Everyone knows you can acquire knowledge and connections by attending an event. But did you know you can also gain a ton of content that can be used to grow your audience, mark you as a leader, and provide material for weeks to come?
1. Pick Your Event Wisely
There are so many fantastic social media events available today. It’s difficult to choose which ones contain sharable information and which ones are more of a forum for vendors to market themselves.
Here are a few I recommend to get you going:
- Social Media Marketing World
- Content Marketing World
- MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum
- Social Tools Summit
While those are wonderful social media and marketing events, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to that arena. You can also look at events that fit into your area of specialty. For instance, do you work in healthcare? Attend Health 2.0. Does your product have a Salesforce.com integration? Attend Dreamforce. In addition, try checking out online reviews and simply asking your own network for recommendations.
2. Plan Your Schedule
You’ve signed up. Now it’s time to start planning!
Every one of these events contains a treasure trove of material, just waiting for you to unearth it. Need a few hints for where to start digging? Take a look at your map, aka, the schedule.
You of course don’t want to miss any learning opportunities for yourself. At the same time, take a look at the broader picture and remember that you want to build your audience, traffic, and reputation.
In order to accomplish these goals, think about the following questions:
- Who is your target audience? Which sessions will make your target audience “ooo” and “ah” with excitement?
- Which sessions have well-known speakers with whom you would like to make a connection?
- Which sessions will highlight the fact that you are on the cutting edge of your area of specialty?
Those sessions that fit the above descriptions are the ones to mark as “must attend.” I’ll grant that this can be challenging for some events where multiple sessions meet any combination of the above criteria. However, remember that you are looking to build up your audience, traffic, and reputation. Do your best to stick with a particular focus (e.g., Twitter tactics, IoT, blogging, etc.) so you can garner attention from the right crowd.
3. Plan Your Questions
Questions can be used as an opportunity to get interesting quotes to post on your favorite social media sites, create short video clips, develop blog posts, and more. Here are some the groups to think about when you’re developing your questions:
- Speakers: If there will be an opportunity to talk with the speakers, either during or after the sessions, take the time to think of a few questions ahead of time. You may think of additional questions during the event, but it never hurts to be prepared.
- Attendees: Attendees are a great source of content. For instance, you might run an informal poll (be sure to keep it short), ask attendees to review sessions, or ask them how they handle the issues discussed in the session.
- Vendors: Think of questions that your followers might want you to ask event vendors. For example, what features does a product tout, what makes a service stand out, or what kind of integrations does a product offer? You could even plan to take pictures of giveaways and ask your followers which they like best.
All this information can be used later to create interesting content.
4. Set Up Social Media Posts
Once you’ve selected your sessions, use Hootsuite, Buffer, or the social media tool of your choice to set up automated posts that match your focus. Set up a few posts each day for the week or two leading up to the event, as well as posts that will go out during the event.
The key to ensuring that your links will get seen by your audience is to add the event hashtag. You should be able to find the hashtag on the event website and in event emails. If you can’t find the hashtag, write to the event organizers and ask them for it. The event hashtag is central to getting the most out of the event.
Links in your posts can lead to your blog, your website, a promotional page, information about the event, something that the speakers wrote. For example, try writing and publicizing a blog post about the benefits of attending the event. Just make sure the information being provided will enhance your audience’s understanding of the event, not make them annoyed because they are receiving information that is irrelevant.
By sending out posts ahead of the event but using the event hashtag, you are already establishing yourself as a good source of information for those who are following the event via social media. Remember, these can be people attending the event or people who are not attending the event but would like to learn from those who are.
You should also set up a number of automated posts that match the sessions you will be attending. For example, if you know that on Monday at 3:00 you will be attending a session about using video on Facebook, queue up a post to go out at 3:15 that contains a link back a blog post you’ve written about video on Facebook.
Don’t have a post of your own that contains relevant information? Set up one that links back to something the speaker wrote. Be sure to mention the speaker in your post, so as to maximize the credibility of the link and to show respect (and gain interest from) to the speaker.
5. Let the World Know What’s Going on
From the moment you begin your journey, document it. Although you can bring fancy cameras or sound equipment, your phone or tablet will do the trick just as easily. I love using my iPad with a keyboard so I can take quick notes along the way.
Take photos of signage, location, attendees, and speakers. Comment on the quality of the venue, the temperature of the room, the efficiency of the event coordinators, and the variety of food.
Take short video clips of sessions (don’t video the entire thing unless you’ve been given express permission ahead of time). Take out that handy list of questions you thought up ahead of time and interview attendees, speakers, and vendors. Take pictures of the items the vendors are giving away.
Post all of these lovely visuals immediately, so as to give your followers a taste of the event. Again, be sure to use the event hashtag with every post! If you are Tweeting, be sure to add the handle of each person in your pictures and videos. Chances are good that they will re-Tweet your posts and possibly reply to you. It’s a great opportunity for conversation and increased publicity.
For every session you attend, Tweet each interesting quote. Don’t worry that you are posting too frequently. There is no such thing when it comes to documenting a live event.
Make sure you attribute each quote to the appropriate speaker (use his or her username if you can get your hands on it). And I can’t say it enough – use the event hashtag on every post!
What’s more, comment about statements made by the speakers. Let folks know if you use a tool that’s been recommended, if you disagree with what the speaker said, if you have additional useful material to add to the speakers recommendations, etc. Anything that adds value and depth to the event is worth posting.
Ready to build your following as a bonus to all this activity? Follow everyone you can: people you meet at the event, speakers you may not have followed before, vendors, people who respond to your posts, other people using the event hashtag, and more. When you interact with them and follow them, people are much more likely to interact with and follow you back.
6. Live Blog
The ideal time to write blog posts about an event is directly after the session you want to review. While you may not have time to do that instantly (particularly if the schedule is intense and packed), you should at least sum up your notes and impressions in a short blog post or two each evening of the event.
Remember, people are hungry for material about an event as it is going on. If you can become the source of that information, you will instantly gain visitors and followers, as well as credibility.
Don’t be afraid to add the pictures and video that you used earlier in your posts throughout the day. Also, review your social media posts from the day. If you’ve been posting throughout the day, you’ll discover you have a great set of notes that can be used to pull together a wonderful blog post that will impress your readers.
Not sure if you have the energy to write up an in-depth review of activities? Simply use what you’ve already posted through your social channel to pull together a brief post about one of these topics:
- Best quotes of the day
- Top pictures of the day
- Top vendors from the event
- Top giveaways from the event
Finally (and I know I sound like a broken record), use the hashtag in the title of your blog post.
Once your piece has been written and posted, publicize that blog post on all of your social media channels. Use speaker handles to let them know if they have been quoted or referenced in your piece. Let the folks running the event know that you’ve put together a post about their event. Also, if you have quoted any attendees or vendors or used them in your photos or videos, let them know that they’re referenced in your piece.
7. Sum up the Event in Different Formats
After the event, it’s time to review all of your material and use it to create a host of additional content pieces. Here are some suggestions:
- Tweets: Make a list of the speaker quotes that were the most re-Tweeted throughout the show and schedule them to be posted several times again over the coming months.
- Short Graphics: Take the best speaker quotes on specific topics and turn them into beautiful graphics (I love using Canva to do this). Use those graphics to make and post a Slideshare presentation, Tweets, Pinterest posts, Instagram posts, beautified blog posts, and more.
- Infographics: Use a solution like Piktochart to make an Infographic with thumbnails of the speakers, quotes from the speakers, and your own commentary on the subject.
- Poll Results: If you ran a poll, let your followers know what you discovered and why that’s significant.
- Blog Posts: Write blog posts reviewing each of the vendors you interviewed.
- Reviews: Review the event and let your readers know whether or not you’d attend it again in the future.
What’s Your Take?
I love doing as many of these activities as I can for each event. It builds my following, my reputation, and my business. In fact, it was doing activities like this at the Social Tools Summit that gave me my first opening to write for this blog! So trust me when I say, a little effort goes a long way.
What else do you do to get the most content out of events?