Trade show marketing is evolving quickly, and one of the most critical changes is social media. It used to be that social media marketing was a separate field, but with its explosive growth, large companies quickly realized its value and began developing new ways to wield its power. In today’s marketplace, companies of any size can no longer afford to think of social media as something optional or not applicable to them. While large corporations have dedicated groups who do nothing but social media marketing, even a small company can use social media to boost their brand and product exposure dramatically. With a solid plan, your company’s social media will boost the results of your trade show marketing efforts, and your trade show marketing will increase your social media traffic; it’s an upward spiral that brings big results.
What’s So Great About Instagram?
Instagram stands out from other popular social media in several ways that make it critically important to businesses. Although Instagram is driven by visuals like photographs, memes, and other graphics, it also allows users to make long enough posts to use plain English, instead of the cryptic, can-I-buy-a-vowel messages users are stuck with on Twitter. Hashtags are not treated as part of the text on Instagram, so posts can include multiple tags without eating up message length. Instagram is more favorable to organic message propagation than Facebook. That’s because on Instagram if a user makes a post, his connections see that post; it’s distribution isn’t throttled like it is on Facebook. Possibly the most attractive feature of Instagram, from a marketing standpoint, is their simple and reliable cross-posting interface. Many Instagrammers have their accounts interlinked, so if they post about your company on Instagram, that post is automatically shared to their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
Putting Instagram To Work In Your Trade Show Marketing Efforts
- Help Yourself To Some Free Exposure – Using hashtags is a critical matter when you’re marketing on social media. In addition to your brand and product hashtags, be sure to include the tags for the events your promoting. Most events have at least two hashtags, so be sure you do some homework to find the most popular ones. The trade show you’re attending is probably going to have a much larger social media following than your company, so including their tags will get your posts, brand, and tags much broader exposure. Also look for sub-tags for certain aspects of the event: For example #EventNamePanels or #EventNameLaunches.
- Warm Up The Crowd – Use Instagram and other social media to make individual posts about the events and opportunities your company is offering at the show. Include things like panel appearances by your team; product launches or previews; special activities like a bagel bar or brown-bag lunch at your booth, or a reception; product demos or guest appearances; and show specials you’ll be offering. Make sure every post includes a clear, large image (if your image is too small it will look terrible on Instagram) with a click-through link to your website, and be sure to schedule your posts so they’re evenly distributed throughout each day. Dumping a pile of posts onto your account all at once annoys people by filling up their feed, and it lessens the effectiveness of each post.
- Give Them A Reason To Post – Your trade show exhibit needs to include something people will want to post about. That may sound daunting and expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. You’ve probably seen posts about the 10-story Ferris wheel the USA Network installed at South by South West this year, but really, you don’t need to go to that length. One exhibitor at a Utah trade show placed a single banner stand with a photograph of a huge crocodile and a hashtag on it. So many people lined up to take a picture with that croc that they clogged the entire aisle. People are surprisingly willing to do fun and silly things for a social media photo op, even – or maybe especially – at a trade show. Photo scavenger hunts are quite popular on Instagram. You can set one up at a trade show by creating a set of custom banners, and placing the banner stands throughout the show venue. Another way to benefit from what Instagrammers already like to do is to print banners with funny, snarky, or philosophical sayings and simple graphics on them: A giant meme. Do a good job creating these and people will post it until it actually is a meme, and it will be shared endlessly, along with your logo.