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by Lesley Martin

Ask a marketer to compare tradeshows to social media, and he/she will probably point out more differences than similarities. After all, the modern tradeshow has been around for decades and social media is a relatively new phenomenon. Tradeshows are intimately tied to time and place, while social media outlets are entirely digital.

For brands, the two mediums are more alike than you’d think. At their core, both tradeshows and social media are about connecting directly with your customers. Brands can showcase their personality in the booth or on the social media page. And of all the marketing tactics, both operate in real time.

Brands can no longer dismiss or ignore social media as part of their marketing program. It’s now expected that brands have a presence on social media. And if the booth is buzzing, but the social media feeds are dead, brands are missing out on a huge opportunity. Here’s some methods marketers can use to strategically leverage social media and extend the tradeshow experience off the show floor.

Set Goals

Without clear goals, social media efforts can easily be wasted. Your team might produce inconsistent, irrelevant or self-centered content that is spread across too many social channels. Messages and comments to your company might be left unread and unanswered, which could hurt your brand’s reputation with fans.

Clear goals can help you prioritize and set intentions for your dual tradeshow and social media strategy.

Marketers might want to increase brand exposure, and social media lets them connect with audiences who aren’t attending the show, but still interested in the action. You might utilize branding and messaging of your booth and extend to social media to gain brand exposure.

If the goal is to build new business, tradeshows allow you to delve deeper into a segment or targeted area. With targeted social media strategy, you can help you identify and delve deeper to reach people within the vertical, niche or decision-making roles.

If you want to deepen relationships with existing customers, social media is a great way to identify your fans and connect directly to deepen brand loyalty.

Investing in Paid Campaigns

Some businesses do not have effective social media because they rely only on organic content. It’s harder for businesses to reach users without paid promotions because their content will be lost. First, more and more content is being shared. According to Facebook, more than 1,500 stories could appear on the average user’s feed every time they log in to Facebook. Social medias prioritize personal content posted by friends and family over promotional content. Thus, only 1 percent of organic content posted by companies will be seen by fans.

If you want to take your strategy to the next level, paid social media campaigns are key. The good news is that social media allows for highly targeted marketing. When determining your social media goals, you must consider these four areas:

  1. Audience
  2. Action you want your audience to take
  3. Time frame (including before and after the tradeshow)
  4. How much money you’re willing to spend

The beauty about social media is that the highly personal profiles allow you to be targeted in your marketing. You can identify users down to their roles, skills, region, personal preferences, followed brands, active conversations and hashtags. On LinkedIn you can identify users by their positions or skills, and on Facebook and Twitter you can promote on specific hashtags.

Another benefit of paid strategy is that you are charged based on the competition. A popular hashtag would be more expensive. Before you purchase the promotion, social media will give you the expected reach based upon your monetary investment so that you can know your ROI before you spend dollars. If you’re exhibiting at a niche show, buying promotions on the show hashtag could be an excellent opportunity to purchase for a niche audience.

 From Live Streaming to Scheduled Posts

Live streaming on social media is a huge trend in 2018. Instagram Stories are noteworthy for the sheer engagement numbers they post. For example, 1 in 5 organic Instagram Stories from brands see at least one direct message from a consumer. That’s a huge potential for engagement through a somewhat new medium.

During the show, marketers often become so busy that they don’t post on social media. Before the show, identify someone responsible for ensuring that posts are uploaded to social media. Ensure that your social media feed is capturing the buzz during the show.

If you don’t think that you’ll be able to post during the show, you can create content ahead of time and schedule it to be posted during the show. This can be extremely helpful for companies in regulated industries like healthcare. Just remember to have a community management protocol in place to answer comments and direct messages from users engaging with your brand. That engagement is where brands can deepen relationships with customers.

Lesley Martin is a writer and digital producer working in San Francisco, Calif. Connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/lesleymartin.

This story originally appeared in the September/October issue of Exhibit City News, p. 18. For more pictures and original layout, visit http://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_septemberoctober_2018_o?e=16962537/64174552

 

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