Tradeshows are inherently social events.
Depending on the size and duration of the expo, you may interact with hundreds of people before packing up your booth and heading home. Nearly every one of the folks who pass by and pick up whatever freebies you’re offering to attract attention represents potential new business.
You can maximize the chance of taking these booth visitors from would-be to actual new customers by planning a few strategic maneuvers.
To begin with, make your next tradeshow a social event – in the Twitter and Facebook sense of the word.
Start in the days and weeks leading up to the event.
Social media is an ideal forum for crowdsourcing. If you know many of your Twitter and Facebook fans will be attending the tradeshow or have in the past, get their opinion about what makes a good booth. Then, implement some of their suggestions and prove it with pictures posted during the event.
This strategy will help reinforce your followers’ relationship with your brand by demonstrating that you listen to your customers’ needs.
Are you giving away a high-value item at a tradeshow? Announce it ahead of time through social media. Post pictures of the prize in the days leading up to the expo and let your followers know they must visit your booth for a chance to win.
Use Social Media During The Event
During the event, use social media to publicize your booth location and encourage people to come meet your brand representatives. Use the event’s official hashtag for live tweeting.
If there isn’t an official hashtag, make up your own and publicize it. One way to do this at the actual event is to have the hashtag printed on the back of custom T-shirts worn by your brand ambassadors.
Target your social media fans by doing a separate giveaway just for them. For example, if you’re offering logoed earbuds to everyone who visits your booth, offer something different – logoed USB flash drives, perhaps – to people who can show on their smartphone that they tweeted to your brand or checked in to your booth on Foursquare.
Throughout the tradeshow, post pictures of your booth, your brand ambassadors and visitors on Facebook, Twitter, your company blog or other favorite social network.
Whether you are having tradeshow visitors register for a prize or simply sign up to receive a call from your company after the event, make sure to ask for their Twitter handle or other social media contact information on the form. Tweet them a personal thank-you at the end of the day. This can be a great way to beef up your list of followers.
Another option: Have visitors register for your giveaway on a laptop or tablet available at your booth. At the end of the sign-up, give them the opportunity to share with their own followers a message that includes a link to your company. Increase the chance of people sharing your company link by offering a photo booth with the option to automatically share images to Facebook or Twitter.
You can take the photo booth concept one step further to create a lasting, physical brand and event keepsake. Hand out magnet photo frames that feature the tradeshow name and your brand logo. If you collect mailing addresses from the leads gathered at the event, you may also opt to send the magnet photo frames after the tradeshow as a follow-up touchpoint.
Crowdsource After The Event Too!
Finally, if you want to make your tradeshow a truly social event, don’t forget to crowdsource afterwards. Ask followers what they liked and didn’t like about your booth. And be sure to remember their recommendations next time!