Without question, one of the things businesses struggle with most is turning their offline activities into an online advantage. Part of what makes it tough is incorporating digital considerations into the rest of your planning.
One big area of opportunity for businesses to take advantage of is participation in events. Whether you’re attending a conference or showcasing a booth at a tradeshow, there are a myriad of opportunities to take what you’re doing offline and bring it on to the web.
Some can be executed quickly and relatively easily, while some just set the stage for future follow up and benefits. We’ve assembled a quick checklist to make your way through before, during and after you hit the event floor.
1. Check the Event Website for Link Opportunities
Events both big and small usually have websites – and those websites can be chock-full of opportunities for a quality link. Some areas you’ll want to look for include:
Attendee/Booth Lists – Is there a field to add your website? This one is pretty common, especially if you have a booth on the floor
Sponsors – Events cost a lot of money to run – and while you don’t necessarily want to sponsor solely for a link, it’s worthwhile to check the price points and see if there isn’t somewhere you could contribute.
Comments – No, you don’t want to spam the comments – but if people are commenting on the event onsite, it doesn’t hurt to chime in. Of course, take a bigger picture approach and actually contribute to the conversation. This can be a great place to jot down some names and set up some in-person meetings to create further opportunity.
An Event Blog – If the event publishes a blog, there’s a good chance you could craft some tailored, positive content and win placement with a great pitch. Events can always use good press and positive stories.
Testimonials – Does the event have a page of testimonials? If so, contact them offering to add yours (either before the event if you’ve attended prior, or after the event has happened)
2. Have Social Media Ready to Roll
Before the event, delegate social media responsibilities among the attending members of your team so that someone is always manning the helm.
While there’s a temptation to simply share things that are already being discussed by speakers or to solely talk about what your brand is doing at the event, there are other ways to add more value and make stronger connections:
Take Photos – A picture speaks a thousand words, and curious onlookers will be more compelled to check out something visual when it crosses their feed. You’ll also be able to curate these photos into online galleries and share those, which could earn you links down the line.
Start (or Join) Discussions – Rather than parrot what’s being said, open the floor for discussion around the topic and get people talking. This is a fantastic way to discover potential content creation opportunities.
Cross-Promote & Call Out – Give a little to get a little. Don’t hog the spotlight, call out specific attendees for the great things they are doing or sharing, or even share other brands you’ve come across that you found interesting. Again, this is more about the long-term payoff than any immediate return.
3. Be a Social Coordinator
Okay, so we’re not all social butterflies. Still, the one major thing everyone attending a conference or trade show wants to do is make connections. Even if you’re not the local socialite, it doesn’t hurt to plan a dinner or group activity outside the hours of the event and promote it through social media.
By giving people a chance to connect, you put yourself at the center of their connects and open the floor to all kinds of potential relationships. As an added strategy, you might consider inviting a specific speaker, influencer or potential industry partner and offering to cover their tab.
This may not equate to immediate links, but relationships are far more valuable and could lead to opportunities for cross-promotion, link building, guest posting and more down the line.
4. Create Event-Specific Content
We already made mention of taking photos and sharing them in curated albums, and we also touched on live blogging – but there are other forms of content to be considered, too!
If the event is a conference, a pre-event write up about the speakers can serve as some powerful ego bait (example: Wanna copy my homework? A guide to the #mozcon lineup)
If your hometown is hosting the event – or even if it’s abroad, a piece on where to eat, what attractions to see and other highlights helpful to travelling attendees is content the community would likely welcome. (example: The Not-so-Short Shortlist of Moz’s Top Seattle Restaurants, Bars, and Activities for MozCon 2013)
If you happen to be speaking at the event, a slideshare or online version of your slides/presentation is essential to create. Not only will attendees find it useful, but those who didn’t attend will be able to tap into your expertise and share it among the community.
A landing page for an event-specific discount, deal or special offer is another way to get bring leads into your site, earn some links and generate buzz around your business at the event.
5. Information Collection
This one typically only applies to situations where you’re running a booth or exhibiting – but it helps to take time to streamline how you’ll go about getting information from attendees and considering ways you can incentives a micro-transaction like the exchange of an e-mail.
Events and conferences are a great chance to grow your online mailing lists, and open up the door for remarketing to leads down the line.
6. Don’t Forget To Go Local
Reaching out to local online news and information outlets for the town the event is being held in can be very beneficial. When you are holding or participating in an event you will want to contact the local patch or similar community-specific news platform to see if they would be willing to mention the event on their site, this would be an great opportunity for links, content, and some additional event exposure.
Go In Prepared
There’s a lot to get ready for events – plane tickets, booth materials, hotel arrangements… but taking the time to make digital a part of your prep work can only stand to benefit your online marketing. Make it a priority!