We are entering the heart of the legal event season with both the Annual LMA Conference (#LMA15) and the ABA TECHSHOW (#ABATECHSHOW) being held next week. For technology companies, one of the largest line items in their marketing budget is "Events & Conferences". For that reason, any tool you can use to maximize your return for that investment is extremely valuable. Social media combined with the smart use of event hashtags is an ideal accompaniment to further promote your activities at an industry event, but if not done correctly, it can hurt you as well.
Here are our 3 top tips for utilizing social media hashtags while exhibiting at a conference:
1. Healthy Balance is Important
The keys to social media success are judgment, quality and a healthy balance. For vendors, the healthy balance I'm referring to is your mix of promotional vs. non-promotional messages. As an exhibitor, to gain a following you must walk the line between promoting your company/product(s) and offering useful content that will encourage your clients, peers and prospects to follow you. You can start by retweeting (RTing) resources - articles, industry statistics, market research, etc. - you come across that were of interest to you. Chances are, if you found it valuable, so will your followers.
2. Don't Hijack the Hashtag
The correct usage of hashtags can make the difference when it comes to growing your following. Hashtags allow you to get in front of contacts that are interested in the same topics that don't already know of you or follow you. With that said, my number 1 hashtag rule for exhibitors is to not Hijack the Hashtag! Hijacking the Hashtag is when a company posts a tweet with a conference hashtag and then has every employee RT it immediately causing the hashtag stream to be flooded with that one message. It annoys other conference attendees (the opposite of what you want) and doesn't get a wide viewing because they are all posted at the same time. RTing among your various company accounts is very useful and an excellent way to build the following for all accounts involved, but remember to allow time in between. This will greatly extend your message and get it in front of different viewers.
"Come to our booth!" "Come to our booth!" Does that seem an effective message to send to an entire audience following a conference? It's especially not effective when posted 5 times a day - and believe me, it happens. Adding information on a giveaway ("to win a...") is slightly better (not really), but a far better strategy is to find a promotion that the attendees will want to participate in (come by to take a picture with...). There is absolutely nothing wrong with inviting people to come see you - and you should - but do it sparingly.
- In addition to conference hashtags, utilize session hashtags if available to connect your messages to the relevant conversation.
- When inviting your followers to events and/or sessions, make it easy. Be sure to include the details (where, when).
- Monitor Twitter feeds to help you decide which sessions are a best fit/most interesting to you.
- Utilize your social media channels to reinforce your PR activities.
- Use your content and social media connections to pitch articles to legal/technology publications.
- 80+% of all post-event follow-up never happens ... so, pre-plan post conference social media follow-up just like you would plan your sales follow-up.
- Social media is always about quality, not quantity. You don't get paid by the tweet.
- "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" does NOT apply to any social media post ... use common sense and judgment when engaging as you will have to live with it.