag along. Arrange a post-event bash to celebrate your success and advertise the venue and other relevant details over social media.
Not only do such events provide great networking opportunities, but they also improve long-term brand recall as customers create human associations with your team that is bound to last for a very long time.
During the Event
Live Streaming & Getting Feedback
You’re most likely to participate in those events that your core customer base will be attending. However, many important prospects are unable to make it to an event due to a variety of reasons. Social media can come to the rescue here. A wide range of streaming platforms now allows you to live-stream the entire event and thus reach out to a much larger customer base than those on the event floors.
Newer platforms on the scene also allow you to create an interactive space where users can ask questions and start a conversation with your team!
Engage Followers with Pictures and Videos
A constant online presence all through the duration of the event is an absolute must. In fact, it’s a good idea to have a single member of your team dedicated to keeping your social media platforms updated. They can post pictures of visitors at your booth, have online competitions running in tandem with any on-ground raffles you may be hosting and post videos of the kind of activities that are happening in and around your booth. You can create buzz about the entire event in general by visiting interesting trade show displays and posting pictures and videos of the booth. Remember, customers at the event are also tracking the hottest places they can visit. So, once you begin to trend, you have it made.
Start a Reward for Likes Campaign
If you’ve ever scrolled through an individual’s Instagram feed, we’re sure you’ve come across #Like4Like. Well, you can class up the idea and offer visitors to your booth a freebie or a giveaway if they like your page, follow your handle or retweet a message you’ve shared. You can incentivize their efforts with cool branded merchandise or discounts and offers on your product range.
Promote Positive Feedback Instantly
This under-appreciated method is a highly effective tool to get some impartial appreciation on your feed. Ask guests who enjoy your presentation or are excited by your product or trade show display to create a quick testimonial of what they are enthused by and post it on your page.
Post-Event Follow Up
Now that your event is done and dusted, you have a mountain of leads to follow up with immediately. Again, social media can come to your rescue! Networks like LinkedIn can prove to be invaluable to companies reaching out to potential leads in a professional manner. Traditional means of follow-up like email and calls are also effective.
Pro-tip: Take note of any personal conversations that you have with promising customers during the event, such as a sporting event they may have attended, or an upcoming graduation ceremony for their child. Then remember to reference this during your communication. It is the tiniest of details that create the largest impressions.
Blog About It
Every event brings with it a treasure trove of new experiences, memories and connections. Your post-event marketing strategy must include blogging about your participation and also mentions about it in your press-releases. Remember to include what you learned from the event and how it has impacted your future outlook for the brand.
Keep the Buzz Going
Share and re-share any videos submitted by visitors to your booth. Keep these feeds going at regular intervals to encourage brand recall value and remind your followers of the fun that they had at your booth. Content that is generated by a third-party always gets you more brownie points than self-generated feeds since it adds to the authenticity of your brand.
Of course, this does not mean you do not indulge in some self-promotion. Any leftover photos or videos that weren’t shared during the event must go on display immediately. Remember to tag important attendees or star guests you hobnobbed with to add to the appeal.
Social media strategies can take various forms. While it is important to take a unique approach to stand out in a crowd, communication must flow at a brisk and constant pace so as to keep your brand constantly buzzing.