Taking a reporter-style approach to digital marketing events has several advantages. Especially for smaller companies, agencies and solopreneurs, event attendance can represent a significant investment of time and money.
You may as well get the most out of it – being there allows you to create professional content for your podcasts and blogs. Instead of skipping your weekly blog update because you're at an event, make your blog post about the event.
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With a background in publishing, I love covering events and writing features about them. When I'm passionate about the subject matter, it shows, which is one reason why covering digital marketing events is so rewarding.
Why Cover Digital Marketing Events?
Besides the benefit of creating content for your own brand, covering digital marketing events helps you accomplish other goals.
- Meaningfully engage with other users on social media and email follow up
- Retain a positive relationship with event organizers
- Establish discussions about content partnerships
Social Media Event Coverage
Live tweet event panels and main stage presentations.
Make sure you have the right equipment.
Pack a laptop, tablet, smartphone and battery charger. Ensure that your electronics are fully charged before you head into any events you're tweeting. Wondering if you have enough battery left to fully cover a presentation is really distracting. (Trust me, I've made that mistake more than once.)
Get there early and figure out the wifi situation.
Fiddling with wifi at events is annoying at best. There's rarely a 'click to connect' option, even if the event organizers or venue has made it easy. There are usually faulty loading screens, slow load times, etc. It's a digital marketing event – of course everyone is trying to use the Internet at once! I usually use my cell phone data if I get better cell phone reception than wifi. It's more reliable.
Getting there early also means getting a decent seat for when it comes time to take pictures.
Use photos, quotes and #hashtags.
You'll increase your visibility if you do. Plus, speakers (also usually influencers) will be more likely to engage with you on Twitter if you quote them accurately.
Before you head to the event, create a document with Twitter handles of panelists you intend to live tweet. Also include the correct hashtag for the event. Some preliminary tweets using the hashtag can help you pick up some followers and get the event handlers' attention before you go.
Don't forget to curate and retweet content from others using the same hashtag.
If you have support from the home office, see if you can get quick quote cards made with presenter quotes.
How to Cover the Show Floor and Exhibitor Area
Take lots of photos!
This can also be an effective way to network if done well. Don't be creepy, though: make sure you introduce yourself, name your company and publication, offer your business card and ask for permission before taking any photos. Most people love an opportunity to have their personal and professional brands featured in a blog post or on social media.
Take the opportunity to get a business card and follow up once your post is live.
Tweet a pic of the venue or show floor.
Don't forget to tag the conference organizers who will be sure to share and expose your tweet to a wider audience.
Help people find you at the event.
If you have a booth at the event, make sure people know how to find you. Tweet out photos of your booth, your staff (tag them) and your company logo and colors. You can even entice them to your booth with swag:
What event photos can help you stand out, especially at large events?
Think about what makes this event really different from others. Digital marketing events vary – some have an intimate, informal feel while others have a nightclub vibe or an expansive trade show feeling. Try to capture that in your photo.
How many posts should you devote to each event? That depends upon the size of your blog and the event, as well as how many people you have covering, vending or speaking at the event. Ideally, I like to publish a preview piece, an immediate follow up or photo gallery and an in-depth piece for large events.
- 250+ words
- Include event details: location, time and venue
- Provide specific details about SEMrush's booth
- Write a section on any of our guest speakers: their name, title, presentation title/topic, and when and where they will be speaking
- Discount codes our customers and readers may use to register for the event
- Swag previews and giveaways that draw people to our booth
- Create an engaging graphic that represents the tone and location of the event
Example: While this post is on the short side, I linked to our representatives' LinkedIn profiles and let our audience know exactly who they'd be meeting at the event.
Make sure you take advantage of the event hashtag while it's hot. You can do this by creating an immediate follow up post. Publish the post right after the event – the more timely the better. If I'm at an event exclusively to cover the event and SEMrush's presence there, I'll work on this type of post while I am there.
Example: Kate did a great job of this with "The Brightest Moments of Brighton SEO."
In-Depth Follow Up
Consider crafting a piece about what you learned at the event; a deeper look into anything newsworthy. This is a great time to highlight what you learned from speakers at the event or themes of the event (especially if those themes represent new ideas).
Search Consultant Tom Etherington listed his top ten takeaways from Searchlove 2015 with illustrative images.
Search Engine Journal made my SEJ Summit 2015 recap really easy – they posted the presenters' slideshows on SlideShare. I was able to embed them in the post along with some insightful tweets from guests and presenters. Similarly, you can also embed recorded YouTube presentations in your posts.
While data-driven case studies are optimal, examples and personal experiences are also helpful. In this way, I was able to create a piece about digital marketing based on my networking experiences at New York Comic Con.
Digital Marketing Consultant Sheena Schleicher created a peripheral, in-depth piece about her experiences at events. In her post, she details how and why she brings customers and prospects to conferences.
Other Website Content
Don't forget about the needs of the rest of your website while you're networking and covering the event for your blog or podcast. You may have other pages that could benefit from event-related content, such as event landing pages or testimonials (solicit written, video or audio testimonials from your customers).
Lastly, don't forget to promote your blog post on social media once it's live:
It also helps to tag your brand. In the above post, I've tagged @semrush on Twitter. That way, Olga, Anneliese and the rest of the social media team can support my efforts by retweeting and amplifying the message. It also lets people at the event know which brand I'm representing.
Do you like covering events? Let us know what you've learned over the years in the comments!
The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Tara is a prolific content creator, having written thousands of blog posts, small business websites and other inbound marketing content through the course of her career. Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn. She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing. Connect with her on Twitter @TaraMClapper.