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10 ways to drive traffic, generate buzz, and build relationships

Whether it's your first time exhibiting or not, here are 10 essential social media tips to get maximum return for your business.

1. Follow! Like! Subscribe!
So you have signed up as an exhibitor 6 months before the show… what is the first thing you should do? It takes moments to “follow” the official twitter page, “like” the event Facebook page and subscribe to the event Youtube channel. By doing these three things, you will immediately be kept in the loop with any news relating to the show, news in the surrounding industry and will also be given the ability to engage with the Event Marketing Team via these modes of social media. This is the first step to making your mark and getting involved.

2. Get organised
At GESS, my colleague, Sarah and I make sure we have a clear plan written up at least a month in advance for how we are going to tackle the social media for the month, we sit down for 30 minutes once a month and discuss specific hashtags that we are going to use and on what day of the week we are going to use them e.g. #ExhibitorFriday, then every Friday we promote new exhibitors that have signed up for the Exhibition. It is easy, saves you time, and keeps you in control. Then, if you happen to have a great idea for a hashtag, you can simply slot it into your plan and consistently use this hashtag each week. There are many free social media plan templates available online to get you started.

3. Plan ahead
Promote your plans to exhibit at (the very) least a month in advance to the show. This means tweeting about your involvement, mentioning your involvement on LinkedIn, adding a banner to your signature on all emails, including newsletters, and, posting on Facebook. The golden rule here is to include your booth number.

4. Promote the event itself – not just your participation
Tweet or post a link to the registration page to your followers, include it in your newsletter and post it on Facebook. When keynote speakers are announced, Tweet about these or Retweet from the official Event Twitter page. You want people to view the show as a whole to be worth visiting and thus visit your stand.

5. Tell your clients and prospects!
Don’t forget your existing clients – spread the word as much as possible, encourage them to come visit you at the show – are you running a competition? Will you be offering discounts on your products onsite? Make sure they are the first to know – make them feel valued! This again can be done through any mode of social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Newsletters and Google+.

6. Define your goals and track your progress
Set realistic goals – ideally, how many Twitter followers do you want to gain monthly? 10? 50? 100? Set goals and plan how you are going to get there.

7. Why should people follow you?
Via Google Analytics you can be kept up with all the latest news in the industry and have articles sent directly to your inbox. Tweet or post on Facebook about these to make the content of your social media tools interesting and useful to your followers. Find out the types of tweets and posts that your followers are most reactive to.

8. Use the official #Hashtag and Twitter @handle
This is a slightly more obvious one, but people often forget or get them wrong. By using both of these, the event marketing team will be able to pick up on your tweets also and engage, retweet and promote. Also, make sure you are following others who are following the official Twitter account and using the official Hashtag – enter into discussions with them about the event and discuss the event with them when onsite.

9. Basic etiquette
When doing a search using the official hashtag on Twitter – see what people have been saying, directly tweet to these people and follow up when they reply. Basic Twitter Etiquette. When on site, visit other people’s stands and tweet about them; reciprocate if they do it for you! This is why engaging prior to the event with other exhibitors is really important too. This guarantees further awareness, visits and sales as well as maximising your exposure while at the exhibition/tradeshow.

10. Drive visitors to your booth 
When your stand is assembled onsite remember to tweet pictures of it AND always use the hashtag. Recently, I was at large shopping centre in West London, a new company was promoting a new drink range, to get four free bottles, all you had to do was tweet about the product using the official Twitter handle and hashtag – I was happy and they were happy - I had generated some more hype around the product and I had my free drink in the hot weather. So….tweet throughout the event with what is going on at your stand – offers that you may have, free gifts and any talks that you may be doing from your stand. In return for free gifts and offers, ask the visitors and potential clients to Tweet about the stand (again include the stand number!), generating even further buzz.  

Sept 2013 - Megan Johnstone-Mackie