Events are innately social; they thrive on interaction, engagement, and community. With such a high concentration of news and innovation in one place, it’s no surprise that trade shows and other industry events generate a plethora of content.
Combine social aptitude with almost limitless content, and you have the perfect opportunity for social media success.
You have a solid social media marketing plan for the year, including before and after your brand’s big events, but what about during? If you’re simply scheduling tweets about a new product launch at the show or inviting attendees to swing by the booth, you’re missing out on the chance to not only deepen relationships with your audience, but uncover new advocates and influencers.
Here are three key tactics for taking advantage of social media during a trade show.
1. Be present on the right platform at the right time.
For events, you want to reach audiences outside of (and including) your followers. Fortunately, you don’t need to rely on luck or coincidence to know where your audience is, or when they’ll be around.
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn easily lend themselves to trade show chatter—and event-goers are always paying attention to show buzz.
Twitter is ideal for quick live updates, hashtag usage, multimedia, polls, and conversation monitoring through lists. One of the main benefits of Twitter is the ability to easily ask and answer questions, so be mindful of company mentions. Similarly, Instagram can help you engage in conversations at events, while showcasing the fun, personal side of your brand.
On the other hand, Facebook and LinkedIn are suited for big announcements, event summaries, blogs, and links to longer-form content in general. While the Facebook Live feature can capture your audience’s attention in a space that can be a challenge for brands to organically grow, it should be reserved for major happenings—such as a celebrity appearance or interview.
The best time to post will be somewhat dependent on the content and platform, but as a rule of thumb, live updates perform well. However, the sweet spot begins the day before the event kicks off and ends the day after the show closes. Within this window, peak times are often the start of the day as attendees are being shuttled to the convention center, the afternoon break for lunch, and during early evening hours as people reflect on the day’s finds.
2. Choose your content wisely.
What type of content to post on the fly can pose an intimidating challenge—especially once you’ve exhausted updates about simply being at the show, stopping to say hello, and showing off the booth.
Let’s break it down into three easy mix-and-match options:
- General (positive) show commentary.
- Contest and giveaway details.
- Session or panel quotes. (Remember to include the official event hashtag and attribute the quote to the speaker!)
- Invites for demos, mini booth events (autographs, photo ops), or interviews.
- Links back to your event press kit, company blog, etc.
- City and convention scenery.
- Featured speakers, either at the booth or on a panel.
- Photoshoots with characters, celebrities, and executives.
- Infographics or images with quotes relevant to the show. These can be prepped ahead of time and either scheduled or just placed in a live-tweeter’s arsenal.
- Finalist or award shots.
- Live demos or interviews.
- Customer or industry partner deals and testimonials.
- Footage of a new product unveiling.
- Videos of booth displays and staffers to humanize and show pride in the brand.
- Highlight reels and general show floor footage, which can be captured while at the event and repurposed long after it ends.
No matter what you’re posting, be sure to focus the content on the audience segments you most want to target.
3. Actively listen and authentically engage.
It’s easy to get absorbed in the content you’re posting across social media. But for as much time as you spend creating posts, you should be spending an equal amount of time—if not more—listening.
A tempting way around this is to rely on scheduling social media updates through a software platform. While these programs are helpful and can be used during events, the best social media posts will be done in real time by an actual person.
Influencers, potential customers, and media alike are looking for authentic connections that a scheduled tweet can’t forge.
When monitoring social conversations, look for opportunities for your brand to interject. As an exhibitor, pay attention to posts using the official event hashtag as well as general updates. You never know when you’ll stumble upon a journalist asking for a live pitch idea via Twitter!
From an attendee perspective, see what trends, problems, or questions are emerging from conversations. For example, if you’re a consultant that helps new brands with marketing programs, offer tips on social and position yourself as a resource.
Ultimately, while social media is an invaluable way to amplify your event story, it should do so as a result of posts that add value and enhance the show experience.
Add a social media plan to your event checklist to ensure your next trade show is the talk of Twitter for all the right reasons.
Get more tips that will help you build a strong, relatable presence on social media by downloading Engage in Social Conversations Around Your Brand. This free guide outlines how to participate on key networks without wasting resources or missing opportunities.
Erienne Muldoon is a senior customer content specialist for Virtual Press Office, PR Newswire’s trade show marketing solutions division. VPO helps global event professionals, exhibitors and trade show marketing managers reach their event goals through news distribution and online press kit creation.