Tom Pick is a digital marketing consultant who works with event management platform developer G2Planet to share the company's insights and knowledge with corporate event marketing professionals.
How to Extend the Value of Your Corporate Event Content
Content marketing and event marketing are too often thought of as different worlds. Content marketing is online and trendy. Live events are offline and old-school.
The two tactics are more accurately (and productively) viewed as tightly interlocking channels. According to the Content Marketing Institute, in-person events are one of the top four content marketing methods B2B marketers use to nurture their audiences.
Events trail only email campaigns and educational content (which, of course, is the primary type of content shared at live events), and are essentially tied with "clear calls-to-action for next steps" in terms of their effectiveness for content marketing.
The value proposition of live events, particularly in B2B, is centered on education and networking — or more broadly, the content and the experience.
Live events are essentially a content delivery channel that also happens to include getting away from the office, good food, engaging activities and interesting people. For the business hosting the event, they are a way to provide education (plus a bit of promotion) in a way that builds trust, strengthens relationships and allows for immediate feedback.
Content planning is therefore at the core of event planning. But the value of coordinating and creating that content can extend well beyond the event itself, providing additional payback to the organization. Here's how to optimize the value of event-related content before, during and after the corporate event.
Before the Event
A substantial share of event planning time is dedicated to content planning. It often starts with gathering ideas for session topics from a range of sources: sales, marketing, product development, consulting, customer service, existing customers and others.
Topics are next matched with presenters — company personnel, customers or outside experts. Then sessions are scheduled and matched to spaces at the venue.
The list may go through several iterations, adding/dropping/changing topics and presenters, adjusting time slots, moving sessions between rooms, etc.
Eventually (usually just prior to some looming deadline), the sessions are finalized.
This enables the event planning team to produce what is arguably the most vital piece of pre-event content, the session schedule. This is the primary draw for attendees. People aren't terribly interested in where or when the event will be held until they know what they will learn and who will be speaking (particularly for the keynote address).
During the Event
The primary format of most event content is, of course, PowerPoint (along with perhaps Prezi, Haiku Deck, Visme, or Keynote) slides, with the primary delivery channel being live session presentations.
Session videos will be recorded for post-event editing and sharing. But there is lots of content produced at events, in multiple formats (text, video, photos), by many different people (employees, contractors, vendors, partners, attendees), that can be shared to foster engagement among those at the event while giving a sense of "being there" to people who perhaps wanted to be at the event but couldn't make it.
This content includes:
- Photos and videos (professionally contracted). Most corporate events will have one (or more) professional photographers and videographers roaming about, capturing images and experiences for posterity. Some content (e.g., session videos) will be published post-event, but it's also worthwhile to share in-the-moment photos of customers and activities, as well as short "what do you think of the event so far?" videos.
- Social media post (from employee or company accounts). Moments captured and shared can resonate with attendees and beyond. It's vital to use an event hashtag (and preferably only one — keep it simple) to connect posts from employees, company accounts, attendees and others back to the event. Tagging people in posts for LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook also expands the audience for those at-event updates.
- Social media posts (by attendees). Communicate your event hashtag clearly and prodigiously (on signage, presentation slides, registration/check-in materials, badges, etc.) to encourage use. If appropriate for your event, consider setting up a photo/video booth — or being creative with this. One automaker set up a "photo booth" in the rear seat of a luxury SUV.
- Media / influencer content. Will there be industry analysts, media, or other influencers at your event? If so, make it easy for them to share content (as Apple does at its product unveilings). Make the event content and experience shareworthy; the Audi e-tron launch event (co-produced by Christy Lamagna and her Strategic Meetings & Events team), for example, was newsworthy just for the event itself, with 500 synchronized drones flying in the night sky over San Francisco Bay.
After the Event
Your team and your presenters put a tremendous amount of effort into creating content for your event. Too often, this content is under-utilized (if it's used at all) once the event is over.
Make that investment in content continue to provide a return by repurposing and republishing it in different formats over a period of months following the event.
Blog posts and ebooks: Evaluate every session for use as a blog post (or possibly several blog posts), or even as an ebook. Customer stories, use cases, research-based presentations and how-to sessions all make great digital content. The presentation slide deck and video transcript provide a great starting point, simplifying and speeding up the work of repurposing session content.
Photography: Use related photos and video content to add visual interest to those blog posts and other content. Event photography can also potentially be reused in other marketing collateral and website content.
Session videos: Post edited session videos, along with text summaries, on your company YouTube and/or Vimeo channel. This increases exposure to your event content and turns it into assets for search engine optimization.
Summary report: Use text, video and photos to create an interactive online event summary report, highlighting popular sessions and key information shared. This is especially appealing to people who were invited to the event but didn't respond, or who registered but weren't able to attend. It may also be of interest to attendees as well, especially at multi-track events where attendees may not have been able to sit in on every session of interest.
Photo/video promotion: Create an online event photo gallery and "highlight video" (featuring attendees talking about the experience/value of the event) to use as promotion for next year's event. Content produced at the event can be used as marketing material for future conferences.
Content marketing (online) and event marketing (live, face to face) are often thought of different realms. But events involve a tremendous amount of content development. With a bit of planning and effort, the investment in corporate event-related content can be leveraged to provide value from weeks before the event starts to months after it has ended.