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Trade shows are a great way to get crucial face-to-face contact with current and prospective customers. Companies invest thousands of dollars to set up a booth, so how do you maximize the few short hours on the trade show floor? Start using social media. Social media is a low-cost way to not only build exposure before the show, but also to reach a larger audience and maximize your trade show ROI. Here’s how.

BUILD PRE-SHOW EXCITEMENT
Announce your presence at a trade show to your social media channels approximately six months in advance. Create a YouTube video or a blog post on your site that talks about the show, and what you and your company will do there. Use SEO keywords so when attendees Google the show, your blog post will come up in search results. Some shows also have blogs featured on their own sites. Contact the organizers and ask if you can submit a guest post, giving both of your brands more pre-show exposure.

CROWDSOURCE IDEAS
If you’re exhibiting or even speaking on a panel, ask attendees via Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn what they’d most like to see at your booth or your presentation. This is a great way to engage with prospects ahead of time, and gain momentum. Plus, how cool would it be for an attendee to visit your booth and see the exact demo he or she requested on Facebook a month before!

GET SOCIAL AT THE SHOW
There are so many ways to engage with people at the show, either using your own promoted hashtag or the event’s hashtag. Become an authority and resource by offering real time reviews and coverage. See if the conference is updating people on their Facebook page, and join that conversation. Many established shows also have a LinkedIn group where you can interact during and after the event.

Want to drive more traffic? Sampling and giveaways via Twitter are a great way to attract attendees to your booth and create some buzz. You can also give attendees a discount if they come by within an allotted time (say, 30 minutes). If you have a meaningful interaction with someone at your booth, try giving him or her a shout-out via Twitter.

POST PICTURES AND VIDEOS
Reach a wider audience beyond the exhibit hall by covering the event through pictures, videos and regular updates. For those unable to be at the show, this is a wonderful way to bring the tradeshow to them. Taking pictures and videos of events and demos at your booth and posting them in real time can turn prospects into sales, even beyond the tradeshow floor.

Product demos can be very successful on YouTube and even go viral. For example, UltraTech, a company specializing in oil spill containment, created a video demonstration of their hydrophobic spray in 2012, which garnered more than 5 million views in six months. If you have something cool you’d like to demo, create a QR code that links to the video and prominently display it at your booth. Attendees can scan it and immediately have your information stored on their phone to view and share.

THE AFTER PARTY: KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM
Once the show is over, you can stay in touch with the leads you made on the show floor. Find visitors on LinkedIn and send them a short message. Even if those contacts aren’t the primary decision makers, they can help point you in the right direction. Also, a simple tweet that says “thank you for visiting our booth” is a nice follow-up gesture that creates bonding and may be rewarded with a retweet (and even more exposure).
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Want more ways to maximize tradeshow success, through social media or otherwise? Let Nurture Marketing guide you from planning and prep to implementation. Contact Eric Rabinowitz Ericr@nurturemarketing.com or follow us at @nurtureb2b

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For more information, contact Eric Rabinowitz at 732 636-1001 x 27 or via e-mail at ericr@nurturemarketing.com and visit our website at www.nurturemarketing.com.

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