Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Social Media and Your Trade Show Technology Strategy

Going hand-in-hand with the rise of mobile, many event trend predictions for 2015 call for heightened skills with social media. You not only need to facilitate it at your events, but you must also expertly incorporate it to capture engaged attendees. And it’s not just about what happens during the show, but what happens before and after.

You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? But how do you actually put that into practice? For those just starting, here’s a beginner’s guide for social media at trade shows. For those who are ready to bring event technology and social media marketing together, here are 6 ideas for exhibit or trade show managers.

The following is a guest post by Melissa Michel, taken as an extension of her comments from our experts’ event technology guide.

Social Media and Today’s Event Tech

Going back to my heightened excitement about social media, I would love to see more show managers highlight this at show site. Many will devise a pre-show plan but they don’t carry it out to completion (completion being after the event has closed and everyone is back in their offices).

To combat this, I have several favorites when it comes to social media and today’s technology:

Social Media Hubs

Create attractive spaces for attendees to monitor the event’s social media streams. I’m a big advocate of Twitter and Instagram feeds being prominently displayed for all to see. This real-time information excites all participants and encourages them to actively share your message. This sharing can have huge impact for your event at a nominal cost.

Knowing that providing a cutting-edge display in various locations of an event can come with a hefty price tag, I always recommend to show management to offer this to exhibitors as a sponsorship opportunity. If the pricing structures are set well enough in advance, these costs can be budgeted for and/or sponsorship fees can be determined early enough to offset the bottom line.

interactive iPad display at a trade show

Interactive Displays

Providing interactive displays at an event is another way to create buzz and have your message shared by the masses. Although I’m starting to see more and more of these displays within the registration areas, I think they definitely need to be included within the trade show space. Making a visual statement throughout the event is key and I often see the exhibit space excluded. It has been my experience that booth sales pay for the majority of the event and therefore they are every bit as important to relaying your message. Include them, don’t exclude them!

Tweet and Video Walls

If you want to include your attendees in sharing your social message, put it on display! These are gaining popularity in general sessions and keep your attendees actively participating in your conference. Of course you don’t want to overshadow your speakers with the ongoing stream of messages, so I recommend having a dedicated area located on either side of the stage. Show managers may be skeptical to include this feature due to the possibility of a “bad message,” but today’s technology offers them the capability to monitor and approve everything before it is displayed for all to see. Options include manual approval or even pre-set filters.

(Related: 8 reasons video sells at trade shows.)


Whether you’re the show manager or an exhibiting company, today’s technology offers a wide array of gaming options to get the attendees involved. From trade show scavenger hunts, to booth contests, to social media contests using the event hashtag, there are many options to fit within a proposed budget that will generate a lot of excitement and heightened engagement.

Charging Stations

With the majority of conference goers utilizing smart phones and tablets (especially to use social media), charging stations should be a no-brainer. However, this isn’t always the case. Although standup stations are available at lower costs, my preference is creating a lounge area so that attendees can take a break while getting their charge on. These stations, whether stand up or sit down, offer additional branding opportunities that sponsors would quickly jump on to have their company represented in what is a popular spot at any event.

Exhibitors with the budget can include charging stations or lounges within their exhibit. The extra long exposure to your brand and staff can compensate for any unqualified leads who may wander in.

Meeting Apps

Meeting apps have definitely gained in popularity over the years and offer a wide variety of options as to the information that you would like to include. Show books and guides are no longer needed in print form. We all rely on our phones now more than ever and I believe that the more information we can provide event participants in the palm of their hand the better.

(Related: 6 tips to get attendees to use your app.)

Social media can’t be stopped at events like trade shows (minus weak Wi-Fi signals), so find a way to integrate your brand and connect with your audience. There are countless ways to customize your attendees’ social experience. Using any of these six ideas will make sure you don’t look outdated next to competitors.