Live events are no longer just within the purview of cable TV. The social web has broken down barriers, allowing brands to access massive audiences with as-it-happens content that is engaging, educational and downright fun. Marketers also say live events are among the most effective marketing strategies. And while coverage of live events via social media, microsites and SMS can’t replicate the in-person experience exactly, it still creates a real value proposition that content planners shouldn’t overlook. The widely circulated statistic that two-thirds of B2B marketers say live events are the most effective form of content marketing underscores that fact. In this post, we’ll explore how to build a content marketing strategy for your live events before they kick off, as they happen and after they end. We’ll touch on how to weave your brand’s positioning throughout each stage and issue a friendly challenge to throw out a content boomerang that brings your audience back for future events.
Engage audience early and often.
Before an event, find ways to take the pulse of brand loyalists by engaging with them when selecting topics to address. Getting your audience involved not only elevates their voice, but also empowers your messaging. You can also start creating various touch points with your audience by creating brand awareness videos and social-media sharing contests that encourage people to talk about your event. You can even use a little incentive like a give-away or advance content from speakers. Once you have an idea of the type of content you want to create, it’s best to lay it all out. Content calendars can help program content from your event throughout the year so you know how each piece fits together. Last minute blog posts or email blasts can help, but it won’t cut it. You need to think about what you can start folding into the mix month over month that will help map conversations than you can leverage leading up to the event. For example, a brand might identify industry pain points one month and follow it up the next with solutions from industry leaders who will speak at your upcoming event.
Consider content types at your disposal.
Few forms of communication are off-limits when it comes to crafting your content funnel for live events. Focus on capturing the excitement and immediacy of the festivities while serving up visual and text-based information that creates value for your audience and can be easily shared. Creating content isn’t restricted to your traditional marketing channels. Consider content like viral videos, podcasts, webinars, testimonials, or Vines. The more diverse and creative you can get with your content, the more likely you’ll be to attract your audience with something compelling. Although live social video is all the rage, live blogging—though admittedly asynchronous in nature—should remain in your events tool kit because of it has the capacity to increase visits and pageviews to your site.
Experiment on brand.
Creating a continuous voice that is accessible and leveraging content marketing efforts along big events will not always be one-to-one. Although live events should provide inspiration for your content team to think outside the box, it’s important to remain consistent with your brand’s identity and positioning. There isn’t one way that all brands should create content around events; however, one factor rings true throughout the process. Regardless of how you experiment with content, the best approach is to hook existing and prospective audiences with live event content and then to follow up on that information year-round with evergreen and useful streams that fulfills business needs. One way brands are branching out is in creating microsites around live events. With microsites, one has the ability to create an independent environment for your event that houses tons of engaging content in a single location. At the end of the day, the goal is to use live events and satellite content to reach audiences in the right place and at the right time.
Adapt on the fly.
As your event unfolds, be prepared to pivot based on metrics. One great way to quickly reflect on this is social proof. Is your audience engaging with your social posts? If not, what else can you be doing to make sure your company is part of the conversation? Since social media is one of the best ways to get real-time updates, take a look at your event hashtag to get a sense of what your audience is most excited about. Implement “progressive huddles” with your team during the event to tweak as needed. Don’t forget to perform post-mortems to identify what worked and didn’t work as well. This step is just as important as what happens before and during an event.
Keep promoting what’s next.
Just because the confetti has been swept and the backdrops shelved doesn’t mean the party is over. Your live-event content marketing has only begun. You’ll want to have a clear plan as to how you will follow up with those you interacted with. In addition to sending an email about topics that were discussed, remind people of future events they should be a part and point them to information that will strengthen your relationship. Preparation of content for live events can be frenzied, but its value for your audience and your brand can’t be overstated. Nate Birt is a multimedia journalist, social media enthusiast and copy editor with experience at a variety of print and digital publications, and a Certified Journalist at the Visually Marketplace. Follow him on Twitter at @natebirt.