Social media can fuel marketing at trade shows

As seen in Westchester County Business Journal

Trade show marketing is a great way for companies to get in front of their vertical targets and make new connections. Trade shows (and conferences) can also be a great opportunity to get company thought leaders speaking in front of the right audience and to enhance expert positioning.

While face-to-face and traditional marketing tactics comprise the lion’s share of trade show marketing, social media can help to drive foot traffic to your booth, increase the reach of at-show speaking engagements and optimize the value of your overall trade show marketing experience. Here’s an overview of how social media marketing can help support your overall trade show strategy:

Blog

A blog is a great place to tease your upcoming trade show presence, including any special in-booth happenings (special guests, product demos/previews, giveaways, etc.), drive registration for associated speaking engagements/workshops and position one’s company as being a thought leader that keeps abreast of industry trends and happenings.

A blog is also a great place to recap your team’s top takeaways from the show (especially valuable insights for clients and prospects who couldn’t attend themselves), share video excerpts of any workshops your team presented and build upon trends seen during the show.

Video

Video is a great way to help those who couldn’t attend the show to share in the experience. If you have a special product demo at your booth, a guest speaker stopping by, information sessions happening on the show floor or other unique marketing opportunities occurring, consider how you can share these events during and following the event.

You can:

• Shoot short videos on your smartphone for social sharing.

• Use the footage to keep your YouTube channel fresh.

• Seize an opportunity to experiment with extremely short-format content through Vine.

• Compile a collection of clips from the day into a longer-format piece for distribution through email marketing.

Existing contacts

Existing clients, former clients and your database of prospects should all be engaged in your pre-trade show marketing strategy. Whether you facilitate associated conversations in a company-owned LinkedIn group, deploy a stream of teaser tweets or employ a multiweek email marketing campaign to drive attendance for your CEO’s workshop, this is a vital audience — not to mention one that has already been vetted and is primed to engage and, ideally, take action.

LinkedIn

Leveraging LinkedIn is about more than promoting your trade show presence on a company page and driving traffic to associated blog content. It’s about tapping into the expansive networks of your sales team and other key folks who will be representing your company at the trade show. Consider prepping them with pre-formatted updates to share leading up to show, including opportunities to connect with them day-of-show.

Facebook

Plan to aggregate a gallery of images from the trade show that you can post immediately following the event. Also consider what updates you can share during the day of the trade show to impart value to those who aren’t in attendance. Of course, you can include links to the Facebook photo gallery in post-show email marketing as well.

Twitter

Twitter is a great way to share key show takeaways with your online audiences. Whether a member of your team is attending educational seminars taking place during the show and can ‘live tweet’ some key takeaways or you have a colleague on-hand to live tweet your CEO’s show seminar, succinct bites of content (including but not limited to quotes, factoids and statistics) lend themselves beautifully to being tweeted and are great ways to show your company is ‘plugged in’ to what is happening in your industry and in your clients’ industries.

Whether your company is a trade show marketing veteran and a social media novice or well-versed in both, integrating your online and offline marketing is key to optimizing trade show marketing success. It’s also a great opportunity to cross-pollinate activities between your sales and marketing teams to drive meaningful — and measurable — action, thereby increasing your trade show return on investment.

Danielle M. Cyr is vice president of integrated marketing for Co-Communications, a marketing and public relations agency with offices in Mount Kisco, Manhattan and Farmington, Conn. She can be reached at Danielle@cocommunications.com.