Hi, class! Today we are going to cover one of the most universally innovative movements in all of business and technology and how it specifically relates to tradeshow marketing. Social media, a form of integrated marketing communications, is a group of Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Although widely perceived as an extremely economical method of marketing, in order to be successful and effective, investment should be made in content as well as an in-house or out-sourced expert on the intricacies of this phenomenon.
Tradeshow exhibitors are increasingly learning to take advantage of social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and others to locate, identify and communicate with clients, vendors and prospects; this is also known as building communities (a.k.a. networks of contacts).
Whether ‘tweeting’ a raffle prize drawing from one’s booth; posting the winner’s photo on Facebook or even uploading a satisfied client tradeshow interview on YouTube, there are several essential factors to keep in mind while acclimating to the subculture of social media and tradeshows.
Fans and followers
In order for exhibitors to use social media to their advantage, it is paramount to have a “following,” also known as a “community.” Without an expansive roster of interested or at least potentially interested parties, social media efforts will be futile as well as a waste of productivity. Hire or train a qualified and progressive candidate who is creative, has extensive Internet knowledge as well as strong marketing intuition. Building a social media “following” is a function of joining the appropriate media sites and then simply reaching out and exchanging information just as one would do at a physical networking event.
For instance, on Facebook, you build a comprehensive page or business “profile” with all pertinent details prior to “networking.” Think of it as if you were to attend an industry networking event; you would be armed with business cards, brochures and the like as well as being dressed professionally and appropriately. Same concept. Don’t reach out without preparation and presentation.
Now you are ready to “circulate.”
Each site is different. LinkedIn is a networking site where professionals “link” with one another through invitations and business referral exchange serves as the primary objective. Facebook allows you to create a business page that groups and individuals can “Like” (or “Friend”) resulting in their automatic receipt of your postings and links.
Reaching out and connecting with those in your industry and its peripheral is how the social media phenomenon unfolds. Suddenly a colossal world of contacts will open through site suggestions and mere exposure through existing ones.
Each site has different protocols, etiquette and objectives that need to be adhered to in order to maintain legitimacy and credibility. Be sure your social media pro knows the laws of compliance and the intricacies of each available site. Being flagged can be embarrassing and can jeopardize site membership eligibility!
Timing is everything
Keeping posts and links relevant and current is critical to social media marketing success. An exhibitor should announce participation at a tradeshow approximately six months in advance, following up with periodic reminders and other-show related news before, during and after the exhibition. Take advantage of the opportunity to publicize contests, presentation schedules as well as giveaways and when it’s all over.
The key is to spread out the information in a timely and strategic manner in order to keep interest peaked. Redundancies and over saturation of information can cost you valuable exposure as Followers tend to breeze or skim past by that which appears to be old or repetitive information. Posts or links should have strong headlines or openers, brief yet concise information and art (graphics or photos) is always helpful in any form of media.
There is nothing wrong, in fact, it is recommended to share with your community or specific members when there are links and information of interest relating to not only your company but the industry at large. Thinking of and helping others in your community is always important, whether in the real world or cyber space.
Give and take
Social media sites can be curious in the sense that no one really knows who and what is going on at the other end. It can be insulting when one only posts and does not share, comment or most of all, neglects to reply when a friend or follower reaches out. Intermittent social media participation does an exhibitor a true injustice. To succeed, it is vital to be consistent. The cultivating and nurturing of these relationships – while most predominantly ‘social’ in nature – can someday turn into a deal, a referral or opportunity of a lifetime.
Blogging is another form of social media that involves a website or part of a website maintained by an individual, writing commentary in the first-person, who has a following due to their expertise or occult appeal to a specific market. An exhibiting company fortunate enough to have a well-received in-house blogger should take advantage of the medium to update followers with details about current shows and related information thereof. Again, commenting on as well as sharing and posting others’ blogs is a way of paying it forward.
- Generate current and relevant content
- Be consistent through posts, replies and shares
- Watch your business grow
About Linda Musgrove, The Tradeshow Teacher
Linda Musgrove is founder and President of Tradeshow Teacher, a full-service tradeshow training and management firm. Through her result-driven formula, she specializes in teaching companies to significantly improve tradeshow results through strategic, customized tradeshow management and training for individuals, departments or entire teams. Training options include phone consulting, webinars, seminars and one-on-one in person coaching. Musgrove authored “The Complete Idiots Guide to Tradeshows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tsteacher