More than 75% of event marketers are using social media to promote their events. Combine that with the fact that people check their social media more than 15 times per day, to get more people into your booth space your marketing strategy MUST include social media. Continue reading to learn about six of the top social media strategy tips you need to implement right now for your next trade show.
1 – Create Company Accounts
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies haven’t created separate corporate accounts on social media. This is the first step to a successful social media marketing strategy, but also the most important. No matter how small your business, you need to create an online presence for your brand.
Your company doesn’t have to be on every platform, nor should it. For any social media strategy to work, your company only has to be on the platforms that your target audiences are using. Use your company’s target demographics and psychographics to determine which social sites are best. You may only need to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If your company is highly visual or experiential, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube are great platforms for your company.
Pro Tip: When developing any social strategy, also think about your company’s capabilities. For example, if you only have a team of one for social media, you may want to limit yourself to just a couple platforms. Stretch yourself too thin and your content will suffer.
After you’ve created your company accounts, make sure all the branding is consistent and develop a Brand Voice. Use your company’s logo as the profile pictures and create company-specific usernames (handles) so that people can easily find and follow your company, no matter the platform. Use consistent language in your posts, along with the content you post, to match the style of your culture, company, and target audience.
Finally, invite all your current and prospective customers to Like and Follow your company’s accounts. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Add “Follow Us” buttons to all your employees’ email signatures and in any company email newsletters. The only way for any social media strategy to work is if there are actually people there to see what you post.
Want more? Check out these 5 Insane Marketing Tips to Increase Event ROI
2 – Share Your Journey Leading Up to the Show
Once you’ve created your company social media profiles (or if you already have them), the key to a successful social media strategy that attracts visitors to your booth is creating anticipation and excitement. You need to get potential visitors excited about seeing your booth. This strategy is all about pre-show promotion.
Research the show and find out about their social media strategy – what is the event hashtag? What are the dates and launch times? What is their message? Use these to focus your company’s messages when posting about the show. ALWAYS use the show/event hashtag, as this will get you more exposure to the online community that actually cares about that specific show. Share pictures of your planning meetings, booth fabrication, presentation prep, traveling, team meetings, etc.
THINGS TO INCLUDE IN EVERY POST:
- Official show hashtag;
- Your booth number;
- Some type of visual (photo, video, promo, etc.) – posts with visual content get more engagement and reach;
- A Call-to-Action to visit your booth;
- Use the handle (username) of the event so they can share your posts
As the event date gets closer, start including countdowns in your posts – “Shipping out our display, only 2 weeks until #ShowHashtag #Boothnumber make sure to stop by!” This will create a sense of urgency and continue to build the excitement without being redundant or annoying.
David G. Flatt, Ltd.:
3 – Develop a Promotion – Then Share It!
We all know by now that visual content does better as far as engagement, reach, and impressions on social media than just plain text (we’re talking 94% more views than posts without). In addition to having a pre-event “behind-the-scenes” strategy on social media, you should also have a Promotion strategy leading up to exhibiting.
TSNN recently published an article going over three ways event managers can promote with social media. One of their main points was about the necessity of visual content that promotes your booth. Create images to attach to posts with the event name, your booth number, registration link, location, contact information, etc. Create short teaser trailers or previews of what you’ll be debuting/demonstrating at the show, presenting, or what’ll be happening in your booth. Invite people to sign up for meetings, private demos, or rsvp a seat to an in-booth presentation. Develop two-step promotions that make people visit your booth to get the discount or gift if they comment on your post.
For example, “The first 20 people to comment will be entered into a drawing for X”. Host scavenger hunts or photo contests with winners announced and prizes given in your space. Change all the cover photos on your profiles to graphics showcasing the show, your booth, and what people can expect when they visit. Continue to build that anticipation and excitement of potential visitors.
Need help creating these graphics and videos? Don’t worry! There are plenty of great, free (or low cost) design tools out there. Our favorites are Canva, Adobe Spark, Pexels (free stock photos), Spark Video, and Promo!
Then share your promotional content! One of the biggest draws to marketing using social media is it is a relatively free space for your promotions. As the event registration deadline (and the event itself) gets closer, spend a little money on Social Ads to boost your promotional content. Target your promotions and create specific and clear CTAs to entice people to act (i.e. set up a meeting, purchase tickets, etc.).
4 – Invite Current and Prospective Clients to Visit Your Booth
Social media is an interesting space in which to advertise. However, like most other marketing outlets, people won’t take any action unless you specifically tell them to. For any social media strategy to be successful at filling your next trade show booth with prospects and customers, you need to have a specific and clear Call-to-Action (CTA) on every post.
In addition to having compelling CTAs on your graphics and promotions, send actual invites to your social network. Personally invite key clients and prospects via LinkedIn and Facebook messages. Personalize your messages to each person and tell them not only why they should visit your booth, but how it can benefit them.
Use these conversations to set up meetings and get them to your booth. Reach out to the show and see if they have attendee lists. If they do, check out the attendees and reach out to ones that fit your company’s target demographic. Invite special prospects to attend the show as your guest (offer to purchase their event ticket) and then set up a time to meet with them one-on-one at the trade show. If you choose to purchase tickets for guests, make sure you set a limit – the first 10 to reply, for example. This not only saves your budget, but it creates a sense of urgency for those you’re inviting.
5 – LIVE! At the Event
The majority of your event promotion strategy on social media will be geared towards pre-event hype – generating that buzz to get people to visit your booth. But your strategy should end once the event starts. Engage with attendees, other exhibitors, and everyone that couldn’t make the show by tweeting, sharing, and posting live during the trade show. And don’t forget: use the event hashtag so that fellow exhibitors and attendees will see your posts.
Try to designate at least one person on your exhibiting team to live sharing at the show. For reminders to presentations, demos, and other events happening in your booth, schedule posts beforehand so your team doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of time. Follow the event’s social media and the hashtag to repost, retweet, and re-gram user generated content that features your exhibit (and remember to credit the original post).
For the best exposure, post video content – or even better, live videos. The algorithms for almost every social media platform are putting video and live video content first, making your videos appear at the top of your followers’ feeds. Instagram and Facebook will even send push notifications to your followers when you go live, telling them to watch your video before it ends. This gives your posts a better chance of exposure than other content shared on your company account.
Did you know: people will watch a Facebook Live video more than 3x longer than videos that aren’t live? Live video hooks views and keeps them engaged longer.
Use Instagram and Snapchat Stories to create a full experience of the event for your followers. Use Facebook Live to do interviews (have customers give product/service reviews while they’re in your booth), presentations, or show commentary. Use Snapchat to share short snippets of setup, your trade show booth staff having fun, quirky moments, and more. Use videos and posts to answer questions, share favorite quotes from attendees and presentations, and give behind-the-scenes content at the show.
6 – Recap & Connect
Your trade show social media strategy shouldn’t end with the event. Complete your exhibiting experience with a Post-Show social media strategy that aligns with the rest of your Post-Show follow up strategy.
Invite new contacts and leads to like/follow you on social media when sending your follow up messages. This works especially well for any cold to lukewarm leads gained at the show. They can follow you on social and get updates without really having to commit to anything yet (like signing up for your email newsletter or scheduling an appointment).
Same goes for warm and hot leads! Invite them to follow you for exclusive content and deals that you only share on social media. They will learn more about your brand and will more likely engage with your content. They may even become brand ambassadors for you. This will help you grow your following and boost your reach for your next event or campaign.
Connect with new leads and contacts on LinkedIn and Facebook and message them with your follow up. Studies show that more people will not only respond, but move through the sales funnel, if they’re messaged on LinkedIn than if they were sent an email or cold call. Make sure your messages are personalized and conversational, not sales-y.
Reuse content that was shared during the show to create recap videos and blog posts. Then share on your social accounts, blog, and email newsletters for everyone that couldn’t attend the trade show. This will not only provide a nice synopsis of everything that happened, but it will make your clients and prospects that weren’t at the show feel included. You can also use edited videos and posts as material for future campaigns, posts, and messaging. This will save time and money since you’ve already produced the content.
Check out our blog post for an example of an event recap: 10th Annual B2B Expo a Huge Success!
Make sure your next trade show appearance is a success and your booth space filled with attendees by following the above 6 tips to generating a buzz using social media. Create a profile for people to follow. Build the excitement and get people to commit to seeing you with pre-show content and promotions. Engage with attendees and those that couldn’t be there by going Live. Then repurpose that content for recaps and future campaigns. And follow up with new leads using social media. Create a buzz, revel in the experience, and connect with your customers.
If you have any questions, want some tips, or have a great story or experience you want to share with us, comment!