Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

January 2013

7 Surefire Ways to Energize Social Media at Tradeshows #6 – Create a Roadmap

See previous posts in this series: BasicsLook at What Others are DoingDon’t Publish Selfish ContentDon’t Just Push Stuff OutBuild Relationships and Try New Things.

Now that you’ve worked your way up through the basics (social media audit, social media policy, listening) and have been exposed to the various elements of social media/tradeshow promotion, you’re ready to create a playbook.

only a little off-course

This roadmap will take you through each show throughout the year. My suggestion is to create a playbook for each show that you go to, although if you do several similar small shows, you can probably create one plan and work it for each of those shows. For the bigger shows, though, you should create an individual calendar.

First, settle on your realistic goals. Determine what you did last year in terms of leads, press mentions, sales, etc., and then set this year’s goals in each area.

Identify your point person for the effort. Often this is one person who leads a small support staff.

Identify content you want to create, and how you’re going to create it. This can range from blog posts, to videos (testimonials, client interviews, guest interviews, demos, etc.), photographs and more. Identify who’s going to create and curate the content.

Identify any promotions you are implementing that are show-specific. These could focus on new product releases, special show deals and more.

Integrate your social media efforts with the rest of your marketing efforts. Too often, companies fail to successfully create a synergy with the social media marketing and the traditional marketing efforts such as radio or TV, print and direct mail. By getting these two areas together (if they aren’t already), you can create a monster promotion that is more than the sum of the two parts.

Finally, create your calendar. A good calendar will start a year before the show, and will include any post-show efforts of content release from this year’s show. About six months before next show, you’ll want to meet and brainstorm ideas for using social media to bring people to your booth. Then set the various tasks at 3 months, 2 months, a month and the weeks leading up to the show. This might be something such as searching for the show’s hashtag to check activity or contacting any promotion partners to start implementing the various tasks that complement each other. Toss any ideas into your calendar – chances are you can’t overdo what the calendar tells you to do. Make notes as you go along and use those to adjust and make course corrections for the next show.

Now that you’ve created your playbook with promotion, content ideas and tasks, just execute the plays as they come up.


  • Set realistic goals
  • Identify the point person
  • Identify promotions
  • Integrate social media with traditional efforts
  • Create your calendar
  • Execute the plan!
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 photo credit: pnoeric

7 Surefire Ways to Energize Social Media at Tradeshows #5 – Try New Things

See previous posts in this series: BasicsLook at What Others are DoingDon’t Publish Selfish ContentDon’t Just Push Stuff Out and Build Relationships.

Yes, you MUST try new things. One of the coolest ‘experiments’ I’ve run across for pre-show marketing was done by Griffin Technologies of Nashville (described here on the Classic Exhibits blog).

In a nutshell, Griffin refurbished a VW camper van, set up a website to dump a bunch of fun content on, then headed off to the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, all while continuing to blog and post videos to the blog. By the time they arrived at the show, hundreds of people were waiting for them – as successful a pre-show marketing experiment as I’ve seen in ages.

So, yes, you must try new things. Experiment. Remember that what worked last year may not this year. This goes back to those idea that you may adapt or copy that we discussed in an earlier segment of this series.

Day/Night Meadow/Tree

Ask yourself – what do my customers want? Is there any way to use that knowledge to crate a buzz? Do your products or services have an element that you can exploit that other companies can’t? What can you use to get their attention?
Don’t be afraid to try a new angle on an old promotion. Put a twist on another company’s successful social media promotion. Experiment, experiment, experiment!

How can you get their attention? By looking at how others have succeeded at getting attention gives you a clue to how you can try to get attention as well. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on a promotion, whether it’s old or new. If it feels like it fits your product, service and company, it’s probably worth a shot.


  • Try new things
  • Experiment
  • What worked last year may not work this year
  • What do customers want?
  • What will get their attention?
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 photo credit: yugenro

7 Surefire Ways to Energize Social Media at Tradeshows #4 – Build Relationships

See previous posts in this series: BasicsLook at What Others are DoingDon’t Publish Selfish Content and Don’t Just Push Stuff Out.

What? Social media ain’t for building relationships! Those so-called conversations are just a tweet or two or maybe three and then nothing! How can you build a relationship on that?

First, let’s define relationship in terms of what it means in social media. Here’s what it is NOT: a date, a lover, your mother, your best friend or a co-worked. Those are all relationships that are done face-to-face. And they’re all different.

Creating a relationship with someone online is different. It’s about finding someone that is like-minded in at least a few ways and supporting them in their endeavors. Beyond that, your online social media relationships can be spread far and wide. You may be able to connect with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or your favorite rock star. Okay, that’s not a real relationship, but consider that you may be able to make a valuable connection with some one that’s higher up in a company that can open doors for you.

So, to keep these online relationships on the positive side, here are the things to remember.

Honesty is still the best policy. You may not be a 75-year old guy in a trailer impersonating a 22-year old model, but there are levels of deception that some people still feel are okay. I disagree. There’s no level that’s acceptable. If you represent yourself as someone you’re not, it will eventually catch up to you.

Megan Fox Mechanical Reproduction

Be authentic. Slightly different than honesty, authenticity has to do with sharing thoughts online that you truly believe and support. Are you being true to your vision with your postings, or are you just being irreverent, short-sighted and snarky at times?

Be real to create trust. Now that you’ve committed to being honest and authentic, this ‘real-ness’ leads to building trust. The acts that build trust over time contribute to your overall online reputation, which helps you build your business.

Advocates are an incredible asset, so pay attention and nurture them. In the social media world, an advocate is someone who will stand up and defend your company and your products, and go to great lengths to stand in on your behalf in situations where you would otherwise have to go on the offensive to clear up misinformation or deal with a situation that could create negative press. When you identify a true advocate, do a little research and find out who they are (easy to do if they’re on Facebook or Twitter), and if appropriate, gift ‘em now and then, so they’ll continue to be an asset.

Really connect. When you find someone online that resonates with you in some noticeable way, reach out to him or her. Look up their business. Pick up the phone. Send a personal email. I’ve made terrific friends a few times by just picking up the phone. It helps put a personality to the online presence, and next time you’re in their city, make a point of trying to schedule a lunch or coffee. You’ll be glad you did.


  • Honesty is the best policy
  • Be authentic
  • Be real to create trust
  • Advocates are an incredible asset
  • Really connect!

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 photo credit: Josh Jensen

7 Surefire Ways to Energize Social Media at Tradeshows – #3: Don’t Just Push Stuff Out

See previous posts in this series: Basics, Look at What Others are Doing, and Don’t Publish Selfish Content

I recently was invited by an unnamed exhibit company to ‘like’ them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. So I went to check out their social media sites and see what kinds of things they were up to.

Hate to say it, but I was pretty disappointed. The Facebook page was just self-promotional regurgitations and the Twitter account echoed the Facebook page. The posts were simply ‘New Catalog!’ or ‘Special Promotion’ or ‘ Which sign is right for you?’

The first rule of social media engagement is ‘don’t just push stuff out.’ Take time to do the following, in an intentional manner:

Listen: know what’s going on in your industry. Follow other companies and bloggers that are active and knowledgeable. See how they interact with their audience. Read what kinds of topics they’re posting about and what the reaction is from their readers. Track keywords using Google Alerts, so you’re getting notified in real time about what’s going on. Even if you did nothing else, the simple act of listening to your industry using social media will undoubtedly be quite an education.

Engage: once you have listened for a while, you’ll see what types of questions are being asked and what topics are important to your industry. Jump in and make comments and ask questions of your own.

Respond: when your followers make comments, don’t just let them sit there. Ignoring comments, especially negative comments, is bad form and bad practice. Take some time to respond with a thoughtful comment or question of your own. Make it a conversation. Yes, some online conversations are very short – in fact, most are – but they’re still valuable because you’re showing the other person that you care enough to respond.

Measure: as your engagement builds over time, take some time on a regular basis to measure a few things. Facebook is great for measurement. On your company page, you can look at your page insights and get revealing demographic information about who is responding, listening and who’s talking about those various topics. Twitter does not offer nearly as much information, but you do have the ability to count re-tweets, which is a great measure of the value of that particular post. You can also track Twitter followers and trends. By using Google Analytics, you can see how much traffic Twitter drives to your blog or website.

Help! Yes, you can offer help to those in your industry. Whenever the opportunity comes up, offer suggestions, answer questions, and be a resource. If you do this with the mindset that you’re not trying to just create a sale, but to position yourself as a knowledgeable leader, it will help you in the long run and lead to good things.

Be intentional and consistent: when it comes to intention, a lot of us have good intentions. But unfortunately good intentions don’t always mean good outcomes. So when you think about intention when it comes to social media, start with the idea that you’re going to focus on just a few things: don’t get distracted by pet photos, goofy videos or hot links. Instead, be there with the intent to uncover what people in your industry are talking about, what’s bugging them, and how you might help.  Consistency is important, too, as it puts you in the mix on a regular basis. Consistency is NOT spending an hour today and an hour next Monday and another hour on your company’s social media because no one else is doing it. No, consistency is making sure that you, or someone in your company is tasked to show up and listen, learn, engage and respond on a regular basis, hopefully at least once or twice day, even if only for ten minutes at a time. Regularity, consistency and focused intention will put you in front of 90% of your competitors.

All Toylike

Collaborate: so you want more content for your blog? Or you want something to chat about on Twitter? Or you need photos for Facebook or video for YouTube? Contact one of your social media followers that pique your interest and work out a mini-deal: you’ll help them out if they help you out. Interview someone. Exchange blog posts. Working together not only helps create more content more quickly, it fosters relationship-building, which spreads your name and your company’s name throughout cyberspace in a positive way.

To recap:

  • Don’t just push stuff out
  • Listen
  • Engage
  • Respond
  • Measure
  • Help
  • Be Intentional and Consistent
  • Collaborate

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photo credit: ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓

7 Surefire Ways to Energize Social Media at Tradeshows – #2 – Don’t Publish Selfish Content

See previous posts in this series: The Basics and Look at What Others Are Doing.


The most common trap bloggers and social media content publishers fall into is the old ‘tell everybody everything’ trap. This misleading line of thinking leads them to publish blog posts that are self-centered and of little use to their intended audience. The kind of content I’m referring to could be press releases about company awards, self-congratulatory ‘look how cool we are’ posts and items that have no intent behind them to assist their readership in any way, shape or form.

At this point your blog or Facebook page becomes nearly unreadable and useless, except as an example of what NOT to do.

If your company is not blogging yet, here’s a roundup of ideas that may inspire you to start blogging soon.

So what do you do on your blog or Facebook pages?

Easy: identify and solve problems. If you haven’t already identified several issues that your product or service helps alleviate, use your Facebook page to ask questions, take surveys and keep your ear to the ground for those problems.

By solving problems – even if those problems don’t directly relate to your product or service – you’re positioning your company in a leadership role in the minds of those readers.

Beyond solving problems, move out in front of the pack by offering lead-edge thoughts on what’s going on in your industry. Anything that you can think of that’s worth sharing is worth publishing somewhere. Create videos, write blog posts, engage your readership online in as many ways as possible. Even short one-thought bursts such as those that Seth Godin comes up with may be useful to your readership.

To re-cap:

  • Don’t publish selfish content
  • Stay away from press releases
  • Solve problems
  • Be a thought-leader
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 photo credit: wonderferret

7 Surefire Ways to Energize Social Media at Tradeshows – #1: Look at What Others Are Doing

(See the first post in this series: The Basics)

When I first sat down to a computer back in, oh, the early 90s, I had no idea what I was doing. But my friend Rich did know and he loved figuring stuff out on his computer. Over the next few years whenever I wanted to find a shortcut to learning something new on my PC, I just went to his house and looked over his shoulder. Believe me, watching others do something is the best way to pick up a skill or at least some valuable tips and tidbits on how things work. In large part due to his willingness to try new things and let me look over his shoulder, I got pretty good at working with those old clunky computers, back when they were brand new and needed some focused attention to get things to work properly.

Apple Computer, 1983 (Lisa)

Same thing when I was in college when I took a tennis class. I wasn’t that good at tennis, although I was a decent athlete. I found that when I played tennis with someone better than me my skill level would rise significantly. When I played with someone worse than me, I played worse. That was an eye-opener to me.

As a kid learning to ski, I never took lessons. But that didn’t stop me from lurking 50 feet away from a class and trying to pick up some pointers, which helped me find more shortcuts to learning. Hey, I guess I’ve been hacking education in some shape or form since I was just a sprite!

In other words, you should never discount the value of watching someone that’s better than you. Or worse. Because you’ll likely learn something along the way.

So first, look at what others are doing in their social media/tradeshow engagement efforts. Examine to find out what works, and copy or adapt ideas.

It may take a little effort to find out what works. Just because someone is tweeting out promotions for a tradeshow booth doesn’t mean it’s working well for them. If you can do a little digging, though, you should be able to find out how things worked out. You can see if they posted photos, videos or blog posts about the tradeshow. Then do what you can to uncover how successful it was. Often a quick phone call to someone is the easiest way. Just ask how their promotion went and what they’d do differently next time!

To re-cap:

  • Watch what others do
  • Learn what works
  • Avoid what doesn’t work
  • Copy or adapt ideas
  • Learn from their success and failure

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 photo credit: Alan Light

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