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How-To: Outsourcing Your Business’s Social Media Marketing During an Event

May 9, 2011 - Posted by Shama Kabani

Hello again, Mr. CEO.

As promised in How-To: Outsource Your Company’s Social Media Marketing Initiatives – Part 1, here is your Wake-Up Call 2: Events, Trade Shows, Conferences – Oh My! The how and why to snag an invite for your social media marketing initiatives when your company is going to be on display.

A case study featuring YOU:

So, let’s say you’re going to have a booth at a major conference or trade show that directly relates to your industry and you have recently outsourced all social media to a company that specializes in online marketing .

You now have 2 options, well I suppose 3:

  1. Plan your SM strategy ahead & bring someone from your social media marketing agency with you.
  2. Plan your SM strategy ahead & pay for consulting on day-of best social media marketing/networking practices.
  3. Don’t plan ahead. Don’t prepare. Don’t bother going ;)

Now, I want to keep this post as optimistic as possible:

…so I will write the next bit in a format that will help guide your plans for options 1 and 2. If you’ve chosen option 3… all I can say is, get your act together! Stop allowing your competitors to conquer another slice of the marketing puzzle.

Do Your Research

…or make sure your outsourced social media marketing agency does it for you. Know your audiences. Your audiences at a trade show or conference are the hosts, attendees and of course, your competitors (fellow exhibitors). In this day and age you will more than likely have the opportunity to interact with all three groups before, during and after the main event.

  • Find the hosts on Twitter and Facebook and let them know you will be actively participating on social media during the event. Get on their radar! Let them know to please alert you if there is any way you can help them get the word out to increase registration numbers – they will keep you in mind and be much more likely to recognize you the day of the event. Be sure to ask them for the event’s #hashtags so you can keep your tweets organized!
  • Analyze your competitors current social media situation and watch out for any mentions of the upcoming event. Example: You may see a post on their Facebook page ‘Make sure to stop by booth #007 at the Big Industry Trade Show’ to enter our Best Giveaway Ever.’ Find out what they’re up to and make sure whatever you’ve got planned is going to be bigger, better & actually effective.
  • Reach out to potential attendees! If you’re exhibiting at an event, you are in the same boat as the hosts; let’s be real. You’re all hoping attendees are quality leads and traffic numbers far exceed this year’s goals and predictions. As the event date nears, conduct a few searches on Twitter and Facebook and start engaging to get additional people excited for the event! Search relevant industry-related keywords and send notes inquiring if they will be attending the show (add a link to information about an exciting portion of the event). Invite these new contacts to follow you and find you during the conference for a special demo/giveaway.

Setting Social Media Goals & Strategizing Tactics for an Event

  • Attention Grabber (have an object relevant to your industry that meets an extreme… extremely hilarious, extremely clever, extremely large, extremely useful, extremely SHARABLE): Something that will catch an attendee’s eye who is becoming rather board with another booth down your aisle. Something that they will just have to snap a picture of with their phone to share as a Twitter twitpic. This will give you a perfect opportunity to RT them with your booth number and event hashtags. Make sure to alert sure-to-attend media outlets about your upcoming initiative if it’s exciting enough. If it isn’t exciting enough, begin brainstorming again.
  • Interactive Component: How will you engage your booth visitors? Flashy sales demos via the new iPad2? Mounds of free stuff exciting enough to tweet about a month-out/day-of? Is your booth team active on Linkedin? Make sure that they ask potential leads to connect before they walk away from your booth! If employees/booth visitors have the Linkedin smartphone app they can quickly connect with the ‘In Person’ feature.
  • Real-Time Updates: Determine who will be the live-stream content generator. If you plan on being present on social media during a trade show, you should strive to become the social media go-to for the day. This means NO overly promotional twitter feeds and YES to sharing useful show information, event hot-topic commentary, signs of innovation, signs of growth for the industry, alerts when your demos are beginning and the value-added reason to attend… think in terms of ‘If I couldn’t make today’s event, what information would I hope to be reading today from my desk at the office (both serious business, friendly networking, and ‘fun’ event information)/what would make me really wish I would have bought a ticket to go?’

Day of Event Social Media

  • Set up a Twitter monitoring application like TweetDeck; add columns for event keywords, key attendee influencers, media outlets ‘guaranteed’ to attend.
  • Prepare a list of helpful and relevant event information that can be used as fillers in between conversation; you can schedule these to update automatically.
  • Determine must-post items: If you’re having demos and presentations throughout the day, be sure to schedule tweets with urgent messaging ‘in 10 minutes…’ or ‘be sure to visit us before 2pm for a chance at x giveaway.’ Throughout the day you should also be taking and sharing pictures/videos (general event happenings, objects of excitement that are shareable, demo highlights, and items to take back to your marketing team such as examples of your fully functioning booth — complete with attendee interaction; you may even be able to get some testimonials out of your returning customers).
  • LISTEN and respond: read through your Tweetdeck columns and respond to the items others are tweeting about. If you say something interesting/relevant you are likely to get ReTweeted for an even greater reach.
  • Do not be overly promotional. If you want people to know you’re at the event add your booth number hashtag and the event’s hashtag at the end of each of your posts. If you’re engaging and participating enough, people will know who you are and where to find you… without you having to annoyingly fill up the twitter stream with ‘Be sure to stop by our booth #234 to find out more about our product.’ Good grief, please don’t do that.

Post-Event Social Media

  • Evaluate what worked or what did not receive the expected response.
  • Keep the event going: Continue your efforts on Twitter/Facebook… otherwise, what was the point of participating in the first place? The whole purpose of using social media was to expand your reach, build and nurture relationships.

*Photo credit: FindandConvert.com

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