Using social media at business events and exhibitions is an effective way of boosting your visibility and building relationships. With the right plan, social media can be used throughout the event marketing lifecycle as a support tool for the event team.
Business events are in many ways the forerunner to social media for B2B companies. This is because they allow businesses to meet prospective suppliers and customers that you would not meet on a day to day basis in the office and share ideas with influencers. Twitter and LinkedIn are usually the most effective social media at business events, exhibitions and expos as the B2B target audience is usually active on at least one of them.
Social Media At Business Events – Before The Event
Generally, you should start promoting that you are going to an event at least 2 weeks before it happens. This gives you a good window of time to reach people and highlight to them that you are going to be attending.
Best case your social media before the event prompts people to visit your stand and worst case it highlights to your existing audience and their network that you are publicly visible. This builds trust as you are publicly available and not hiding behind a domain name or virtual office.
Posts should talk about why you are going and who you are looking to meet.
Twitter Before Business Events
On Twitter use the event hashtag to find other exhibitors or potential customers that are exhibiting and tell them that you look forward to seeing them on the day. You can also use your general and more targeted tweets to tell people (if known) where in the event they can find you on the day.
LinkedIn Before Business Events
Put a post on your LinkedIn company page and get members of your company to like and share it. Members of your company going to the event can also put individual posts on their timelines.
Social Media At Business Events – During The Event
Once the event starts it can be tempting to get lost in the chaos of talking to people, visiting other stands or generally just immersing yourself in the event.
But don’t forget to take part in the social media element as well. Take lots of pictures and share your experiences, the people that are presenting and those that you meet (if appropriate).
Twitter During Business Events
You can tweet in real time during the event, but make sure you tag the relevant people or use the event hashtag in any tweet to generate maximum impact.
You can also use the Twitter hashtag to share the posts of others in the room and engage with those there with phrases that hint you look forward to seeing them make their way to your stand without sounding too desperate.
The majority of LinkedIn use is actually outside business hours, so we recommend a post at the start of the event and towards the end of the event rather than a constant stream of updates.
Like before the event, get those not in attendance to share as well as the event team to give your updates the widest reach.
Social Media At Business Events – After The Event
After the event the task of following up with everyone you met can be daunting, the first step can be a simple and welcoming message on social media. This can be public facing using Twitter or more private using a LinkedIn connection request with a personalised message.
The goal should be to turn short term visibility into an opportunity to build a relationship either online or offline depending on your strategy.
Twitter After Business Events
Twitter posts can range from tweets mentioning people you met, to general event photos, highlights or calls to action following the event. The goal should be to get those you met to sign up to your mailing list, follow you so that you can build a relationship and remain visible once memories of the event fade.
When posting your general “we had a great time” posts make sure you talk about where you were, why you were there and what you were looking to achieve.
LinkedIn After Business Events
The easiest way to follow up after an event is to have your marketing and sales team connect with anyone they met in conjunction with an email marketing campaign. This can be used to further qualify those you met and start a longer lasting connection with those that you met for the first time.