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Using Social Media For Trade Show Promotions

tradeshow promotions with social mediaSocial media is a communication channel, and a great tool for you to use in executing your marketing plan; especially at your next trade show.

Trade shows are used for the face-to-face marketing, networking, and selling and ultimately aim to build and/or solidify relationships.  What about before and after the show?  Along with traditional marketing techniques, begin thinking of how to incorporate social media tools to augment your tried and true pre-show promotion and post-show follow-up strategies.  These can work regardless if your company is B2C or B2B.  Trade show booth staffers may be using these tools everyday to network with customers, so let’s tap into social media to continue that conversation.

The wisdom of the 4 B’s

The 4 B’s is a practice that can be used by anyone and applies to all types of social media.  Mike Yoder, a dear friend and founder of the method, swears by it – and I humbly agree!  Here are some ideas to link the “Be’s” with the tools:

Be Interesting (Before the show)

What sets your company apart from the competition?  What’s your show theme or the critical brand message you’re trying to introduce?  How can you engage clients to get the message and want to connect with you?

Try participating in BoothTag at your next trade show and/or provide a QR code that links to a landing page of a contest instead of your website.  Take this idea, and spread your message before the show, using both traditional methods (email and snail mail) and non-traditional (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc).  Keep it simple, interesting, and have a little fun with it, but…

Be Relevant (at the show)

Not everyone buys into gamification and contests in a trade show exhibit, because it doesn’t always bring qualified leads.  However, when done correctly, you can create a contest that is relevant to your brand, theme and other trade show initiatives, which will result in attendee sign-ups that become qualified leads.

For example, say you’re a software integration firm at a trade show offering attendees a free assessment of their systems software, but since this is a common industry practice many people may not be enticed by this offer. However, create a compelling message and offer a free assessment via a fun contest, coupled with a favorable chance to win an iPad, and voila!! …you’ve now lowered engagement barriers, spawned brand/message recognition and paved the way to more qualified leads.

Keep in mind that a perfect “give-away” promotion is tied to a business need and a personal interest, and done through a positive, memorable experience.

Be Helpful (during and after the show)

This point reminds me of a TEDx presentation by Angela Maiers called, “You Matter.” The message here is that there is a power and a genius in act of caring for others.  Demonstrate that you get this and you aren’t just processing people through your booth.  Use your social media tools to thank them for spending time with you and to keep the spark you started at the show going long after it.

A person overlooked, a need unacknowledged, or a promise simply forgotten are all missed opportunities that could potentially create a negative impression on your brand and on you as a person. The Internet through social media has created a networked mobile society, a culture of immediacy, and an expectation of expedited follow up.  Fortunately, social media tools also provide the opportunity for you to respond accordingly and to continue the dialog with your new contacts over networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Be Yourself (always)

Self-explanatory, but let’s go over a couple main points. The beauty of social media is that it is a more informal communications medium where you can be yourself, just as you might at a cocktail party. It is not a promotional platform or dynamic infomercial.  It is about listening, sharing and caring.  Channel your inner-self and empathize with your clients and followers and you may be surprised how influential and powerful you really are.

Again, social media is a communication channel and a tool for marketing.  However, as with all communication channels, your success is wholly dependent on the quality of the dialog and the skillful use of the tools available.

What's Working In ExhibitingIn addition to using social media, enhance your trade show strategy by reading the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  This 32-page book reaveals the most effective strategies and tactics exhibitors are using to boost their results and stretch their budgets.  Click here to request your free copy. 

About the Author

Nicole Huston was the Marketing and Sales Coordinator for Skyline Exhibits West Michigan.

4 responses to “Using Social Media For Trade Show Promotions

  1. Thanks for the props, Nicole. Love your post and all of the great tips to help people get the most out of their trade show experience. Great advice, especially the point about being helpful.

  2. Consider using Social Passport: At a few recent tradeshows in New York, booths offered giveaways/freebies to people who scanned a barcode with a “social passport” scanner app. They received something free and the booth operator automatically posted a message on their social media sites through the software. Now each person who comes by the booth is worth one plus their entire social network. It seems to be free software both for the operator and the customer.

  3. What a cool app Frank! Thanks for sharing. I like how it streamlines social media processes. But you always have to be careful and keep an eye out on your social network for anyone responding to your auto-message. FU is key!

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