5 Twitter Contest Tips To Drive Qualified Leads To Your Conference Booth

Foot TrafficOn a crowded exhibit hall floor, it’s hard to for businesses to attract attention. Your booth could rent a popcorn machine or hire a celebrity lookalike to pull in visitors — as many do. But do those stunts bring in meaningful traffic to your booth? How often do those booth visitors stick around, look through your merchandise, or ask your team meaningful questions?

If your business is already active on Twitter, consider using this platform to bring more qualified visitors to your booth. It’s certainly a more cost-effective way to drive traffic. And with strategic planning beforehand (along with the help from the five tips below), you can use your 140 characters to maximize the number of signups, leads, and potential brand evangelists at your event.

1. Find Out If Attendees Are Active On Twitter

A key way to determine the “socialability” of the conference is to hunt down a conference hashtag. Why is this important? Because if you add the hashtag to your tweets, it will be seen your followers in addition to conference goers who are following this hashtag. Without this hashtag, you’ll just be tweeting to your followers — many of whom will be hundreds of miles away from the exhibit hall.

Your conference host should have a good sense of the Twitter usage of its market. Two weeks before your conference, check the conference Website or Twitter account. Has an official hashtag been set up yet? If not, search Twitter or Google by using the name of the conference in quotes, the year, and the word hashtag. Here’s a search I did for a BlogWorld, a conference I will attend in June.

Searching for the BlogWorld East Hashtag

Using Google to find a conference or event hashtag

Once you get the hashtag, type it in Twitter or your favorite Twitter app to see if potential customers are already tweeting with the tag.

Be sure to also keep an extra eye on your competitors’ tweets during this time. Are they talking about the conference? If so, are those tweets getting many retweets or replies? What are those responses saying?

If not much activity is sparked prior to the conference, you may wish to save your contest for a more active event. If there is indeed buzz, than carry on with at least the next step.

2. Determine If Your Tweeps Are Mobile

Tweets from the International Reading Association 2012

Tweets from International Reading Association 2012 Conference (#IRA2012)

About half of all Twitter users use a mobile application to tweet. For a booth marketer, that means potentially one in every two tweeps may not have a handy way to show you a contest tweet, take and upload a photo to win a prize, or use a hashtag from the conference floor. If hashtag activity has begun for your conference, see from what devices people are tweeting. If you find folks are tweeting primarily from iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android applications, you’re in luck. If the majority of tweets hail from the Web, a Twitter contest might not bear fruit for this conference … but keep it in your toolkit for an upcoming event.

3. Hook The Prize Back To Your Business

iTunes, iPads, and Starbucks gift cards are often popular prize giveaways at conferences. But they’re really the equivalent of that popcorn and Elvis impersonator I talked about earlier on. When your winner is  jamming to her newly purchased Jack White album or is nursing that tall soy chai, do you think is she going to be thinking about you and the products or services you represent?

Think about a prize that a winner will value,  remember you by, and perhaps purchase for or recommend to a friend.

4. Make The Contest Simple

Conferences are a busy time for both attendees and exhibitors. If the contest takes you more than 140 characters to explain, it’s too complicated for your information-overloaded attendees. An easy-to-enter contest also makes it easier for you to administer and choose a winner.

5. Offer a Wrap Up

Be sure to follow up your contest by announcing the winner. A happy winner could very well retweet your message to share her glee (and your username) with her followers. And thank all those who entered and who chatted with you about the contest.  A goodwill gesture like that might just overcome a tweep’s disappointment of not winning a prize!

What Twitter contests or promotions have you used at events? Which ones were successful? Which ones failed to reach its desired goal?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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