Succeeding with events based marketing requires preparation, collaboration, engagement and research. Done properly, it can provide you with unique and valuable opportunities.
We have lots of experience with live events, so we’re sharing what we’ve learned (along with real world examples) plus awesome advice from marketing guru Matt Heinz. Here’s how you can maximize the digital experience at your event.
1) Planning Is Key
Begin with your goals — those will inform everything you do. Are you trying to raise awareness, encourage interaction, drive sales or find more fans? Start with the desired outcome in mind, otherwise you’re driving blind.
“Have a sense for what your goals are,” Heinz suggested. “Understand who you’re targeting.” Are they lower level employees looking to network or higher level execs who can make purchasing decisions? The content you use needs to be targeted to the people who will consume it to be effective.
Use that information to develop your coverage and make sure it answers some questions. Why should people go to your event at all? How will the event help? What type of content is your target audience looking for?
Heinz recommends using an editorial calendar and we’ve had a lot of success using “rundowns.” The screenshot below is from one of our rundowns, it’s our plan for how we use content during live chats.
Use the rundown to:
– Assign roles and responsibilities — everyone who will be involved in the effort should have a clear
expectation of what they’ll be doing and when well before the event itself.
– Decide when to feature content: it’s important to not have “dead air”, you don’t want people looking
at screens (whether at the event or on their devices) that haven’t updated in several minutes. Use
the rundown to avoid that.
– Plan opportunities for engagement, such as questions to the audience, polls, calls-to-action and, if
relevant, ads. Our software allows you to do all of that seamlessly and even schedule the content
ahead of time, but whatever you use, make sure you have that baked into your plan.
– Decide when to field questions from the attendees. Our software allows your attendees to submit
questions that go into a queue to be answered when the time is right, but you can also collect them
via email or hashtag. Remember, do not post questions if you don’t have a plan or the time to answer
– Act as a holding pen for other potentially useful content. For example, if you’re hosting an event
focused on insurance, you can anticipate certain questions and having a piece of content with the
answer at your fingertips is an excellent way to impress and satisfy your audience.
– Plan the content you will use in the run up to the event and after. Publishing content the day your
event starts is an ineffective strategy and a lost opportunity. Use the time leading up to the event
as your movie trailer: provide some useful bits of information and tease what else people can expect. – Similarly, when the event has ended, write up a recap highlighting the top moments and use it as
another opportunity to reach your targets again as well as those who weren’t able to attend.
2) Make the Most of Your Sessions
When at the event, let social media assist in driving and discovering content. Make a Hootsuite list, says Heinz, and follow the hashtags and keywords associated with the event.
“Look for the prolific tweeters,” says Heinz. Encourage attendees to participate by adding their own content (Tweets, pictures, videos, posts) is a great way to compliment your own efforts. For those with a small team, you can’t cover everything. Instead, look to others at the event who are already creating content that you can use.
“People assume you have to create your own content,” says Heinz. “It’s untrue.” He recommends finding people and asking them if you can use what they create.
3) Collaboration Leads to Success
Curation is an effective tool, and, says Heinz, is the “key to leveraging a small team to create good content.”
Use Twitter to gather relevant tweets about your event and post a round-up of takeaways. Create partnerships and host other’s event content on your website. Ask prolific event tweeters if they could write a guest post on your blog. These ideas can especially help reduce stresses on a small team with limited resources.
When RE/MAX.ca held their KickSTART 2013 for realtors, brokers, suppliers and sponsors they had more 3000 attendees over a two day show. They leveraged ScribbleLive to encourage attendees to participate and netted more than 1500 posts to their feed which they projected on monitors. In addition, they were able to rotate ads in throughout the event.
The event was a smash hit. The average user engaged with the content for 72 minutes, half of those in attendance interacted with the content in some fashion and RE/MAX got valuable exposure for its sponsors and advertisers.
Plan plan plan — a plan that lays out what you’ll before, during and after the event is the best way to guarantee success. Heinz has three things to think about when planning:
1. Who’s going to be at the event?
2. What is your content going to look like?
3. Make sure it’s a good mixture of business and fun – network and get in contact with other people.
Collaborate for success – covering everything is hard. Make connections with other people at the event and leverage their skills and content to make the most of your time.
Lastly, think beyond the event. Create content that exists outside of the event and has significant lasting power.