Google+ is the Swiss Army Knife of social media platforms when it comes to trade show marketing strategy. It has the messaging power of Twitter without the 140-character restriction and the professionalism of LinkedIn without having to ask contacts for permission to connect with them.
And as a relative newcomer to the social media sphere, Google+ also includes a number of other unique functions that, if you didn't know any better, were designed specifically for businesses presenting at trade shows.
Although the Content Marketing Institute recently found that Google+ (39 percent) trails its counterparts – LinkedIn (83 percent), Twitter and Facebook (80 percent) and YouTube (61 percent) – in terms of the number of users for business-to-business content distribution, it shouldn't be overlooked as you plan your social media marketing plan. Here are five ways you can reach (some of the) 250 million users on Google+:
1) Stream with the Hangout feature: Did you know that there's a free video streaming alternative to Ustream or Livestream that allows you to share your trade show presentation with those who aren't on the exhibit floor with you? Google Hangout allows up to 10 people to participate in free video chats with one another simultaneously.
And unlike those two streaming programs, Google Hangout allows for two-way communication – listeners can actually respond to you and ask questions. Last January, even President Obama used Hangout to answer questions directly from Google+ users.
2) Organize contacts with Circles and Events: Google+'s Circles feature allows you to organize professional contacts based on where and when you met them. This way, after a particular trade show, you can share follow-up messages only with those contacts you just met. As Traci Browne points out in "The Social Trade Show," you can also use Circles to send out customized messages to specific guests as you plan for your next event.
With the Events feature, you can send out customized invitations to individual Circles or mass requests even to those who do not have a Google+ account.
3) Target the right demographic: Google+ allows you to scour its network in search of those with particular areas of interest. This way, you aren't wasting valuable resources and time in the months leading up to a trade show, targeting those individuals and businesses that are unlikely to be converted to customers.
4) Climb Google's search ranks: Google "trade show" and the industries in which you operate. How high are you in the rankings? With a little more of a presence on Google+, you could rise to the first page of a search. Why? Google favors its own social media platform, and while it may be new to this space, it is unquestionably the dominant search engine. Increased visibility on Google+ will ensure that high-value prospects find you through a simple Google search. That'll be good for your business.
5) Take advantage of YouTube: Given that YouTube is a subsidiary of Google, it's important for your Google+ marketing strategies to include a strong YouTube presence. Posting videos from your company leading up to its trade show appearance can help generate buzz. Uploading the Hangout I mentioned earlier, after a show is completed, can expand your audience beyond what you previously thought possible.
♦ Hangouts can be used to livestream and recap your trade show appearance.
♦ Circles tailor your message to a specific group within your audience.
♦ Events synchronize with your guests' Google Calendars so they'll never miss your presentation.