The New Social Media: How They Can Impact Your Exhibit
Trade shows provide a unique opportunity to network, make new business connections, and build a brand. And it's no secret that these days, social media apps have begun playing a major role in trade shows—allowing both attendees and non-attendees to stay on top of all the goings-on at each event.
However, it seems as though the way exhibitors use social media in trade shows is once again changing, as less conventional social media applications such as Instagram, Periscope, and Snapchat are being used in innovative ways.
Conventional Apps and Trade Shows
As far back as the mid-2000s, social media has been used at trade shows and continues to be used today. For example, Twitter has become a popular platform; trade show attendees regularly use it to send “tweets” re-capping memorable takeaways from presentations and different exhibits. In other words, Twitter—along with its use of hashtags—has served as a sort of collaborative note-taking platform for trade show attendees. As an added benefit, those who aren't able to be in attendance at the trade show can follow along on Twitter in real time.
But things are changing; while traditional social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will likely be used in trade shows for many years to come, a few newer and less conventional apps are also beginning to be used by resourceful trade show exhibitors.
Today's Apps and How They're Used
Today's millennials are attached to their smartphones; they rely on them on a daily basis to stay in touch with loved ones, for entertainment, and even to meet new people. An article published in Social Media Week explored the 13 most popular apps used by millennials and found that Snapchat and Instagram were in the top three, ranking even above Facebook. People in this generation use these apps to share small moments of their days with friends in the form of photos and short videos.
So, what does this mean for the future of trade shows? For starters, it means that in order to get attention of the millennial generation, it's time to branch outside the “safe zone” of Facebook and Twitter. It's time to learn how to use other apps for marketing purposes, such as in trade shows.
Using Instagram at a Trade Show
Instagram is a popular application that allows users to share their photos with the world, gaining followers and fans along the way. And there are many ways exhibit planners and managers at trade shows can use this app to their advantage.
First of all, Instagram provides a great opportunity for exhibitors to show some transparency and “behind-the-scenes” shots of their employees. Rather than sharing a simple photo of your trade show display, why not also publish a few shots of your employees at the display installation, interacting with attendees, or even grabbing lunch during a break? Today's customers want to feel a connection with their brands, and this is an excellent way to foster that connection.
Instagram also allows you to add hashtags to your uploads, so you can tag them with relevant terms to make your posts more easily visible and likely to be followed. Not to mention, Instagram has a unique feature that allows you to add a location to your uploads, which is a great way to encourage more foot traffic to your booth. Simply include your specific booth location in your posts to take advantage of this feature!
Using Periscope at a Trade Show
Periscope isn't the most popular social media platform right now, but it's quickly gaining popularity among millennials and promises to be among the most-used apps in the years to come. Specifically, Periscope allows users to live stream from their locations, with the added option to schedule broadcasting times. The applications of Periscope to use in trade show marketing are huge.
For starters, if your company will be presenting at a trade show, use Periscope to provide non-attendees with a live broadcast of the presentation. Even if your company isn't part of a formal panel or presentation, you can use the Periscope app to provide non-attendees with real-time updates. Consider broadcasting a quick message from your trade show booth or even give your viewers a virtual tour of the venue. This is a great way to increase engagement with your target audience.
Using Snapchat at a Trade Show
Last but certainly not least, there's Snapchat. This app is unique in that it allows you to show photo and video for pre-determined periods of time. And recently, Snapchat debuted the unique “Story” feature, which allows users to string together chunks of photo, video, or both to create a unique story for users. This feature is a great way for exhibitors to promote their trade show booth both at the event and to those who aren't in attendance. And if a Snapchat story becomes popular enough, it could even be featured on the home screen of the app itself, providing another unique opportunity for exposure.
Overall, it seems as though trends in trade show marketing are beginning to move away from text-based social media platforms and more towards image- and video-based ones. If you aren't familiar with these apps or haven't yet used them at a trade show or conference, now would be a great time to start playing around with them and creating a plan to implement some of these strategies.