In a world where business communications are moving at the speed of light, trade show marketing may seem like a dusty relic… from the outside. If you’ve had any experience manning a trade show booth or attending such an event, then you know that trade shows are alive and well. They remain hubs of intensely concentrated marketing, presenting, and networking.

Biz CardAccording to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority, and 99% of marketers say they find unique value from trade shows they do not get from other marketing mediums. The top most valued aspect of trade shows are the ability to see lots of prospects, customers, and other players, such as suppliers and resellers, in one place all at the same time.

But all of this activity presents a couple of major challenges for the presenting companies: how do you stand out from the crowded field of other presenters and how do you help to ensure that you are connecting to the right people?

This is where social media comes in. If you can think strategically and get the ball rolling before the actual trade show event takes place, then here are three ways you can increase trade show success via social media:

Generate some pre-event buzz. Set up an event page on your blog or on Facebook specifically for the upcoming trade show. Not only will this help to build excitement for the event, but interacting with customers before the show will give you a better idea of what they want to see.

Spice up your contests and giveaways. Trade shows have become synonymous with swag. But, you can break away from the custom key chains and pens by offering a few big-ticket items that will draw more interest to your booth. The catch is that to snag these top prizes, visitors must interact with you via social media.

Maintain relationships. One of the biggest benefits of encouraging social media engagement among attendees is the ability to maintain a connection with these people long after the event has ended. You can encourage trade show visitors to follow your social media sites by letting them know that you’ll be running a series of special promotions after the trade show.

In short, for many businesses, trade show marketing can be a lucrative endeavor. But, you may have to think outside the box in order to maximize the benefits. Social media provides the tools to help you do just that.

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