I find that Twitter is great for making personal connections with business partners, customers and prospects at shows. Twitter, not unlike trade shows, is used for brand awareness, introductions and nurturing relationships without hard selling.
Here are 7 best practices for using Twitter to be seen and heard at a busy show:
1. I try to establish my company’s Twitter presence a few days before the show opens. And every day during the show/conference, I’ll post amusing or informative links, announcements, insights and observations.
2. On the first day of the show, I let the show management know we’re active on Twitter by sending a message to the show using a hashtag (i.e. #EMCworld for the EMC World show) to let them know we are an exhibitor, and ask them to retweet our messages to share it with their followers. For example: “#EMCworld we’re a gold sponsor and would like you to retweet our messages to followers.” It works if they are truly checking their messages.
3. I also include the show hashtag (like #HPDiscover for the HP Discover show) on all of my messages during the show. Attendees will read the hashtag for the event as a stream, and your followers will also receive them. For example: “Here at #RedHatSummit keeping up with the latest…”
4. I swap Twitter addresses with anyone I meet at the show. I also try to get my contact’s company Twitter ID so that my company can follow them and when I give them my business card, our Twitter address is printed on it.
5. If we have a booth, I use Twitter to keep attendees informed of happenings. For example: “@yourcompany The next demo will starting in 10 minutes in Booth 45 #EMCworld,” or “@yourcompany Drawing for an iPod shuffle at 1pm in Booth 377 #EMCworld Must be present to win.”
6. If I want to have some fun, I do promotional giveaways for Twitter users. For example: “I’ve got a copy of “Dummies Guide to Cloud Computing” for the next person who finds me. I’m wearing a straw hat!”
7. By the way, I’m not the only one tweeting at a show; usually a good practice is to have 2 tweeters (but no more) to catch all the buzz. I manage our tweets on CoTweet, which enables us all to see what the other has tweeted, what’s scheduled and to also pre-schedule our tweets. By the way, the mobile app to CoTweet is not free, so if you’re going to use it, you have to take a laptop, or login through your mobile phone’s browser.