Social media has transformed the way in which attendees interact with exhibitions and we’d go so far as to say we couldn’t imagine attending an event of any size nowadays without a very busy hashtag and a live feed wall!
As an attendee; being able to follow a hashtag to keep up with what’s going on across the whole event is an easy and straightforward way, using a smartphone, to make sure you don’t miss anything. As an exhibitor, however, making the most of the opportunities which exist aren’t always as simple.
We caught up with James Brockbank, MD of Digitaloft, one of the full-service digital marketing agencies signed up to exhibit at Prolific North Live 2017, who shares his six top tips for social media success as an exhibitor at this year’s event.
1. Choose Your Platform Carefully
When planning to exhibit at a trade show, the reality is that you’ll only ever have so much time to dedicate to things such as social media before, during and after the event. As such, it’s important to ensure that the time you do have available for ‘getting social’ is spent as efficiently as possible.
The most common mistake which businesses make when planning their social strategy alongside their wider event marketing plan is spreading their efforts too thinly. Whilst there’s certainly a benefit to having at least some presence across all channels where your audiences are hanging out, you need to be able to determine which is going to be the most beneficial for a particular event.
In most instances, B2B events (such as Prolific North Live) will most often see Twitter used as the main platform. B2C events, on the other hand, may find a much stronger weighting towards Facebook, if only equally with Twitter.
Take the time to understand which platforms are going to be most beneficial and, the busiest as the event draws closer. You can usually gauge the right platform by analysing the event’s official social pages, looking not only at how many ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ these have but also at the engagement.
By knowing where to spend the majority of your time, you’re setting yourself up for success right from the moment you start planning.
2. Generate Pre-Show Buzz
Almost as soon as you sign up to exhibit, your social campaign should begin and it’s important that you work hard to build up a pre-show buzz, not only about the event itself but also about your appearance.
Trade shows notoriously have decision makers in attendance and the hardest task is often getting to take the time to come and visit your stand over everyone else’s.
In order to get on the radar of attendees, take the time to use your social channels to generate a buzz ahead of the show and get involved as much as possible. Here’s a number of suggestions and ideas for doing just that:
– Utilise the event’s official hashtag on a regular basis in the run up, with your activity around this increasing as the date approaches. From simply letting people know you’re exhibiting through to offering a showcase of your products or services; being heavily involved in conversation centred around the hashtag can be a great way to generate awareness.
– Reach out individually to those who you know will be in attendance (by their engagement on the hashtag) and start a conversation. An attendee is far more likely to come and say hello at your stand if you’ve already had a few messages exchanged on social media.
3. Appoint A Dedicated Member Of Your Team To Run Social Channels From The Event
Exhibitions are non-stop for those exhibiting and you’ll be kidding yourself if you think that the same people who are manning the stand will be able to update your social channels and engage with others at the event. The reality is that they won’t. In those rare moments between speaking with attendees, those of you on the stand will likely want to grab a drink or a quick toilet break; not be having to update social media.
Ahead of the day, appoint a member of your team to run your social channels at the event and ensure that they have no other responsibilities. This will allow them to dedicate the time to post continual updates covering the event as a whole, engage and network with others and ensure you have a visible presence on live social feeds which are often displayed.
4. Offer Exclusive Content
Offering exclusive content throughout the event can be a great way to attract attention from those attending and engage with your channels.
Whilst the exact content you should offer will depend almost entirely upon the type and size of the event, what works well across most shows is tips shared by any speakers at the event (visualised if possible), general announcements and giveaways and competitions.
5. Host A Giveaway
Moving on to the topic of giveaways and competitions; these can be a brilliant way to not only drive engagement on social media on the day of the event but also draw people to your stand.
By promoting a competition or giveaway across your social channels in the run-up, you’re starting to build that buzz and give people a reason to want to visit your stand. Of course, you don’t want them simply turning up, entering your competition and leaving without a chat, so ensure you’re properly staffed to ensure there’s always someone available.
In terms of planning your giveaway, however, always try to offer a prize which attracts your target market as a little lead nurturing post-event could well turn them into a potential client!
6. Don’t Stop Once The Event Does
Perhaps the last way to ensure social success at a trade show is to make sure you don’t stop once the event does! Take the next few days to connect with those who you interacted with on a face-to-face level and really use your platforms to continue to develop relationships.
Meeting someone in person is still one of the best ways to strike up on-going discussions (and turn these people into leads and clients), however social media is, for many, the preferred platform of choice for keeping in touch!
At the end of the day, social media can work for any business to support their trade show marketing and it’s important that a strategy is planned out months in advance.
You can catch Digitaloft at stand 195 at Prolific North Live 2017.