Using Social Media at Trade Shows
If you’re planning to attend an upcoming trade show, social media should be a big part of the plan. In this day and age, social media is one of the best ways to reach out to your customers and new prospects. Social networking is the number one online activity in the US, and Americans spend an average of 37 minutes per day on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. So many people use Facebook that if it were its own country, it would be the third most populous in the world, after China and India.
Social media isn’t just for connecting with family and old friends. People follow their favorite brands on social media to learn about new products, promotions and discounts, to offer feedback and get customer service or just to see some entertaining content. A whopping 67 percent of Twitter users say they are much more likely to buy from brands they follow on Twitter.
46 percent of web users say they consult social media when making a purchase, and three out of five small or medium businesses report gaining new customers due to their social media usage. Social media also drives traffic to a company’s website. Companies with over 1,000 Facebook likes receive almost 1,400 website visits per day, and companies with over 1,000 Twitter followers receive over 800 new website visitors per month.
Promoting your trade show presence on social media is a great way to get more visits to your booth or to get people excited about the show. Here are some trade show social media tips to help you get connected to your customers and prospects before, during and after the event.
Before the Trade Show
Most trade shows and other events create hashtags to promote the event on Twitter and other social media platforms. Hashtags allow Twitter users to see all of the latest posts about a single topic with one click. Be sure to find out what the event’s specific hashtag is at least two to four weeks before the trade show, and include it in all of your company’s Tweets about the event: e.g., “We’ll be at Product Innovation Boston next week! #PIBoston”
You may also want to create a hashtag specifically for your company and use it in conjunction with the trade show’s hashtag. That way, your hashtag will appear when users click on the trade show’s hashtag, and your company will be associated with the event. You can even run a contest leading up to the event by offering discounts or prizes to people who use both hashtags.
Encourage your followers to Tweet about the trade show: e.g., “Who is going to the Lakes Area Women’s Expo in Brainerd? Use hashtags #LAWExpoBrainerd and #ABCCompany to let us know!” Be sure to follow the trade show’s Twitter handle for updates about the event, and reply to other users who Tweet about the trade show.
Use social media to invite key players to visit your booth at the trade show. Send them an event invite on Facebook, Tweet at them on Twitter or send them a personalized message on LinkedIn. Examples of contacts you may want to invite include members of the press and recent leads. You may even want to host an event like a special VIP dinner or post-show happy hour and then invite your contacts through social media.
When reaching out to the press, be sure to offer them story ideas. Tell them about a new product or service you’ll be introducing at the trade show or a special guest speaker who will be appearing. It’s also a good idea to create an event on your company’s Facebook page and invite all of your current fans to visit your booth. Offer them incentives, like trade show exclusive promotions and discounts.
If you are introducing a new product or service, making a company announcement, hosting a guest speaker or special event or offering an exclusive promotion at the trade show, consider creating a teaser video before the event. You can post this video to YouTube and then share it on other social networking sites. Be sure to include your hashtag and the event’s hashtag when you share the video on Twitter.
Your teaser video doesn’t have to have a high production value. It can consist of your CEO announcing upcoming changes or a couple of employees sharing their excitement about a new product. Just remember to keep it short, make sure the lighting is sufficient and speak clearly enough so that your followers can understand what you’re saying.
Posting videos on YouTube is currently the best way to reach customers and prospects on social media. A recent survey found that more web users regularly visit YouTube than they do Facebook or Twitter. 82 percent of YouTube users visited the website in May of 2015, compared to 73 percent of Facebook users and only 36 percent of Twitter users. In 2009, Intel received 22,891 YouTube views after posting videos related to the Consumer Electronics Show.
Facebook offers a specific advantage to businesses who share videos. Statistically, Facebook’s algorithm favors videos over other types of content, so your Facebook fans are more likely to see it than a status update or link to an article about the trade show. The algorithm favors native video even higher, so it’s best to upload the video directly to Facebook instead of just sharing a link to YouTube.
Shorter videos can be shared on other social networking sites like Vine and Instagram, which are more focused on visual content. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networking websites, with an average monthly follower growth of 1.95 percent. That means that if a brand has 1,000 Instagram followers one month, it can expect to gain 19 new followers the next month.
Instagram also outperforms both Facebook and Twitter on average engagement. Engagement happens whenever a user responds to a post with a like, comment, share, re-Tweet, favorite, etc. In April of 2015, the average engagement per post on Instagram was 2.81 percent, while the average for Facebook was 0.25 percent, and Twitter only 0.21 percent.
Create a new landing page for your website that promotes the trade show. The landing page is the first page that web users see when they visit your website. This page should be posted at least two to four weeks before the trade show.
Your landing page should include your booth number and other information about how to find you at the event, as well as links to your social media pages. You should also mention your company’s hashtag and the trade show’s official hashtag on the landing page so Twitter users can Tweet about the event.
The landing page is another good place to post your teaser video, as well as any special promotions or announcements you plan to share at the show. You can also include a link to a PDF brochure or eBook with more information about the event.
During the Trade Show
Regular Updates and Quick Replies
Remember to regularly update your social media pages during the trade show with status updates, Tweets, photos and video. It’s a good idea to designate one or two official social media ambassadors for the event whose job it will be to continuously post updates and reply to comments and messages. Remember to include hashtags for your company and the event in all of your Tweets.
The best types of content to post during the show are photos and video. Facebook’s algorithm gives preference to images and videos, and on Twitter, Tweets with images are 38 percent more likely to be retweeted and 36 percent more likely to be favorited than Tweets with text alone. Post photos of employees and customers enjoying the trade show, photos of a new product being announced or photos of free giveaways being offered at your booth. Post a video of a speaker at the event or a new product demonstration.
Make sure your social media ambassadors reply quickly to any posts or comments on your social media accounts during the trade show. 25 percent of customers who complain about a product on Facebook or Twitter anticipate that the company will respond within one hour, but the average response time from companies on Twitter is nine hours, and five out of six social media messages are not answered by companies at all.
Responding to messages, comments and Tweets in less than an hour is a great way to stand out from the crowd. It’s also a good idea to monitor social media activity during the trade show and reply to people who are posting about the event.
If you don’t have a social media ambassador, you can schedule posts to be shared while you’re at the trade show. Some social media platforms allow you to create content in advance, then schedule specific dates and times for it to be posted. Schedule as many updates as possible during the trade show, and remember to keep collecting photos and video while you’re at the show so that you can post it later.
If any current customers visit your booth at the trade show, ask them if they would like to provide a testimonial for your social media pages. The testimonial can be shared in one of the following formats:
- A video of the customer speaking at your booth
- A photo of the customer at your booth accompanied by a text testimonial
- A text-only testimonial in the form of a status update or Tweet
You can offer incentives to customers who provide testimonials, such as a discount on their next order, a first look at a new product or an exclusive giveaway. You can also encourage customers who aren’t at the trade show to share their testimonials on social media using your company’s hashtag.
Start a contest exclusively for people who visit your booth at the trade show and advertise it on social media. You can offer prizes that the winners can only pick up at your booth or require that people visit the booth to enter the contest. Prizes can include discounts, free merchandise or coupons to local businesses near the event. Remember to post the winners of the contest on social media, either with photos or video.
After the Trade Show
Share any photos, videos or status updates that weren’t posted during the show. If you have a blog, post a summary of the event, including photos and video, with links to your social media pages.
If there were questions that you were asked a lot at the trade show, post your responses to them on social media. You can also share stats and other information about the event, like how many people attended and which brands had booths at the trade show.
For anyone who missed the trade show, post photos and video of any new products or announcements from the event, and encourage them to visit your booth next year. Remember to include the appropriate hashtags in any relevant Tweets.
Another idea is to create a wrap-up video and post it on YouTube. This would be similar to the teaser video, but it would sum up your experience at the show. You can include clips from video taken at the show or just talk about the event.
It’s very important to follow up with leads or customers whom you met at the trade show. Go through any business cards you received, messages and RSVPs to your event invites and send out personalized thank-you notes through social media or email. Connect with these contacts through whichever social media sites they use so that they can follow your company and receive regular updates.
You can also specifically thank people or businesses on your social media pages. Be sure to include a link or hashtag for any businesses you mention: e.g., “Special thanks to #123Company for visiting our booth at #FutureStack15 yesterday.” Include photos and video as much as possible to appeal to social media users and Facebook’s algorithm.
Plan for Next Year
Analyze your experience to learn trade show social media ideas for next year’s event. Read through your posts, Tweets, comments and messages to learn what worked and what didn’t. Was there a particular type of post that received a very positive response? Was there one that received a negative response? Was there one that received no response at all?
Make plans to use what worked again next year and get rid of whatever didn’t work. You can also plan to try new things next year. If your low-quality teaser video didn’t receive a good response, plan a higher budget so you can make a better one next year. If customers weren’t happy with your contest prizes, use their feedback to find something better you can offer next year.
Using social media at trade shows is essential to promoting your attendance and your brand. A social media presence goes hand-in-hand with physical displays at your booth. At APG Exhibits, we provide complete project management and promotional solutions with the lowest prices guaranteed on quality displays, signage, banners and exhibits.
We use our extensive experience with promotional products, custom apparel, commercial printing, fulfillment and more to help you maximize the value of trade shows and increase your ROI. For more trade show tips and products, visit our website or call us toll free at 866-752-2192.