Most business owners make the mistake of keeping their digital and in-person marketing separate. Each have their merits, but an experienced marketer will tell you they work better together, says Katie Price an entrepreneur & trade show marketing expert.
This is especially true for social media and tradeshow marketing. Integrating the two can create interest, improve engagement, and drive ROI. And you don’t need to be a social media guru to succeed. All you have to do is harness the hashtag.
What is a hashtag, anyway?
Simply put, a hashtag is any word or phrase written with the # symbol on social media. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and others use these phrases to index content and make it easy for people to find the conversations they’re looking for. Yes, it’s a trendy creation loved by Millennials and Gen Y, but the marketing potential is huge.
Here are a couple of awesome examples:
Coke started creating unique product labels reading “Share a Coke With…” Coke drinkers were encouraged to share their “Share a Coke” experience on social media using the #ShareaCoke hashtag. The campaign sparked hundreds of thousands of branded tweets from fans.
Esurance purchased their first ad slot after the 2015 Super Bowl and started the #EsuranceSave30 hashtag campaign to go with it. It promoted a sweepstake — all you had to do was tweet the hashtag to enter. Their unique hashtag was used 5.4 million times as a result.
Those are a couple of famous hashtag marketing campaigns, but the good news is, any size business can succeed with hashtags if they use them right. Here’s how to harness the hashtag for trade show marketing.
Create A Business Hashtag
If you’re planning on presenting or hosting a booth at a tradeshow, you’ll want to have a unique hashtag for your business.
Preferably, you’ll pick a phrase related to your business name or brand. The shorter the better because it’s easier to remember. Brainstorm a few ideas for business hashtags, then head to social media to check:
- Is anyone else already using this hashtag?
- Is anyone else using a hashtag with very similar spelling?
Your hashtag should be completely unique, to avoid your marketing efforts mixing with completely unrelated social posts.
You should also take a close look at your hashtag to see the different ways it could be interpreted. Take a lesson from Chester Literary Festival’s #epicfail. They came up with #CLitFest to highlight the event on social media, and got more attention than they bargained for.
Create Buzz Pre-Event
You should develop and start using your hashtag well in advance of your tradeshow event to start generating buzz. The tradeshow will likely have its own hashtag for the event, and you can use the two together.
On social media, invite big names in your industry to check out your booth at the event and use your hashtags in the post. You can also create pre-event content, like teaser videos about products you plan to unveil at the tradeshow.
Include a link in your posts to where people can buy tickets. Or take it a step further and create your own landing page for the event on your site. Include sign-up opportunities to participate in your booth activities and other resources that get people excited about interacting with your business.
Another way to broaden your reach pre-event is by using other popular hashtags. You might find a trending hashtag that relates to your business, or a popular location-based hashtag to attract interest from people who are already in the event city. If you plan on doing a giveaway as part of your event marketing, use ever-popular hashtags like #contest, #entertowin or #sweepstake to circulate your posts even further.
Create Social Buzz at the Show
A lot of marketers are good at using their hashtags to create buzz about their tradeshow event, but forget about it on the big day!
You want to make sure people strolling by your booth see your hashtag so they’ll start using it during the event as well. So show your hashtag off on your display boards and encourage people to join the social conversation.
Of course, you should also use the hashtag yourself during the event. Live tweet about what’s happening using your hashtag and the event hashtag. Take pictures and video of guest presentations, your booth events and other activities to create a social stream for the event.
Post-Event Hashtag Marketing
Hopefully, you succeeded getting people engaged on social media during your event. In-person event marketing is a powerful tool to attract new leads, so make efforts to keep your brand fresh in their mind.
Keep tweeting using your event hashtag, and ask questions like:
Who was your favorite speaker at [event]? #yourhashtag
You should also reach out to anyone who used or retweeted your hashtag on social media. Follow them, thank them for engaging, etc. These people will become important leads that you can target with:
Write about the trade show, including pictures and videos of the event. Write about any giveaways or contests you hosted and share them on social media. This will help attract socially-engaged prospects back to your site.
Hopefully, you’ve managed to capture some email signups as part of your event marketing. Now you can reach out again through email, highlighting the event and thanking them for attending. Include links to your social profiles and feature your business hashtag to encourage people to keep the buzz going.
Hashtags are probably the most powerful event marketing tool out there if you want to make an impact on social media. Choose yours wisely and use it right to make the most for your tradeshow event.
Katie Price is an entrepreneur & trade show marketing expert. She is the co-owner of RAL Display & Marketing Ltd, a leading UK supplier and manufacture of portable exhibition stands. She is focused on educating and inspiring event organisers and business owners that attend trade show events.