It’s officially the New Year and you know what that means! No, we’re not talking about that gym membership you still haven’t looked into (you know who you are), we’re talking about tradeshow season. More specifically, we’re talking about how to use social media to amp up your brand’s tradeshow presence. And with SHOT Show coming up in just a few days, there’s no better time than now.
First things first, you must have a presence on social media to use it. (Duh!) For time’s sake, I’m going to assume you have already established the basic Pages and accounts you want to use for your brand, but if you haven’t yet, don’t wait until the Sands Expo Center doors open to create that new Instagram account. (1) Make sure your accounts are established, published and active.
Now with your accounts created, (2) make sure your fans, followers, subscribers, customers and influencers know where to find you on said platforms before the event. Remind your followers of your Twitter, Vine or Snapchat (good for you if your brand is on Snapchat) account. You’re not only informing them, but will also most likely see a boost in followers of those who are new or were unaware of your presence on the platform before.
This brings us to the meat and potatoes of this post: how to amp up your social media presence at the tradeshow. Before taking our first bite though (hold, holddd), it’s important to understand that not all tradeshows are created equal. (3) Know your audience. Some industry tradeshows are open to the public while some are only open to dealers and distributors. Others are only open to specific organization members. Social media has a role in all of these tradeshow scenarios, but you must understand your audience first before you can effectively use it for your brand. For the purpose of this post, let’s assume we’re preparing for SHOT Show. After all, if you can use social media effectively here, you can do it at any event
So how do you “amp up” your presence? Ultimately, how you go about this will depend on a number of factors, including your brand, audience, established platforms, time, team size and more, but the ideas in this section are simple enough to execute that anyone can do them.
- (4) Visualize and use visuals. The largest tradeshow in the industry, SHOT Show features more than 1,600 exhibitors and attracts more than 65,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries. Not only is there a lot to see and do, but there is a lot of people – not to mention other brands. However, not every one of your followers is going to be there. Many of you may not even have combined followings half that size. The point is, you have to bring the tradeshow experience to them through visuals. Take lots of photos and videos using your phone or camera (notice how I didn’t say iPad or tablet), but also remember (5) quality over quantity. Put yourself in the shoes of the fan or customer who isn’t at the tradeshow; what would he/she want to see? Show off the venue. Show off your booth. Show off your products. Show off other brand’s products you think are cool. Show off your team (people love to see the faces behind the logo). And show off the people who visit your booth.
- But visuals aren’t just about photos, angles, lighting and filters. We now have the incredible ability to reach into our pockets and use video to record six- and 15-second videos. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words, but a video can multiply that. Don’t just take a photo of your booth, take a video and tell people where it is. Don’t just take a photo of your new product, let a team member hold it and describe its function or its benefits. Interview people who stop by your booth; ask them what they think of your new product, service or (if you’re bold enough) brand. Whether it’s six seconds or six minutes (don’t forget about YouTube and Vimeo), (6) don’t be afraid to use video.
- (7) Get creative. Yes, I said it – the “C” word. Being creative is harder than it looks, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right combination of following, awareness and execution, any brand can be creative. Don’t just tweet where your booth is, tweet a photo of a prize and give it to the first person who comes by and states your brand’s tagline. Don’t just hand out stickers with your brand’s logo, ask people to place them in unique or funny (and legal) places, take a photo and hashtag it. Remember, creativity doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming or expensive, so don’t make it.
Now that you have some ideas on how to amp up your content, don’t forget to (8) be social. Social media is inherently social, so communicate, and communicate often. Keep in mind (5) quality over quantity, but engage with your followers whenever you can, whether in between real conversations, demonstrations, meals or even in the bathroom (just don’t forget to wash your hands). Twitter’s ‘Discover’ and Instagram’s ‘Search’ features are great ways to engage with users talking about your brand, even without them tagging you directly. Simply search your brand or product’s name or associated words and hashtags and join the conversation.
But the conversation doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – end there, (9) continue the conversation after the tradeshow. Your followers and customers know you better than you do and truly establish who you are as a brand, so (10) ask for their feedback. Are they excited about your new products or services? What other brand’s products are they excited about? What was their favorite part of the tradeshow? Did they even attend the tradeshow? Their answers to these questions and others will not only determine your success of your social media, but also of your brand.
In summary, if you want to amp up your social media presence at tradeshows:
(1) Establish your accounts.
(2) Inform your followers of where they can find you.
(3) Know your audience.
(4) Visualize and use visuals.
(5) Remember quality over quantity.
(6) Don’t be afraid to use video.
(7) Get creative with your strategy.
(8) Be social.
(9) Continue the conversation after the event.
(10) Ask for feedback.
Social media is always changing and so must your strategies, but if you do these ten things before, during and after every tradeshow, you’re sure to become an event social media marketing expert. Good luck at SHOT Show and happy tradeshow-ing!