(Albuquerque, NM) — I’ve spent the last 7 years attending various fair conventions and trade shows. At nearly every single convention, almost without fail, there is an ed session or a round table discussion on the fair’s use of social media. Beyond the conventions and round table discussions, there’s, “continuing ed,” if you will, via blog posts and video/webinar training.

The availability of social media education within the fair industry is immense.

Despite that, the number of fair organizations I see making the same social media mistakes over and over continues to grow. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Social Media is Hugely Beneficial
The benefits of properly using social media to build your business are huge. With every new app, or new option on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap, there is a new potential for growing your fair.

Here’s just a quick look at some of those benefits.

  • Social Media is FREE! (Well, sort of).
    This should be the biggest benefit of them all. It cost little to nothing to create content and build a following across multiple platforms. Yes, you will need to develop a paid advertising platform. But the cost and residual bounce from promoted posts can be minimal compared to other methods. The real cost in this process is time. Social media is not a post once every week or so proposition. It takes real focus and there can be a learning curve if you’re new to social media marketing.
  • Tailored Social Ads Are Expanding.
    The ability to tailor ads, particularly on Facebook’s ad platform has increased tremendously. Your fair can literally come up with multiple ad campaigns for different demographics and have them live in less than 30 minutes. You can set one ad for your rodeo demo, another for your family crowd and yet another for your seniors. You can totally customize the demographic information, Age, location, interests. Facebook can tailor that for you. Plus most platforms have expanded their, “call-to-action,” abilities. You can customize the ad for viewers to visit your website, buy tickets, like your page, watch your video. You name it.
  • Social Allows You To Be…Social!
    You are running a business in a time when consumers, particularly younger consumers, handle almost their entire lives on their phones. They want to do business with companies that see them, not just their money.

That said, there’s still a crazy amount of fairs making 3 glaring social media mistakes.

Mistake #1: Being Social at Fair Time Only
This is one of the biggest, most mind-boggling mistakes that fairs make. They ramp up their social media use a few days before the fair, post a handful of times during the fair, and then you don’t hear from the fair again for another year.

This is self-defeating. If you’re going to grow your business in 2017 and beyond you have to understand that social media is a year-round proposition. Turning potential buyers into loyal customers doesn’t happen once a year. It’s an every day process.

Mistake #2: Discounting the Value of Social Media
I love fairs. I find them to be that classic bit of Americana where families still go to have fun. While fair audiences tend to remain constant from generation to generation, the technology and how you reach different demographics is changing rapidly.

As I noted above, younger consumers are being reached almost entirely through their mobile devices. If your business doesn’t reach out to them there, they aren’t going to your fair. It’s that simple.

Older generations are already loyal to fairs. They love their annual fairs and they’ve already been made into lifetime fair goers. Younger audiences though? They are the future of the fair industry and are at risk of being ignored. More specifically, business only have long term success where they have a way to continue bringing in young customers. If fairs can’t adapt to this rapidly changing tech world, in less than a generation, the fairs are going to be dead.

Mistake #3: Taking Your Fanbase For Granted
Taking your followers for granted will kill your social media marketing. This is such a simple thing. Some brands get this and handle it beautifully. Others are building their own failure because they don’t get it.

This is simple. Here’s how you avoid taking your followers and your customers for granted on social media: Acknowledge them.

When they retweet you, acknowledge them.
When they post a picture, comment on it and share it.
When they follow you on Twitter, follow them back. (Don’t worry! I’ll show you how to organize them in an upcoming blog).
Once you follow them, comment on their posts occasionally. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. If you see one of your followers on Twitter is celebrating a birthday, acknowledge it.

I watch fair after fair have guests share pictures, videos and posts about the fair, and their effort goes unanswered. One of the biggest challenges for any brand on social media is content creation. You have guests literally creating the content for you. You have to acknowledge it.

That goes for the good and the bad. Because when they have a problem, you definitely need to acknowledge it.

If you want to see how a major brand handles customer complaints online, follow Southwest Airlines on Twitter. They have mastered the art of converting pissed off customers into satisfied travelers. Are they successful 100% of the time? No, and you won’t be either. But their team is constantly out performing expectations on social media.

Final Thoughts
Social media isn’t going anywhere. We are living in the best damn time in history to run a business. No longer are we prevented from growth because of a lack of funding. Facebook, Instagram, Snap, Uber, AirBnB – These are all extremely successful companies that started with very little capital and became global power houses because their resourcefulness allowed them to grow with the market.

Think about this. How much do your radio and TV ad buys cost? What’s your ROI for those ads? A huge chunk of your potential customer base isn’t watching TV and they’re not listening to radio all that much. But they have their head stuck in their mobile device for hours every day.

Can you imagine how far your fair’s reach could be for $500 or $1,000 in properly designed social media advertising?

Know your message.
Know who needs to see & hear your message.
Know how and where to deliver that message.

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