Posted by Jodie Houghton
Get the conversation going early on and keep it alive
A successful event should create lots of conversation before and after the show. Your efforts to promote a dialogue at the event should start in the early stages of the event strategy. You are aiming to foster attendance and interest in what you have on offer at the show. With luck this will peak at the show and continue for the hours and days afterwards.
What will interest the attendees?
At every stage, think about what things attendees will discuss, like and share. Look at the feedback from last year’s event. If people loved a particular presentation, ask them on Twitter what would be a good theme for the next years event. If they didn’t like last years event, ask them why and think of ways to make it different this year
Come up with different conversation types
Speeches tend to be a bit monologue but perhaps include some questions and answers. Host discussions on your stand, promote group breakout sessions, informal conversations etc. Equally in the twitter-sphere you will need a similar range of conversations: scheduled & targeted on a predefined subject, replies to questions and information dissemination.
Make use of hashtag's
Use a memorable hashtag. Use initials or the name of your organisation followed by date of the event or(#GHC2014 #TUB2014 for instance). The hashtag might not be popular initially but do persevere with it. This will allow visitors recognise it and use it. You need a hashtag that visitors will use often to talk about the event online and of course not forgetting the absent fans that will use it to follow what’s going on. Make a point of mentioning your hashtag at every chance. Also display it on presentation slides and programs.
Drive a Twitter conversation
Lead the conversation about a specific topic. Think about promoting recent additions to your product range or perhaps an important milestone or piece of legislation in your industry. Get some of your staff to participate in the conversation.
Your objective is to create a buzz among your customers and supporters. Your first chat might be just your own staff that make up your panel or event attendees. In light of this bring staff along that won't be shy retiring violets. Promote your conversation not just on Twitter but in advance of the event. Post your tweets on your blog or perhaps use a tool like Storify (storify.com/tour) for those who are not already on twitter. Be prepared for not much movement in the beginning. It can take time to get the conversation going. Don't be put off and don't give up.
Engage your followers and be inquisitive
So your Spring fair is only 4 weeks away. Perhaps tweet that the event date is drawing near on the calendar and encourage people to enter a competition you are running that will be drawn at the fair. Do not spam your followers with tweet after tweet about your event.That's a real turn off and will be counter productive. Engage them and ask questions of them. Are they coming to the event? Do they know you will be featuring new products at the show? Warm them up prior to the exhibition.
Make use of twitter usernames
Make a list of the twitter names of your customers, subscribers, distributors, exhibitors, influencers and other people that spring to mind. Remember them so that you can put them into tweets. Twitter users tend to check mentions of their username often. Reply to and retweet people who mention them. When people respond and retweet your tweets this will raise your profile and increase your followers.
Show off your tweets
Why not display your tweets and event hashtag on flat screens on your stand. One screen is good but two is always better. The tool that can achieve this is called 'Visible Tweets' (http://visibletweets.com). It’s very easy to use. Write your username or hashtag, choose your animation type and away you go. Try using Tweetchat or TwitterFall to show a succession of tweets on the flat screens on your stand providing you have some. Failing that it works equally well on a laptop. Watch out for less than flattering or comical tweets. In all honesty you are better off having a member of your staff moderating the tweets before they go onto the exhibition floor.
Listen to the people that follow you
Listen. In the whole time that you’re working at the exhibition, you should be keeping tabs on your mentions and using an app like TweetBeep to watch for tweets mentioning your stand or product. Answer questions and thank them for their interest. Deal with any complaints or criticisms. Make sure that it is constructive criticism and not trolling. Retweet contributions to the dialogue of the day.
Pursue those new leads and additions to your social channels
The conversation isn’t over at the end of the day, it is only getting started. Keep track of the conversation as people head home and tweet about the event or address any complaints. Use Twitter in conjunction with other social media channels to get feedback on the exhibition. What was the highlight of the day? What do you need to improve for next time?
Tweet links to content that will be helpful to people who missed this event, to people who had to attend other stands and missed yours. While some of your attendees will blog and tweet during the conference, others will blog or write their news articles when they get home or back to the office. Keep looking for those and tweet links to them or retweet their content relating to the event. If these follow ups provide good points for dialogue ask more questions to continue the engagement.
I hope this gives you a few ideas on how to really capitalise upon and maximise your twitter capabilities for your business.