How To Win At Trade Shows (Yes, It Involves Social Media)

Avatar

Lauren Durfy

Tradeshow season is well underway. There are numerous articles designed to help you manage your tradeshow from a planning to onsight execution perspective, but one often neglected and impactful strategy is leveraging social media.

Social media can help to offset the often expensive and resource intensive investment. There are many organizations who, by the end of the trade show, feel frustrated by lack of press coverage, signage at the event and/or even foot traffic. Social media can help counter these potential pitfalls by providing companies with a megaphone to help generate additional awareness, engagement and lead generation.

To help you generate the most from a trade show we’ve covered the pre, during and post-show social media strategies your organization should be leveraging.

Goal Setting

As with any other marketing initiative success or failure often lies in the planning stage. Setting clear trade show goals, metrics and a detailed plan to achieve them is essential for success.

What are your goals? Foot traffic to your tradeshow booth, number of qualified meetings, or number of qualified prospects visiting your booth. Then determine how social media can help to attain these metrics. Goal setting is a key first step needed to align the rest of the planning.

Choosing Social Mediums

You have your goals, but which social mediums should you leverage?

Twitter

This is the go-to social medium because of its sense of immediacy and quick updating feed. Twitter is best used before and during a trade show to send quick reminders, comments on event highlights, and share live photos. Anything that is timely and contains “bite-sized” pieces of information.

Learn how PostBeyond leveraged our platform and Twitter during the EyeForTravel trade show to help promote our brand and travel traffic to our booth.

LinkedIn

Because of LinkedIn’s professional networking bent, it is most useful pre and post-event. Joining related groups and connecting with those who will be in attendance provides an easy low friction way to warm up cold relationships. LinkedIn is also great for post-show networking as it allows brands and sales reps to easily re-connect with those who they engaged with during the trade show and creates an avenue for post-event nurturing.

Watch this webinar and learn how Brandy Wilson, Manager, Global Marketing and Communications at BCD travel worked with her sales team to effectively leverage LinkedIn during and after a trade show to help generate leads.

Facebook

Unlike Twitter, Facebook allows for longer posts and has a slower updating feed allowing for longer more in-depth posts. Facebook is great for sharing multiple photos (albums), daily event recaps, or even hosting Facebook Live events at your booth.

Instagram

Instagram is all about the visual and depending on which trade show you’re at there might be a lot of interesting sights. Showcasing your booth, live product demos, short event videos all help gain attention and draw people in. Leveraging IGTV and Instagram stories help give an authentic insider view. Couple that with location tagging and event hashtags to help draw in attendees scrolling through their ‘explore’ feed.

Banner preview of PostBeyond social media cheat sheet

Designate a Social Media Leader

Too many cooks in the kitchen can be worse than not leveraging social at all. Having a lot of people post different (or multiple) messages on the same channel can cause confusion and frustration for followers. There needs to be alignment between the field marketing team and home base. Designating a social media leader to lead the charge will help focus the teams.

In addition to the management of the branded channels, those in attendance (sales professionals, speakers, etc.) should also be leveraging their personal social media channels to help proliferate the messages and add an extra level of authenticity, excitement, and personality to your organization and booth.

Event Hashtags and Information

Before the trade show even begins, start following the show’s hashtag(s) and monitor what is trending. Find and communicate all pertinent information (dates, location, booth numbers, those attending, speaking slots, etc.) both internally and externally. It is also important to decide if there will be any traffic generating activities likes product launches, contests, prizes, etc. and roping in all the key stakeholders.

Pre-Promotion

Start promoting at least 2-3 weeks in advance to help generate excitement and sales professional set up onsite meetings.

Source Relevant Content

As mentioned above, sharing important information and sharing campaigns is essential for generating traffic and interest. As with any marketing campaign, collateral will be needed. Make sure all branded content has been designed and tested (if it’s interactive). In addition, find relevant third-party content that can be shared on feeds to help generate interest and conversations.

Queue Posts

Trade shows are busy! Mingling and managing the booth can take up a lot of time. If you are also in charge of continuously updating feeds, consider queuing important posts. Twitter alerts before speaking slots, giveaway announcements or even sharing relevant articles can all be queued beforehand. Doing this will help make sure posts are more consistent and continue to generate engagement.

Social Listening

Social listening during trade shows and conferences is a great way to leverage trending topics to increase foot traffic and social engagement. Monitor social media for trending topics surrounding the tradeshows.

Join Social Conversations

Social listening is a great first step, but joining the conversations is where the advantages are. Jump in on trending event topics, add your opinion on panel discussions, ask thought leaders engaging questions, share photos and tag other brands. Create a more entertaining and engaging social feed to help draw attention to your booth.

Live Tweeting

The best part of social media is the immediacy. Add authenticity by live Tweeting and sharing event photos. This can draw attendees to your booth or capture the attention of your followers you may not have been able to attend. It also allows you to leverage the reach of the event hashtag to reach a new and (hopefully) very relevant audience.

Leverage Employees

Messages from a branded channel can only reach so far. Leveraging the social networks of employees can help trade show social media messages reach event future. Adding photos, videos and recaps to your employee advocacy platform gives employees an updated view of the conference and allows them to easily share event highlights with their networks. Sending event update emails to employees can also help to spread social media messages with employees.

Your sales team should be actively promoting the conference on their social channels and driving warm leads to the booth. Marketing members should be helping to showcase the event, booth and marketing materials on their channels. If the event has a certain theme, such as a tech event, leverage your Dev team members as they will most likely be connected to the most qualified audience. In addition to driving leads, trade shows can be a great place to find top talent.

Social Interaction Follow-Up

LinkedIn is an effective social network for following up with potential customers you met at a tradeshow.

Send an InMail to trade show prospects and/or connect with thought leaders your team engaged with during the conference. Being a first-degree connection now allows your branded and thought leadership posts to reach them directly and helps to nurture potential prospects.

Sales reps should be connecting and following up with leads on LinkedIn within 0-5 days of the trade show. It is best to connect as soon as possible while the interaction with you, your booth, and your brand are still fresh in their mind.

Reach out and personalized LinkedIn invite. Mention the trade shows, provide a one sentence recap on anything that was discussed, and offer to send some related materials (case studies, research, etc.) via email or if they were highly engaged a quick follow-up call. When following up on trade show leads time is of the essence and LinkedIn provides an easier, low friction approach to help continue to warm the relationship.

Post Event Recaps

Use social media (YouTube and Facebook are a great choice) as a place to recap all of the event highlights. This can help to drive traffic and can even be repurposed as a trailer/teaser if your organization decides to participate the following year.

Leveraging social media is a cost-effective and powerful way to get the most out of your trade show investment, but it needs to be planned carefully. Once all the pre, during and post-event social media pillar are in place driving traffic and engagement should be a breeze.

Subscribe to our blog and have the latest in social media marketing delivered straight to your inbox.

Ready to get started with employee advocacy?

Request Demo