It’s hard to remember what society was like before the emergence of social media. Advertising of the past was relegated to print, radio and road-side gimmicks. Modern social networking is no longer a literal barn raising, but rather a figurative strategy that brings people together over various media resources to contribute and participate in a myriad of online based communities. Ask anyone of the younger generations what a cassette tape is and you’ll likely get a blank response, but give them a smartphone with 32GB worth of apps and watch them navigate the digital terrain like a modern-day Ferdinand Magellan.
This new era of social media sharing is exploding with opportunities to get your message out there, vast and fast. It’s a veritable globe trotting advertising machine that is being utilized by virtually every industry and is growing in dividends. Advertising via social media is guaranteed to spread your message far and wide if you are strategic and know how to use it to its fullest potential. Social Media is one of the best platforms for Show Managers to advertise and create buzz for their events. Invest some time implementing the following game plan to boost recognition and attendance.
With many things in life, timing is everything. Hesitate and certain situations can get downright awkward (hello dating!). People don’t sit around waiting for something interesting to happen, they grab what opportunities are currently available. Be proactive and take advantage of the time you have before, during, and after the event to show your audience what they won’t want to miss out on.
Before the Event
- Designate an official hashtag for the trade show event and encourage speakers, exhibitors, and industry influencers to incorporate the hashtag when posting about the show. This unique hashtag should be visible in all event promotional materials and posts. Connect with people who are using the hashtag and join in the conversation to get a better understanding of what attendees are hoping to gain from the show.
- Create a Facebook event and group for your show and invite attendees to join. This will cultivate networking before the show even starts. It’s a great platform to post exclusive sneak peeks at new products and generate excitement for show giveaways. If you have video footage from a previous year, showcase it on the event page. In the days leading up to the event, post pictures of the show floor being constructed, giving viewers a sense of what is being accomplished. Make sure that content is interesting and valuable so users will want to share it.
- Initiate contact with last years attendees and exhibitors by emailing them the current goings-on with the event. Get them involved early so they can catch up and participate in the pre-show conversations happening on various media platforms.
During the Event
- Take a variety of photos of the event to share what is happening on the show floor. Include pictures of any special after-show events that might be going on. Use Instagram for an artistic flare and instantly connect with viewers on both Facebook and Twitter. This helps bring the event to people who couldn’t attend otherwise.
- Post videos that include on-site demonstrations or guest speaker highlights. Video testimonials are a great way to capture the passion attendees share for the industry.
- Schedule interviews, live stream or recorded, with speakers and industry influencers to provide valuable content to an eager target audience.
- Host and promote a contest across all platforms. Announce the winner live during the event.
After the Event
- Show visitors you made a connection with how much you value their support by leaving a personalized message on their LinkedIn or support them back by liking their business page. Continue having conversations with users on social media. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get feedback on the show.
- Offer people tickets at an early bird discount or at very limited quantities immediately following the show to capitalize on the high buzz that will continue to linger days after the show has ended. Having people committed to next year’s show is a great way to cap off the event.
- Release full video content of keynote speakers right after the show. Although this might seem counter-intuitive to provide all your best content so soon, the same rationalization is used when any sport or company airs otherwise paid for content free for a limited time following an event. For example, people are willing to pay $99 for a pay-per-view prize fight knowing that it will air the next day at no cost, because, watching a day late doesn’t compare to the experience of knowing first-hand who won and sharing that initial excitement with others. Similarly, people are willing to pay the price of admission not only for the valuable content, but for the experience of making real-life connections and gaining insider knowledge on announcements, new products, and services.
The more you market your event using social media, the more you’ll be able to tailor the content details to your audience. Users are vocal, they will tell you what was successful and what wasn’t. The important thing is that you listen and keep the content going long after the event is over. Customer engagement shouldn’t end just because the show did; so keep on exploring and navigating the vast digital terrain we call social media.