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How to Use Social Media at a Trade Show

Author's avatar By 16 Jun, 2014
Essential Essential topic

5 techniques to integrate social media into your event marketing

Over the last decade, social media has emerged as one of the most useful platforms for finding new customers, developing your brand and expanding your business.

While there’s a massive amount of social media marketing information out there, almost all of it is aimed at business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses. With the right strategy, however, social media can be an equally powerful marketing platform for B2B businesses.

In this guide, we’ll show you five tactics that you can use to learn more about your upcoming trade shows, monitor your competitors, own your search engine results and connect with prospects with ease.

1. Incorporate social media into your company branding

In order for prospects to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, they need to know how to find you. Make social media an integral part of your branding by adding your usernames and URLs to banners, brochures and business cards.

Try to integrate social media on both a corporate and personal level. Add individual LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to business cards, and company accounts to banners and other large-scale branding.

Want to increase your social media connection rate? Use GOQR.me to generate QR codes with your social media profile URLs and add them to your business cards to make it easier for prospects to connect with you.

2. Learn about the event’s culture before you attend

Even within the same industry, there’s a huge level of variation between the cultures of different trade shows. Some are friendly and personal, with big deals made on the sales floor. Others are more formal and ‘corporate’, with the biggest opportunities found after the show itself at dinners, parties and meetings.

If you’re exhibiting at a trade show for the first time, use social media to research the event’s culture and atmosphere before you attend. Facebook Pages, industry forums and Twitter accounts of attendees of past shows are all great sources of information on past trade shows.

Need help finding reviews of previous shows? Use Google’s Search tools feature to filter your search results for last year’s show dates and find forum threads and blog posts from attendees.

3. Find ideas and inspiration from your competitors

Don’t just use social media to research a trade show’s culture and atmosphere – use it to learn what your competitors did there last year. Browse the Facebook Pages of your competitors to view their past exhibits, promotions and more.

Study the competitors that made a splash at previous events and adopt their most successful strategies for your own trade show exhibit. You can also search blogs of past attendees to learn which exhibits they found the most helpful, and which they weren’t so interested in.

Twitter’s custom search is great for finding trade show tweets from event attendees and competitors. Use operators like “near:” to narrow down your results by location or “since:” to search only for tweets made during a previous trade show.

For example, a search for [CES 2014 near:”Las Vegas” until:2014-1-10] will bring up results related to the Consumer Electronics Show, sent near Las Vegas until the 10th of January. Add an “@” operator to narrow your search to a specific Twitter user.

4. Use social media to own your Google search results

Trade shows are wonderful opportunities to raise awareness about your business within your industry. Since so many people will be searching for your business in the days after a trade show, it’s essential that you own your Google search results.

Perform some basic reputation management before your next big trade show by establishing social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other relevant social networks to keep your search results clean and organised.

By owning the Google search results for your brand name, you’ll make it as easy as possible for prospects to find the right information about your company and get in contact to do business with you.

KnowEm.com is a great resource for tracking down social media profiles for your brand. Enter your brand or business name to search for available profiles on over 500 social networks and 150 domain name extensions.

5. Connect with B2B prospects using LinkedIn InMail

In the days following a trade show, valuable prospects often end up dealing with hundreds of emails from sales reps and marketers. Instead of ending up near the bottom of a crowded email inbox, use LinkedIn InMail to stand out.

InMail lets you connect with any LinkedIn user, regardless of your previous history with them. Since users are notified of InMail via a LinkedIn alert email, they’re more likely to read and respond to your InMail than they would a standard email.

Just like with email, there’s etiquette to consider when sending an InMail to a person you’d like to do turn into a customer. Note your trade show interaction early in the message and use these InMail tips to make sure your message gets noticed.

Peter Symonds is a trade show marketing expert from Display Wizard. For more practical tips on how to increase the ROI of your trade show marketing, download the Display Wizard Guide to Exhibiting at a Trade Show.

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