Using Social Media for Your Next Trade Show

facebook logoThe fact that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can proudly claim that more than 1 billion people actively using the website he created – out of 7 billion total people in the world – is one of the more convincing proofs-of-concepts in recent memory, particularly given that it only took eight years for the social media giant to reach that point.

Far less impressive, unfortunately for Zuckerberg and the rest of the Social Media Oligarchy, whose card-carrying members also include Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner and Google’s Larry Page, is that through the lens of B2B marketing, Facebook and other platforms are not nearly as effective driving leads as other tools.

When it comes to conversion rates among sources of business website traffic, social media comes in last place out of the six methods studied by Optify in its “2012 B2B Marketing Report”:

  • Email: 2.89 percent
  • Referrals: 2.04
  • Paid Search: 1.96
  • Direct Traffic: 1.64
  • Organic Search: 1.45
  • Social Media: 1.22

Digging deeper into those numbers, the news brightens somewhat for Dorsey, but not so much for Weiner and Zuckerberg – Twitter’s conversion rate is 2.17 percent, compared to LinkedIn’s 0.8 percent and Facebook’s 0.74 percent.

So, clearly there’s still some work to be done before social media becomes a dominant force in driving B2B conversions. One viable place for them to take a gigantic leap forward is in the context of trade shows. Trade shows are inherently a social construct – they quite literally bring people together in real life, in much the same way that Facebook and other social media platforms forge those same connections digitally.

What is Facebook’s current role?

We always look to Traci Browne first whenever a question about social media comes up. And, surprisingly, she’s not a “big fan” of Facebook for B2B marketing purposes – those are her words, and we’re not sure if the pun is intentional or not.

“I’m not saying it can’t work, I’m just saying I’ve not seen one single good sustainable example of its use in B2B. It might build up a bit of steam when you are really pushing it for some kind of contest. But is that really sustainable?” she writes in “The Social Trade Show.”

Even though Browne isn’t fully on board with Facebook as a trade show marketing technique, here are a few options that might suit your business well:

  • Before the show, create an event that details where and when you’ll be presenting. You can use the RSVP feature to get a sense for what your booth traffic might look like, allowing you to plan accordingly.
  • You should also use a poll to gauge your audience’s interest in a particular aspect of your trade show. Ask them what food or drink they’d like to be served, or maybe which type of promotional giveaway they’d want.
  • Even though it’s still a new, unproven feature, Facebook Graph Search should help you to reach out to certain aspects of your fanbase. You can adjust for different demographics and target only those that you think are the most viable leads.
  • After the show, write a note or post a video recapping the event.

Whatever you do, just make sure you’re using Facebook – and all of your social media platforms – to distribute content about your trade show across the internet, before, during and after a show. The wider you cast your net – the more platforms you use – the more likely you’ll be able to capture a larger segment of your target audience.

A more appropriate fishing metaphor is to think of each social media platform as a different line you’ve cast out from your boat. The more poles you’ve rigged simultaneously, the more likely you are to make a catch.



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