How to use Twitter for trade show marketing success

It’s opening day of a big trade show and every other tweet pleads, “Please visit our booth!” Rarely do I see tweets offering a truly valid reason to visit the booth and even more rare are tweets offering both a valid reason plus a valuable incentive. I applaud everyone who has recognized the potential impact of Twitter as a supporting part of a planned, integrated marketing program, and especially those who work to come up with compelling content. But since execution matters, too, here are a few recommendations to help boost the impact of your Twitter efforts and increase the value of your trade show investment:

1. Attend and live tweet from appropriate events, educational sessions and press conferences to position your company as the authority in the industry and demonstrate kinship with the attendees as a member of the industry and a resource, rather than as a mere supplier.

2. Follow the trade magazine editors who cover your industry. As journalists, they pay attention to Twitter as a source of up-to-the-minute news and information. Pay close attention to their tweets and engage in conversation when you find something relevant to add to the discussion. Editorial interactions via Twitter also help your company stand out relative to their crowded email boxes and can help secure news coverage before, during and after the show. For even more publicity, these editors often promote your news coverage via their Twitter accounts.

3. Create a show-only promotion or giveaway, or even better, include a Twitter-only promotion or giveaway. This delivers real benefit for following your company, makes your followers feel extra special and helps you track how many prospects and customers come to the booth via Twitter.

4. Use the official trade show hashtag in show-oriented tweets. This is the pound sign on a phone next to a descriptive term such as #promatshow. Trade show organizers are typically ahead of their exhibitors when it comes to using Twitter. To promote their show, they often retweet tweets that use the official show hashtag. This means extra exposure for your brand to nearly every attendee and exhibitor with a Twitter account. Using the official hashtag also makes it easy for your tweets to be found when people attending the show search on Twitter.

5. Most importantly, use Twitter actively throughout the year to grow an active following of prospects, customers and others in the industry. Rather than launch your account just before a trade show, tweet a few announcements and then disappear until the next big show, consider that tweeting news of your at-show giveaway or new product introduction to 1000 active Twitter followers developed organically over time offers far more potential impact than tweeting to a dozen followers who just found you before the show – and will likely unfollow your account as soon as the show ends.

The Pack Expo exhibitors did a much better job than the Clean show exhibitors, per the screen shot at right.

But wait! There’s more: your Twitter account also may be used to alert show attendees that you’ve just recorded a big sale at the booth from a big name company, that the keynote speaker is signing autographs at your booth or that there’s no longer a line at the Starbucks. And metrics? Counting followers,  retweets and favorited tweets offers great fun and a little data but for
most manufacturers, the odds of documenting a capital equipment sale driven solely by using Twitter are quite slim. Temper expectations. But using it year-round as one part of an integrated marketing program can enhance the overall impact of your trade show marketing efforts. And it’s free.

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Paul Entin’s Marketing In Real Life explores every facet of marketing from advertising, PR and lead generation to content marketing, direct response and the latest in marketing automation – and more. Paul Entin’s Marketing In Real Life provides real-life insight into the relationship among sales, marketing, and customer service – and the customer – plus quick commentary from epr founder, Paul Entin.