3 Ways 2014’s Social Media Changes Impact Your Trade Show Displays!

These are fast-changing times for the trade show display industry. Online marketing strategies are quickly rewriting the rulebook on how to promote a trade show display. Unfortunately, the larger problem for exhibitors is that online marketing rewrites its own rulebook roughly every 6-12 months.

This is a totally unavoidable aspect of the business. Trends and favored platforms online change with remarkable speed, especially given how willing Google is to change the marketing landscape at the drop of a hat.

To successfully integrate online marketing strategies into your expo appearances, you have to be keeping up with the best practices, even as they change from month to month.

So, let’s talk current social media marketing, and specifically how you may want to update your trade show promotional strategies for 2014!

Social Media, Trade Show Displays, And Dealing With Change

So, what’s changed?

There’ve been a number of major shifts in the industry recently. Among the biggest factors to consider in your trade show marketing strategies:

  • Thanks to constant pressure from Google, Google+ is being adopted pretty much whether people want it or not. 2014 is likely to be the first year that G+ social marketing will be worth the investment for mainstream firms.
  • Google+ users now have the ability to send emails to other G+ members, even without having formally exchanged email addresses.
  • YouTube has been integrated with G+ as well. You have to be a member to comment, which should have the effect of improving YouTube marketing by cleaning up the widely-despised comment forums.
  • Mobile browsing and ecommerce are becoming huge. 2014 is being widely projected as the year mobile Internet use surpasses desktop PCs.
  • “Traditional” (heh) social services like Facebook and Twitter are plateauing and/or losing ground, especially among youth, with image-based services like Instagram, Slideshare, and Pinterest gaining popularity.
  • As part of this rise in picture-sharing, infographics have become one of the most popular forms of content and information distribution. Slideshare’s 2013 embrace of infographics was a major driver here.
  • “Context” is becoming one of the most important factors in mobile marketing: Where a recipient is, and what they’re doing there, makes a huge difference in how they perceive your messages.
  • The direct advertisements recently introduced on Facebook appear to be effective, but at the same time, may be contributing to the migration of younger people away from the service.

Phew! And that’s just hitting the highlights. Like I said, online marketing changes often, rapidly, and often radically.moe 1338 ipad stand with 4 swivel stop clamshell frames and shelf

Improving Your 2014 Trade Show Social Marketing

How can you take all this and turn it into a strategy that helps drive people to your exposition booths, wherever you set them up? We’ve got some tips:

1 – Don’t commit early to a social strategy.

If your business is planning trade show appearances 6-12 months down the road, a practice we heartily encourage, this means the social media landscape may change entirely between planning and execution. (Yes, it annoys us too.)

Don’t start seriously talking social / online marketing strategies until it’s more like two months until the trade show. That’s the time to survey the landscape and draw your plans, based on then-current usage patterns.

That said…

2 – Make Contacts, More Contacts, And Even More Contacts

While your specific strategies can be left until a later date, there is nobad time to be networking and making new contacts through social media. Time spent making new friends online during the “offseason” is an investment that will pay off in leads the next time you have a expo display to promote.

Online socializing, especially in B2B industries, is beginning (at least in my opinion) to take on a Victorian flavor. Recommendations and introductions are the rule of the day, and you’ll have a much easier time getting traction in various social media circles if there’s an established member of the group vouching for you.

3 – Consider “nonstandard” social outlets.

When people talk “social media,” they’re usually referring to message-based services like Facebook and Twitter. However, services that are based entirely around hosted content – like YouTube and Slideshare – are quickly becoming important social influencers in their own right.

The YouTube/G+ integration, for example, allows you to publish a comment on a video directly to a Google+ Circle, even bypassing the public comment forum entirely. This will make it far easier to post a video and have relevant discussions occur.

Similarly, Slideshare is now the single biggest business-level image-sharing service. An infographic posted on Slideshare takes on a double life: You can share it through your website and outlets, while Slideshare users can also share it independently.

From this, it’s not hard to see that finding ways to promote your company and appearance via infographics could be very valuable to your exposition outreach.

4 – Monitor for mentions.

There are a dizzying array of services available online for monitoring social media for mentions of your company or your upcoming trade show displays. If you lack such a service, this list has plenty of free options that should suit your needs.

Every mention of your upcoming trade show booth is an opportunity to start a new conversation about your booth, your products, or your company’s identity. Just remember to be polite, upfront, and whenever possible, contribute information that would be widely interesting or useful, rather than purely self-promotional messages.

5 – Ego-Baiting

This is a relatively new practice, one I’m a bit skeptical of in the grand scheme, but it’s definitely effective on certain personality types. Ego-bait can take many forms. The short version is it’s a socially-shared message or piece of content aimed at a very specific group or individual, for the sake of stroking their egos and inspiring reshares/links.

Even today, a lot of people get a big buzz from seeing their name mentioned by someone else. They will almost inevitably reshare anything with positive PR for them.

If your product happens to have a small core group of devout fans, or you believe it would be of very particular interest to a similarly small group, ego-baiting flattery can be an effective way of getting on their radar. This is a good way, for example, of setting up an influential blogger for an offer to travel to your trade show display.

The downside, of course, is that overt flattery will insult those who recognize it as deliberate manipulation. Microscopically precise targeting is a requirement for this to effectively promote your trade show displays, and since a misfire could cause major PR problems, proceed with caution.

Change Is The Only Constant

There’s a world of ways out there to promote your trade show appearance, whether you’re targeting people in the same city, or all over the globe. Accordingly, social media is now becoming one of the most effective overall outreach strategies – but only when it’s deployed according to current standards and practices.

The best advice we can give is to try to stay up-to-date with online marketing practices, and never jump into online trade show promotional strategies without first taking a good hard look at what the industry looks like this month.

Or, for more advice on how to make your trade show display a success, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation!

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