Three Steps to Better Conference Content Strategy

A recent report found that associations are facing new challenges when it comes to managing their conference content. A look at three ways associations can develop a content strategy that is not only manageable but also serves up what attendees want.

Here at Associations Now we’ve written a lot about conference content and how it continues to evolve based on both attendee expectations and new technology and tools.

One theme that’s emerged in our coverage is that conference content deserves a life that lasts longer than a few days, which is why many associations are making the wisdom shared at their conferences part of a year-round content strategy.

However, creating and executing that strategy is easier said than done. Omnipress’ 2018 State of the Conference Industry report reveals that managing conference content is becoming increasingly complex and time-consuming and that challenges continue to arise.

According to the survey of 143 association professionals, these are the top five challenges with distributing conference content: managing the collection and review process (56 percent), managing content changes (53 percent), offering a mix of formats to meet the needs of all members (45 percent), leveraging content after the conference (37 percent), and monetizing content (22 percent).

How can an association reduce or overcome these challenges? Consider these three ideas when developing and rolling out a conference content strategy.

Do your research. There are many formats out there that can be used to deliver conference content, from traditional methods like blog posts, program books, and presentation slides to the less traditional: Snapchat and Twitter stories, attendee-generated video, or a news network, for example. Before you decide on the format and tools to use, you need to know what your attendees will actually read or watch, which is why research is so important. Take a look at previous meeting metrics or survey attendees about what content mattered most to them and what was missing. Drawing on this research, you can then craft a content strategy that suits attendees’ needs.

Ask attendees for help. With so many delivery channels to manage, producing the content required may not be possible using only your internal staff. Consider asking your attendees for help with content creation. For instance, the National Council for Behavioral Health has Twitter ambassadors who are tasked with live-tweeting during the group’s National Council Conference to give an insider’s look at what they’re learning. Then there’s the American Telemedicine Association, which selected a group of social media influencers and bloggers to work as ATA18 Connectors. These two dozen volunteers used social channels and wrote blog posts to build conference awareness and help ATA connect with even more people.

Be smart about repurposing content. According to the Omnipress survey, 62 percent of respondents reuse content from their conference. Some ways that it’s used: as promotion for next year’s event, to reinforce learning after the conference, as ongoing content marketing for the association, and for generating revenue.  So, if a staffer is interviewing your keynoter for a magazine article, think about how pieces of that article or extra content from the interview can be used in your social channels, on the conference blog, or in a conference marketing piece. A smart repurposing strategy will save time and money.

How have you successfully tackled content strategy for your conferences and other events? Please share in the comments.

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Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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