Event blogging isn’t something you often hear discussed, but blogging can be a very effective part of a communications mix designed to create interest and anticipation for an upcoming conference or festival.
I have done event blogging before, and whilst all the good rules of blogging apply, there are a few issues specific to events that are worth keeping in mind:
1. Have a plan for what you want to achieve from your blog
As with all marketing activities, it’s important to plan what you want to achieve by blogging, and to consider how this fits in with the rest of your marketing activities. Whilst blogging is free, it can be time-consuming and therefore is still costly in staff time.
Now for some strategic questions:
- Does your event have its own website, or a page on an existing organisation’s website?
- Will you be adding blog posts to an existing organisation’s blog, or creating a blog specific to the event itself?
- Will the blog be internal or external (e.g. on Blogger) to the event website ?
Whatever the decisions you make, you must be clear on how blogging will help you achieve your goals (e.g. to increase ticket sales). Plan the audience’s digital journey. Your readers are likely to visit blog posts by first seeing them on social media. Once on the blog post, how do they know to go to the event site/page? Are the blog posts already on the event website? Will you include plenty of links within each blog post, directing the reader to the event site/page? This may sound obvious, but it can be surprising what assumptions are made (and missed) if several people are working together on a project.
2. Involve the blogger from the outset
Whoever is designated as your blogger, get them involved from the very start. One of the barriers to writing is often not the writing itself but the lack of preparation. If someone doesn’t know enough about a subject, perhaps because they’ve not been immersed in planning the event from the beginning, it will make the writing process more difficult. It can also make the output of the process seem less authentic.
The ideal situation would be for someone working on the event to do the blogging. The responsibility could also be split across a team of people, each taking turns to write on agreed angles of the project. If you’re using an external content writer, or someone not working on the project, get them involved as soon as possible.
3. Blog frequently and consistently
As soon as you begin to publicise the event, blog consistently and regularly. Don’t leave it until nearer the event, as blog posts can create conversation when shared on social media, and create the vital link that draws people off social media and on to your event website. Consistency and frequency build trust so, those unfamiliar with your organisation or event will probably need to see your content discussed several times before you’ll truly get their attention.
4. Don’t just sell
As with all blogging, don’t just sell the product on offer (in this case the event ticket). You must provide value to your reader across all your posts. Write about subjects that will be of interest to attendees. Raise questions that are likely to be discussed at the event. Profile your key speakers and perhaps even briefly interview them. Involving your speakers means they are more likely to share your content with their own followers, making it easier to attract new people who trust that person and are interested in your event’s subject matter.
5. Share again and again
A big mistake that can occur with blogging is assuming that once the article is published, people will find it. In reality, the blog post is likely to be the hook that draws people on to your website – but only if they know about it! Promote your blog post across all your social media channels (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google+). Don’t just do it once either. Reframe your message to interest different people, and experiment with times of day. I came across some very interesting guidance on the website of Kissmetrics on just how many times you should promote a blog post. You should share many more times on Twitter than Facebook and Google+, but in all cases posts should be shared repeatedly over a period of time and with a different message.
If the blogger is not responsible for the organisation’s social media, it is important to establish a schedule with whoever is. Don’t assume they’ll know what you want them to do. Also, be sure to include the handles (e.g. on Twitter) of anybody mentioned in the blog post, so that they have the opportunity to comment or share with their own followers.
6. Consider other content
If this is the first event of its kind you are organising, you obviously won’t have video material and photographs from previous years to work with. You may still find creative ways to overcome this though, perhaps by using images from other activities relevant to the organisation and the event. If you do have material from previous events, there are many more options available to you. Use YouTube, for example, and embed videos in your blog posts.
7. Twitter hashtag
Create a Twitter hashtag (e.g. #ABCFestival15) well in advance of the event to allow your speakers and early bookers to promote you in a co-ordinated way to their own followers. They are likely to have contacts who share their interests, and who may form part of your target audience. The hashtag will also form part of your activities during and after the event (e.g. using a Twitter wall, post-event attendee comments).
If you have access to analytics for your blog (e.g. Google Analytics), use these to see whether posts are attracting visitors and where they go next. Where did they come from in the first place (e.g. social media)? Do they then go to the event information and booking? Find out what works best, and repeat the formula that brings the results you want.
9. Prepare for next time
If you’re planning on holding a similar event in the future, blog about the event itself and collect everything you need to prepare for next time. You will be able to refer to and reuse this content. Think about other media too. Take lots of photographs and video, and why not interview attendees for their opinions on the event?
10. A final thought
Most importantly, enjoy the blogging process and sharing all there is to know about your event. If you do this genuinely and consistently, and add value for your readers, your enthusiasm will transfer to others. And remember, your reader may not be able to attend your event themselves, but they may recommend it to someone who can.
Have you used blogging to promote an upcoming event? Did you find it effective and, most importantly, why? You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.