The importance that social media plays at exhibitions

13th December 2010

Social media has become a key part of everyday life for people across the globe. Whether it is accessing Facebook on a smartphone to keep up to date with friends or using LinkedIn to create successful business relationships, social media is now firmly part of our lives.

Jorg Lyseggen, chief executive of Meltwater Group, recently noted that social media sites are having a far reaching effect across the world.

"The importance of social media is hard to overestimate – it has dramatically transformed the media landscape and with that the society we live in," he said at the Westminster Media Forum Keynote Seminar.

So it is hardly surprising that more and more people are talking about how social media can be used at events.

Earlier this year, writing on his website, Joel Comm noted that social media and many events have a great deal in common. Speaking about conferences, he said that social media enables conferences to become more interactive.

"Through the social media tools available on the web, event organisers now have the power to market their events themselves, directly and at little cost."

He suggested that social media helps companies and organisers communicate with audience members, get feedback on the event as it develops and encourages "the kind of word-of-mouth marketing that's always the most effective at bringing in reservations".

Mr Comm added that social media can help turn a group of attendees into a community "before they've even picked up their name badges".

Utilising social media before an exhibition
Event organisers can use social media to attract new exhibitors at an expo, but such sites also offer a number of opportunities for companies.

Firms which have confirmed their presence at an exhibition can let their Twitter followers or Facebook fans know that they will be going by posting updates. This will help promote the stand and will also encourage consumers to provide feedback, advising what products or services they would like to see showcased.

Using such sites in advance can create a buzz around a firm's attendance at an exhibition and help draw visitors to the stand on the day.

Using social media at an exhibition
Although more and more firms are using social networking to let their customers know that they will be attending an exhibition, many do not utilise such sites at an event.

A recent Ezine Articles piece by Chris A Harmen, who works for tradeshow exhibition stand provider Skyline, noted that firms may dismiss using Facebook and other sites because they believe it is impractical to incorporate them into exhibition displays. Yet, more and more stands now feature laptops, large TVs and other display equipment.

"With the proper computer setup, your company can maintain Facebook integration even from tradeshow stands," he said.

"Simply set up a computer and advertise that you are connected on Facebook, potentially allowing visitors to become a Facebook fan or join your group right from the booth."

It is important to point out to visitors that they can follow the company on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook when they come over to your stand. If at all possible, encourage them to use their smartphone or equipment at the stand to do this while they are still at the stand to ensure they do not forget about the company.

How to utilise social media after an event
The importance of linking social media and an exhibition does not end automatically after the event has taken place. Instead, it can be beneficial to continue to use social networks to continue the buzz around the event and keep in contact with new followers and fans.