With the rise of digital advertising and other online marketing tactics, exhibiting at a trade show event or conference can feel like an outdated practice. Though not as prevalent today as other forms of marketing may be, trade show marketing remains one of the best ways to connect with customers and make a lasting impression on a target audience. Social media, on the other hand, has soared to the top of marketing. There are literally billions of social media users across the globe with one new user every 10 seconds. Statistics show that roughly 91 percent of retailers have at least two social media accounts and 81 percent of small and medium businesses use a social media platform. Integrating social media marketing into your next event is a great way to increase your presence and maximize your trade show results.
Here are 10 creative ways to leverage social media before, during and after your event:
Let people know you’ll be exhibiting. Weeks before the trade show is scheduled, start posting announcements on all of your social media channels. Let your followers know what the name of the event is, when it starts and where to find you on trade show day. Reach out to your connections as well, including those on LinkedIn, to invite them to visit your booth.
Use the hashtag. Most events and conferences use their own official hashtag for tweeting and sharing posts on Facebook and Instagram. Find out what the official hashtag of your trade show event is and use it in every post that is relevant to the show leading up to, during and even after the event. You can also use this hashtag to search for prospects and other exhibitors, “like” their posts and invite them to your booth.
Create custom graphics. Prepare shareable content ahead of time by creating custom graphics, marketing materials and videos to post on social media. You can share these items before the event to raise awareness and during the event to engage with your followers. Pro tip: Use the same graphics you created for social media to create eye-catching trade show displays for your booth.
Tease new products. If you plan on launching a new product or service or have a special announcement to make, you can use social media in the weeks leading up to the show to build the hype around not just your new product but the event as well. You can do this by recording teaser videos or asking your followers to guess what the product may be. Use the official hashtag to further increase the anticipation for the event.
Post regularly. Remember to post and post often. Post about everything, from your interactions with attendees at the show and important information about your booth to giveaway announcements, speaking times and more. Use the official event hashtag with each post. If you think you’ll be too busy to post during the event, you can schedule posts ahead of time.
Go live. Share your trade show experience with everyone in your social media network by live-tweeting or using Facebook Live or Instagram Live. Your followers will be able to go behind-the-scenes with you during the event and have conversations with others who are following along. These platforms also allow your followers to interact with you and ask you questions as you broadcast live. If you are speaking at the event, have someone stream it live or record a video to share with your followers later.
Share photos. Make sure to take plenty of photos, selfies and video during the event so you can post them throughout the day and even after the show is over to increase engagement. Try to capture “candid” moments between your sales reps and your visitors and avoid photos that seem staged. Remember to use the event hashtag when you post photos and video so that everyone who is following along with the event via social media can see your content, too.
Post recaps. Work doesn’t stop when the trade show ends. After the event, post recaps and photos of your favorite moments from the show. Write a blog post recapping the event or a blog compiling all of the questions your visitors asked you during the show along with answers to those questions. Share that on your social media channels as well.
Share trade show materials. If you gave a presentation, led a product demonstration or hosted a Q&A session with your attendees, you can share them with your followers via social media. Share YouTube video clips from the Q&A, a PDF of the PowerPoint slides from your presentation and other graphics you used during the trade show.
Connect and follow up with leads. Don’t forget to promptly follow up with your leads after the show. The Harvard Business Review found that leads were seven times as likely to convert into prospects when they received a follow-up within an hour. Go through all of the business cards and emails you acquired during the show to connect with your leads on LinkedIn and other social media channels. Then, follow up with those leads by sending them a personalized message thanking them for visiting your booth and inviting them to learn more about your business and its offerings. Social media is also a useful tool for researching your new leads. Before sending them a message or email, check out their LinkedIn page to learn more about your lead and come up with conversation starters.
Trade shows are a big investment—they require a lot of time, energy and money—so it’s important to make the most of them if you want to see a good return. By integrating your trade show marketing strategy with these social media marketing tips, you’ll be able to engage with your customers, connect with new leads and other exhibitors in your industry and set yourself apart from the competition. Good luck!