Have you started tapping into the realm of content marketing for your conference or trade show? Not yet..? Well, think again.
With the rise of social media marketing for events, it has become more and more obvious that the most important currency to fuel your social channels is… great content! While in the past we were focussing on email marketing, print brochures, website to register and PR, nowadays the dynamics have shifted.
You’re doing a good job at content marketing when you put your event on the agendas of the target audience long before the show starts – by offering content platforms and discussion forums around the core topics of your conference or exhibition.
A great way to provide good content is an event blog. Since a number of years, we were offering live event blogs from our major conferences and exhibitions at the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers WAN-IFRA (here’s an example from last years World Newspaper Congress), but only recently have we begun to start these blogs quite in advance.
They have become the content hubs for our events. They are the starting points not only for what we feed into Twitter or Facebook, but also for the other digital and print marketing outlets like e.g. email.
The concept is to create interesting content on the event blog, and then spread it on as many channels as appropriate for your target audience to spark discussions and engagement – ultimately also registrations, of course! As a positive side effect, you can keep your actual event web site clear and streamlined, when putting in-depth content on your blog.
You may think now: Cool, I’ll start my event blog today! While that enthusiasm would be very welcome, it does make sense to hold your breath for a minute and think about
- Your content strategy
- Your editorial plan
- Possible contributors
There are a number of key questions that you might want to ask yourself when determining the content strategy. What are my topics? What are trends? What might the audience be interested in? Typically, the content strategy can be developed in a workshop with key people from inside and maybe outside your organization.
Basically, there are three primary content areas:
- Topical content: People want to know about topics and people, of course. What will be discussed? Who can you meet? Who will be speaking and what are their standpoints? Think about profiling or interviewing some delegates and ask them about their professional background and their expectations towards the conference or exhibition. Here’s an example from FESPA’s 60 second interviews. Profiles of exhibitors and sponsors are also a good idea.
- “Yellow Press”: That’s how I would call everything that is about the beauty of the venue, arts, leisure at the location, background about the country, touristic program. You’ll most probably get some nice video material from the local Convention Bureaus that can be embedded here. Use sports or cultural events to highlight the attractiveness of the venue.
- Service Content: Your blog can provide targeted service information, e.g. about special travel offers from particular destinations, visa recommendations for specific target groups.
Once you have collected enough content to write about (I am sure that is not so much the problem), you should bring that in a meaningful order and create an editorial plan. Some of the content will be relevant in the early marketing phases, while other content (e.g. about the social events) will be more relevant as we move closer to the event.
Such an editorial plan is absolutely helpful, because you can
- plan your activities and contributions
- determine a frequency that is manageable for you
- assign authors to the posts well in advance
- think about when the content is best published in the run-up to the event.
Sure, you will need a certain flexibility if something important comes up in the pre-event period. However, if you have a basic plan, you can relax and you won’t forget any important issues.
I believe that it makes sense to increase the frequency as you move closer to the event. So you can start with 1 post per week or fortnight, and shortly before the event publish 2-3 per week.
Not only the project manager should post on the blog – even though she/he is definitely an important contributor and probably the best coordinator for the blog. There are more people that can be involved:
- Trade journalists
- Why not a welcome note by the President/CEO?
The list of potentials is long. How do you get them to write for you? Well, that is a different question. You should hold some goodies in store to keep them happy.
Your blog is a great tool to implement a content marketing strategy. Whether you re-use that content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, XING, Tumblr, Posterous or whatever platform depends entirely on your target audience. As a matter of fact, you will have to fine-tune your content to make it appropriate for those social networks. A solid content strategy for your blog is a great starting point, though, that will make your digital marketing a walk in the park!
Never forget, though, that it is ultimately not about delivering great content – it is about converting blog visitors to event delegates, sponsors or exhibitors! There should be clear links to the registration page and/or tools for soft conversion (e.g. sign-up boxes for email newsletters) to turn interested people into customers.
Have you used content marketing in your event campaigns? Share your experiences here. Here’s some examples I have come across:
- Blogworld New York
- NECE Conference, Warsaw
- RSA Conference London
- UN DPI/NGO Conference, Bonn
- SXSW Blog (by donewaiting.com)
- Next Level Conference Cologne
- START Messen
- ProLight + Sound Frankfurt
Here are some links to interesting online resources about the importance of conference/event blogs: