How to use social media to increase traffic at your stall in a Pharma and Healthcare conference?

Regardless of you being a small or a large pharmaceutical company, you surely must have had a stall or a booth at some point in time at a pharmaceutical conference. Each year, the marketing departments across our industry invest a lot of time and money to ensure that they have a strong presence at conferences. In fact, a sizable chunk of the budget is spent on conferences. This is an important marketing channel to showcase brands, yet, the tactic used is often pieced together, instead of having a strategic thought behind it. The result? – The booth traffic is poor, your voice gets lost among all your competitors and the whole idea of a stall begins to feel like a colossal waste of money.

Here are some of the ways you can build momentum for your stall –

Driving traffic to your booth using social media:

If you are a tourist looking for the best place to eat, and you see one restaurant has a larger crowd as compared to the rest, which one are you going to?

Social proofing generates trust. Seeing others engaged with your brand makes you wonder what the buzz all about is.

However, because social media is such a big part of everyone’s lives as an impulsive tool, it is a common mistake to assume that you can use it spontaneously for marketing. The key to having a successful exhibition is to develop a detailed strategy for social media. Approach it as you would approach any other marketing plan. Your strategy should include broad goals and a specific plan of action (i.e. what platforms to use, who will post what and when) and how social media will be incorporated into your existing exhibiting plan.

Here are some things to consider when planning your social media strategy:

Pre-buzz:

I realize there is a lot happening before doors officially open, so it’s great to include social media to your preparation. There are plenty of ways to generate buzz around your stall. But remember to also share important things like – dates, location of your stall, speakers you shouldn’t miss. You can also promote special activities like contests and giveaways that would bring people to your stall.

During the event:

As time passes during the event, it is important to ensure that energy levels online doesn’t drop. Content is key here. Create content that would encourage people to stop by your booth. Add your thoughts to trending conversations about the event and key topics covered by speakers.

Post-event:

The best part of conferences is having a face-to-face interaction with your doctors. But make sure you continue an online engagement with them even after they leave the conference. If you have a visitor log at your booth, you can run ads for that specific set of doctors. You can probably thank them for stopping by your booth.

Set tangible online goals based on your offline goals:

Setting your online goals helps you understand if your campaign was a success. For example, if your goal was to get more people to talk about this new device you are introducing, make sure you track all the online engagements for content around this new tech – hashtags, posts, likes, shares, comments, etc.

Keep an eye out for the official conference hashtag:

Most conferences now use an official hashtag that helps people connect with one another and start a conversation online.

A recent example is when the CSI conference shared live updates of what was happening at the conference.

In fact, it also retweeted a few updates that were shared by the attendees.

If you methodically research the event hashtag before the conference begins, you will be able to understand what the attendees are most excited about and what your competition is up to during the event. Monitor the hashtag throughout the event to have a deeper understanding of attendee behavior. Once you are recognized as a significant presence using the hashtag, you will be able to easily join in the conversation of your attendees and add value to their thoughts online.

Also, make sure you use the official conference hashtag on all your tweets so that attendees can find you. Take a knowledge leader approach and aim to make a valuable contribution that will motivate attendees to seek you out.

Use the right platform:

Every social media channel has a role based on how you want to communicate with your audience. Based on the type of content and time of day, experiment with different channels.

For example, using Facebook posts doesn’t make sense if you want to make constant updates at regular intervals in the day. A Facebook post is more suitable for recaps where you summarize the events of the day and can also be used to upload a few pictures from the event at the end of the day. It is also a great platform for pre-event updates. Facebook stories, on the other hand, are great for making frequent updates throughout the day.

Twitter is a great place for short, real-time updates which can be especially leveraged during and after the event. Here is an example of the Merck team asking people to visit their booth.

Instagram is a visual platform and like twitter, Instagram stories make a great place to visually engage with your audience about all that there is to see during the event.

Have a social media representative:

Things often get crazy during big events and at times, the lines between the roles assigned to people in your team could get blurred. Posting on social media, engaging with the attendees and monitoring online activities is a full-time job at the event – so make sure you have one person working only on social media at the event. If that isn’t possible, then have a representative from your team for social media posts and encourage the entire team to watch out for opportunities to connect with your audience online.

Have the whole team get involved online:

While it is difficult to have everyone post content online all the time, it is great when the team interacts with their own connections, while supporting the company’s overall goals. Encourage team members to use their personal social media accounts to become active members of the show community pre-event, and also at the event, when possible by using the official hashtag. Here is an example of the adobe team member posting about their presence at an event.

Contests and Challenges

Fishbowl Raffle:

Using a Fishbowl Raffle, you can ask doctors who visit your stall to add their business cards into a bowl and come back later when the winner is drawn at random. The prize can be anything you want here!

This way, you can get new leads – doctors who you are currently not visiting. Now-a-days, most business cards have the doctor’s email ID and mobile number. It is a great way to nurture leads by introducing these new doctors to interesting content that your company has to offer.

Experiential Challenges:

Charity: Water, a non-profit that helps bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries, had a water-walk in some of their conferences to literally walk in the shoes of people who have to walk miles carrying heavy drinking water to their homes, thereby raising awareness.

Pharma can come up with similar challenges to raise awareness about certain conditions – like holding your breath for COPD.  A health-related challenge that went viral globally was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis raising over $115 million USD globally.

You could also have small games like a mini-golf course with your brands in it. You can have innovative prizes like a hole-in-one, lucky shot, etc and give awards that are related to your brand to drive the message better. Promoting the leaderboard for the games on social media gives an added wall-of-fame experience to the doctors. You can even click polaroid pictures of the winners to keep as souvenirs.

Share valuable content – expert opinions, useful event info, articles, etc related to the conference

Don’t just talk about the event. Make sure you capture feedback from the attendees. This could be a picture with a quote or a small video bite of the event experience and key takeaways. Make sure you highlight the articles or papers written by the speakers about the event topic – that way you can add more value to the attendees.

Share quotes from lectures – key takeaways/ quotable moments/live videos

Conferences have multiple sessions and workshops happening simultaneously. Make sure you capture pictures and live videos of certain parts of the event to boost engagement on your pages online.

Share the behind the scenes stuff from your stall

Sharing content from the set-up of your booth and a few sneak peek shots of the attractions can help build anticipation of the event. Your doctors will be looking forward to your booth.

This could include pictures of the nametags, certificates, giveaways, new devices, etc. It could even be clips of the event hall coming to life with the decorations and set-up.

Cognizant shared pics of the empty event hall just before the doors to the event were officially open.

Summarize the show

Adding a video or a photo montage of the event as well as the speakers can help build powerful memories and help attendees remember you.

Follow up with your attendees and stall visitors, post-event

Make sure the people who visit your stall share their contact details. After the event, use this opportunity to engage with the attendees in person via your field force or via email to add value to the knowledge gained during the conference. This also gives a great talking point in addition to your product promotion. Understand what they found most interesting about the event and make sure you share content with the doctors based on their response.

We would love to hear more about what tactics you have used that have been effective in driving people to your conference booth.

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