March 21, 2012
By Mike Thimmesch
When Skyline exhibited at EXHIBITOR2012, we gave mini-seminars in our trade show booth to attendees at the show. By far the most popular topic was “12 Tips About Social Media for Trade Shows.”
The idea was to communicate in just 10 minutes, 12 actionable tactics exhibitors could use on the most popular social media networks to get more people into their trade show displays. Not a lot of strategy; just quick, usable ideas.
I covered just the most popular networks: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs. Here we go:
Tweet Reasons To Visit Your Booth: A lot of markers are reluctant to use Twitter because they simply don’t know what messages to send. But with nearly 500 million accounts and about 9% of the U.S. population on Twitter every day, it’s worth using! So here’s a great start: Tweet reasons to visit your booth that you are already sharing via email, direct mail, ads, and the phone. Tell attendees all the great things you will be offering in your booth, such as show specials, giveaways, contests, new products, special offers, and the like. Those are messages attendees will want to hear, and will get them interested in visiting you in your booth. You can send a few messages a week for the month or two leading up to the show.
Pre-Schedule Tweets: Now that you’ve got a lot to say, you don’t want to be tied to your desk or have to remember to go back to Twitter once a day or two to send out those messages. Fortunately, you don’t have to remember. There are free, web-based programs such as Hootsuite.com or Tweetdeck.com that allow you to to pre-schedule your tweets, even down to the five minutes you want. For our Exhibitor 2012 event, we pre-scheduled 46 tweets starting almost 2 months before the show. Just remember to adjust for the time difference between your location (where you set up the account) and the local time at the show.
Learn the Hashtag (#) for Your Shows: One of the reasons people are reluctant to use Twitter is that Twitter has its own seemingly secret code. One of the most important codes is the hashtag. That’s when a person on Twitter includes a pound sign or hash symbol “#” directly in front of a word. That turns that word into a hyperlink that lets a viewer click and see all the recent messages with that same hashtag. So by including the hashtag of the event you are exhibiting at (for us it was #exhibitor2012) you are more likely to be seen by potential attendees. Find the hashtag by going to your shows’ website, or by asking them directly.
Not Just Personal, Also for Business: For many people, Facebook is their personal place for social media. They want to use it to keep in touch with high school and college friends, not to interact with businesses. However, Facebook is now so big that businesses – even B2B businesses — can no longer resist using it. Facebook has 800 million users, which would make it the 3rd largest country by population. Facebook daily traffic and activity today is equivalent to all the volume of the entire internet in 2004. So businesses are setting up pages for their businesses. For example, General Electric has nearly a quarter of a million friends for their Facebook page! You don’t have to promote your company from your personal account. Just set up a business page and start engaging with your clients on a more personal level – no writing like a press release!
Post Photos and Videos from Your Trade Shows: And what can you post on your business Facebook page? As a trade show exhibitor, you can post photos and videos from your booth. Show what new things you introduced. Share with your company’s friends who couldn’t go to the show the action they missed out on. It’s really easy to do with a smart phone! Just test it out before the show – take a picture of your company’s building to try it out. Even better: give your attendees a reason to have their picture taken in your booth, with a fun banner stand backdrop or a celebrity, and make it easy for them to share that picture on their own Facebook account.
Announce News from the Show for Friends that Couldn’t Come: Did you announce a new strategic alliance with a partner? Introduce a new product? Whatever news you shared at the show in your booth, you can also post to your friends on Facebook.
Include Company & Show Name In Video Title: Guess what – YouTube is actually the second-most popular search engine in the world! And people don’t just search on Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, they also search on just about anything, including the name of the show they will exhibit at. So include in video title the show name, plus your company name – and maybe even your booth number.
Great for Pre-Show and Post-Show Promotions: YouTube is a great place to get your story across with all the power of video and without the cost of running an ad on a network. For pre-show promotions, load up the video with all the great reasons to visit your trade show booth (see point #1 about Twitter). You can also record and produce a video showing all the action you had in your booth – new products, demonstrations, happy client interviews – and post that to YouTube soon after the show. Then email links to people, or embed the video on your website or blog, or get found by searchers by including the show name and great keywords in the video title.
YouTube Videos Not as Formal: In days gone by, almost all corporate videos required a high-end production crew and a very button-down presentation format. Now, because of the changing expectations of social media, it’s much more about a human connection than a big production. So you don’t need to break the bank to make a video, and you don’t need everyone wearing suits, either. Just relax and speak from the heart on why attendees will benefit by visiting your booth.
Blog About Your Exhibiting – Find Out Who or Start One: If you think you are not interacting with social media, you may be surprised to find out that you have been without knowing it – via blogs. About half the websites on the Internet are created with blogging software. Blogs are so much easier to set up than traditional websites, and virtually free. Find who blogs for your company, and give them info about your events – they will want to publish great content like your event news. Or start your own blog about what your company is doing at events. Your blog can serve as a home base for each show’s promotional activity. It can also boost your SEO results by how you set up its blog, which keywords you use, and the links you build.
Industry Bloggers = New Press, Public Relations: If you could find a copy of your main industry trade magazine from 15 years ago, you’d be surprised by how much thicker it was back then. Magazine ads were the main way to reach your industry audience, until the Internet and Google made online marketing more effective and took revenue away from magazines. That also reduced the number of journalists magazines could afford to employ. But the Internet revolution made blogs possible at a low, low cost, so bloggers have stepped in to replace magazine writers. You can find these bloggers by going to http://www.google.com/blogsearch and searching on the names of the trade shows you exhibit at. These are the people you want to build relationships, much like your (remaining) industry press.
Blog Post Show: Recap Trends, New Products: Reach out to your new found blogger friends before the show, and give them the information they need so they write about you after the show. Get them an interview with your company CEO or thought leaders, to share your views about industry trends. Set up an appointment to demonstrate your new products introduced at the show, so they may include it in their recap about new products on their blog.
So there you have it – 12 tips you can use today to leverage the amazing reach of social media to drive more people to your trade show booth.