Thursday, May 16, 2013

Using Social Media for Trade Shows: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re reading this blog, you already know that more and more companies are using social media for trade shows.

It’s helping people choose what they want to see, who they want to talk to, even where to go grab beers or dinner after the show. The trade show today is about much more than what happens in the conference hall.

Social media for trade shows
Using social media for trade show enhancement is a perfect way to get more from the event, to communicate with customers, and turn a one-day investment into a far-reaching branding tool.

To dig a little deeper we talked to John Armstrong, Senior Community Manager at Astek, about why social media is such a big component of a successful event strategy, and how to get started.

How to Use Social Media for Trade Shows and other Events

Q: What's the point of using social at an event if people are already attending?

John Armstrong (J.A.):  Social media at events should be more about enhancing the audience experience than about promotion for the organization. Having another medium for conversation allows the organization to crowdsource the social buzz of the event.

A smartphone or tablet acts as a digital call-board to find real-time information about everything from what the speakers are talking about to where the best place is to charge your phone. Social media connects attendees, creates a fun experience and builds loyalty to the event - all while "accidentally" promoting the event to an outside audience.

Q: What channels do you suggest people use if they're going to use social at the event, particularly if they only have the bandwidth for one? 

J.A.:  Twitter is an easy, quick method to join the conversation. It requires little prep and can be used as frequently or infrequently as desired. A large part of the conversation normally happens on Twitter for these reasons.

Twitter is perfect for passing the time between bites of your Chicken Parm at lunch or during the silence after a speaker's bad joke.

Q: What happens through social after the event?


  • Write a recap blog post that drives traffic to the site and includes images and even video from the event
  • Post media and copy to all social sites as a record of the event and a place for your community to go during the promotion for the next event
  • Continue to promote and moderate conversation about the event to maintain your online community and keep them engaged until your next event
  • Gather feedback about the event from your followers 
  • Analyze social data to determine which social platforms or strategies were successful and build upon those strategies for better experience and efficiency at the next event. 

Q:  How do you know if social is doing anything for you?

J.A.:  Are a substantial number of people talking about your event in a positive way? If yes, then it is constructive. Whether or not it is worth the time and resources is up to you and your goals.

To see more of Armstrong’s thoughts on using social media for trade shows, conferences and events, check out his extensive SlideShare on Social for Events.

John Armstrong is the Senior Community Manager at Astek Web. You can keep up with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.