Industry specific tradeshows have always provided businesses, both large and small, with the opportunity to meet with clients face to face and establish new sales leads. However, they have been irrevocably changed following the proliferation of social media, taking them into the virtual domain as well as the physical.
With companies tweeting images and posting updates on Facebook, they are able to engage exhibition goers in new and creative ways while promoting their brand. In addition, by advertising their presence at reputable and well attended tradeshows, they are establishing themselves as a trusted name within their industry.
But how can companies make best use of this invaluable online resource while running their stand and engaging with visitors?
Preparation And Planning
In the modern world, it is widely accepted that if your organisation doesn’t have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed or a decent website then it doesn’t exist. If your business does not have a Facebook profile or a Twitter account then you should set them up as a matter of priority. Once you have, begin tweeting about the event as soon as possible and posting details on Facebook. In regards to Twitter, it is likely there will be several hash tags attached to the event, so be sure to use these to draw attention to your tweets.
As you draw up a strategy for the exhibition, draw up a plan for managing your social media at the event. How often will you post updates? Will you be having online competitions for event goers? In addition, use LinkedIn to compile a list of possible companies and individuals you would like to network with at the event, possibly even pencilling in meetings ahead of time.
Quality Over Quantity
While at the event be sure to keep your tweets relevant and interesting. Don’t feel as though you have to post every little thing which happens, as this will quickly become tedious to your followers. Try to promote certain seminars and product demonstrations via your Twitter feed. Also, if you are making use of pop up stands, be sure to include your Twitter user name in the design so exhibition goers can find and follow you in real time. With the right tweets you can create a buzz about your presence and hopefully draw more traffic to your exhibition display.
However, always remember that though social media can be an informal method of communication and promotion, it is still a representation of your business and as such should be managed with professionalism. Often you see stories in the media about managers and employees which have posted insensitive or inappropriate comments online and being reprimanded, so be sure to use it responsibly and effectively.
In addition to the above, your grammar must be immaculate; just because it is online doesn’t mean you have a license to use text speak. After all, nothing exudes unprofessionalism more than a misspelled tweet or update which doesn’t make sense at all.
Bring The Show To Your Followers
With social media you can take the show beyond the exhibition centre. Aside from bringing the show to a wider audience and any potential clients who could not make the event, filming any seminars, lectures or product demonstrations your company provides can be great for promoting your brand after the event is over. Posting these videos on YouTube helps to make them as accessible as possible, helping your company come across as proactive, productive and proficient with modern technology.
Finally, though you have packed up your exhibition stands and cleared your display, no matter how successful the event was, do not be complacent. Social media really comes into its own when it comes to following up any leads and staying in touch with customers and other companies you met at the show.
Mark is a business consultant working for a well known advertising firm in Bristol. He occasionally writes articles for his blog on tips and tricks in the offline marketing world.