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Event Marketing: How to Monitor Your Trade Show

Event Marketing: How to Monitor Your Trade Show

Home Blog Digital Marketing Event Marketing: How to Monitor Your Trade Show


Some of us go to one or two big corporate events a year – maybe. They’re fun, stressful, informative – often all three.
But for a lot of people, coordinating events is a year-round affair. You have the initial planning phase, right through ticket sales and bookings, and then clean-up. And then it’s time to start the planning phase all over again.
At each step, you need all the information you can get. And that’s where media monitoring can be a lifesaver. You’ll know who’s talking about your event, and what they’re saying – from the build-up to the aftermath.
Whether you’re an event marketing agency or a large company running your own events, good monitoring can make a big difference. And we’re going to show you how.
Before diving in, we need to ask…

Why you need to monitor events

Think about all the work that goes in. The planning, networking, and scheduling. The tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars invested. This is much bigger than your average marketing campaign.
To provide a great service during the event, and then adequately assess it after the fact, you need to be listening. Customers and influencers will share their responses all over social media and the web, and you need a record of these.
That’s why you need a monitoring tool to track results. Otherwise, you’re just guessing.
In this case, monitoring has several specific benefits. You’ll be able to:

  • Know what people say before, during, and after the event
  • Respond immediately to answer questions and encourage engagement
  • Create reports and find analytics about these conversations
  • Identify influential attendees and make a connection

Mostly, you’ll be able to show clients and stakeholders that their investment is paying off. Think of your monitoring tool as an “engagement dashboard” for the whole event. All of these conversations will be in one place, letting you make smart choices, quickly.
To show you how this helps, let’s start at the beginning.
How do you choose the right monitoring tool for your brand? Here’s how.

Before the event

The build-up to a trade show or conference can be nightmarish for the organizer. There are a million things to arrange: ticket sales, speakers, sponsors, you name it.
As an event marketer, your main job is building awareness and enthusiasm for the event. You’re nurturing social media conversations, and encouraging VIPs to share their excitement.
And there are a few keys to monitoring all this chatter well.

Pick the perfect hashtag

For social media monitoring, hashtags are your best friend. They conveniently package conversations under a single tag, making them easy to find. Since you need to track every comment online, this is a major advantage.
But the trick is, they need to be original. If not, you can’t be sure that every conversation using this tag is truly about your event. As Andy Crestodina says, “pick an event hashtag that’s short, and ideally, unique to your event. You’re going to always, always use this hashtag in every tweet and post.”
Once you’ve got your hashtags, use them everywhere! Make it clear that you need attendees to use them, and in return you’ll share the best comments. If you can convince people to use your tags consistently, tracking the event will be a whole lot simpler.
Then just follow your hashtags in your monitoring tool. Easy.

Use clear branding

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to rely exclusively on your perfect hashtags. Not everyone will use them, especially in blog posts and away from social media. So you need your event’s name to be easily recognizable.
Again, this makes monitoring your event far simpler. If you have to keep track of too many different ideas, it can be messy. So you’re best to keep it simple.
There’s no great secret to this. A unique (and logo) that identifies your event to participants is always key. This will help you in your marketing efforts, and especially in your monitoring.

Engage and respond

Of course, you know you’ll need to be extra responsive during the event (we’ll get to this). But you should pay close attention to social media and web conversations in the lead-up as well.
For one, people will be looking for information. Help them find the schedule, information about speakers, and anything else they may need.
Perhaps more importantly, every conversation is another opportunity to entice more attendees. When people ask questions, or discuss your event between themselves, get involved and try to foster these conversations. When they retweet or share your response, you reach even more people than expected.
Monitoring makes this easy. If your branding and hashtags are being used, you’ll know right away. Even better, if people don’t quite use the correct terms, you’ll still be able to find conversations based on similar keywords.
So even if they don’t talk to or about you directly, you can make contact. Plus, your monitoring tool keeps all these sources in one place. Good luck trying to watch all of the internet on your own!

Learn more about your audience


Your event brings together hundreds, possibly thousands of people from all different backgrounds, industries, and experiences. Take the time to learn a little bit about them based on their online interactions.
With monitoring, you have useful information in the palms of your hands. This includes demographic data like gender, language, and location:

You can also create topic clouds to see what people talk about when they use your hashtags, or monitor key metrics like sentiment.

Find influencers

Another happy side-effect of tracking conversations leading up to your event is finding industry VIPs that you didn’t know interested.
You may not be aware that certain attendees have large, passionate social media followings. That’s natural, you can’t know everything about everyone!
Monitoring tools help you find influencers among the people talking about your event. You won’t just see usernames and photos, you’ll be able to see their following, their reach, and how engaged their audience is.
Once you identify these people, sweet talk them into a little promotion for you. If they’re attending already, they may be happy to recommend that others do the same.

Recap – what to do:

  • Use clear branding and hashtags
  • Listen carefully for conversations about your event
  • Respond quickly and provide help
  • Encourage more engagement to build awareness

So that’s the build-up. But what about the main event?
Want help choosing the right monitoring tool? This quick guide will help.

During the event


This is probably the busiest, most pressurized time of your year. Youre be dealing with problems, complaints, and timetable mishaps.
At the same time, more people are talking about your event than ever. And all at once!
This is where good monitoring helps, big time. All these conversations will appear neatly on your computer screen, for you to calmly deal with one by one.
Here’s how you can make the most of this exciting period.

Engage and respond

This is critical. You want to build a feeling of community that lasts for the whole event. When people share blog posts or social messages, they need to know they’re being heard.
And if there are problems or complaints, you need to be on top of them right away. If a bad image forms around your event, you’ll have a tough time bringing people back next year.
The good news is, if you’ve created smart hashtags, the hard work is already done. If people use these, you’ll be able to find conversations without too much trouble. And even if they use them on different platforms, your monitoring tool will catch them all.
In case visitors don’t use your hashtags, monitor keywords and phrases that are closely related, to make sure you’re not missing anything. Again, this is why you have a monitoring tool. Thank goodness for that!

Monitor influencers

In this case, your best influencers are your speakers or any other performers. Keep a close eye to make sure they’re happy with their reception. You don’t want one of your VIPs complaining about the way they were treated.
You may also have arranged for these people to do some promotion for the event. If that involves social or blog posts, you want to be able to track those. Social listening allows you to see how far their messages spread, which attendees talk about them, and the overall impact they’ve had.
Finally, look out for unexpected influencers at your event. Just as you can do this in the build-up, it’s also easy while the event is in full swing. See if they’ll share their experiences live on social media, to get more eyes on the event as it’s happening.

Tip: Build a high-tech basecamp


For those who really want to monitor their events, you may want a real-time dashboard from companies like Geckoboard or Klipfolio. These let you put metrics from different sources on the same screen, and let them update as things change.
This includes your monitoring data. So you can view your latest tweets and online sentiment next to ticket sales, next to live attendee rate, next to your budget spent.
Make sure your monitoring tool has good integrations, like Mention’s one with Geckoboard.

Recap – what to do:

  • Find the best social and blog posts during your event, and share
  • Respond to comments and encourage conversation
  • Watch closely for issues and complaints
  • Monitor your special guests and look for other influencers

Once the big event is over, you can breathe a little sigh of relief. But that doesn’t mean your job is done.

After the event

The immediate aftermath of a big event should present two main goals. First, you want to try to keep the comments, compliments, and memories coming. That next month or so is still a great time to promote.
Second, you need to prepare a full assessment. Was the event a success?
Here’s how monitoring plays a role in each of these goals.

Keep the good vibes coming

As Marketo writes, “when your event is over, it’s time to put one more spin on your marketing campaign.” They call this step “remember and recycle,” and the idea is to extend the life of your event long after it’s over.
“By keeping a campaign going, not only are you providing current customers the opportunity to share what they were a part of, you’re giving potential clients a taste of what they could have been a part of.” (Francis Santos)
Keep conversations alive, and you’ll still generate leads, build brand awareness, and prove that your company is a major player in your industry.
Eventually, your attendees will move on. So make the most of this time when they’re still excited and willing to share.

Build momentum for the next event

Your monitoring throughout the event means you have lots of attendee feedback. This makes for wonderful promotional content.
“If you have positive feedback from previous events or credentials for the speakers, use them as a quotes in your emails and on the website.” (Andy Crestodina)
By monitoring conversations to collect photos, comments, and questions, you have lots of rich material to craft your content strategy around. When these conversations are between happy customers and industry influencers, that content becomes a lot more compelling.

Report to sponsors and clients

A lot of people are going to want reports following the event. Clients, exhibitors, and sponsors will all want a full rundown of how the event unfolded. This includes social media conversations about them during the event.
Plus, you’ll be able to use this information when looking for future sponsors, partners, and speakers. Show them how much social buzz was created last time around, along with the financial incentives, to help get them on board.
Good monitoring tools make this simple. Automated reports let you put all of your key metrics into digestible PDF exports, and send them to any email address in the world. This takes the hassle (and boredom) out of post-event reporting.

Make smarter choices for next time

Chances are, you’re not only arranging one event. To be sure that the next one’s a success, you need to know that what you’re doing works.
Monitoring helps you do this by measuring conversations around specific topics. That might be the conference overall, or smaller moments within it. You’ll know which speakers the audience loved, and which extra-curricular activities were a hit.
For instance, if you arranged a pub crawl one evening, tag conversations around this to see how it was received. You can also monitor the peaks in conversations throughout the week, to see which events were the most talked about (or the least).

Recap – what to do:

  • Keep monitoring your hashtag and event name long after the event finishes
  • Respond quickly to customers and influencers to keep conversations alive
  • Create reports to fully break down your event campaign
  • Learn from these reports to identify what worked, and what needs to change

While your job’s not done when the event itself is, smart monitoring makes this phase a lot more manageable.

The big takeaways for better event marketing

Those were the keys to monitoring your event effectively. If you want to accurately track your event, here’s what you need to remember:

  • You need to nail the hashtag
  • Build buzz before the event by tracking conversations online
  • Respond quickly – real-time is best
  • Your job doesn’t finish when the event does
  • Social proof from attendees and experts is a powerful thing

Ready to give media monitoring a try, but don’t know where to start? We have all the info you need:

Patrick Whatman

Guest Blogger @Mention