The question isn’t whether or not you should produce event content; it’s the how, why and where you do it that counts. Your event content marketing strategy must be fully aligned with your identity, resources and time. Here are some essential concepts that not only boost attendance and then some, but also increase traffic, visibility and engagement (think major SEO bang for your buck!).
Tip #1: It’s Advertising, So Get Over It
Here’s the dirty little secret that everybody knows: content is advertising. The content you produce represents and amplifies your brand. The more your audience sees your content, the more likely they’ll engage with you. They even associate specific types of content with you, even if you didn’t produce it. So when it comes to advertising, what’s the most important aspect? Your position.
The biggest question you have to answer is how your event is positioned compared to others in the same industry. While personality might help (cheeky vs. serious), the real value is who you are.
Take a look at Gatorade. It’s a sugary drink, but it isn’t the same as Coke. Gatorade positions itself as a sports drink used by pro athletes. Positioning helps define and direct your entire event content marketing strategy.
If you don’t define who you are, how do you expect others to notice? So don’t just say you’re a liberal arts college (yawn). Say you’re a liberal arts college with global expertise in sub-Saharan African and anthropological studies. If you do it all, then your niche could be geographic. Or it could be that you’re the largest or have the highest post-grad employment rate. Carve out that niche and dig your heels in.
Now, when you host your event featuring sub-Saharan food, music and culture, they’ll connect your name with being an expert in the field.
Tip #2: Promote More Than You Produce
If you’re just pushing out fluff, people notice and don’t come back. Take the time to put together something truly useful and interesting. That said, you should spend about 4x more time promoting than producing. Why? Because quality is easy to control, but promotion efforts vary tremendously.
Think of it this way. If you create something valuable, doesn’t it make sense to look for more users rather than generate more content? It’s the rare brand that has reached audience saturation.
Want to save time? Repurpose your best content and redistribute. So if you have a blog post that’s killing it, make it a video or slideshow and post on YouTube. Or expand it and make it a downloadable PDF on your site (in exchange for an email, of course). Here’s a shortcut – podcasts are cheaper, faster, and easier to make than videos.
Now, close your eyes and repeat this several times: “Promoting my content is promoting my event.” Take each content piece seriously, and plug it as hard as you sell tickets to your event.
Tip #3: Reach Out to Influencers
One of the great advantages of event content marketing is that influential industry voices might not see you as a threat. Instead, you’re an opportunity. Meaningful symbiotic relationships can arise between events and industry leaders. Reach out to the big names! Tell them what you’re doing and ask them to share. Consider offering a link back to them or, if they’re game, give them a live role in your next event.
To build a Content Distribution Network (mavens, bloggers, experts, etc.), you can find influencers in several ways. Free options include doing a simple Google search for terms related to your brand, or searching related posts on LinkedIn to see who’s influential in your space. For more advanced list-building, try tools like BuzzSumo or Buzzstream’s Discovery tool to see who’s talking about your industry on social media or in popular blogs.
Be sure to keep an updated list of influencers you’ve engaged. When it’s showtime, you’ll be sure your invite list is complete.
Tip #4: Distribute, Rinse, Repeat
Successful content distribution means being in it for the long haul. This isn’t a lottery where you hope to go viral. Build your voice and following post by post. The steps are simple: create, share, repeat. This might sound childish, but the point is you must have a dedicated team, or person, for this task.
This isn’t a job for your tech department. It can’t be tacked on to everyone’s jobs, including your mailroom staff. It certainly can be part of your ad spend, but a clear plan, resources and budget should be in place.
Take the simple example of blog posts. Schedule them periodically. Best practices vary by industry, but weekly publication may be an option for your brand, as it is for many brands. Too many organizations put this on the back burner and publish only a few times a year, then they don’t bother to share. This is content marketing work down the drain, and it can impact your event’s success.
Tip #5: Social Media Still Matters
Believe it or not, Facebook is not dead and Twitter still has millions tweeting daily. Facebook also allows you to pay to boost your post. Take advantage of this feature. Drill down for your specific demographic and interests. From the get-go you’ll get people liking and following you.
Make sure you post on Facebook that you’ve published a new blog post. Like, share and sprinkle in some Facebook specific updates/images to keep your Facebook page fresh and original. If your brand is image heavy, you might prefer Pinterest. Don’t forget to link images to a blog post or some other content.
As mentioned, LinkedIn is another great hub for making contacts and establishing networks. LinkedIn Groups are a great place to start. Share content with like-minded friends and be willing to share their content, too.
Tip #6: Baby & Build Your Core Audience
Your subscriber list is your advocate army. If you don’t keep them informed, they’ll seek greener pastures. Every once in awhile, give them exclusive perks and kudos. It might be first dibs to an event, giveaways, discounts, a newsletter or an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at your industry. Since they’re already on board, they’re more likely to pay attention to this content.
Meanwhile, make sign-up on your site easy. Have a highly visible follow/subscribe box, and consider non-intrusive pop-ups that offer freebies (PDFs, white papers, slide shows, etc.) in exchange for email addresses. This way, you leverage your content to work double time.
You probably notice that some members of your subscriber list are more active than others. Reach out to them in an individualized manner with emails. Thank them personally with a kind word and a freebie if you can. Convert these people into brand ambassadors.
Tip #7: Generate Event-Specific Content
You’re also going to want to generate content surrounding your event. Write posts leading up to it, perhaps highlighting a featured guest. You might even post about the venue or the city/location. If it’s a multi-day shindig, post a mid-event blog. You might even consider live-streaming parts of your event. Go live with limited resources on sites like Upstream and Livestream.
After the event, gather your team to get their feedback and observations. These mind-melds generate tons of content ideas. Gather images, anecdotes and stats from your event and share them across your content platforms.
Make sure you store your event data in a safe place. When you begin to plan for the next event, you’ll have plenty to say about your past achievements. Many event pages will show number of attendees, speakers and past highlights to drive interest.
Tip #8: Use a Trusted, Familiar Voice
When using content to promote your event, you must build trust. This only occurs if someone encounters you on multiple occasions, and even better on multiple platforms. If what they find is pleasing, or solves a problem, the next time they see you they’ll listen again. So bring high-powered, quality content, every time.
Then when they bump into you – with an entrance to your event in hand – they’ll be happy they did.
Tip #9: Don’t Try to Be Everywhere at Once
One of the biggest pitfalls is trying to be on every social media channel at once. Focus on one or two to start with and build up steadily from there. It takes time, effort, and attention to find your social network groove.
If you don’t put in the time and effort, your event content won’t make a splash. But if you take it seriously, content event marketing can catapult you past the competition. Focus on identity, quality, organization and persistence.