Content Marketing for Conferences: How to Stand Out from the Crowd & Deliver Value to Those that Weren’t There…
Live blogging and/or writing summary blogs for conferences is a way in which it is common in our industry to exchange value and share our experiences. Online marketing, and more specifically social media and SEO, are ever-changing fields that arguably warrant the huge amount of conferences that happen across the world every year. Many individuals and companies liveblog at these events, or summary posts to attempt to summarise and share the key takeaways from the speakers. However, I believe that many don’t stop and question why you are covering these events? Is it just because everyone else is doing it? In this post I will explore some of the reasons why I believe we should cover events and also provide my top 4 tips on how I approach covering events.
Why Liveblog Anyway?
While I am somewhat playing devils advocate with this post, personally myself and all members of the team at State of Search cover a wide range of events worldwide. Before you even consider liveblogging a conference/talk, I think it is worthwhile asking yourself why you are creating that content in the first place? In my experience, I believe this is because of 4 primary drivers: client acquisition, awareness, links and education/knowledge transfer.
Unfortunately, many believe in SEO that it is a great way to open themselves up for potential of new clients and businesses searching for a new SEO agency, and perhaps it is. But to what extent here is debatable. How many of your existing clients can you genuinely say came to you because they read your ‘top 113 takeaways for SEOWorld, Vancouver’? Also, consider the ROI on creating this content to acquiring a new client. I bet that wouldn’t be a percentage that you’d like to show one of your clients…
This is an interesting one, while I am somewhat critical that having client acquisition as a primary driver for covering conferences, doing so for awareness is one that can work. Consider conference sponsors, after all these business are paying money to be put in front of the tens/hundred/thousands of attendees to the event. Maybe they are a content creation company, an authorised Google Places photographer or new usability testing platform. I believe that creating content for awareness is something that can help advertise your company and also make yourself known to others in the industry purely through appearing in the SERPs for people searching for that conference.
I can tell you now, if you’re planning on creating lacklustre or mediocre content because it will ‘get your name out there’, that will help you acquire loads of links and/or social shares, you’re approaching it all wrong. It’s very likely this won’t be the case. People can cope with the fairly rushed nature of content created for liveblogs, but you must remember above all to add value. Don’t blog for blogs sake. If it isn’t interesting to you, it’s probably not worth sharing. So don’t bother.
Understand that creating good journalistic content on the fly is not easy. Providing insight into the speaker and the main points of his presentation, without going into too much detail but providing enough for your readers to get value out of it is a difficult balance, understand that it is not an easy task. But seeking to acquire social mentions and links for liveblogs is a valid tactic, just make sure that you’re differentiating and offering the best out there, otherwise your material will gain little traction and will be a waste of time and resource.
Think about who you want your audience for the content to be, if you can’t decipher this, then I’d advise stopping! Also consider who will want to link to you, stop focusing on what site you want to link to you; the end product will likely end up better written, more appropriately targeted to your audience & ultimately more worthy of links or social shares.
In a way this is similar to the previous point, after all people will social share and link to great content, that’s just human nature (at least in our industry). But one thing that is fairly unique in digital, most specifically with SEO, in that we openly and readily exchange ideas and experience to our peers and competitors. It’s something that maintains my love for SEO. If, by liveblogging and covering events, you are genuinely trying to educate others through the information and valuable takeaways from a conference you’ve attended then give yourself a pat on the back.
My Top 4 Tips for Covering Events
1. Be Prepared
When I was a scout growing up our mantra was always ‘be prepared’, it couldn’t be more relevant to liveblogging. When preparing to cover a conference I spend a significant amount of time prior to the conference itself preparing my notes, this normally includes:
- Writing presenter bios
- Creating an introduction to the talk based on existing information (this can normally be found on the conference website)
- Get links to the presenters Twitter page and their company website (thank them for sharing their knowledge and insight by giving them a link)
2. Learn to Touch Type
Typing as someone is speaking isn’t easy, what’s more if you make a mistake then it’s very easy to get left behind and spend the rest of the talk trying to catch up, this means that you could miss valuable takeaways. Learning to touch type is a great skill, other than building my own computers and using them from a young age, I probably honed my skills most by playing TyperShark.
3. Become a Journalist
Seek angles to report content in a way that others won’t be:
- Take photos, even images from smartphones these days will be good enough quality. Images help add context and depth to your liveblogging so aim to capture the atmosphere of the presentation, or any particularly great slides that are shown; it will increase the value that your content adds to it’s readers.
- Consider videoing the event or getting audio snippets from the speakers. I can highly recommend the Evernote apps for iPhone and Android for recording presentations – then they sink it with your Evernote account.
4. Power Up
Even with modern technology and battery life, I have never made it through an entire conference without running out of battery on my laptop; and most times on my phone also! Bring chargers for all your devices with you and take advantage of plug sockets during breaks. Consider some power saving options on your devices too:
- Turn your screen brightness down
- Turn of your backlit keys, I know it looks pretty but its munching away your battery time, and it’s very annoying to others around you!
- Turn WiFi off when you don’t need it
- Close your laptop when you’re not using it
If you are a keen liveblogger then hope that from reading this post it has caused you to critique why you have been liveblogging so far. Or, if you’re yet to start, then it has allowed you to ask some questions of yourself to gain the most value out of doing so. Remember that creating well-written, easy to consume content on events that you have visited can help to establish yourself as a voice of the industry, develop relationships with your peers (and competitors!) and potentially even attract clients, when done right. Otherwise you’ll end up at risk of blabbering, sounding like that noisy drunk in the corner of the pub interrupting peoples conversation. Apply the measures you do to your business as a whole when creating content, and create something that you’re proud of and that you would like to share. If you get this right, then it’s likely that others will want to share it also.
Super Mario http://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherbrown/5300568686/
It’s Event Week on State of Search!
It’s event week on State of Search this week! We are looking at everything around events, looking forward to SES London and helping you make the best choices you can make when it comes to attending, speaking or choosing your events.