If you’re a marketer who’s worked in the tech industry for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ve attended a conference or two during your career. Even if that’s not the case, you’ve probably needed to support an executive or other subject matter experts (SMEs) who plan to attend. For those situations, it’s worth taking some time to walk through the components of a framework I helped develop during my time at an agency.
It starts with breaking things down into phases: pre-event, live and post-event. While a majority of the work happens during the pre-event stage, all of it fits together.
The overall timing may vary—anywhere from a few weeks if you’re supporting one or two SMEs with speaking roles to many months for building a social media strategy for a company-sponsored event like IBM Think, Dell Technologies World, or HP Discover. Spending time planning before, during and after an event will pay dividends for your brand and for executives or SMEs you’re supporting. Here are things to think about under each framework item along the way.
Align with the Content Team
If you work in a larger company, you probably have content teams who are tasked with producing assets to leverage. This is your chance to align with colleagues in marketing, communications or the corporate social media team to better understand content to leverage. What are they planning in terms of blog posts, LinkedIn articles or LinkedIn updates from the company page? What about visual assets like event cards or infographics? Any related videos being created?
It’s also a time to start collecting promotional content from the event sponsor as well. The HLTH Conference that happens next week does a really good job of creating compelling visuals to drive interest in the scheduled sessions. Share those event sponsor content items with executives or SMEs for amplification, and consider sharing those items from corporate handles as well.
Develop Pre-Event Materials
This step is where you focus on doing research about an event. Start by analyzing hashtags. What’s the official hashtag for the event? Which hashtags were used most in past events? What hashtags are being used most leading up to the event? This is also the time to help the content team develop some of the items from the first step. At W2O Group, we used a mix of proprietary analytics tools and hashtag tools like Symplur since many of our industry events were healthcare-related. First place to look: leverage corporate social media monitoring tools your company already uses. If you work for a larger company, it probably makes sense to reach out to your social media team to leverage a core listening platform like Brandwatch, Sprout Social or Sprinklr, or whatever enterprise monitoring tool your company uses.
If that’s not an option, there are several free hashtag analysis tools that can help. Hashtagify is a good example of a robust hashtag research tool. With it, you can start with a main hashtag like #RSAconference or #sxsw to see not only which hashtags are used most often, but also which people use them most often. RiteTag is another useful hashtag tool that excels at surfacing details about most used hashtags, while also showing lists of related hashtags you might have missed. Lastly, though many of its features require a subscription fee, Hashtags.org is useful to find which hashtags are the top trending ones.
Develop Materials for Executives or SMEs
This is where you can synthesize the information you collected in the previous steps. On the agency side, we’d sometimes compile social media guides for executives and SMEs. They should be brief (usually one or two pages at the most). Besides key hashtag information, maybe there’s an app for the event they should download. Is there a calendar app they can use to schedule sessions they want to attend? If you’ve been working with executives or SMEs to build relationships with industry influencers who will attend, include details about them in a social media guide. Alternatively, you could choose to include event logistics for an executive or SME speaking engagement along with some high-level talking points.
Share Content During Event
This could involve things like pre-approved tweets from the corporate handle, or flagging live tweets from the company or partners for executives or SMEs to amplify from their own social accounts. Cases where SMEs or executives plan to live tweet from sessions they are attending provides an opportunity to amplify content from a corporate handle. Any time an executive or SME speaks at an event also represents an opportunity to share live content from the corporate handle on Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms.
After the event, it’s time to leverage thought leadership content. At this point, you should arm executives and SMEs with wrap-up and summary items developed by the content team. It’s also a time for an executive or SME to write a blog post or LinkedIn article summarizing either key parts from their session or panel or, better yet, to write a wrap-up post that calls out insights from the conference overall.
I’ve spent many hours covering executive activity for Dell and for clients at events like SXSW over the years. As examples, here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 posts I wrote covering W2O Group’s PreCommerce Summit highlights earlier this year. One useful tool here: a voice recorder. It gives you a way to listen to keynotes or panel discussions in detail for those times when video will either not be an option or won’t be available for hours or days after the session.
After the event, spend time analyzing content items to find the things that generated the most interest. If there’s strong content from industry influencers—especially ones your executives and SMEs have relationships with—amplify those items from the corporate social media handles. This is also the time to amplify the most strategic executive or SME content via paid social media. In many cases, it probably makes sense to amplify thought leadership content that your executives or SMEs publish from their LinkedIn accounts.
There’s no question that industry events represent a busy time for many companies. But spending the time to plan social media content before, during and after an event, along with how to activate it—especially when company executives or SMEs are directly involved—goes a long way to ensuring your company’s efforts will have a real impact.