There are many good reasons to attend a tradeshow or exhibition, no matter how big or small your company may be, or whatever the length of time you have been in business.
I work for a tradeshow display company, and in recent years we've seen an increasing number of businesses embrace social media at tradeshows. Outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ can help make the most of the experience, hitting each of what should be your three main targets:
- Promoting your brand
- Meeting existing and prospective customers
- Having fun
(That last point may seem trivial, but taking along your more sociable and outgoing team members will add value to the experience, as well as giving staff a change of scenery and a new and diverse set of challenges to meet.)
Much of the following advice could apply to social media in everyday business, but we find that tradeshows are where up-to-the-second media such as Twitter come into their own, helping make the physical event virtual, and bringing something very localized to a wider—and potentially global—audience.
One of the key components of using social media at a tradeshow is preparation. Draw up a strategy beforehand, in the weeks building up to the show.
If your business doesn't have a Facebook page or Twitter account, set them up. Begin tweeting about the tradeshow well in advance, and if possible include the official Twitter name or hashtag for the event.
On the subject of hashtags, if possible find out what the official or most common hashtags applicable to the tradeshow will be. Essentially, you don't want to be the only company there using, for example, #NYCExpo, when everybody else is using #ExpoNYC.
David Llewellyn writes about marketing and social media for Everything Displays tradeshow booths, and lives in Cardiff, in the UK.