Conference Blogging: A powerhouse waiting to be plugged!

on Jan 11, 2009

I recently blogged the annual global conference of IIT Alumni, PanIIT 2008. It was a 3 days event focused on innovation across various domains including Rural Transformation, Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Infrastructure etc.  With roughly 300 CEOs in the delegates and 6 parallel tracks of sessions, this conference offers unmatched depth and breath of experience across various industries. I really felt proud to be part of this event and to blog it live.

We posted 30 posts for 3 days event. Moreover, we used Videos, Slides, and Photos to make our blog post more interesting for the users.  Overall, I think we did a good job as bloggers, but have we met the desired business objectives. We received roughly 10 relevant comments within one month after the event. Looking at the people participation, I think even though we were able to do a good job in covering the entire event but we probably missed out on inspiring delegates for their participation.

Why does that happen? Let’s examine the holistic view. The overall objectives of creating an online presence for a Conference can be broadly divided into 2 categories:

  1. Increase Conference Outreach
    1. Reaching out to potential Delegates
    2. Converting Delegates to Attendees
  2. Improve Delegates Participation
    1. Networking (Before, During and After the Conference)
    2. Information access
    3. Managing Feedback
    4. Archival and Retrieval of Knowledge-base created during the conference

The marketing of conference poses certain challenges for the Online Marketing Initiatives. Firstly, the conference offers limited time to Market, which makes it difficult to leverage long-term online marketing initiatives. For example if we talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Promotion, it take minimum of 6 to 9 months of efforts to get some reasonable returns from SEO Promotion. Therefore in most case it may not be advisable to run a SEO campaign. In certain cases for example if it is a repetitive event, it is possible to leveraging the work done for all previous events. Therefore for such situation SEO promotion might deliver better ROI in the long-term prospective.

Secondly, conference is also marked with impulsive and high volume of participation. In order to offer to deliver the desired value in the short span of time, the work need to start much before the conference starts. Moreover, each and every activity needs to be carried out in alignment with the overall objectives and Blogging is no exception.

We need to have clear understanding of the concerns of target audience at various stages before and after the conference, starting from when they are thinking about attending the conference to the time when they have gone back attending the event. We need to understand the online behavior of target market:

•    What kinds of websites/Blogs do the potential Customers visit?
•    Are there existing communities of Potential Customers on various Social Media sites like linkedin, Fasebook, Orkut etc?
•    What value do we offer at various stages of various stages of conference preparation and what message can communicate each value individually?

The Blogging needs to start at least 6 months before the conference. It is important that we should understand the customers concerns at various stages. Each and every blog post should be aligned with the identified customer concerns. This will definitely help in retaining the precious relevant visitors on the website.

Moreover, the Blog promotion should start at least 6 months in advance across all the relevant traffic generation sources including SlideShare, Flickr, YouTube etc. The message needs to be created for all medias and for all stages before the conference. These messages will act as the sales agents on the social media sites that customer visits. The more relevant the message, the more relevant will be the traffic. Moreover, there are number of community building tools available from example CollectiveX which definitely help in increasing the engagement level of participants. Using such tools will help in retaining and converting the relevant traffic generated from social media websites.

In case you are interested in knowing further about designing an effective conference campaign. Please feel free to drop in your comments below and I will get back to you.

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