If you attended Content Marketing World or Connections 2013, then you know that trade show season is in full swing. From exciting keynote speakers to informative sessions, marketers across the world are flocking to trade shows and conferences to get their fill of the excitement. But conferences aren’t all fun and games — there’s work involved, too. From sessions to plan and sponsorships to set up, marketers have their hands full when it comes to trade show preparation.

One thing that marketers need to consider before attending a conference is how they plan to use social media. Instead of being reactive to the Tweets that come your way during a conference, be proactive. Here’s how:

1. Use social media to connect with customers and clients.

Going to a conference is about being a part of a community, even if only for a few days. That makes it a great opportunity to connect with your customers, clients, and prospects. Reach out to them via Twitter or LinkedIn to schedule a time to meet up for drinks or grab a bite to eat between sessions. They’ll appreciate that you’re taking the time to build a relationship.

2. Share pictures of your booth or sessions to build hype.

If you’re sponsoring an event, take a few minutes to tweet out some pictures of your booth with directions to your location (and a booth number, if you have one). Similarly, if you’re involved in any sessions or speaking opportunities, take a picture of the stage or a quick snapshot of the schedule to promote your involvement.

3. Tweet out important or enlightening quotes.

If you’ve attended a conference before, then you know how much attendees like to tweet out pivotal quotes from speakers and sessions. Don’t miss your chance to connect with your fellow conference attendees by sharing quotes that really speak to you. Just make sure you tag it with the conference hashtag so that you’re participating in the conversation!

4. Hold contests.

If you’re a speaker or sponsor at an event, a great way to promote your presence is by holding a contest for attendees. See who can tweet out the most interesting quote from a session, or who can come up with the best idea for a marketing campaign in 140 characters or less. Bring a few extra pieces of company swag to use as prizes.

5. Use instagram to share event pictures.

Don’t underestimate Instagram when it comes to trade shows. People love to see visuals, so Instagram can be a great medium for showcasing your experiences at conferences. Try incorporating it into a contest that you’re holding, or posting images with the conference hashtag that showcase your booth, your employees, or your culture in some way.

6. Write a recap blog post with your favorite Tweets.

The “community” feel of a conference lingers even after the conference is over. Take advantage of this by posting a recap blog post with some of your favorite Tweets from the event. This is a great way for others to relive their conference experience and gain some additional insight even after the conference has ended. Make sure you share your post with any of the attendees who are featured in it. Chances are, they’ll want to share it with their audience, too.

7. Create a Facebook album with event photos.

Because photos have some of the highest engagement levels, be sure to bring a camera along to take pictures of your booth, employees, customers, clients, happy hours, sessions, and more. After the event, share your photos in a Facebook album and promote it via your other social channels using the conference hashtag.

These are just a few ways that you can use social media to generate hype at a trade show. What other methods have you tried? Let us know in the comments!

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Jenna Hanington

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