Author Tim Patterson, @tradeshowguy on Twitter
Social Media is no longer just for the bleeding edge folks like it was a year or two ago. Now everyone seems to be jumping into the pool. Many are looking before they leap – and some are not!
Basic questions that management asks are, “What’s the ROI on our investment in Social Media?” – or – “How can you justify the investment in resources so that it makes good business sense?”
Good, valid questions. When marketing around a tradeshow or other event, your goal is to use these new tools to bring people to your booth. Before jumping into sending out Tweets, you’ll need a plan:
First, determine your objectives: Are you launching a new product? Connecting with old customers? Trying to increase sales? In fact, each show that you do may have a somewhat different set of objectives:
• Show 1: Objectives: a) sales, b) connecting with current customers
• Show 2: Objectives: a) lead gathering, b) adding to our e-mail list
• Show 3: Objectives: a) new product launch, b) new branding/look (new booth or graphics)
• Show 4: Objectives: a) sales of new product, b) introduce company to new area of the country or world
• …and so on…
Once your plan is outlined, start filling in the holes by answering several questions that relate to your Social Media efforts:
• Who’s going to lead the charge?
• Who’s on the front lines Tweeting, updating the blog and Facebook pages? What will the tweets consist of? What will you do online to draw booth visitors?
• If you are going to put up videos on YouTube and your blog, who’s going to write, shoot and produce (and upload)?
• Once the plan is finalized, who will need to sign off on it? Who is required to implement the plan?
Bottom line: Twitter, Facebook and other social media can be used to drive traffic to both your online pages and your tradeshow booth. If you’re shooting videos either pre-show, or during the show, you can use Twitter to drive traffic to the YouTube postings or to the blog posts where you’ve embedded the video. Then with those blog posts, you can elaborate on what people can find at your booth.
So let’s look at some ways that you can specifically use Twitter to generate traffic and buzz at your tradeshow appearances:
1. Booth Promotions: Got a prize to giveaway? Regularly tweeting about what’s going on at your tradeshow booth is a good way to bring visitors by, and helps remind non-attendees of the kinds of things your company is doing.
2. Announcements: Got a media event? Unveiling a new product? Is there a demo or celebrity in your booth? Tweet it out, and let your followers, and prospective booth visitors, know.
3. Conferences and Break-out Sessions: Tweeting insights about presentations and ideas helps bring you closer to people who are there…as well as connect you with ones who are not. Business execs find this useful.
4. Raves: Love a booth? Promotion? Graphic? Break-out session? Meet a cool dude/chick? Tweet out a rave. Works even better if they’re on Twitter; if so, be sure to use their handle.
5. Ask/Answer Questions: Need an answer to an industry question? Trying to find a good restaurant or watering hole? Ask and ye shall receive.
6. Engage in Conversations: Similar to #5, but perhaps on a more casual or personal level. A conversation may only be a few tweets long, but even a short one can be engaging.
7. Tweet-Ups: Seems every tradeshow or conference has a tweet-up of some sort. If you’re going, re-tweet the location/time. If not, do it anyway.
8. What You Are Doing?: This kind of tweet can be easily overdone, but if cleverly packaged, it doesn’t hurt to know what other people are doing and where. Could bring back a good response.
The underlying strategy is to continue to connect and communicate with your community – your fans, your customers and hangers-on, and those that you would like to do business with. And, if you are at a booth, don’t forget to include the booth number!
Learn what people are talking about on Twitter by searching for keywords that relate to your product, company and industry: http://search.twitter.com. Track comments and respond or chime in when appropriate.
Social media is an ongoing engagement. You don’t live or die by one tweet or one event. It goes on, just as your more traditional marketing efforts will.
Finally, if you’re tweeting about the International Home + Housewares Show, be sure to insert the #housewares hashtag identifier so that anyone searching that tag can see your tweet. By using that hashtag, your Tweet will also appear on the big screen on the Twitter Wall located in the Lakeside Center Lobby, near the Bloggers Lounge.
Tim Patterson is VP of Sales and Marketing for Interpretive Exhibits, a full-service custom exhibit house in Salem, Oregon. He spent 25 years as a radio broadcaster before moving onto tradeshow sales. He’s a long-time podcaster, blogger, presenter, trainer and speaker. He can be reached directly at +1-503-371-9411 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.