Communication, whether from person-to-person, business-to-business or business-to-consumer, has never been as quick, easy or effective as it is today.
The rise of the internet and subsequent proliferation of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn along with blogs and even video sharing sites such as YouTube make it possible to broadcast a message to a global audience in an instant.
Businesses of all sizes have been quick to exploit the powerful marketing opportunities that social media provides and, as exhibition stand design and installation specialists Aspect Exhibitions explain here, having an effective social media strategy can greatly improve a company’s business success at exhibitions and trade shows.
It’s never too soon to begin publicising your business with social media
The ultimate goal of using social networks to promote your business is to establish a relationship with potential customers; those people who are interested in or involved with your business sector and who, as a result, would seek out your business at a trade show or exhibition.
It’s easy to believe that developing a social media strategy is complicated, expensive and time-consuming, but this doesn’t have to be the case. A simple company blog, populated with informative and engaging posts that people want to read and share, is an easy and inexpensive way to start. Here you can let people know well in advance that you’ll be attending a particular trade show or exhibition and provide details of the time, date, your stand location, any promotions or offers you’ll be running at the show and maybe some useful background information on the exhibition itself.
Email is another strand of social media that can be used to your advantage in the run-up to attendance at an exhibition. Email your existing customers as soon as your place at an exhibition has been confirmed, inviting them to attend, providing the details and asking them to inform anyone they know who might also be interested in visiting. A ‘reminder’ email can be sent closer to the date of the exhibition, but bombarding your customers with regular reminders should be avoided.
Using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn etc. to improve exhibition success
The beauty of social networks is that they are both powerful and free. However, maximising their potential requires a little learning and commitment.
Rather than sign up to every available social network it’s probably better to get to grips with one or two and build up a following for your business using those. Twitter and Facebook undoubtedly reach the widest audience, and Twitter – a ‘microblog’ where each posts is limited to just 140 characters – is very easy to use. As an example ‘tweet’ you might say:
“Come and meet Fabulous Furniture, Stand 133, at the Great Homes Show on June 26-28 at Birmingham NEC – we’d love to see you!”
Larger trade shows and exhibitions are likely to have their own dedicated pages on various social networks and, again, you can use this to your advantage by leaving comments that let potential customers know you’ll be attending.
Remember – your goal in using social media is to build an online rapport with the people who might visit your exhibition stand; if you’ve already established some form of relationship with them the process of turning prospects into customers becomes so much easier.
Harnessing the benefits of social media whilst you’re exhibiting
A key factor in the usefulness of social media as a marketing tool for exhibitors is its immediacy; it’s easy to keep in touch with your followers in real time. Armed with nothing more than a smartphone and the appropriate apps, you can continue to Tweet your experiences, successes and opinions live whilst you’re exhibiting.
Thanks to YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest you can also quickly upload video footage and photos of your exhibition stand, products and visitors which will be available to view online during the exhibition and afterwards.
Collecting email or social networking information from potential customers means that you can instantly follow up and answer their enquiries and requests before they’ve even left the show, which positively reinforces your professionalism and customer-focus.
How to improve your success at exhibitions by using social media – in conclusion
Nowadays, everybody uses social media in some form or another and that includes both your potential customers and your business competitors.
Establishing a social media strategy is easy and cost-effective; you can start with a simple blog and email campaign but to gain the greatest benefits from using social media in conjunction with attendance at trade shows and exhibitions it’s well worth getting to grips with the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
Social media is an invaluable promotional tool for your business in the months and weeks prior to an exhibition, helping to raise awareness of your brand and providing relevant details to existing and potential customers. The use of social media is a journey rather than a destination; to maximise its marketing power it must be used on an ongoing basis. However, its ease of use and immediacy mean that social media can be used to great effect especially whilst you are at an exhibition.
Such is the diversity and widespread use of social media channels that with a little trial and error you should be able to find a medium that works perfectly for you and your target audience, helping you to get the very best from your attendance at trade shows and exhibitions.