So, you’ve made the investment in a fired up trade show display and you’re ready to ramp up your booth traffic. To do more than just build your physical presence at a trade show, use the opportunity to ramp up your virtual presence using social media. The online conversation can multiply if you use some of these simple tips to get your show started.
1. Tweet before, during and after the show.
You can use a free online tool such as hootsuite or tweetdeck (both have their strong points, and we’re not sure which we like more) to schedule a thread of tweets to run before during and after your trade show. You can change one word in each post, such as “10 days left…” “9 days left…” You can also vary them a bit based on what kind of message you would like to post. Think of what specific message you would like to promote, and then schedule it around your event to maintain your presence even while you’re away.
2. Develop a content development strategy.
Fresh and valuable content takes time to develop. And like a fine wine, it gets better with age. You should have a strategy, or some kind of content calendar in place if you plan to have regular fresh content development moving through the social media funnel. Especially before your trade show event, think of the types of content you create. Maybe it’s industry-specific news of relevance to your audience. You should also have an internal content calendar to spread the types of your own organization’s content you want to share – such as photos with clients, photos at headquarters, blog posts, etc. Take all of this valuable content, and schedule it to post throughout your event, so you can drive traffic not only to your valuable online properties (your website, your social media profiles, etc.), but so that you can have rich properties to drive search engine traffic.
3. Listen to thc conversation already happening.
Is there something that is already being discussed around the event? Make sure to pick up on keyword phrases that are being used over and over again, and align yourself with the conversation by using those same keyword phrases. Perhaps it is the name of the event. Find the hashtag that is being used for the event. One popular event hastag that we were jumping in on recently was #CHAShow. We were able to learn about videos being shot at the exhibit, and were able to jump right in the conversation. You can do this, too, if you keep track of the tweeters that are already having a conversation. Join in.
4. Reach beyond Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Listen to the conversation on different social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, but don’t ignore the value and power of Google+. There are industry specific blogs you can follow (if you don’t know which ones, Google your industry name and the world “blog” and you’ll not only get a list of currently active blogs, but the front page will have blogs that rank highest in the search engines. You already have your homework done for you. Now, you just need to align yourself by commenting or contacting the blog authors to let them know where you’ll be.
4. Foursquare discounts and prizes.
You can engage your booth visitors by offering discounts using Foursquare (there’s also Gowalla, but we like this one best). Maybe you might have a check-in premium (check out our catalog with hundreds of promotional products for ideas), a special event check-in at the trade show, or a scavenger hunt. Whatever the offer might be, engage and encourage your exhibitors to do the same.
5. Post your event photos!
Photos are one of the most viral pieces of social media content, because they don’t take any time investment to share – as long as there is an easy way of sharing them, people will spread the word. Don’t just post them on flickr, but post them using services like twitpic, and definitely share them on google plus to help your search engine rankings, too!