Savvy tradeshow sponsors know that using social media is a great way to boost their brand presence before, during and after the event. But you can’t just sign up for Twitter or Facebook and hope for the best. You have to implement a smart strategy to reap the benefits of social media success, no matter what industry you’re in.

So as a sponsor, what’s the best way to shift your tradeshow or conference presence into high gear and increase your booth attendance while boosting brand engagement?

Tradeshow sponsor, meet hashtag.

Since 2009, Twitter users have been utilizing hashtags to link tweets about the same subjects together so they can be viewed easily in conjunction with one another. Not only is this a great way to connect with people who share similar interests, but it’s also an incredibly handy tool to group tweets together at events. Especially at large events, like tradeshows and conferences.

Keep on Tweetin’

When we talk about great social channels for tradeshows or conferences, it just doesn’t get much better than Twitter. Why? Because Twitter gives you a real-time, easily searchable public record of tweets before, during and after the event. That’s the kind of information you want and need when you’re in charge of boosting your brand presence as a sponsor at your next tradeshow. Plus, anyone can follow the tweets and keep up with your activities as a tradeshow sponsor, even if they’re offsite or otherwise unable to attend the actual event.

Bottom line: Twitter gives tradeshow sponsors measurable data about the successful spread of their brand presence throughout the event. That kind of information is key in determining what works and what doesn’t in terms of brand and business engagement, your overall tradeshow performance and presence, as well as identifying opportunities to improve upon the next time you’re a tradeshow sponsor.

Take heed! Here’s our list of the top 10 ways you can use Twitter to boost your presence as a tradeshow sponsor, the reach of your brand, and the success of your business.

  1. Use the tradeshow’s official hashtag AND your own hashtag in EVERY tweet. Almost every conference or tradeshow nowadays has an official event hashtag. For example: #BWENY (BlogWorld Expo) and #ica12 (International Communication Association). Make sure you communicate both the conference hashtag and your own hashtag both directly and by adding it to your event materials.
  2. Use both hashtags to ask your audience questions and see who responds. Be sure each tweet is consistent and in the voice of your brand. This is the perfect way to use social media to build target market engagement.
  3. Promote the event and your position as tradeshow sponsor on Twitter before and during the event. Ask attendees to visit a specific booth or location to learn more about your brand and your business. Give them a FUN reason to come on over!
  4. Build your social media following by following the followers of your event and hashtag, and ask them to follow you back.
  5. Engage your followers by participating in discussions and conversations about the event while using the official hashtag. Try creating a stream in HootSuite to make it easier. It’s a great way to answer questions and gather feedback about the success of the event and your presence as a tradeshow sponsor.
  6. Try a Twitter app like FollowBlast! to follow your hashtags, saving you from combing through endless tweets, replies and retweets, or use TweetDeck for a handy all-in-one-view dashboard to help you manage everything.
  7. Promote other sponsors! As you meet new people at the tradeshow, post the random ideas, funny occurrences or interesting comments that come up, and make people feel not only comfortable with your business and your brand, but engaged and part of the community. (We can’t say that enough! Think collaboration over competition, folks.)
  8. Promote your tradeshow sponsor giveaway goodies. Be sure your tradeshow materials feature your hashtag and that your giveaway items are relevant to your business. No generic gifts allowed!
  9. Most importantly, pay attention. Stay on top of the conversation about the tradeshow or conference as it unfolds. Keep track of all tweets, especially retweets, which you can use to figure out which tweets got the most traction.
  10. After the event is over: take the time to read through the tweet transcript and find out if there are any gems you can use to promote your brand and your business on other social media channels. For example, you could answer a question that was ‘favorited’ or retweeted many times by writing a blog article, which you can in turn share on Twitter, Facebook and other channels.

You’ll also want to look out for testimonials related to the audience’s engagement with your business at the conference, which you can use to gain traction and boost booth visits next year. Even if the event was one-of-a-kind, your experience at similar, future events as a tradeshow sponsor will benefit from the positive comments you received at other similar shows.

At the end of the day, shameless self-promotion as a tradeshow sponsor is shameless for a reason: There’s no shame in seeking success for your business and your brand!