Cvent Surveys blogger Sherrie, my go-to guru for all things marketing research-related, recently shared some interesting data with me regarding blogs. eMarketer has said that, as of 2009, 96.6 million people are blog readers, representing 48.5 percent of the Internet population. It predicts that by 2013, 58 percent of all U.S. Internet users will read a blog at least once per month. Stats that impressive beg the question—are you using blogs to promote your events?
Blogs need not be an overwhelming task for meeting and event planners. I know I'm a little biased—with over 500 posts and six months of blogging under my belt, the task is starting to come a lot easier.
Still, even social media newcomers can get into the blogosphere quickly and easily thanks to a number of blog tools, many of them free like Blogger and Wordpress. Best of all, you already have one of the most difficult parts of blogging, deciding on a topic to blog about, covered: the event itself is your focus.
Now you need some content ideas. Brainstorming posts is probably one of the second-toughest parts of an event blog for newcomers. That's why I've come up with four great (and easy!) post ideas for a successful event blog:
• Sessions and speakers. This is one of the most basic topics to blog about. While the agenda page on your event website may only be able to provide a title or brief sentence about a session, your event blog can offer much more detail as to the topics covered, panelists, etc. This information can be posted either before (as a preview) or after (as a recap) the session.
• Behind-the-scenes chatter. So much of what happens at an event or meeting doesn't occur at the sessions and workshops, but rather in the hallways, lounges and pre-function gathering spaces. Make sure your event staff is out among this spontaneous networking to pick up on thoughts, tips, and more, straight from the attendees' mouths.
• Extra Q&A. Often times meeting attendees are in a hurry to get from one session to the next that they do not have time to stick around for Question & Answer sessions or to ask their questions. Why not do it for them?
Have event staff transcribe the Q&A from various seminars or speaker presentations. Better yet, have them catch the panelists at the end and get some exclusive Q&A feedback for your blog.
• Receptions, team building, and other "fun" activities. Not to discount all the hard work you've put into making your session topics and speaker presentations interesting and relevant, but your entire blog can't be hard content and text. Social aspects of your event are often the most memorable. Plus, they lend themselves well to pictures, video, etc.
Make sure to take photos of your cocktail reception or shoot a video of a group outing that you can them on your blog. You don't even need much accompanying text for these posts—the visuals tell the story.
Starting an event blog can be overwhelming, but the benefits of doing so make taking the plunge worthwhile. Plus, when you use these four tips for generating blog content, you'll find that it can be easier—and more fun—to blog about your meetings and conferences than you thought!