Why your 3-day event booth needs a 5-month social media campaign
How does a three-person team create nearly 58 million Twitter impressions during a three-day trade show? Bionic thumbs?
No, the secret to ridiculous social engagement during an event is the four-plus months of groundwork you put in before the event. Add in two weeks of post-event follow-up, and you’re looking at a five-month social campaign.
Sound grueling? Actually, it’s a lot of fun. Here’s how to build your multi-phase, multi-channel social campaign—with the same crazy level of buzz—just like the top event booths.
ESTABLISH HOW AWESOME YOU WANT TO BE
Doesn’t that sound like more fun than “setting your baselines and goals?”
However you look at it, you have to have a game plan. The first step in building a game plan is deciding how you’re going to keep score.
Every team’s targets will be different, but I’d suggest focusing on at least two or three metrics each from the brand awareness, engagement and conversion categories. Which ones will truly reflect how well you connect with your audience? Which will help set you apart from your competition?
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Now, start brainstorming. How will you reach your baselines and goals? Hint: think about your event as a community.
CELEBRATE YOUR EVENT AND YOUR COMMUNITY
Everyone at your event shares a powerful interest in some facet of the same industry. In other words, your event is a community—and social media is all about community-building.
That’s why you focus your social campaign on subjects that will engage everyone attending the event.
What is everyone losing sleep over? What buzzword is everyone sick of? Highlight your shared industry experiences, and do it with a sense of humor.
BUILD A SOCIAL CONTENT PYRAMID
Shouldn’t you be promoting your booth and your brand?
Not yet—at least, not directly. Think of your event social content like a pyramid:
- Early on, you’re building a base—a community of enthusiasm for your industry and the event.
- The middle comes right before and during the event, when you talk about what’s going on with your booth.
- Only at the very top should you run content about your solutions.
When all your efforts have a campaign-branded look and feel, everything you share draws people into your ecosystem, developing affinity for your brand and sparking curiosity about your booth.
PLAN FOR SPONTANEITY
Plan for spontaneity? Isn’t that an oxymoron, like Assistant Supervisor?
The thing is, the moment or quote that truly captures the experience of your event or your booth never happens on schedule.
That’s why you prepare themed, branded templates, in case you need to create something on-the-fly during your event. Make sure you have some of these templates ready:
- Custom social platform pages
- Social posts
- Blog posts
- Social objects (like Twitter cards)
- Landing pages
ENLIST THE INFLUENCERS
While you’re creating your social content, lay the groundwork for distributing it, with a network of influencers who everyone in your industry follows. How do you get them on your team?
- Share and promote their content to boost their authority—and increase the likelihood they’ll promote your content, too.
- Participate in the community year-round. Join tweet-chats, contribute in LinkedIn groups, respond to questions.
- Talk about more than the show. When you know an influencer’s favorite Thai restaurant in the event city, you can probably count on her support.
- Reach out to ask for help. Be aware of how the ask ties into an influencer’s interests, and give him a reason to care.
Of course, everyone wants to have the key influencers on their team. But you don’t mind sharing the love, because you’re making the event the star. Whatever helps the common good helps your social campaign, too.
RIDE THE THREE-DAY CYCLONE
Finally! The event is here!
You’ve built up to this for months—but so has everyone else. It’s not uncommon to see 100,000 tweets per day from some of the bigger events. How do you make sure your social content connects with your target audience through that three-day social cyclone?
- Hashtag everything. Have your main hashtag (and sub-hashtags, for more targeted sharing) ready to go, and make sure nothing goes out without them.
- Don’t be self-obsessed. Find fun photos and quotes from everywhere at the event, not just your booth.
- Give as much recognition as you can. Retweet (or reshare) anyone who engages with you. Thank everyone.
- Engage your community every five minutes. Don’t let an hour go by—do it now! Retweet, like, favorite, say thanks.
Sound like too much work for one person? It is. For larger events, you’ll need at least a 2-3 person team to “divide and conquer” social responsibilities.
FOLLOW UP AND CELEBRATE!
Bask in your success—but not for too long. You need to keep engaging on social for at least a week or two after the event, to make sure late commenters aren’t forgotten. Thank everyone, again.
Finally, combine your efforts with your lead-nurturing team to make sure your leads get the right mix of social and email follow-up. Turning new leads into new sales? Now that’s awe-inspiring!
Want to transform your next tradeshow? Learn more secrets of the most successful booths in our FREE E-BOOK: The 7 Secrets of Awe-Inspiring Events
Social Media Manager
You know how excited Buddy the Elf gets about Santa? That's how Social Media Manager Stacy Goebel feels about new ideas. Her favorite is when she gets to think out of the box to build integrated marketing strategies for clients. She also favorites singing and raising four creative kids.