Should Your Conference Have Its Own Blog?
Managing a conference blog takes work. But the benefits, including increased attendee engagement and higher web traffic, may make it worth considering.
For the past month, I’ve been writing “Conference Circuit” for AssociationsNow.com. The weekly article highlights one association’s meeting and includes some stats, interesting and new offerings, and details on how it’s using social media and other tools to engage attendees.
The other day, as I was choosing this week’s meeting and reviewing what I had already covered, I noticed a trend: Three out of four meetings had either a conference-specific blog or meeting news website. This led me to consider this question: Should annual meetings have their own blogs?
Having a blog myself, I can relate to the many of you who are quick to answer with something like this: “No way! This would take way too much time and effort. How would we come up with blog post ideas? Who would write them? How could we add this to staff’s already long to-do lists?”
But after giving it some thought, I came up with three ways having a conference blog could benefit your association.
Increased engagement. If you’re looking for new ways to get speakers and attendees involved in your meetings, giving them the opportunity to blog is one way to go about it. Offer speakers the chance to preview their sessions or give additional insights. You could involve attendees before the meeting, enlisting a few to write about what they’re most excited about or how they’re preparing; after the meeting, they could share their takeaways. Onsite, you may even want to recruit attendees to be part of your conference’s news team and have them submit a post or two.
Behind-the-scenes perspective. Here at ASAE we have members who are curious to know what it takes to put together an issue of the magazine or one of our meetings. I’m sure your association has the same. A conference blog is a good way to give them an insider perspective. You can have different staffers share different details during the planning process—anything from choosing to the menu to developing content for the conference newspaper to brainstorming the marketing campaign. Another bonus: It could give your staffers who like to write but don’t have the chance to do so regularly in their job the chance to work that muscle.
Traffic and registration driver. A regularly updated blog with good content and keywords relevant to your industry is a great way to highlight your organization as a thought leader and make people aware of your meeting—and perhaps even get some new audiences to register. Also, refreshed content is a way to get those who are already registered to keep coming back to your meeting’s website. In addition, you can push out this content through your usual social channels, making it easily shareable.
Of course, I realize that launching a blog is no easy undertaking. You need to figure out where the responsibility to maintain and update it falls. After all, once you put out one post, you can’t wait weeks for another. It requires extra time and energy from your already-busy staff to create a content schedule, recruit writers, and review and edit posts. But if it means additional revenue, serves a need, leads to more engaged attendees, and raises your association’s visibility, it could be worth the effort.
Have you launched a blog for one of your conferences or events? Was it a success? Let me know in the comments.