Publicize early; post often; use and monitor the event hashtag, even afterward. Also consider creating a landing page on your website specifically for those at the trade show and then direct all traffic there. Or livestream parts of the event.

Consumer product trade shows offer a remarkable opportunity for inventors to show off their products to buyers, the media and sales representatives. Many major shows are included in Inventors Digest’s 2018 list, which was published in last month’s issue and is also on our website.

These days, the widespread use of social media can make your trade show experience even more lucrative—if you know how to use it the right way. Here are some tips for using social media to enhance your trade show experience before, during and after the event.

Before the trade show

Begin publicizing your appearance at the trade show. This should begin several weeks beforehand, at which point you can invite interested parties to visit your booth or set up a meeting. You should post a few announcements on your social channels but also consider reaching out to your connections. LinkedIn is especially useful here. Go through those contacts, identify possible trade show attendees and begin scheduling meetings, or invite them to stop by your exhibit.

Start using the trade show’s hashtag. Most trade shows, conferences and other events have a specific hashtag designated for visitors to use to “tag” social media posts that are relevant to their conference. Once you identify the event’s hashtag, begin to use it in all posts about the event, especially on Twitter and Instagram. This will help get you in front of others who will be attending the show. A little name recognition can go a long way in making connections at a trade show.

Create your graphics, videos and other shareable content. Many inventors and product companies choose to unveil new products at trade shows. If you fall into this category, have all social media marketing materials ready to go ahead of time. This includes graphics, videos and any other content you plan to share through social media.

Consider adding a new landing page to your site for event attendees. If you want to go a step further with marketing efforts at a trade show, consider creating a landing page on your website specifically for those at the trade show and then direct all traffic there. This page should have all essential information for trade show attendees to know about your company or product, and this content should be catered specifically to those attendees. Creating this page helps provide valuable information for the people you will connect with; it also facilitates your tracking leads and other site traffic that are directly attributable to the event so that you can measure the event’s return on investment. If you choose to create a specific landing page for the trade show, include a link to it on all of your social posts related to the event.

During the trade show

Post often, using the event’s hashtag. Once the event begins, you should increase your social media posting frequency. Posting once an hour during the event is a good rule of thumb. If you need to schedule these posts ahead of time using your social network’s native scheduling capabilities, or a software such as Hootsuite or Buffer, that is acceptable and may even free up time for you to spend networking. Always use the event’s hashtags so that other people attending the trade show will see your posts.

Use your social networks to share your trade show experience. At a minimum, take pictures or videos with a smartphone and blast them out via your social networks. If you’re looking to make a deeper connection with your followers, though, consider livestreaming parts of the event using Facebook Live or Instagram Live. Even a five-minute livestream showing off your booth can make a big difference.

Closely monitor your notifications and the event hashtag. This way, you can respond to any questions you get and interact with others in attendance. Consider having someone back at your office handle this so that you can focus on being present at the trade show and networking face-to-face.

After the trade show

Post any recaps to social media. If you choose to write a blog post for your site recapping the event, share it on your social media profiles. This also provides another opportunity for you to connect with anyone who may have been at the event.

Continue to use and monitor the hashtag for a week or so. Typically, people continue to use an event’s hashtag for several days after the event ends. Just because the trade show has ended does not mean your opportunity to connect with buyers, the media or others is over. Look for opportunities to respond to others’ posts and build up your network that way.

Connect online with anyone you met offline. Once settled in back at the office, take some time to go through business cards or other materials that you collected at the trade show and make connections with those people online. Follow any relevant people or companies on Twitter, “like” their page on Facebook or connect with them on LinkedIn. Social media makes it easy to stay in touch with people all over the world, so take advantage of this opportunity soon after the show.