A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing for Trade Shows

Social Media is not a substitute for face-to-face interactions. On the contrary, Social Media appears to work best when blended with in-person events, especially on a marketing level. Learn the basics of using Social Media to enhance your trade show performance.
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Social media (SM) and live events are a match made in marketing heaven. Blame Cupid if you’d like, but there really is nothing like a solid SM presence to buffer your trade show marketing program. 

Let’s use trade show ROI as a quick example.

Proving ROI has always been one of the greatest challenges for trade show managers. Well, SM provides new ways to calculate ROI with analytics that gauge impressions, mentions, and views that are directly attributable to your show. In other words, checking your web traffic can authenticate your show’s effectiveness in extending your brand message.

FREE WHITE PAPER Download our white paper "Demystifying Trade Show ROI"

Another way SM helps is by bringing valuable attendees to your booth. With hundreds of vendors setting up shop, it’s no surprise that roughly 75% of attendees have a preset agenda before they ever enter the show floor. By reaching out to your target audience before the show, you can earn a spot on their calendar. 

So, to ensure these two valuable marketing programs have a happy, life-long marriage, here is our beginner’s guide for SM marketing for Trade Show.

Define your audience 

Defining the audience is something every business does whenever it creates a buyer’s persona or an ideal client profile. The advantages of understanding your customer base are innumerable, the least of which is better curating your brand’s message to meet their tastes. 

Generally, B2B will have a different audience type than B2C, which equates to different kinds of messages. A B2B audience will generally want to hear how your program or business cuts expenses and time or generates more leads and drives sales. A B2C audience may be more interested in how your product and service will serve their interests. 

Choose your social media platform 

Depending on which SM you use, you can discover a lot of information about your audience. Of course, the kind of messaging available varies from platform to platform. Twitter, for instance, only allows 280 characters in a tweet, while Facebook allows you to write entire essays. 

However, you may not have known that the ideal time to post for each platform varies significantly. Here is a list of SM platforms with basic information about the number of posts, the best days, and the best time to publish your message. 

  • Facebook 
    • Best time: 12 pm Wed; 12-1 pm Sat-Sun.; 1-4 pm Thur.-Fri
  • Instagram 
    • Mon.& Thur. are best at any time except between 3-4 pm. Videos perform best at night between 9 pm-8 am. 
  • LinkedIn
    • Best during working hours. 
  • Twitter
    • Can post every day between 12-3 pm and again around 5 pm. Wed. and the weekend are the best days. 
  • Website blog 
    • Good content takes time to create. Posting just two times a week of valuable information will grow your audience. 

You’re not expected to use every platform. Spreading yourself too thin is not ideal, as posting consistency matters the most. Besides, it’s natural to have more followers on one platform than the other. If the ratio is extreme, consider optimizing your SM marketing by focusing on the most successful platform. 

Craft your message 

Don’t skimp on this. Crafting good content is no light matter. And don’t lose sight of what the central message is: “meet us at our booth for this show.” Begin hyping your attendance at the event at least a couple of months in advance. 

Based on your buyer’s journey, you can categorize your content for your pre-show SM marketing. For example, a 3 month SM campaign leading up to your show might follow the classic AIDA model: 

  • Awareness 
    • Share pictures on Insta of times when you previously attended the event.
    • Explain why you’re excited to participate in this year’s show on your blog.
    • Retweet an announcement made by the event producers.
  • Interest
    • Take a poll of your followers asking if they are attending.
  • Desire
    • Send them an email informing them of a giveaway available only if they visit your booth. 
  • Action
    • Have a call to action (CTA) to fill out a form, like, share, and comment. 

What’s unique about this model is you can include all these steps in a single promotional email or Livestream video. Every post should have a CTA in some form. Getting them to commit to seeing your booth through SM is an excellent way to increase your chances of landing on their preset agenda.

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Schedule posts ahead of time 

This is not your only marketing campaign. You have several others, so make sure you try to knock out the content beforehand. This helps maintain a consistent presence on SM and save you time for other projects. Most SM can schedule posts far ahead of time. Use it. And also, refer to the information in the “choose your social media platform” for the best publishing times. 

Host a Livestream event at your booth

So far, we’ve only talked about using SM concerning pre-show marketing and getting people to your booth. However, you can use SM during the event to increase traffic to your website and accounts by hosting a Livestream event. They could be about anything: 

  • A panel discussion comprised of your company’s leadership discussing the company or industry trends
  • Have past clients give live testimonials
  • Introduce a new line of products

You can utilize Livestreaming in another way–it doesn’t have to be a formal event. You could give a tour of the show floor or interview with a thought leader via Instagram reels, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or Periscope. 

The only thing limiting your use of SM at your trade show is your imagination.

Provide experiential elements that are shareable on social media 

We’ve talked about experiential marketing elsewhere on the vlog, but one of the essential components to any experiential element is to make it shareable on SM. For example, many gaming studios attending conferences will contract sculptors to bring one of their video game characters to life. The statue presents a perfect opportunity for fans to take a picture posing next to their favorite character and post it to their SM account.  

Use your SM analytics for proving ROI

Get our whitepaper on demystifying trade show ROI and read the exact formulas for calculating SM media impact and incorporating it into your ROI presentation alongside…

  • Value of current revenue retention
  • Value of current revenue growth
  • Value of cost savings

SM insights go beyond leads and sales by boosting your brand’s visibility. 

Conclusion

We hope this information has provided you with new ideas to try when merging two vital marketing programs. Let us know how you use SM to help build your live event! 

The Trade Group’s custom trade show displays and marketing expertise help boost your brand’s trade show performance to make a big impression on the show floor. Discover what we can do for your next event by contacting us here or giving us a call at 972-734-8585.

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