HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO SELL MORE EXHIBIT SPACE
Social media has become a popular tool for event professionals. It provides them with ample opportunities for social listening (keeping tabs on what people are saying about your company, association, or event), making connections, and helping to increase sales. When you’re hosting or organizing an event, social media can be an invaluable resource for finding and introducing your trade show or conference to potential participants. Here are a few tips to help you use social selling to bring more exhibitors and sponsors into the fold.
Find Your Audience; Choose Your Platform
Social media gives you the ability to target a specific audience. Once you know where your audience is, you can decide which platform to concentrate on. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are the best places to start. By using hashtags on Twitter or participating in groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, you can gauge the level of interest in your event and determine the best way to approach your prospects.
On Twitter, hashtags can be a useful way to raise awareness about your event. Here’s an example of a tweet:
"#Cloudprofs - This year's [EVENT] is going to be better than ever! Register now to attend or contact us to exhibit/sponsor. [LINK]"
Typically, each community on Twitter has a broader hashtag such as #Cloudprofs for the cloud professionals community. This is a good place to start but from that broader community, you can narrow down your target audience by finding and using more specific hashtags such as those relating to a topic (#CloudComputing) or an event (#CloudForce2015).
Participating in relevant groups on LinkedIn and Facebook gives you the opportunity to build and nurture relationships that, in the long run, allow you to directly approach specific companies and individuals that you believe will be a good fit for your event.
Quality vs. Quantity
In this age of information overload, relevance is crucial. Don't waste your time trying to sell to the masses when you'll have more luck selling to a niche. That is Sales 101. A good salesperson understands the concept of quality over quantity. Experts say a smaller, more qualified pipeline is much better than a large, unqualified one. And if you're selling exhibit space and sponsorships, this concept works both ways. The more relevant your sponsorships and exhibitors, the better your event.
Make it Personal
If you haven't had the time or opportunity to build and nurture relationships with prospects, then you're probably looking at spending some time building a list of cold contacts. Even in this case, you can use social media to help sell. Use social networks to learn about your prospects. Who do they work with? What are their interests, preferences, and objectives? Do you have any existing shared connections?
Once you have a better idea of who your prospect is, you can contact him or her in a more personal way:
"Hi [Name], I'm [Name]. I learned of you through Twitter and we both happen to be in the [______] group on LinkedIn. I understand that you're the CMO of [Business Name]. I'm reaching out to you because..."
This might seem counterintuitive when you're looking at social selling, but sometimes it's best to just use social media to start the conversation and a more personal form of communication to close the sale. When it's right, take your conversation offline and talk on the phone or face to face.
Using social media to sell provides you with two huge benefits: the ability to quickly and efficiently narrow down your pipeline and the ability to establish new connections and relationships. When utilized by a knowledgeable and skilled salesperson, social media can become the foothold that best launches your event forward.