6 tips for exhibitors using social media at trade shows

Exhibiting at a trade show but don't know where to start with social media? Use these six tips for maximum social exposure.

What do you ultimately hope to accomplish by exhibiting at a trade show? For many natural businesses, you'll want to attract and sign deals with buyers, and get media and bloggers to your booth in hopes that they'll cover your products as a top show trend.

Here are six steps you can take to make that happen.

1. Promote your trade show plans at least a month out.
Tweet your show news release; tease your new products by sharing photos; include a graphic on your website encouraging people to come by your booth (don't forget the booth number as many people plan their show path in advance). Also promote your presence at the show in your email signature.

2. Use the official hashtag.
It should go without saying, but too often we see trade show exhibitors tweeting, but not even using the official show hashtag. If you want to a part of the online show dialogue, start by using the right hashtag.

Editor's note: Natural Products Expo West (#expowest) and Natural Products Expo East (#expoeast). The official Twitter account of the show is @NatProdExpo (not @expowest or @expoeast)

3. Tease attendees to your booth.
Instead of tweeting every few minutes "Come by booth #3100!!!" let people know why they need to stop by the booth. For example, you may be currently mixing up an amazing mango smoothie or hosting an author book signing.

4. Direct tweeps to relevant content.
While hundreds, if not thousands, of influential trade peers are actively discussing the trade show online, take the opportunity to direct them to relevant content featuring hot industry topics. For example, has your CEO taken a stance on non-GMO? Post a link on Twitter to demonstrate your company's thought leadership on this topic.

5. Double-check Twitter handles before you tweet.
When in doubt about Twitter usernames (or even if you're 99% sure) always double-check to ensure you're tweeting the right folks. Otherwise, your tweet will be lost. For example, natural food company Saffron Road is @SaffronRoadFood and not @SaffronRoad.

6. Tweet directly to people—and follow up when they reply.
It's just good social media etiquette.

Retailers: Download 30 more social media tips for free that will boost sales and store buzz.

Lisa Mabe is founder and principal of Hewar Social Communications and a recognized expert in social communications, multicultural marketing and the specialty foods field.

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