Social media and trade shows are a great team. After all, trade shows are themselves akin to a social event: You’re showcasing your product or service while interacting with potential customers, fostering old business relationships and building new ones. Facebook can be an effective way to market your exhibit, both before and during the event. If you’re wondering how to promote an event on Facebook, use this guide as a starting point.
How to Promote an Event on Facebook: Before the Show
It’s never too early to start preparing for a trade show appearance. As soon as you’ve decided to attend a particular show, you should start working on a marketing strategy. Multi-channel is best whenever possible, including an email campaign as well as social media.
Facebook is generally a great place for this kind of strategy. More than other social media platforms, it gives you scope for posting multiple kinds of content right on your organization’s Facebook page.
Before you start your pre-event posting schedule, take some time to make sure your Facebook page is properly updated. If the page already has a regular posting schedule, it’s likely to be up-to-date, but it’s still a good idea to make sure your contact information, profile and cover photos, and other details are updated to reflect current information and are relevant to your company. These small details help reinforce your brand identity.
Set Up an Event Page
An Event page is a separate page on the Facebook profile that’s dedicated to the event. You can add details about the date and venue, your exhibit location, and any other info that’s relevant. You can also communicate with potential attendees. Because the Event is a static page rather than part of the news feed, your followers don’t have to go scrolling down your page to find these details.
An Event page gives you another way to organize meetings with customers and leads. By creating an Event for the trade show, you let clients and prospects know you’ll be there and where they can find you. It also gives your followers a place to easily register their interest in your booth. For those who do, suggest setting up a personal meeting at the event.
Set Goals and Metrics
Your first task in developing a Facebook campaign is to decide on your goals and success metrics. Maybe it’s to get more booth visitors. It could be to generate leads—or more qualified leads. Your specific goals for Facebook marketing will depend partly on whether you’re pursuing other marketing channels at the same time.
It may be useful to consider two kinds of success metrics:
- The immediate success of your Facebook content in terms of engagement
- The longer-term success in terms of how this impacts your trade show booth
The first is easy, since Facebook provides you with that data in the form of engagement: likes, comments, and shares. It’s less simple to determine what impact content has on the number of visitors and leads you get at the show. One option might be to offer a trade show giveaway as incentive to visitors who mention your Facebook page when they show up at your booth.
Engage with Your Audience
Once your goals and metrics are sorted out, the next step is to start posting trade-show-focused content in the lead-up to the event. This doesn’t mean making all your content focused on the show—this will likely drive people to tune out after a short time. Instead, add trade show content to the posting schedule on a regular but occasional basis.
Every couple of weeks or so, post about the event on Facebook. For instance, provide an update on what your organization is doing to prepare for the show. Or provide updates on featured speakers, general sessions, and other things that might be of interest to your audience. Make sure to post images and video content if you can. Visual content is much more effective at grabbing attention than simple text posts.
As you get closer to the event, ramp up the posting schedule to once a week. Post the day before and the day of the event, then start adding your live event content.
You can go beyond your own organization’s Facebook page, too. If the event and its sponsors have a presence on Facebook, interacting on those pages can boost your own visibility.
Also, make sure to locate the event page for the trade show, so you can register your attendance This isn’t the same as actually registering your booth for the show! It’s an informal RSVP where you post your intent to attend, but it announces your presence to your followers as well.
Finally, make sure to use any official event hashtags whenever you post about the trade show and/or your presence there. This ensures your posts get incorporated into the event newsfeed and that if a potential lead searches this hashtag on Facebook, your posts will show up!
Do You Need to Use Sponsored Facebook Advertising?
In the lead-up to the event, Facebook ads can be useful for promoting your booth. To do this properly, you need to make sure you’re targeting your audience. There are a few ways to do this:
- Find out if the trade show itself is an “interest group” in Facebook’s Ads Manager interface. It will be in the “Detailed Targeting” lists.
- Use attendee contact information—like emails—that you’ve gathered to develop a custom audience list within the Facebook advertising interface. Your audience may not be extensive, but it will be comprised of solid leads: people attending the show. Even if it’s a small group, it’s a highly relevant one.
- Create a Custom Audience from the contact information of your customers. These people have bought from you before and are likely to be interested in attending a trade show you’re attending.
- Create a Custom Audience using information from people who visit your website. These people may not have purchased before, but visiting the site is an expression of interest, so it’s worthwhile to target them.
In your ads or boosted posts, include relevant info, such as:
- Your booth number and location
- What your organization can do for attendees
- An image of your booth
- A picture of your swag
If you don’t have the advertising budget, don’t worry. You can market effectively to your existing audience—and to the larger event audience—without it. Focus on posting great Facebook content, make it relevant to the show audience, and engage with your followers to build up interest.
How to Promote an Event on Facebook: During the Show
Facebook can be a great way to keep people updated and engaged when you’re at the show. Your Facebook audience likely includes people who didn’t attend the show but are still interested in what’s going on. Giving them a way to feel like they’re there can boost your visibility and engagement level throughout the event. Make sure to keep using event hashtags, and tag companies and clients who shows up in your photos and video content to spread the word even further.
The way engagement works on Facebook means that the higher your engagement level, the more often Facebook’s algorithm shows your content to all your followers. And the more of your followers who see it, the higher the likelihood that they’ll share it, spreading the word beyond your own Facebook page. This means all forms of engagement are useful, even if it’s not from people who are actually at the event.
Some options include:
- Engage with your Facebook audience by answering questions about the show and replying to comments in real time.
- Post photos from the show, including your own booth and some of the most impressive big-name exhibits.
- Add a personal element by including photos of your booth staff in action.
- Live stream a product demonstration or Q&A session from your trade show booth.
- Interview some other brands in attendance at the show, and post the videos to your Facebook page. Better yet, take them on Facebook Live!
- Use your Facebook page to let people know about giveaways. For instance, alert your audience that you’ll be giving away special swag items to the first five people who come at a specific time and who mention your Facebook page.
- Remind booth visitors to “like” your Facebook page to keep receiving updates from you. Consider incentivizing with a giveaway specifically for booth visitors who like your page.
Use the Facebook Stories Feature
Use Facebook Stories to organize the content you post when you’re at the show. This is useful because it aggregates all your content into one place. People who are looking for it can find it easily, without having to scroll down your page to find new show posts.
Continue to Run Facebook Ads
If you ran ads on Facebook before the show, keep them going! (Making sure the wording reflects that the show is in progress; writing an ad with a sense of urgency—“Only 1 day left to see us at EVENT NAME!”—can drive new people to your trade show exhibit.
During the show, you can focus your ads even further by targeting users who are within a certain radius of the event venue. This can bring in attendees who may not have known about your booth before the show but are valid leads.
Keep the Momentum Going After the Event
Your trade show booth can continue providing you with interesting Facebook content even after the event is over. And this can extend the useful life of your trade show appearance too. If you’ve collected some great content during the event—such as interviews, videos, and photos—you can highlight this content on social media in the weeks afterward. Many followers would even be interested in what dismantling an exhibit looks like, so live stream it!
Analyzing Your Data
Finally, don’t forget to use the metrics you previously established to analyze your results.
- Examine the engagement you achieved with each of your event-related Facebook posts. Look at comments, likes, and shares to determine what kinds of content got the best results.
- If you used incentives or giveaways as a Facebook tie-in at the show, what were the results? How many people showed up, and did they turn into leads?
- What can you improve on for next time? For instance, if your live stream content was the most popular, how can you make live video content even better?
Consider setting up a post-show event page, and invite people to share their thoughts. This can provide you with great feedback and gives you the chance to re-engage leads and potential leads by asking if they’re interested in making an appointment with you.
Social Media Provides Bang for Your Buck
The success of your trade show booth depends a lot on how well you publicize it in the weeks and months before the event. At a busy trade show, many people visit only a select handful of booths instead of walking the whole floor. With a great Facebook marketing strategy to promote the event, you can maximize your traffic and your leads, and boost your trade show success.