Remember the good old days of tradeshows; people approached your booth, you shook hands and met and exchanged business cards. Maybe you gave them a pen as a parting gift. Now, with social media you can virtually meet the person months before the tradeshow, become Facebook friends, create a business circle on Google+, share business contacts and tips on LinkedIn, give them a virtual video tour of your company, and tweet them your every move; all before you meet in person. By the time the tradeshow rolls around you can have a customized business plan and contract waiting for them at the tradeshow.
So how do you go from one extreme to the other? Social media is a very important part of business communication today, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in all arenas. Start small and learn how to use one or two different components efficiently and effectively before you try to flood your potential customers with vlogs and blogs and tweets and likes.
Twitter is not what it once was. In the beginning, Twitter was the place to cyber-stalk your favorite celebrities as they shared every little detail of their lives. Today, Twitter has more of a business focus and is perfect for getting the word out about your company. Start advertising your presence at a tradeshow months in advance to create buzz and excitement. Let people know you’re going to be there and it’s going to be amazing. Make your booth a must stop location on the circuit. And don’t stop with announcements, respond to people who ask you questions, be an engaged expert in your field.
Facebook is a great way for your company to invite all of its “friends” to the tradeshow event. Schedule an event and invite everyone who has friended your company Facebook page to come. Follow up with the ones who say they’ll be there by making appointments to meet. Check with the ones who won’t make it to express your regrets and see if there’s any way you can help them.
Don’t stop there. Facebook is also a great way to create excitement about the event with status updates, introduce people to your staff with images, and share highlights of previous tradeshows.
LinkedIn is very similar to Facebook in that you can create an event and invite business connections. It also lets you post information in groups that are relevant to your tradeshow, so you can reach a target audience. You can also set your LinkedIn account to alert you when other people mention the tradeshow so you can try to convince them to come visit your booth.
FYI – HubSpot recently discovered that LinkedIn is 277% more effective with lead generation than Facebook and Twitter.
Foursquare is growing and it is extremely popular among its users. Create your own Foursquare business location at the tradeshow and encourage others to check in with you to receive a giveaway item or to register to be your grand prize winner. It’s a great way to track people and can help bring them to your booth.
Oh how Google+ wants everyone to adopt their social medial platform and abandon Facebook. While this may or may not occur in the future, you shouldn’t get left behind. Create a company profile and start adding business contacts and leads to your circles. It’s free, so earning just one solid customer is worth the effort.
Share video of the products you will be highlighting at the tradeshow, give people a virtual tour of your facility, introduce key staff members, and share moments of the tradeshow. People tend to be very visual and they enjoy videos and pictures. Create buzz before the event, offer recaps as it’s occurring and then remind everyone once the tradeshow has ended.
Get creative and adventurous with your social media marketing and make your tradeshow appearance just a small part of the event.