There is no shortage of amazing content marketing conferences happening throughout the year. No doubt, those events are all jam-packed with top-rate keynotes, insightful panels and lessons you can put into practice the first day you’re back in the office. But budget and time limit the number of events you can actually fit into a calendar. Sound familiar? So how do you select the one or two events that will give you the best bang for your marketing budget buck? Do you go for the largest conference? The one that has the most interesting and relevant lineup of panels or most inspiring keynote speakers? Those are all fine choices, of course – but if you want to be strategic about your choice of events, you will go for the ones that offer up the best opportunities to network. Or party. (But let’s not get hung up on semantics.)
Come for the content, stay for the networking
Many a conference veteran will tell you that the real magic at content marketing events happens in the “hallway moments:” serendipitous encounters to collaborate on a larger project, get some important face time with a key influencer or thought leader, or meet a digital marketing agency partner in a more relaxed environment. True: the very best informal networking often happens at the post-conference parties and business relationships are strengthened. Conference organizers, partners and big brands in attendance use their post-conference parties and get-togethers as a way to make a bold impression to attendees and everyone wants their chance to get behind the velvet rope. So which are the best content marketing events for networking, those that serve up the funnest events and after-parties? Below is a list of four to get you started:
Heralded as “geek’s spring break”, SxSW Interactive attracts massive crowds of marketers, startups, tech enthusiasts, and brands big and small. The conference sells out months in advance — and it’s not cheap, either. You don’t have to look hard to find the extravagant parties, but perennial favorites include Salesforce’s Cloud Lounge, the ever-popular AllHat sponsored by Chevrolet, and Mashable’s industry event. Grumpy Cat made an appearance at the 2013 Mashable Party. The best advice? The late-night parties are more about the free-flowing booze than the conversation, so focus your efforts on the daytime events. You can keep your voice and network like a pro.
Vocus Demand Success Conference
Cloud PR and marketing software provider Vocus has revamped their users’ conference into a bonafide marketing conference, bringing some of the top marketing minds to the stage. Keynote highlights from the ‘14 Demand Success Conference included digital analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik, Randi Zuckerberg, and actor/director Adrian Grenier. Held at the National Harbor’s Gaylord Resort, Demand Success is the perfect blend of higher level learning and fun. Any conference that kicks things off with a drum percussion set is going to be a real treat. Conferences attendees in town before the official start were treated to a night of (rainy) baseball at the Washington Nationals’ stadium and conversation. Want to see what you missed? The official hashtag #Demand14 will bring this one right to the top of your list for next year.
Salesforce keeps raising the bar each year with Dreamforce. It’s been described as part industry show and part rock concert. This year’s event boasts over 1,400 individual breakout sessions and a gala benefit concert. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, never fails to inspire attendees with his unique presentation style and conversations with industry visionaries and partners. See his 2013 opening keynote to get a little taste of what Dreamforce is all about:
When a conference chooses Las Vegas as the center of its activities, well, you know it’s going to be a good time. Since 2000, Pubcon has been bringing together industry professionals from across the digital marketing space: social, search, content, and more. CMOs, CEOs, media buyers and planners, developers, designers, agencies, and brands are all in attendance, year after year. The conference got its start at a pub in London and they’ve continued the tradition through today. Keynotes for 2014 include IZEA founder and CEO Ted Murphy, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert, and Microsoft/Bing’s Duane Forrester, representing the convergence of content compensation, content marketing strategy, and direct search and email marketing services. Jason Konopinski has been living the life of a fulltime freelancer since 2007, specializing in data-driven content development and lead-nurturing frameworks. He has worked with boutique PR, marketing, and advertising agencies to develop strategy, create cross-platform and cross-medium content, and help clients tell better stories. You can connect with him on Twitter at @jasonkonopinski.