Woman with VR headset engaging with other people online

Trade shows are an immersive experience. The moment attendees step foot on a show floor, they enter a world illuminated by insight and innovation. With interest piqued and eyes peeled, they scan the venue’s aisles for a look at the industry’s latest and greatest.

That’s your chance to capture the time and attention of your customers, both in-person and from afar. Think of your trade show booth as an on-site epicenter where attendees can directly connect to your products, services and expertise. And with the power of today’s social media, even your virtual audience can, too. 

After all, while photos are still a good form of social media promotion, people want to see more videos from brands in 2023.

Connecting Online With a Wider Audience

In addition to the sales team, on-site subject matter experts (SMEs) can provide product and services insights to attendees. But if some of your key customers or prospects are unable to attend, there are still opportunities to reach them and your larger audience to share those same insights (and perhaps even a behind-the-scenes look at your booth).

And I know what you’re probably thinking: How can my SMEs successfully promote our business on social media and be attentive at the trade show with so much going on?

During the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) Show, the world’s leading commercial foodservice equipment and supply showcase, TriComB2B worked with our client to promote their live booth experience on social media. 

Here are a few tips to consider when creating a social media video strategy for your next trade show

Josh interviewing an SME at the trade show

Create an On-Site Social Media Plan

To successfully utilize your SMEs during the show, like most marketing strategies, there needs to be a cohesive plan in place before even stepping onto the showroom floor. The last thing you’ll want to do is approach an SME without warning and ask them to talk about your company’s latest displayed solution.

Instead, create an on-site social media plan beforehand that includes important general details, such as the official event hashtag, contact information for social media managers and team members, a list of who will be attending, speaking notes on products that will be in the booth, and a detailed video content schedule. Your social media event strategy may of course change the day of (like any live event), but coming prepared with a cohesive plan, key goals and show-specific messaging all can help keep you and your team on track.

Sharing your content plan and schedule ahead of time with the team also can provide them with opportunities to prepare and visualize the “big picture”.

What are some key points you should include in your social media video content schedule?

Topics for your SMEs to discuss

You can choose topics based on existing content like white papers, webinars and blogs that are relevant to your presence at the show. Even though they’re experts, providing talking points ahead of time will save your team valuable time during the show.

A detailed schedule for each SME

Send a calendar invite to each subject matter expert you’d like to interview, but be sure to include the date, time and location of when and where you’ll be filming. Your detailed booth layout map will come in handy when you begin recording on location. Also be sure to take advantage of your company’s show presence and physical booth so your SMEs can interact directly with displays, demos and showcases to provide a unique, trade show experience online.

Leverage Both Short-Form and Long-Form Videos

What’s the difference between short- and long-form videos? 
Depending on whom you ask, the answer could vary. The latest consensus among video marketers is that a short-form video is under 60 seconds, with the biggest chunk (33%) saying the optimal length is 31–60 seconds. A great deal of video marketers (36%) say the ideal length for long-form videos is 3–6 minutes, though many also advocate for videos up to 20 minutes long(!).

When should you utilize short-form versus long-form videos?
Try to keep SME videos around 60 seconds. Short-form style videos like these will allow you to utilize Facebook and Instagram Reels, giving your videos a unique and personal feel. With more than 140 billion Reels getting played across Meta apps every day, it’s safe to say this feature should be a part of your video strategy in addition to every B2B marketer’s favorite platform, LinkedIn.

Facebook and Instagram Stories also lend themselves well to short-form video. Stories are available for 24 hours to followers and allow you to add features to videos like effects, links and captions. Consider posting stories to share fun, day-of moments, unique happenings and more that may not fit directly into your existing social plan but your audience may still find engaging, helpful or exciting.
But what about long-form video? Your team has likely prepared all year for your show, so share it with your audience members who couldn’t make it out to visit in-person by recording a booth tour.

A Social Media Manager’s Pre-Show Checklist

Live social media coverage is a big ask and can be challenging when incorporating video for the first time. If you’re posting directly to social during an event, you may opt to use your phone versus a traditional or digital camera. But that still doesn’t mean you can just show up, pull out your phone, and be ready for your interview line-up. 

Here are a few things that may come in handy when preparing for a big trade show: 

  • Purchase or pack a gimbal. In addition to supporting and stabilizing your phone, it will help you look like a video pro on the show floor. 
  • Use a microphone. The show floor is loud, so you’ll want to make sure your SME insights are able to be heard clearly. 
  • Clear existing phone files. Ideally, existing photos and videos on the phone should be saved or deleted. It’ll be helpful for you to know if there is enough space for saving new video files. 
  • Don’t forget about internet access. Wi-Fi on a trade show floor can be spotty (at best). Consider planning ahead to use a mobile hotspot to access social media channels, saved files and more on the go. 
  • Create a file-saving plan. Whether it’s Dropbox, Google, OneDrive, etc., make sure you have a file management system in place before you arrive. Remember, some video file sizes may be large.
A behind the scenes look of Josh Interviewing an SME at the NAEFM show

Post-Trade Show Social Media Coverage

While trade shows may only take place over the span of a few days, they still are valuable opportunities to incorporate the content you’ve created in a short time into your long-term strategy. To get the most milage out of video captured on a trade show floor, make sure to film videos for post-trade show promotion and include them in your pre-trade show plan. Identify key themes, messaging or displays that would work well as evergreen content and consider working post-show elements into your SME interview schedules and booth tours. 

The short- and long-form video content you capture can also be repurposed into smaller snippets or revised for specific platforms. 

Most importantly: when preparing for your show, don’t let determining a video strategy seem like a daunting task. By putting a plan in place and utilizing your team’s SMEs, video can be a valuable tool for connecting with both your in-person and social media audiences. 

Need help incorporating video into your social media plans at the next trade show? Grab your camera and let’s chat!