Does this scenario sound familiar? The conference or other event you’ve put your heart and soul into for months, the thing that has kept you awake at nights and consumed the lions' share of your time, energy and budget has finally come to a close. You wave your final attendee goodbye, hug your colleagues and dash home for a well-earned rest. The next day in the office you give the feedback a cursory glance, tell the best speaker that they were indeed the best speaker and quickly move on to the next project.
But are you missing a trick? Deep down you know you probably are. Great events spark creativity, inspire speakers and provoke new ideas. Your delegates’ conversations hold a rich source of insight that can inform content strategy and business development as well as future events.
With a little planning, you can extend the value and reach of your event, even after the delegates are back at their desks, and connect with a much wider audience than the physical attendees. Think of the event as a catalyst for ideas to generate content that will create engagement and fuel conversations beyond the scope of the event itself.
Here are just a few ideas:
Even if you're not videoing a session, ask the sound crew to plug a USB stick into the sound console to record each session in every room. The host will introduce the session and you can use the agenda to identify the timestamp for each. With appropriate permissions if the speakers are external - you can use popular sessions as source material for blogs or other longer form content such as guides or ebooks. In particular, listen out for the Q&A, or the little elements that stray from the agenda – all captured, and all ready to feed your content plan with original ideas.
Using your own team to gather informal and anecdotal feedback is perfect for capturing the “buzz” and atmosphere of an event. Only by attending in person can you really gauge what delegates are loving, and which speaker is hitting just the right note. Listening to Q&As and joining the chat during breakout sessions are all great ways of gathering this type of feedback.
Use video to record “vox pops” or short interviews on hot topics with delegates at the event. These can capture the moment with fresh reactions and enthusiasm, and even be used as the basis for a post-event roundup to convey the substance as well as the style of the event. If possible, line up your interviewees beforehand, prime them with 2 or 3 questions and create a video that captures a variety of viewpoints from subject matter experts on key topics or questions.
Encouraging the use of hashtags and Twitter handles and participation in LinkedIn or Facebook groups provides another information stream that can be harnessed. Your social media team is ideally placed to stimulate and capture feedback - polls, quick questions, speaker video blogs and Facebook Live sessions are all great ways to drive interaction with delegates, followers and to open up other audiences.
The type of insight you have gained will dictate how you choose to use this information – from a marketing perspective this could mean populating your content calendar with fresh blog ideas, creating new assets, or informing planning for the next event.
As a minimum you should drip feed the audience who attended, and those who couldn’t make it, with follow up content and insights relevant to their interest areas.
Don’t forget that your new community’s ongoing input will continue to provide you with a rich source of inspiration, so keep capturing that feedback!