With the rise of digital advertising and other online marketing tactics, exhibiting at a trade show event or conference can feel like an outdated practice.
Though not as prevalent today as other forms of marketing may be, trade show marketing remains one of the best ways to connect with potential customers and make a lasting impression on one’s target audience.
Meanwhile, social media has become one of the most popular forms of marketing. Statistics show that roughly 91 percent of retailers have at least two social media accounts and 81 percent of small and medium businesses use some type of social media platform.
Integrating social media marketing into your next event is therefore a great way to increase your brand presence and maximize your trade show results.
So with that, here are 10 ways to leverage social media before, during and after your event:
Before the Event
1. Spread the Word
Weeks before the trade show is scheduled, start posting announcements on all of your social media channels.
Let your followers know what the name of the event is, when it starts and where to find you on the day of the trade show.
Reach out to your connections as well, including those on LinkedIn, and invite them to come and visit your booth.
2. Use the Event Hashtag
Most events and conferences use their own official hashtag for tweeting and sharing posts on Facebook and Instagram.
Find out what the official hashtag of your trade show event is and use it in every post that is relevant to the show leading up to, during and even after the event.
You can also use this hashtag to search for prospects and other exhibitors, “like” their posts and invite them to your booth.
3. Create Custom Graphics
You should also prepare shareable content ahead of time, like custom graphics, marketing materials and videos.
Go ahead and share this content before the event to raise awareness and during the event to engage with your followers.
Pro tip: If you don’t have a designer on your team to do this for you, you can use Canva to create custom graphics…and then use the same graphics you created for social media to create eye-catching trade show displays for your booth.
4. Tease New Products
If you plan on launching a new product or service or have a special announcement to make, you can use social media in the weeks leading up to the show to build hype around not just your new product but the event as well.
You can do this by recording teaser videos or asking your followers to guess what the product may be.
During the Event
5. Post Regularly
During the event, remember to post and post often. Post about everything, from your interactions with attendees at the show and important information about your booth to giveaway announcements, speaking times and more. And use the official event hashtag with each post.
If you think you’ll be too busy to post during the event, you can schedule posts ahead of time with tools like Buffer and Hootsuite.
6. Go Live
Share your trade show experience with everyone in your social media network by live-tweeting or using Facebook Live or Instagram Live.
Your followers will be able to go behind-the-scenes with you during the event and have conversations with others who are following along. These platforms also allow your followers to interact with you and ask you questions as you broadcast live. If you’re speaking at the event, have someone stream it live or record a video to share with your followers later.
7. Share Photos
Make sure to take plenty of photos, selfies and videos during the event so you can post them throughout the day and even after the show is over to increase engagement.
Try to capture “candid” moments between your sales reps and your visitors and avoid photos that seem staged. Remember to use the event hashtag when you post photos and videos, so that everyone who is following the event on social media can see your content, as well.
After the Event
8. Post Recaps
Work doesn’t stop when the trade show ends. After the event, post recaps and photos of your favorite moments from the show. Write a blog post recapping the event or a blog compiling all of the questions your visitors asked you during the show, along with answers to those questions. Then share that on your social media channels as well.
9. Share Trade Show Materials
If you gave a presentation, led a product demonstration or hosted a Q&A session with your attendees, you can share them with your followers via social media.
Share YouTube video clips from the Q&A, a PDF of the PowerPoint slides from your presentation and other graphics you used during the trade show.
10. Connect and Follow Up with Leads
The Harvard Business Review found that leads were seven times as likely to convert into prospects when they received a follow-up within an hour.
So go through all of the business cards and emails you acquired during the show to connect with your leads on LinkedIn and other social media channels after the event.
Check out their LinkedIn pages to learn more about them, and then follow up with them with personalized messages, thanking them for visiting your booth and inviting them to learn more about your business and its offerings.
Trade shows are a big investment; they require a great deal of time, energy and money. So it’s important to make the most of them if you want to see a good return.
By integrating your trade show marketing strategy with these social media marketing tips, you’ll be able to engage with your customers; connect with new leads and other exhibitors in your industry; and set yourself apart from the competition.