The other day my husband sent me an email highlighting dates to mark on my calendar. Not the kind where I get to hire a sitter and break out my long-forgotten cocktail dress. Quite the opposite - these are dates he’ll be out of town attending various trade shows and I’ll be flying solo.
Being the Communicator I am, I responded by asking who else he’s letting know he’ll be visiting or presenting at these events. Engineer that he is, he wasn’t sure why he should be letting people know now that he’ll be in Calgary in June or how he should reach out.
It’s no secret that trade shows and conferences are basically networking and in-person marketing events. I’d argue that very few deals are closed at a trade show, but there is potential to lose business if a company opts out of participation. As such, companies spend countless man hours and thousands of dollars designing booths, creating material, and sending representatives. With such a large investment, it’s unwise not to publicize your involvement and assume your vendors, and customers “just know” you’ll be there.
Get Social Before Your Trade Show
Fortunately, social media makes it very easy for a technically driven person to become a communicator. The best place to start is to look up the event website. See what social channels they have, the most common being LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and then follow this 4-Step approach.
- Step 1: Follow their accounts.
- Step 2: Share their posts and add a simple “I’m looking forward to this event. I’ll be at Booth XYZ. Come say hi!” before you post.
- Step 3: Use hashtags – some events will have their own hashtag. It’s perfectly acceptable and very smart to use.
For example, the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston every May already has #OTC2020 on their main website page. Include it every time you mention you'll be attending.
Hashtags are searchable. By including common and branded tags like the OTC example, you’ll become discoverable. Don’t be afraid to come up with your own hashtag as well; just be sure to be consistent.
- Step 4: Take note of where most people engage with your posts. Does one platform get more likes and comments than the others?
Being Social at The Show
Now that you’ve set the stage of what your audience can expect, don’t leave them hanging. The key here is getting the message to the people who want to see it. When they previously responded to your posts, they showed you they’re interested in what you have to say.
Just because you’re standing at your booth or walking the aisles doesn’t mean your social media work is done. However, you’re going to be busy talking to people while at the show so don’t feel the need to post everywhere. Simply focus on the previously noted preferred platform.
Use the 70/20/10 formula to guide you. Take pictures of your booth and teammates, of any swag your handing out, or of any collateral branded by the event organization. Heading into a presentation? Tell your world on their preferred channel. Don’t be afraid to take a picture of another booth you find particularly well-crafted or promoting technology or services that fits your network’s needs (and isn’t in direct competition with what you do for them).
Don’t let your out of office status be the only communication they receive from you. Trade shows by nature are social engagements. Make the best of yours by starting conversations now.