Your business page will move to the new ‘timeline’ appearance on March 31st, whether you’re ready or not.
The biggest change is that if you have a default landing page, it will no
longer steer new visitors to the default page. Instead, all new visitors will see the same timeline. However, you can create separate tabs (landing pages) and use that link to drive traffic. It makes sense to Facebook, because now if you want to have people land on a specific page, you might buy Facebook advertising to do so.
Of course, you can also create the tab/landing page, and send the link
out in emails, or via your social media platforms.
The list covers the main photo and profile image, highlighted and pinned posts, setting company milestones, apps, Facebook offers, insights/admin panel and advertising. If you’re involved in your company’s Facebook page, this short tutorial is worth your time. From my initial reading, the apps and offers (which roll out shortly) would be a great place to create something special to urge people to your tradeshow appearances and events. It’ll probably take a little creativity, but there are plenty of opportunities in the new Facebook look to tie in with your event and tradeshow appearances.
LinkedIn: Hang out on the show’s group page and join discussions. Ask and answer questions. Lightly reach out to people – which means no sales pitches – and look to learn booth numbers from exhibitors, sessions they’ll attend and other information. Reach out to speakers if they’re someone you’d like to connect with.
Twitter: find the #hashtag and spend time leading up to the show to track the conversation about the show. Take notes. Create a spreadsheet of the booth numbers and Twitter handles of the tweeters. Then you can target the specific individual by using the @ preface to get their attention (don’t send spam – make sure it’s relevant to what they’re already talking about, or lightly introduce a new topic).
Facebook: Check the show page – most established shows have one. If not, you might at least create an event listing and invite targeted people. Scan the show page wall and chances are you’ll find a lot of people that are actively involved. Again, make a spreadsheet. Connect with them, follow or like them and if appropriate, respond to their posts with a comment or question. Post something relevant on the show wall. Make friends.
Over time you’ll find you have a large targeted social media group that recognizes you, finds you engaging and sees the cool things you do. And you earned all this by not being annoying, by not spamming, by helping out and by offering value.
Over the past couple of months one of the the things I’ve dedicated a lot of time to is research. One element of that research was a short survey on SurveyMonkey.com, which asked 6 questions related to social media event marketing. The results helped shape the information and tools that you can find at SocialMediaEventMarketingU.com. Here’s a quick look the results.
First, a total of 77 people responded to the survey. These came from a small mailing list I have, a few clients I asked to participate and a handful of folks that clicked through from a Tweet.
Question One: Where would you consider your company’s social media event/tradeshow marketing approach to be?
Question Two: Who performs your company’s social media engagement?
Question Three: If you could strengthen one element of your social media engagement in regards to your tradeshow and event marketing, what would it be?
Making sure it actually happens at the show: 18.7%
Bringing more people to the booth during the show: 26.7%
Getting more followers and engagement on Facebook during and after shows: 17.3%
Planning and executing social media at shows, period: 24%
Some of the “other” answers:
we don’t do trade shows yet, but I subscribe b/c I like your content!
We are B2B: getting more engagement on Twitter during/after shows
None of the above – we’ve found few customers use it as much as its hyped to be used
Be able to utilize social media without fear of bringing the federal government down on us – we sell tobacco!
Beginning a robust conversation in advance of the Expo, sustaining it through the Expo, and maintaining it in the aftermath.
getting permission to try new concepts for social media
Not having to use Facebook as it is considered to be family and personal as opposed to professional and business oriented amongst our target customers.
Getting my clients to embrace my social media ideas for them and coordinate their social media pages with complimentary technologies like bubble videos
It has been difficult in the past to work the show floor and take photos, update FB, tweet, take videos, etc. But we’re working to designate social networking as 1 person’s role at shows from now on
Getting more engagement on Twitter before, during and after the show
Question Four: In your opinion, what needs to happen at your company in the next couple of months in regards to your social media event/tradeshow marketing?
Getting started and set up: 16.4%
We’ve started, but we need to get up to speed: 16.4%
Learning more about how to more effectively engage: 59.7%
Finding a good company to outsource a lot of the nuts and bolts, strategy and planning: 0%
Creating Facebook landing pages to create more engagement: 7.5%
no one who attends tradeshows is willing to commit to social media
Keeping people engaged on the page long-term. We capture FaceBook likes at the booth. We give away all of our promotions for the booth on Facebook. So the early engagement is great, but it is the long term that concerns me. How do we build a community.
providing our agency more content-blogs-promotions etc.
Incorporating more fun videos into the program over the next year.
We are working on things, some of the shows we attend are not so big on social media yet, so we’re waiting for them to catch up. We still need to work on better integration with other marketing, website, etc.
Question 5: What is your position at the company in regards to social media engagement?
Boss: I tell people what to do: 46.3%
Worker Bee: I get involved regularly with our social media: 34.3%
Department Head: I help direct traffic
all of the above. we are a very small company.
only one here, so I do it all.
One armed paper hanger! The company is the two partners, two part timers, and an on-call tech.
Also, I’m an influencer and recommender
None, sadly. Too many federal regulations restricting our use of social media (as well as our belief in not marketing to anyone under the age of 21 and how does one restrict that?)
Some things catch my eye from this small survey. First, it appears that most of the respondents are from quite small companies – perhaps fewer than half a dozen people.
Second, it’s obvious that many of the respondents are still trying to figure out what to do with social media, with very few being in the advanced stage.
Third, almost 2/3 (59.4%) are interested in learning about how to use tools and techniques to engage in social media in their event marketing.
Fourth, almost no one actually outsources anything. My hunch is that for these people, it’s either too early in the process to outsource, or it’s too expensive. Or they’re just not interested in it for other reasons.
And fifth, based on a handful of the ‘other’ comments, it appears that many of the businesses and customers that tradeshow marketers are trying to connect with are also struggling with social media, and many are simply not involved. This doesn’t surprise me at all – a recent client of ours really didn’t want anything to so with social media: ‘it’s kid’s stuff’ as they put it, so the marketing directer hired us anyway to do nothing more than social media research – listening to the conversation going on in the blogosphere and Twitter and Facebook. There was a ton of conversation going on there, disproving the notion that it’s just ‘kids’s stuff,’ and we turned up quite a few useful nuggets for him.
It can’t be the easiest thing to post video from a tradeshow floor, there amongst the chaos and cacophony of exhibitors and attendees.
However, if you make a plan to get some video out during the show, you’ll surely benefit from it!
So to make a plan, make sure you have the pieces you’ll need:
YouTube or Facebook account
Video camera: Flip or Kodak; Smartphone with video capabilities or similar
Online access, either via a laptop with direct ‘net access or w-fi, or your Smartphone
Ability to edit video (or at least be able to shoot short videos that are ready-to-upload immediately upon shooting)
A list of types of videos you’d like to shoot
Once you have the first four items – the technical ability to shoot, edit and upload video – your next step is to create the shortlist of types of videos you’d like to shoot.
Some of those that you might consider include:
Guest appearances in your booth (authors, tech guys, creative folks who don’t normally see the light of day!)
Brief discussions with company reps (CEO, Marketing folks, etc) that discuss pertinent topics taking place at the show
Once you create the list, you are ready for the show. To implement your plan, put someone in charge. Create a schedule, which may include dates and times for product demos, guests, etc. If you can schedule testimonials with your raving clients, do so. Other testimonials may just grow out of random visits from clients or customers. Look for opportunities to put them in front of the camera. If you have room in your booth, leave the camera up on a tripod and ask if they have a few minutes to discuss your product and how it works for them.
If you can follow this type of shooting schedule and compile several raw videos during the show, chances are you can find a few per day to upload to your YouTube channel or to Facebook (or both). Hopefully, you’ll have a lot of videos that will give you plenty of material that you can edit and release over the next several months, hopefully right up to the promotion of next year’s appearance at the same show.
You’ll benefit from posting video in numerous ways: showing non-attendees what’s going on by including them in your show; showing off the various people who do attend (people love the attention); increasing brand awareness, showing how a product works to someone who might not have otherwise ever seen in, which might create a new customer; putting a face on company employees who might otherwise remain nameless and faceless, which makes your company more attractive to people who like to know the kinds of people they’re considering purchasing from, and much more. No doubt you could add to this list of reasons why shooting video at your tradeshow is beneficial – in fact, feel free to do so!
Tune in before you Turn On. If you’re listening to what your community is saying you’ll have better responses. By searching for your customers you can connect with them. Join the conversation. Pay attention to trends. Add value.
Make the commitment to be a part of social media. Building your community and your brand online takes time. This means regularly checking the social platforms you’ve joined and responding to visitors and fans and adding fresh content.
Who Are You? Well, only you know who you really are. Don’t put out a false front because eventually people will figure it out. Be authentic. By being yourself to the hilt, you’ll attract those sorts of people that like you and your company. Those that aren’t attracted to you probably wouldn’t purchase much from you anyway.
When the show is near, focus on it. When you have an upcoming appearance, your online activity should be looking closely at what’s happening at the show. Track show hashtags, make lists of attendees (and booth numbers or other info if relevant), and respond to comments or questions about the show to demonstrate that you’re engaged.
Be there. Your company’s products and services and brand may appear impersonal to your followers, but the people that work at the company (including you) are not: they’re real people. Be available as a real person and you may be seen as the spirit or soul of the company.
Make it easy for people to find you. Put links to your social media access points on business cards, flyers, handouts, etc.
Be flexible. One of the first things you recognize about social media is that it is unpredictable. Learn to go with the flow.
Follow competitors and complementary businesses. You can learn a lot by watching. By tracking company’s online behaviors you can often uncover strengths and weaknesses that you hadn’t previously seen.
Share info and views with followers. They like to hear positive things happening in your company. And if there’s something negative, share that as well. Don’t pull punches (but don’t be mean or insensitive or rude). And don’t try to put too much of a positive spin on something that’s inherently negative. Be honest.
Quality beats quantity. By looking to generate a smaller amount of high quality posts or tweets, you’ll avoid the ‘gotta get something online today because it’s been awhile’ syndrome a lot of us fall for.
Take it offline. Now you’ve met people on Twitter or Facebook. Look for ways to connect with people elsewhere. Look to build relationships offline. Invite an online friend to coffee or lunch. Pick up the phone to find out what they really sound like. Don’t try to sell them anything – you’re just building relationships at this point. If a sale happens, it’ll be because it’s the obvious thing to happen, not because it was forced in any way
Combine social media with other marketing. Social media works best when it’s done with other media. Drive traffic to your social media outlets with TV, radio or print ads. Use social media to move people to a tradeshow booth for a prize or to sign up for a mailing list. Find creative ways to meld on and offline marketing to get the best of both mediums.
The tradeshow is over. The booth has been packed away and you’re heading back to the office. No more late night carousing with clients. No more worrying about that graphic makeover that didn’t really fit. No more hustling to post photos on Facebook of those endless booth visitors.
Well, until the next show. At which point you’ll want to know how many people checked out your Facebook page; how many people retweeted your tweets and what kind of response you got from the various social media promotions you did during the show.
To check your #postseason stats (okay, a little play on the TV Major League Baseball promos going on to get people to chime in on Twitter), you want to know what statistics and metrics to track.
And that depends on what you did during the event. If you posted photos and updates on your company’s Facebook page, it’s an easy matter to go through the Facebook wall a few days after the show and check post impressions and feedback percent. You can track them by making a quick spreadsheet with the title of the post, what type it is (photo, video, text, etc), when it was posted, number of impressions and % of feedback. If this is the first show you’re tracking these stats, it gives you a baseline. Then at your next show do the same thing. After a few shows you’ll have enough information to track trends and see what types of posts get the most reaction. Is it photos? Videos? What kinds of comments do you get? You can even track who commented, and whatever pertinent information you glean from their Facebook page (where they live or work, how many friends they have, etc.).
Yes, you can go a little nuts spending a lot of time compiling and tracking the information. But by doing so, you’re moving ahead of the competition that is not bothering to learn about their community. The more informed you are about your community the better prepared you are to respond to them, interact with them and plan for the next show when you know a lot of them will want to see you and learn about new products.
You can essentially do the same with Twitter and YouTube. While you don’t have the same amount of metrics available on Twitter, you can still track re-tweets and responses and log that information in your post-show stat book. On YouTube you can compile video views and log any feedback and responses you get from the videos you post.
Is all of this extra work worth it? I think so. It gives you inside information and insight into who’s responding, what type of posts are getting responses and what kinds are ignored.
While there are literally dozens, if not hundreds of things you could do to interact with Facebook while at your tradeshow, let’s look a few of the basics. Are you covering these?
Does your blog (assuming you have a blog) have a Facebook page widget inviting readers to connect (like) with you? That’s a must. Every one that likes your Facebook page through your blog is another person that you can connect with in another place. And the good thing is that they are able to do that without even landing on your Facebook page. If you don’t have a blog, at least put a widget on the front page of your website. They’re easily configurable, and easily found – just go here and follow the instructions. You may need the assistance of your web guy or girl to install the code, but really, it’s pretty simple!
At the show, plan to post photos and updates as often as time allows. Encourage people to upload their own photos of your booth and/or staff to their pages. People love to share, so make it easy. In fact, you might even create a special backdrop where they can have their photos taken. Get creative – put up a photo of Brad Pitt or someone famous, or perhaps a famous scenery such as Yosemite Valley or Grand Canyon, or some other place that might relate to your business.
If you have a smartphone, get the Facebook app set up on it, and log in before the big day. Spend a little time getting use to how to take photos and upload them to your company page. Once that’s done, you’ll have a much easier time doing it while in the chaotic time crunch on the show floor.
Once you’re to the point of posting photos from the show floor and encouraging visitors to do the same, don’t forget to monitor the page. No doubt you’ll be getting comments on a regular basis – or at least feedback on the photos. Chime in to the conversation and respond to questions or concerns. This is great customer service: not only do you show customers that you care; you show potential clients that you’re proactive about dealing with issues as they come up.
There has been a fundamental change in the way we connect with people for personal and business reasons. Have you noticed? It’s nothing we can control, and I’d wager we’re just seeing the beginning of the changes. Your best bet is to educate yourself, get started in social media (if you haven’t already) and start wading in. Eventually you’ll hit the deep end of the pool.
The question is: will you merely tread water, swim like a champion, or drown?
The new normal isn’t the old normal. Not only are the changes happening now, the pace of those changes is increasing. Does that make you upset, anxious and ready to crawl into a fetal position? I know it does for some people! When we don’t understand something, we as humans will often run from it. We’ll resist with all of our strength. We spend time thinking of what life must have been like in the Fifties, when business relationships were largely personal. When you went to the corner hardware store to solve a problem, you talked with the owner or manager, who was an old friend.
Maybe we fondly recall the technology of the 70s and 80s when fax machines, mass advertising and large-scale marketing were used by almost everyone. It may have been impersonal, but at least the changes were slow enough to assimilate.
Often we find ourselves wishing that the pace of technological acceleration was the same now as it was then.
But no. You’d be wrong. Those days are gone. Long gone. And they ain’t comin’ back.
Soooooo…what to do?
There is a small sign that hangs on my studio wall that reads “Start Now. Begin Anywhere.” It is a reminder that no matter where you start, it is better than not starting. So if it means setting up your first Twitter account, or posting a few tentative photos to Flickr, or seeing what it takes to start a YouTube channel, get going. You don’t have much time. Your competitors are saying the same thing: where do we start and what do we do?
I talked with a marketing person from a large multi-national company recently, whose corporate leaders still insist on ‘no social media’ in their world. As if it didn’t exist. As if by ignoring social media, it will go away.
Trust me, it won’t. They will lose ground, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but believe me; they will lose ground against their competitors who are moving into the world of social media. Ignoring the sea change will get you swamped.
As someone who swims in the social media sea on a daily basis, I have to occasional step back and realize that not everybody is doing the same I am. Companies still struggle with the changes. Even companies who appear to be happily involved in social media with Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube Channels and LinkedIn pages find themselves puzzled by what they’re doing – and what they SHOULD be doing.
It’s a challenge – and it should be. Significant changes to the status quo are often hard to take. But if you realize that everyone else is going through the same thing, that makes it easier.
To begin – if that’s where you’re at – take a few steps, measure the results and your ability to interact with those tools, and do it again. And again. And again. It’s just a matter to getting used to it.
At your next tradeshow, for instance, plan on tweeting out or posting on Facebook whenever the opportunity arises. Take photos of clients and post them (ask permission first). Tweet out any special deals you have. Ask for feedback on new products or services. Check the response, make any adjustments you feel should be made – and do it again.
Give yourself permission to screw up – nobody really gets this stuff 100% right, anyway, so don’t feel you have to do this perfectly. Just get in the social media water and start splashing.
Covering all of those bases takes a lot of time and effort. So if you can’t currently cover all of those bases, what’s the most important place to start?
It depends on how you want to use the various outlets for your tradeshow marketing. If getting people to the show is your weakest area, perhaps shoring up that effort will result in more folks showing up at your booth, where your effort and follow-through are strong. Twitter and Facebook are particularly good at driving traffic by using pre-show promotions and in-show calls to action.
If your post-show follow-up is weak, it might mean that you put more effort into making your target market more aware of what you’re doing post-show. Even though lead follow-up doesn’t necessarily directly relate to social media post-show, making your audience more aware of what you DID at the show is an effective way of keeping your audience informed. Use Facebook and YouTube to keep those followers and searchers informed. Twitter can drive traffic to both outlets.
To boost your pre-show marketing, as mentioned, the best outlets are Facebook and YouTube. Twitter can be effective as well, but typically only a few days or weeks prior to the show, while Facebook and YouTube can be used to roll out more specific and detailed information. Twitter works well for driving traffic and for connecting with other people attending the show, and in my experience people only really start to connect and make plans to meet up a week or two ahead of the show.
LinkedIn can be used effectively to narrowly target attendees that you’d like to meet in person. Find them by joining tradeshow groups and striking up online conversations and connections. LinkedIn is more work, but the payoff in making personal connections can be worthwhile.
Social media is not a coookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all answer. Your situation will be different from other companies as you have different goals and a unique situation.
But by understanding the basic uses of the various outlets, and how you can best implement those tools for situation, you can increase the odds that your company will get the social media edge on your competitors.
Addendum: I put the question out on Twitter this morning: “Which is more important in #tradeshow marketing? Blogging, #FB, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn? #eventprofs” and got a few folks to chime in quickly:
From ActiveEventsGuy: “All are important if you have a clear and well defined strategy. What are the messages, Who is your audience… Where is your audience online, and How the members of your audience like to consume the content (video, blog, visual, etc).” (okay, it took him two tweets to get all that in!)
From TuvelComms: “All of the above, depending on where target audience is. PLUS don’t forget to integrate w/ email, print, other mktg channels.”
EDPA_LVC re-tweeted my request…but didn’t chime in. Drat! Hey, feel free to comment…!
After getting an email from Ewan MacDougall and his link to an interesting infographic on how tradeshows impact the environment, I got to thinking about how social media might help to mitigate some of those impacts.
Okay, it sounds like a good idea: using social media to reduce your impact on the environment while attending a tradeshow. But can we really make that idea work in a substantial way?
The most obvious ways would be to move most, if not all, of your tradeshow promotions to social media. Tweet it out, post Facebook updates and load videos onto YouTube and Facebook to promote your appearance at the show. It’s much more environmentally friendly than sending postcards or other mailers.
And of course, you can make documents such as brochures and other typical handouts available as a downloadable PDF. By incorporating the use of QR Codes, you can invite attendees to grab the documents easily through their smart phone. Just remember to optimize the landing page so they can actually READ it on their phone!
But what about other methods? Can Twitter be used for more than just a Tweetup or to send out promo messages? Sure, you can actually send out links to your downloadable PDFs and toot your own horn (tweet your horn?). You can also put up a sign inviting people to send out a tweet using an @ symbol and promise to send back a link to the downloadable brochures or documents. You can even set this up as an autoresponder to anyone who sends you a message using the Twitter @ symbol. The caveat here is to make sure that once the show is over to discontinue the autoresponder.
Facebook can also be used to post all of those documents (or at least links to them). Create a “Notes” page under your company profile listing the documents and invite people to “like” you – which then gives them access to the documents. In fact, your autoresponder Twitter reply could be used to invite people to “like” your Facebook page to grab the free brochures and other documents that you’d normally handout at the show.
The downside of using auto-reply tweets is that they’re so common and probably overused and are often ignored. So you’ll have to make sure that your sign promoting the free goodies encourages them to check their Twitter message in box.
There are some aspects of tradeshow marketing that are more difficult to reduce carbon usage. Travel, for instance. Hard to avoid flying if you’re traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to go to a 4-day show. But I know that some airlines allow you to check in via your smart phone. Using other apps, such as Yelp to find a good restaurant, or Skype to talk with people internationally for free, also helps reduce cost and time. Southwest was the first airline to release an iPhone app (in 2009) and many others followed suit.
There are also iPhone apps, such as SAP’s Carbon Tracker, that allow you to track every aspect of your business activities that relate to your carbon footprint. Simply by knowing your carbon impact, you’ll find ways to cut down. And as they say, every little bit helps!