I think adding social media to our preshow promotions is a great idea, but I need to convince upper management that it's something we should do. Seeing is believing, so I was wondering: Has anyone had success using Facebook, Twitter or another social media site to promote shows?
— Phyllis, Marketing Coordinator
It all depends on how “social” you are
Phyllis, social media is fraught with possibilities for the exhibits and events industry. But the trick lies in finding the right vehicle for each purpose and using it the right way.
So, before you leap into this new realm, our readers have some advice for you:
- Make sure your audience gets your message.
- Don't use social media as a stand-alone.
- Be careful of what you say.
Make sure your audience gets your message
With e-mail, you know exactly how to deliver a message to your intended recipients. But with social media, the message is on Internet waiting for someone to find it, and in some cases, the road to it may be blocked.
Jan, a marketing manager, explains why you need to do some “discovery” before venturing into social media.
“In a B-to-B environment, companies' IT policies may limit the reach of your social media. For instance, a recent informal poll of Exhibitor FastTrak attendees revealed that while many people have personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, few can access these channels from work.
“Before you invest a lot of time coming up with a program, do an informal poll of your own to see how much of your target group you can reach through social media.”
Don't use social media as a stand-alone
Social media can give you a remarkably inexpensive way to reach large numbers of potential attendees. But don't let the lure of cost-savings derail your communications program.
L.C., an exhibits specialist, reminds you that social media should be only one piece of the pie.
“To use social media successfully, you need fans, networks and followers, or a tie into a common group (say around a particular show). Plus, whether you use pre-, at- or postshow messaging, it has to be part of an ongoing communications program.”
Be careful of what you say
The effectiveness of social media depends greatly on how you use it. For instance, as an anonymous reader explains, not every site will be right for you, especially if you're using social media for promotions.
“According to Marketing Profs' new series on digital marketing, much of the Facebook activity is in the B-to-C realm. So, this may not be the channel for you.
“Twitter may be a possibility for some communication, but not for self-promotion. Why? This activity ignores the ground-roots ‘thirds' rule for tweets: one-third about your company, one-third passing along information from others (retweeting) and one-third sharing content you've found that you think is valuable to your Twitter followers.”
Michaela B., a programs manager, provides important reminders about using social media for business reasons.
“Be careful to differentiate your personal posts from those you make on behalf of your company. Also, if you're the company's online ‘voice,' be discreet in all your posts. It doesn't take long for someone to connect personal posts with business ones.”
Phyllis, social media presents a brave new world of communications. But before you venture into it, do some exploring to make sure it's the right fit for your clients and your purposes. Don't throw out your entire communications program just yet. And, as always, think before you speak.