There’s no doubt that in-person events marry up with social media quite well. Trade shows and exhibitions are meant to encourage new conversations and connections, and social media fosters connections in an environment where the conversation doesn’t quit.
There are a multitude of 2014 event trend predictions that make mention of how social media will continue to support trade shows and conferences this year. As Jessie Rubin, event producer for Spotify, mentioned in a recent article, “Social sharing at events has become a more prevalent activity over the last few years, often completely without encouragement from event hosts.” This means people are probably talking about your event online whether or not you’re leading the charge. If it were my show, I’d want to have a hand in how the conversation is going.
Your job as the show organizer is to set a simple framework to help foster social sharing. People don’t come to your exhibition to keep their heads buried in their phones and tablets, but they do want to use social media to augment their face-to-face networking. To help nurture social media conversations for your events, keep these tips in mind.
Rule #1: Make social sharing easy
- Build an online conversation hub for your trade show or conference, whether via an event website or event-specific social media pages. Assign the responsibility of managing the online conversations to someone on the team (or yourself), and make sure you are posting updates regularly before, during, and after the event. And, publicize this location in as many places as possible so your attendees have no problem participating.
- Create a short event hashtag and include it in all marketing materials. Remember that Twitter only allows for 140 characters per tweet and you don’t want your hashtag to take up too much precious space.
- If you have an event app, integrate tightly with social networks to allow quick and easy sharing and networking among attendees. Attendees will be using your app to pull in information. Why not help them push out information as well?
Rule #2: Make social media involvement meaningful
- Posting regularly is great, but remember that quality counts big time if you want to capitalize on the exponential value of content sharing. The quality rule applies to show organizers and exhibitors alike. In other words, nobody wants their news feed cluttered by your self-serving promotional posts. Instead, take the opportunity while you have attendee’s attention to reinforce the show’s value by posting event-relevant content and statistics.
- Yes, network does matter when it comes to social media. If you know your audience as well as you should, you know which social media networks they use most. This is where you should link. You don’t have to spread yourself thin across every platform available. Pick the ones that matter.
Rule #3: Make social posts motivating
- Answer the single most important question from your attendee’s perspective before you post: What’s in it for me? Does your update provide them with necessary information about the trade show or conference? Does it help them in their line work? Does it provide them with an opportunity to win or inherit something of true value? If not, think twice before posting.
- If there is a giveaway at an event, you should surely use social media as a way of getting the word out. Just don’t make that the only thing you post about. Too many tweets and a prize starts to lose its luster.
- When attendees see their peers posting, they might be motivated to do the same. You might want to consider a way to display live social media feeds at your trade show or exhibition, like using a tagboard.
Remember, attendees are probably going to be talking about your show online whether you are managing the conversation or not. If you’re a show organizer, I’d recommend not only taking the reins, but making it matter.