The Guardian’s B2B network recently debated the influence of digital technology in the live events industry and concluded the impact of social media was providing remarkable opportunities for small businesses. Digital technology has allowed lesser companies to market their brand globally with social media platforms providing an even footing to compete against industry leaders.
Exhibitors now often run digital PR campaigns before, during and after the show, their aim is to outreach new customers and develop the brand’s influence. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest are providing the most opportunity and are often integrated onto exhibition stands through a digital interface.
This helps draw stand traffic and creates real-time exposure. Equally, these platforms can draw interest in the run up to an exhibition and are ideally used to follow up sales leads afterwards.
Here are some methods to leverage social media for your business at events:
A large percentage of an events audience will be Twitter users. They are likely to be in contact with your brand and interested in your product.
Use hash tags (#) to stay on topic with trends and create a buzzword around your brand. Re-tweet positive PR and update followers daily during the event. Request a re-tweet and support other exhibitors if they are willing to do the same. There’s no harm in connecting with the organizers either. Support is often a two way relationship.
Tools like Followerwonk enable you to identify industry influencers around your product or service so ensure you target them with your tweets whilst Twitterfall can provide an overview of your promotional feeds.
Research shows about 80% of brands are followed per user, if they ‘Like’ your brand it provides a significant pin on their feed. Connect with members attending the show and offer incentives to join your Fan Page.
City & Guild hired an exhibition stand to create a Live Brand Experience and received over 3,000 hits in four days. For their next show in 2013, they are planning a show to incorporate 48 iPads with a DJ mix game that feeds into Facebook. This is a cost-effective method of maximizing a brand’s presence.
LinkedIn is perhaps the most powerful social resource as it provides an interwoven tapestry of connected professionals relevant to your business. LinkedIn’s Groups tool allows you to gather an exhibition audience easily and share your products and features with a designated insight feed on your company page.
The connection feature allows you to find people attending the show and build genuine relationships which you may establish after trading business cards.
LinkedIn has a search feature for people, updates, jobs and groups which can be broken down into connections, demographics, company and industry. It can be most valuable as a search tool to pinpoint a professional which can aid your business development.
According to Nielson, there were 27 million active users on the site in 2012. Creating a show board will provide examples of your exhibitor display and pinning event’s photos can create unique publicity for your brand. Follow other boards and re-pin images you believe are inspiring.
Integrate a strategy and plan ahead setting yourself targets and using a range of boards.
The audience is also likely to have iPhones with the Pinterest application downloaded so encourage them to share photos at the show.
A blog is a compulsory marketing tool for any business looking to compete online. Not only does a blog document information about your business, the content is a representation of your brands attitude and interests.
Quality content attracts a broad following of customers if circulated across social media platforms whilst real-time blogging from the exhibitor floor provides great exposure for your product. Bloggers often write in real-time as they want to be the first to break a story and provide unique sights. Live events are the perfect platform to do so.
In 2012, Exhibitor revealed the number of companies integrating social media into their exhibits had risen by over 80%. If you are a small business considering an exhibition marketing initiative, be sure to seize on the opportunities available.
Author Bio – Article contributed by James Barnett on behalf of Nimlok. James is a former consultant for the Live Events industry and a graduate in New Media & Communications.