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Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Virtual Events With Atomization

By / Oct 2, 2020 (RLT_Images/DigitalVision Vectors)

The all-digital format of virtual events allows associations to extend the life of the information presented by remixing it in new ways—taking a cue from the world of content marketing using “atomization.” Here are a few strategies to try.

While conferences are traditionally built as live events, the newly virtual nature of these events means that consumption habits are changing.

That can be tough for an association that’s used to doing something in just one way. But the truth is that trying to distribute content in a purely digital way can actually be freeing, giving you room to experiment while encouraging a more strategic method of sharing.

There’s a name for this in the world of content marketing: content atomization. This idea, which dates all the way back to 2008, involves taking existing information and content, strategically breaking it up, and placing it in new contexts, using a format that makes sense for the additional platforms.

You may be wondering, what’s the difference between this and simply repurposing content, something associations are already known to do? One explanation comes from the marketing technology firm UberFlip, which notes that the distinction comes down to the scale.

“While repurposing or recycling content can also be an effective tactic for low-resource content marketing teams, it doesn’t necessarily resolve the issue of effectively using content ideas and spreading thought leadership through your content,” the company’s Victoria Hoffman writes.

Atomization is effective for extending the reach of small marketing shops, and it can also come in handy for associations that are trying to reach their audiences with virtual event content.

What could that look like? Here are just a few ideas:

Build listicles around event content. Attendees probably don’t have time to watch every session in your virtual event, so why not do the curating for them? For example, grabbing key quotes from each session and putting them in a roundup could give that content a second life. The result is you’re remixing a new piece from the atoms that wouldn’t be as effective on their own.

Turn compelling points into social content. Cool data points or anecdotes could wow an audience who is listening at that very moment. But weeks later, they still have value—turn those data points into social objects like images, videos, or text items. In many ways, atomization underlines the new presentation of existing content, and this does that in spades.

Leverage hashtags. The work of atomization doesn’t have to stop with your most recent virtual event. The popular #tbt, or Throwback Thursday, hashtag offers a great example. Many associations have strong archives, and those can be leveraged to promote current events with relevant content from popular hashtags. This could help draw in new audiences.

Stretch out the event over a long period. Most virtual events are built around a set time period, but given that much of the content is evergreen in nature, the timeframe can expand. In recent months, groups such as the United Fresh Produce Association have experimented with building on-demand platforms for their virtual content, which gives up some of the “event” mindset for convenience. Playing with this model by dripping out pieces of content over a long period of time can help maintain long-term interest in the subject matter. Presenting the content this way could even generate revenue: In the case of United Fresh, the offering is free to members, but $100 for nonmembers.

Use the event as a basis for a white paper. Content atomization doesn’t have to be built around trying to hit people with convenience, good timing, or quick, “snackable” information. It can also be a useful tool for longer-term lead generation, say if you’re trying to reach new members or promote a service. With that in mind, building a longer-form white paper from elements of the event could help strengthen its strategic value over time. The goal with atomization is to use the research and information to create something new and useful—and a white paper could do that.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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