Using social media to get the most out of business events
08 March 2012
Spring and autumn are typically times when we find our diaries full of exhibitions and business events. The latest research with WTM exhibitors last year showed a 16% increase in the value of deals made at the show to a whopping £1.6bn helped by WTM speed networking and hosted breakfast meetings.
Following the Top ten tips on networking blog I thought I’d add a few more tips on using social media to make your business shows like WTM on 5-8th November 2012 even more successful.
1. The secret is in the planning
Prepare a communications plan for each show. Review your client, partner and prospect database and make them aware of the show well in advance with personal invitations to meet using any online pre-planning tools. Fellow exhibitors could be very useful referral customers for you. Send out timely reminders of their appointment times to all invited visitors.
Source: K Bullock WTM2011 Costa Rica award winning stand
2. Think carefully about your total customer experience
Direct visitors to online groups (e.g. Facebook, discussion forums, Linkedin, Flickr) to connect with those who have visited. As shared in my last blog try to be involved with customers at the dream stage and post trip. I was impressed with the Hawaii tourist board post trip survey I received. Invite your delighted visitors to your Facebook community and review sites to share their travel stories.
3. Social countdown to the show
Use Twitter, Linkedin and email to let your target audiences know how many days to go to the show and where and how to find you with your stand number and directions. Photos of the team they can expect to meet also helps to build relationships.
Source: K Bullock WTM2011
4. Using hashtags (# symbol)
Using hashtags on popular topics makes it easier to follow your posts and blogs. For example if responsible travel is a hot topic for the show and important to your business include #responsible_travel. Hashtags don’t have spaces and use those set up for the shows you attend e.g. #WTM2012.
5. Track conversations leading up to the show
You may find valuable leads by tracking online conversations prior to the show and then connecting via Linkedin or Twitter. Remember to be active on any Linkedin groups for shows you are attending such as WTM and related travel groups.
6. Use incentives to reward stand visits
At the Silk Road initiative at WTM last year bloggers were invited to write about the countries involved and a prize was given to the best blog. Phocuswright gave a discount on their research reports to their WTM stand visitors. You could run a prize draw for visitor business cards. The treasure hunt for bloggers to find the WTM party also provided a bit of fun. Offer stand prizes for those who visit your website, check in or answer questions on your site.
7. The power of pictures and video
A video is a powerful tool for helping with your Google search rankings. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture your visitors and the show in full swing.
8. Follow up
Keep a log of all promised actions and follow up with a personal note to all your stand visitors to thank them for their visit and track all subsequent business generated as a result. Follow your new contacts made on Twitter and connect with them on sites such as Linkedin as soon as you can.
Source K Bullock WTM2011
9. Using Pinterest
This new social network works like an online pinboard and is a good tool for sharing pictures after a show. I use it for sharing fun infographics on the travel industry and you can see examples here.
10. Keep focus on your visitors
Put yourself in your customer shoes and remember their needs. Make your stand as open and friendly as possible and ensure all your team are fully briefed on answers to the question “Why should I give my business to you versus anyone else?”
Do share your top tips for getting the most out of your shows. What’s worked best for you?