For event exhibitors, it’s all about the leads. No matter which conference you’re attending, finding new ways to drum up sales is a welcome addition to your tried-and-true tactic portfolio. Enter, social media.
Whether you’re already promoting your brand on free social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (or are just getting started), you’ll find that ROI doesn’t always necessarily mean dollars. But building brand awareness, relationships and buzz before and during the show will increase foot traffic, which translates into sales.
Why social media and why now? According to EXHIBITOR magazine’s 2010 Marketing Technology Survey, more than 72 percent of respondents use various technologies to specifically enhance their exhibit-marketing efforts, with social media as one of the most popular technologies.
Here are seven effective ways to increase booth traffic by hopping on the social media bandwagon.
1. Start before the event
Publicize that you’ll be at the conference on all your social networks weeks in advance. Consider changing Twitter or YouTube backgrounds and descriptions to include your booth number. Or, create an event on Facebook and invite those who like your page to attend. A couple tweets a week about the event (and any giveaways or contests you’ll host there) is appropriate.
2. Use the conference hashtag—and create your own
Find out what the Twitter hashtag is for conference and use it in all your tweets—before, during and after the event. Follow this hashtag throughout conference to participate in the discussion and talk directly to those who might be interested in your company. You can even create your own hashtag to surround a contest or giveaway. For example, use #tastetest to publicize free samples at your booth.
3. Offer swag or host a contest
By far one of the biggest drives of traffic while at the event is a contest or giveaway. Be sure to host it during exhibit hours and require event goers to stop by your booth to register or receive the prize. While at the event, post to Facebook and Twitter about what the giveaway is and how to win. Then, make sure someone is manning your booth and prepared to receive visitors. T-shirts, free product or larger items like iPads or iPods are great for giveaways.
4. Do something charitable at the event
Offer attendees the opportunity to give back while visiting your booth through a charitable cause that’s of interest to your company. This could range from making cards for kids in a hospital, to signing an environmental pledge, to donating $1 for every person who visits your booth. Use social media to get the word out about your cause, and highlight or personally thank attendees for stopping by. Also, if it makes sense for your event, offer a way online for non-attendees to get involved.
5. Respond to the conversation
The key to social media is not just listening, but participating. Anytime someone mentions you or your brand during the show, be sure to quickly respond. Plus, keep an eye out for those who are talking about similar brands or topics relevant to your company, and send them a tweet or message to stop by your booth. The more personal, the better.
There are several ways to monitor conversation during the event. One is through the conference hashtag; another, through a search for your company name on networks like LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. But that can take too much time away from exhibiting. Instead, aggregate them all in one place with a free service like Netvibes and have a laptop set up in your booth so you can quickly scan the chatter.
6. Organize a Tweetup in your booth
Tweetups are like reverse networking sessions where the goal is to meet face-to-face with whom you’ve been tweeting. Invite all your Twitter followers to attend a tweetup in your booth and offer some exclusive swag or an official tweetup sticker—something that differentiates them from other visitors. This allows other attendees to see the perks of following your company on Twitter.
7. Post photos and videos
Go beyond text to post photos and videos of your company at the event. Consider gathering video testimonials from attendees or shooting a photo gallery walkthrough of your booth. Use a FlipCam or other digital camera to ensure quick and easy uploading of your multimedia online during the show or immediately after it wraps. This helps generate buzz for your brand and allows your social media audience outside of the event to feel connected.
What tactics do you use when exhibiting? Share them in the comments.