Tradeshow season is upon us, and that means it’s time to put all those communications plans to work. Whether you’re traveling to San Diego, Las Vegas, New Orleans or Orlando in the coming weeks and months or holding down the fort at the office, social media can help you get in front of key prospects, stay connected and monitor the latest news.
I recently spoke with Jennifer Dennard, Digital Diva at HIStalk, founder of the #healthITchicks community on Twitter and LinkedIn, and social media expert to get her advice on making the most of social media connections during tradeshow season and beyond.
Dodge: What type of content do your go-to, favorite accounts provide during tradeshow season (and beyond)
Dennard: I keep up with hashtags rather than favorite accounts. During HIMSS, I paid special attention to #HIMSS16, #WomenInHIT, #healthITchicks, and #HIStalkapalooza. I tend to gravitate towards tradeshow-related content that captures of-the-moment insight and/or pictures. I loved @MMaxwellStroud’s tweet with National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD (@KBDeSalvo). It was totally in the moment, and from a communications perspective, helped Max convey her enthusiasm and Dr. DeSalvo her support for the #healthITchicks community. All in all, the more visual and unscripted, the better.
Dodge: What’s your favorite social media platform for engaging in and having meaningful conversations at tradeshows?
Dennard: Twitter, by far. LinkedIn is a bit too formal for the fun I like to have on Twitter. My Facebook activity is strictly personal, so I tend to post only the highlights there for my parents to see.
Dodge: Do you build a plan of attack tackling social media during tradeshow season? If so, how does this help you connect with others?
Dennard: I tend to keep it loose when it comes to plans of attack. I schedule “don’t miss this event” reminders ahead of time but otherwise stay in real time when tweeting during tradeshows. I feel it lends to the authenticity of my social networking. I am a big fan of scheduled tweets when appropriate, though.
Dodge: In terms of participating, how far in advance (and how often) should individuals or companies contribute to the conversation?
Dennard: It depends on the scope of the tradeshow. HIMSS-related information can be conveyed up to a month in advance, especially if you’re trying to encourage attendance at a presentation or a networking event. The tweet stream has gotten so deep that it doesn’t hurt to start early in order to stand out. “Top of the tweet stream, top of mind,” as they say.
For smaller, regional events, I’d start the week before.
It’s important to remember that folks follow tradeshow hashtags and related content several days – sometimes weeks – after the event has ended. A post-show strategy is also important to consider. This might include a blog recap, a Storify of favorite tweets or content related to major themes, a podcast … I could go on and on. The great thing about social networking is that the possibilities are pretty infinite as long as you have strategy and metrics attached.