This article first appeared on my column on the Sprout Insights blog.

While the digital world hurtles on, developing everyday into a even more powerful force, it can be easy to forget about the ‘real-life’, tangible activities that many marketers still take part-in and see benefits from. One such activity is attending consumer shows. You know the ones, huge exhibition halls, hundreds or even thousands of stands with eager people wanting to attract your attention? They can be a very hard place to create a splash, but using the real-time nature of Twitter is one way to increase your chances of show success. Read on for my top tips.

Do some work in advance of the show

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use a fictitious company called ‘Mousey’ to illustrate my points. Mousey creates super-high performance computer mice for gaming. Their customers are serious gamers, we’re talking sit up all night, repetitive-strain injury type people here. Mousey is attending a massive gaming show, and is launching a new mouse on the first day. They want to make sure that the super-gamers who’ll be visiting the show know they are there and of course, come and visit their stand. One way to do this is to use Twitter to search for gamers discussing the show. Most shows, conferences etc tend to have a hashtag – that would be a natural place to start! Search for people using the tag, follow them and if appropriate say hello and that you’d love to meet them at stand number ‘x’. Even better, give them a sneak-peek of what they might expect from a visit to your stand. Will you be handing out some awesome swag? Take it to another level and use Vine to offer a really quick video snippet to whet their appetites. If you can, give the top gaming influencers a little preview of the new product that they can demo at the show. All of this activity can help to build a bit of pre-show buzz around your business and your stand.

Be active while on your stand

If your stand is busy, it can be tough to find time to do anything other than talk to attendees and (hopefully) sell your products, however, you really should try to find time to be active on social media during show times. This can be as simple as tweeting pics/videos of your stand, people at the stand, your company representatives or even people from other exhibitors (not your competitors!) that pop by to say hello. Again, tweet them with the show hashtag in order to gain eyeball time from attendees. Doing this shows your are engaging with people and that they can expect to be welcomed at your stand. If you have a conversation with somebody, ask if they are on Twitter, take their username and then give them a shout-out on Twitter later than day. Make people feel special! Many exhibitors are now taking along a colleague who’s sole purpose is to update social media and take photos, videos etc while the show rolls on.


Curate show news

While the show is in full-swing, it’s a good idea to dip into the twitter chatter and pull out any interesting nuggets of information, perhaps times of talks etc and share them via your twitter account (yep, you guessed it, don’t forget the show hashtag!). By doing this you’re providing valuable information to attendees and again, showing your enthusiasm for being there.

Be spontaneous!

When things are slow at a stand, it can be like watching paint dry, and of course, if other people see your stand is desperately void of attendees, it gives off a terrible impression. When this happens, you need to do something to get people back in front of you! Let’s go back to Mousey – gamers love pizza (a stereotype but lets run with it!), so they could order some pizza to be delivered to the show, take pictures of it and tweet it out (with the hashtag!) and watch the gamers come a-running! What do gamers love to do? They love to game. Time to start a gaming comp at the stand using the latest Mousey product, the winner wins said product. Attract participants via Twitter. Simple, yet effective!

There you go folks, some advice on making the most of Twitter to boost your consumer show success! Do you have any other tips to share? Please do so in the comments section below.

If you’d like to talk about making a splash with social media for your next trade show attendance, feel free to contact me.

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Mike McGrail

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Clock image used under creative commons and via makerbot on Flickr.

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