Tradeshows and social media: Make them a winning combination

Getting out to see your industry peers is a proven way to create new business opportunities. This is particularly true for B2B enterprises. For these companies, using social media before, during and after an event can be an excellent way to prepare, and make a maximum amount of people aware of your participation.

Event participation is more important than ever

Have a look at this table from Chad Pollitt, an online marketing expert. The graph is taken from a 2015 survey on B2B enterprise trends, which was conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs*. At the top of the list, 73% of those surveyed said their most effective tactics are events where people meet (conventions, conferences, etc.)

Content_promotion_manifesto_Chad_Pollitt

And, according to the study, this result is up 4% from 2014. This growing popularity is corroborated by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, which recently stated that the exhibition industry is now experiencing its highest growth rate since mid-2012. If you weren’t yet attending industry events, now’s the time to start!

In no particular order, here are some of the benefits of attending industry shows:

  • Most people are there to establish connections
  • Most people there have the power to purchase for their company
  • You get to be face to face, explore topics and establish relationships and with your prospects
  • You get to show/demonstrate your products and services and get peoples’ reactions
  • You can learn a lot about your competition
  • You get a feel for overall industry trends and prospect interests
  • You’ll get positive impact and sales opportunities from the event long after it’s over, through the contacts you’ve made.

Use social media to facilitate these connections, empower your learning and reach out to your prospects.

  • Go through the show’s curriculum (events, speakers) and pick out the hot topics, the ones you know will be on your target audience’s mind. Set your opinion on them and talk about them in social media in the weeks prior to the event.
  • If you use content curation software (Buffer or ScoopIt for example), start collecting relevant articles on these subjects. As you broadcast them be sure to include your take on the subject.
  • If you have an idea for a complete article or blog post on an important issue, even better. Make sure it is useful information for your target audience.
  • Keep a constant eye on the show’s Twitter streams to see if there are any interesting conversations that you can join, or ask the organiser a question or two about the show’s theme.
  • During the show, post photos of your booth, your people, the show events and happenings. Whether it is Twitter, LinkedIn, G+ or Facebook, it is always preferable to include an image with your social media post.
  • Be on the lookout for reoccurring preoccupations. Take note of the concerns or pain points people at the show have, either on social media or at your booth. It might be easy to forget these when you are in the thick of things, but they are valuable subjects to address in your social media posts and other media, long after the show is done.
  • If you’ve met, seen or heard about any influencers in your industry that were at the show, look them up and follow them.
  • It might be appropriate for some prospects to be reached out to directly on social media.
  • Do you have any presentations at the show? Upload them to SlideShare prior to going. Carefully choose your release time for your presentation for maximum impact.

Both social media and live events have an “in the moment” feel that make them natural for each other. Using social media in your show preparation and participation gives you the opportunity put your product, your services and your brand in a variety of new and refreshing perspectives for your potential customers. Keep in mind that there is no set formula here. Up to you to decide the best combinations of actions for your business.

*Chart from the Content Promotion Manifesto by Chad Pollitt  2015:https://connect.relevance.com/contentpromotion-manifesto

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