Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why and How to Tweet Industrial Trade Shows

Manufacturing Trade shows are still alive and you can breathe new life into them with Twitter! In a recent Facebook post I linked to a short article from Automation.com about the value of regional industrial trade shows for SMB industrial & manufacturing companies. I've also been assembling a list of smaller, regional industrial trade shows. Now with Twitter and social media marketing, you can get more bang out of your trade shows!

photo courtesy of Design2Part Trade Shows
This update is about using Twitter as part of your industrial trade show marketing effort. In an article from Industrial Maintenance and Plant Operations magazine, Author Steve Staedler (Twitter: @LePoidevinMktg) makes the case that you should use Twitter at industrial trade shows to:
  • promote your company's show attendance prior to the show
  • promote your specific booth activities during the show; i.e. announcing your next demo
  • tweet about your observations at the show (i.e. what cool things have you seen?)
  • capture contacts' twitter addresses to follow-up after the show
I'll add another item to the list: when you obtain a contact's twitter address (like... @BaerMarketing) you can tweet a quick 'thank you' for visiting your booth or a quick 'nice to meet you'. For example you might tweet

"@BaerMarketing thx 4 visiting booth 453 Look forward to talking again Pls visit our site http://bit.ly/qanzaS. Enjoy #imts & stop by again!"

A few strategic things to notice in this tweet.
  1. #imts - this is the "hashtag" for the upcoming IMTS show in Chicago in Sept. 2012. (more on hash tags below) If this tweet were sent during the show, it would mean that every person at the show with a smart phone, an ipad, a laptop, etc. who is monitoring the twitter feed of the show would have the chance to see important information about your company. They would see:
    • your booth number
    • your website link - they might look up your website and decide to visit your booth
    • that you're active on twitter, which can make a good impression by showing that you're a company on top of modern things
  2. you're giving near-instant communication back to people you have just met
  3. you're giving these new contacts and easy way to communicate back to you and to learn more about your company via the website link
  4. you're inviting them back to your booth
  5. you're planting a seed for post-show follow-up
How To Tweet
When tweeting, remember that you have to be brief... max of 140 characters. If you're new at tweeting, that takes some getting used to. But just pay attention to other tweets and you'll get the hang of it.

More about #hashtags: You should use the twitter "hashtag" for the trade show; something like #showname. Hashtags always start with a "#" and they're used to identify tweets about a specific topic or event. For instance, if you'll be going to the International Manufacturing Technology Show 2012 in Chicago this coming September, you can already start watching and interacting on Twitter with the hashtag #imts. Just put "#imts" in the Twitter search box (without the quotation marks) and you'll get list of all recent tweets about the IMTS show by a wide variety of tweeters. And when you post a tweet with #imts, all other companies following that hashtag can see your tweet.

If you're going to a specific talk, seminar or class at the show, you can live tweet that presentation as well. Others who might not be attending the same presentation will really appreciate your insights on the presentation they're missing and any links you provide. To tweet a presentation at an event, you would then use a double hashtag. Continuing our IMTS example, the first would be #imts. The second would be the hashtag for that particular presentation. Most speakers today say and/or show their hashtag at the beginning of their presentation. For instance, if someone is giving a presentation on plant safety, they might either use a hashtag for their company or name, or they might use a hashtag like #safety. So you would then tweet your comments and observations using a tweet like...

"new osha respirator standards http://1.usa.gov/zLxDbx know before you buy or upgrade #imts #safety"

Notice that this is not directed at any particular person (no @somebody) but, instead, it is directed at anybody looking for #imts tweets. And it is not directly about selling; you're not just pushing product info down people's throats. You're starting a process of communication to build trust and credibility. If you keep building that trust and credibility after the show through many channels you will position yourself better to be in the right place when the buyer moves to the next step in the buying process.

With this short Tweeting lesson and some keen observation on Twitter, I'm confident that you'll pick up tweeting very quickly and that you'll use it advantageously at events like trade shows. Make the jump into the twitterverse and good luck at your trade show adventures!

And please start a conversation here if you have questions or comments. All of our industrial audience would benefit from a good Q&A / commenting on using twitter for industrial companies or at industrial trade shows.

by Brian Baer, BaerMarketingNetwork.com
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