Using Twitter to Improve your Trade Show Campaign

Getting attention at a busy trade show can be tough; there are countless distractions and opportunities all going on at the same time.  However, trade shows and vendors using social media can find quicker ways to stand out, forge meaningful interactions and develop potential customer relationships. Here are ways that trade show attendees and vendors can use Twitter to great effect to maximize their visibility and outreach.

Flitter into the Fast Lane with Twitter

Trade shows have become much more productive in recent years, thanks to an increasing use of Twitter by attendees, speakers and vendors alike. Using Twitter on mobile devices and laptops is helping to keep everyone working more efficiently, enabling more meetings and gaining better overall business results.

Twitter allows users to connect with their circle of “followers” and receive updates from them in their news feed.  Twitter’s immediacy encourages up-to-the-minute posts about what people are doing or thinking.  In a professional context, Twitter means instant communication that pays off in a big way.

How Twitter Works

Twitter users should download the Twitter app to their phone, and then set up a profile. Next step is to search for people in the industry that you want to follow. When that’s good to go, a user can start to Tweet. Posts on Twitter or “Tweets” are short (up to 140 characters – its simplicity is its genius).  A sample trade show Tweet might be “Great turnout today at [name of trade show],” or “Big sponsor giveaway happening right now in conference room A!”.

Using Twitter to Improve your Trade Show CampaignTrade show organizers usually offer Twitter users a conference ‘hashtag’ to get insights into what is happening and what is being said about the conference. A hashtag is an organizational tool for Twitter topics, using the # as the hashtag, followed by the word to be searched. In other words, the XYZ conference might use the hashtag #xyzconference for Twitter users to follow along on the social media network.

The popularity of hashtags can sometime overwhelm users, especially in relation to mega events like the Grammys (#Grammys) or the Super Bowl (#SB48). When millions of Twitter users are using the same hashtag, the sheer volume of tweets can become incredible. Fortunately, this only happens at the largest of trade shows like CES and other massive industry trade shows.

Pre-Show Promoting via Tweets

Before a show actually starts, many attendees and vendors use conference hashtags to promote the trade show on the front-end. Find the hashtag for the show on the show’s website or Twitter page and us it in your posts.  That’s the best way to let your industry and attendees know you will be participating at a trade show.

An example of a promotional Tweet using hashtags would be, “Looking forward to #tradeshow2014! Come see us next to the northwest entry way!” Using the hashtag in your Tweet would get your post to both your feed and to the show’s feed, providing much broader online visibility for your company.

The more posts you have with your hashtag, the easier you are to find.  So, in addition to the event’s hashtag, you can use another of your own or find another popular one that will also draw in your audience (ex: #tradeshowgiveaway). Note that Twitter advises using no more than two hashtags per Tweet.

Here are a few steps to take using Twitter before a major tradeshow:

  • Plan for the event: Find the right hashtags for your show, along with the organizer’s show hashtag, for early insights into special events, parties, meeting opportunities or sales leads.
  • Use Twitter to market your products: This is where you can share information about you ads, products, videos, blog posts or landing pages that relate to the conference.
  • Search for industry influencers: Find key media outlets and other industry influencers that will be at the show, and introduce yourself or your company to them. It may pay off well while you’re at the show.

In addition, Twitter can be used to initiate a dialogue among followers (ex: “What are you looking forward to most at #tradeshow2014?”).  The bigger the conversation gets the more visibility you have.

Using Twitter during the Show

Be forewarned – at a major trade show, Twitter can play a key role, and its speed is sometimes overwhelming for new users. But here are some key tips for any Twitter user at a trade show:

  • Stay tuned to Twitter: During the show, post photos, read hashtags, share observations and respond to others to become an integral part of the Twitter information flow. You might even get conference invites that you weren’t expecting.
  • Be unpredictable: Maybe your trade show team can offer an unexpected prize for visitors to your booth. Or you could launch a rate cut on services for an hour to build up new clients.

These live-action Tweets are useful because they get shared by the Tweeter’s followers, which get shared with others and can lead to more followers.  Continue to use the show’s hashtag, and any others more specific to your company or industry.

Using Social Media to Follow-Up

When a trade show ends, then the follow-up period begins. Work to make connections in the post-show interactions.

  • Follow up: Contact the prospects after the show with information about your brand. You can even try to remember particular things a prospect said about working with you.
  • Send thank you tweets: Follow up a day or two after the show with tweets about cool people you met, solid connections you started and more.
  • Open a dialogue among attendees: For Example, “What did everyone enjoy most about the weekend? #tradeshow2014”).

The most important thing Twitter does for a trade show is that it helps increase visibility between the show, its vendors, and the attendees.  Twitter networking also promotes meaningful interactions with attendees.  By inviting attendees to comment on Twitter feeds, trade shows make their guests and their opinions feel valued.  Using Twitter promotes long-term relationships among clients and trade shows. Start tweeting and get ready for your next trade show.

Northwest Creative Imaging, LLC (NWCI) is a well-established, online retailer of quality trade show products. NWCI has been in the trade show and manufacturing business for years, and offers several lines of products to accommodate all budgets. NWCI knows the importance of using Twitter at trade shows as a great way for your business to stand out for promotional purposes.

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