How do you best take advantage of the opportunities offered by an industry trade show or convention? Social media can go a long way to help you get the most out of industry trade shows. Here are some tips to help you succeed when the next convention or trade show rolls around:

Exploit Facebook and Twitter.Create excitement. When your people know you’ll be at a trade show with great offers and special promotions, they’ll look for you there. In the weeks before the next trade show you attend, post something on Facebook and Twitter to remind your friends and followers that you’ll be exhibiting there. Use your email list too. Provide information about the event and about your exhibit and any deals you plan to offer.

Use social media to promote contests and events. You attract a lot more interest at a trade show or convention with contests and special events. Create some giveaways, offer some raffle-style prizes, or schedule a product demonstration for a peak hour. Often when it comes to trade shows, the quirkier an idea is, the better.

Encourage others to share or retweet details about your display, contests, and giveaways. Especially in the final week before a show, this is a great way to inform additional people about the event.

Post and tweet from the trade show floor. Create a sense of excitement like the old “remote” radio broadcasts. Give something away at a scheduled time and post a countdown.

Extend invitations specifically to bloggers. Untold numbers of bloggers visit trade shows looking for something that’s unique or offbeat to blog about. From free specialty items to exclusive interviews, bloggers are always ready to take advantage of what trade shows offer. And bloggers have readers.

Consider the future. Trade show marketing doesn’t end when the trade show ends. Collect as many names and as much contact information as possible, especially email addresses.

In both your social media marketing and in person, be welcoming and warm. Don’t worry so much about closing a deal. Some people are intimidated by the heavy sales pitches that often accompany trade shows, so they’re more likely to accept your low-key, no-pressure invitation.

If you’ve never been part of a trade show, make a commitment to do it this year. They’re exhilarating, and you never know what might happen next.