Exhibitions and trade shows can be fantastic marketing opportunities – but if you aren’t supporting your on-site exhibition stand with social media activations, you’re missing a trick. The use of social media in your exhibition planning is a great way to promote your business’ presence at a trade show – and enhance the effects of your brand awareness schemes.
Read on for six ways to use social media to support your exhibition stand.
1. Plan in Advance
The best social media strategies are planned well in advance; there’s no good just showing up on the day, snapping a few unplanned pictures and hoping for the best. Once you have the plan, layout and design for your trade show stand in place, as well as your marketing plan, you can begin planning for your social media, too.
2. Choose the Right Hashtags
Before an event or exhibition, do your research into appropriate hashtags.
First, look for any specific hashtags to do with the event you will be attending. These are a good way to be a part of the buzz and excitement before and during an event, and to keep yourselves on people’s radar afterwards. Plus, if the event organisers like your posts, they may repost them on the main event account which will boost your engagement.
Next, research other accounts that have shown an interest in this exhibition or in your industry in general. Flag the ones who really engage with brands in a positive way; these are the people you want to target.
Finally, if you don’t already have your own company hashtag, now’s the time to create one – and to create a bespoke hashtag for your brand at the event you’re attending. It’s a great way to get people engaging with your business – and for you to track your posts after the fact. Make sure you add your hashtags to any marketing materials for your exhibition to maximise engagement.
3. Meet Your Audience
Prep work before the event is key. You can use your social media channels to network with event attendees in the run-up to the big day; it’s not about numbers, it’s about really engaging with them and piquing their interest. As well as potential customers, be sure to connect with industry journalists and influencers; add them to your network and invite them to visit your stand. The more information they have in advance of the event, the more likely they are to include you in any ‘round-ups’, articles or posts. For journalists and influencers, detailed information, fun facts and high-quality photography are essential – so offering any of these will always get you brownie points.
4. Offer Incentives
There are a number of different ways to use your social media to entice people to visit your stand. What you want to create is a buzz around what you’ll be offering on the day to encourage people to check it out for themselves. You can do this with:
- Competitions – everybody loves the thought of winning something. Host a competition on the day and advertise it on your social media in the run-up. This will encourage people to make a deliberate trip to your stand. You can also run social competitions on the day, for example, asking people to post an unusual picture of your stand or logo using your hashtags for the chance to win a prize.
Benefit Exhibition Stand with Competition
- Freebies - tell your social audience you’ll be giving out freebies on your stand and you’re guaranteed to get the foot traffic. Be aware – this doesn’t always bring in quality leads!
- Promos - release snappy promo videos before the event to generate interest in your stand. This is particularly effective if you have a new product or service that you’re launching.
- Meet & Greet - know anyone famous? Perhaps an industry expert? If you publicise that you’re offering people the chance to meet or do a Q&A with someone important, that can be a huge draw to your stand.
5. Go Live
Don’t forget that your social media obligations don’t stop just because it’s show day. It’s important to keep your audience updated throughout the event. People are interested in all sorts of aspects of trade shows, from setting up to selfies, the stand design process to product demonstrations; you can even do a tour of the exhibition itself from your business’ POV. Livestreaming can be an easy option for on the day – just make sure you plan out your live streaming post beforehand, so you have at least a vague outline of what you want to show. It’s also important to engage with your followers on the day by responding to comments and questions as quickly as you can to make people feel like they’re right there with you.
6. Follow Up
Your stand is dismantled, the van is packed up, and you’re ready to put your feet up after a busy event. However, just because you’re ready to turn your thoughts towards the next big goal doesn’t mean your social followers are. Following up with those who visited your stand or engaged with your social channels during the exhibition is the best way to push these potential new leads. Remember to keep engagements personal – don’t just blanket bomb everyone with the same message. And don’t forget your hashtags!