Social media is intimidating to some, but it is worth a try if only to take advantage of the free advertising opportunity. With just a little effort social media can help event managers to grow and deepen relationships with current and potential exhibitors and attendees. Social media offers you an arena to start a conversation, at any time and place. It not only allows you to educate your audience, but you may also gain some new insights from your customers.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are the most popular and widely used social networks. Most companies already have pages set-up on these networks, but some struggle with what to post and on which network. Below are a few ideas on how to use social media to engage your exhibitors and attendees.
Facebook is about status updates. So use it when something about your event’s status has changed. For example, if you are moving your show to a new venue next year you may announce this on Facebook with a photo of the new convention center. If you are in the set-up stages for your event then you may post a photo of exhibitors setting up their booths to help build excitement for the opening of the show. Your Facebook fans will love to hear about new talent, speakers, or celebrities that you have booked for the event. Photos grab Facebook browsers attention and then you can use a short message to remind exhibitors and attendees about deadlines, sponsorships, gala tickets, etc. You can also try to build in interaction with the post by asking people to like the photo if they have seen the speaker you just announced before or to share it if this will be their first time seeing the speaker. This type of call to action helps to increase your impressions and reach. Finally, Facebook has started using hashtags so be sure to include those in your posts where relevant. This can increase how many people are seeing your post. An example would be to include your event hashtag (#eventname) and the speaker’s hashtag (#speakername) in your announcement about their appearance at your event.
Below is an example of how a2z Inc. used hashtags and images in a post to promote a new mobile app for an event.
We all know that our messages on twitter need to be short and sweet. So use this space to get to the point quickly. You can use twitter to remind exhibitors and attendees about reg deadlines, exhibitor kit deadlines, event dates, new speakers or new entertainment. Try making these statements in the form of a question to encourage a conversation. “Have you booked your hotel rooms yet? The deadline is tomorrow! << link to hotel page>>” You can include a link to a page that has more information. If you are asking for an action make sure the link takes the reader directly to where they can complete this action. You can also include images in your posts, just be aware that the image link eats up some of your character count so make the image count with important information or links contained in it.
Below is a tweet from a2z about a ChirpE Photo Booth that was onsite.
While the tweet was made during the event days, you do not have to wait until the show to connect with your audience. It is better to build your following leading up to the event so that more people get your important onsite tweets and will get the most out of your event with your insider tips.
LinkedIn offers you more of an opportunity for lengthy information to be communicated. For example you may have a new seminar track this year, LinkedIn is a good place to announce the track and provide the details of the sessions that will be offered. You can ask for feedback from your followers on a proposed session list if you are still in the early stages of planning. LinkedIn is also a great place to highlight your company blog articles and build a discussion around the blog topics. This can help to increase the number of shares your blog gets and gain readership and visibility with in your industry.
LinkedIn is a great place to represent yourself as an industry expert and to gain potential customers from your industry. So be sure to tout your organizations achievements and contributions to the industry.
Pinterest is best used for showcasing photos and infographics. The better looking your image the more attention it will get. You may post an eye-catching image of your show floor, a popular speaker doing a meet and greet, an advertisement for scheduled talent, or an Infographic showing how your industry is growing and how sales are increasing. Once your image has caught the reader’s attention they will read your comment. Use this space to request an action like these: booth furniture reservation deadline in 5 days; don’t miss this renowned speaker – add the keynote to your show itinerary; there is limited booth space left on the main floor, be sure to book your space to impress the thousands of serious buyers who will be in attendance.
To spread the word and increase engagement on all of your networks, try posting a link on Facebook to something you have posted on Pinterest or perhaps link to a LinkedIn post on Twitter. Once visitors look around your other pages they may follow those as well, which will increase your number of touch points and ideally the effectiveness of your message.
The best way to get started is just to give it a try. You will quickly see what generates likes, shares, comments, retweets and controversy and then you shape your social media posts accordingly.