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Using Social Media To Market Your Trade Show Appearance Part #1 - Before Your Event

trade-show-social-mediaAlmost all businesses jump head first into setting up their social media profiles. They brand them, make them look perfect, put the obligatory social media icons across the top of their website and then… ummmmm wonder what now? Hand it off to the young intern I guess?

This is an all too common, short-sighted mistake made by many businesses in today’s digital age to try and keep current with marketing trends. Using social media to market and network your business can prove to be a challenging task. However, a company event such as a tradeshow can be a boon to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn marketing efforts.

Let’s start with your overall corporate image. For a small business owner, exhibiting at a professional, industry tradeshow can help boost your overall corporate image due to something called the “Halo Effect.” The halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a business affects the way that business is viewed by others. For example, if you see a person walking down the street who is well dressed and wearing glasses, studies show that in addition to noticing their nice appearance you will automatically assume that person is also smart and successful.

Signs of growth, expansion and/or appearing on a public stage within the leaders of your industry bring with it connotations of a successful and competent business. So let’s utilize this event, all of it’s accompanying ulterior benefits and social media to let as many people know about your event and make it as big a success as possible.

Before The Event. This is the prime time to log on to your social media networks and begin networking and inviting potential clients your event. Your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles should at this point be populated with many of your contacts already. These networks do an amazing job of locating people within your contact lists as well as other people closely related to those in your contact lists. If not, be sure to check those inboxes on those accounts and accept and approve these networking requests!

Once these networks are established begin posting announcement about your upcoming exhibit. Furthermore, aside from these broad, general messages find those prime, prospects and personally invite them to your booth via private message. These prospects could be those suspects whom you already know and have unable to successfully nail down yet, or even people you may not know as well or at all who live or work close to your upcoming event.

In addition to the above tactics for Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter is an amazing tool that will also help you find those people not already in your network attending or thinking about attending your event.

San Diego Comic Con is a personal favorite of mine of which I’ve both attended and exhibited at. Months before the convention begins you can utilize the search term #SDCC and find literally thousands of people talking about the tradeshow in real time. Attendees, fellow exhibitors, distributors and/or sales reps are just the beginning.

Your tradeshow marketing efforts begin NOW! While some may see this as daunting, true marketers will see this as an opportunity to begin networking with others at the event, months before the event, during the off-time, not those precious, often hectic eight hour days of the tradeshow.

By simply searching for people “tweeting” utilizing the hashtag #SDCC I can:

    • Find attendees that might be potentially interested in my product, similar products, complimentary products or even (gasp) interested in my competitors’ offerings.
    • Locate fellow attendees and form strategic relationships and share the load of the pre-show effort marketing tasks. This can include sharing lists or mentioning each other within other marketing efforts (newsletters etc).
    • Locate my tradeshow neighbors and begin a relationship well before the show, not in those rare downtimes during the show. Tradeshow neighbors are ALWAYS helpful to have.
    • Locate businesses, distributors and or sales representatives attending the show. Invite these FRESH prospects to my booth to talk further.

Regardless of semantics you can see how using these simple networking tools can lead to endless new prospects before the doors of the tradeshow even open for setup. Check with your tradeshow administrator to see if they have a designated hashtag for their event. If not, no problem! You can start the trend and make one up yourself and pass it along to fellow exhibitors. After a few emails you will be surprised how quickly your efforts will be picked up and appreciated.

Click here for Part 2 of 3 - Using Social Media to Market Your Tradeshow Appearance - DURING YOUR EVENT

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