Event Planners, What Will You Never Say?

Sue Pelletier crafted a light-hearted list of 5 Things You’ll Never Hear a Meeting Planner Say, featured in a recent MeetingsNet Extra newsletter. To recap:

  • Let’s just wing it.
  • Lists? Who needs lists?
  • Travel is so glamorous.
  • I love food and beverage minimums!
  • Don’t sweat the small (meetings-related) stuff.

Pelletier added a few items from feedback she received through social media, and a commenter added even more. Take a look. Can you relate?

What will you never say as an association event planner? Given the niche events you plan, your list may be more association-specific. What words have never crossed your lips? Inexpensive A/V equipment? Easy-going speaker? Timely handout collection?

One phrase we’d like to strike from you list of things you’ll never say is “hassle-free event content management.” The new EventCMS suite of services can make it a reality. Work with Omnipress and you can use just one vendor for event websites, mobile event apps, and print. Last-minute changes won’t make the list of things you’ll never say, unfortunately, but at least they become easier when you can update one source and call it done.

We’d love to hear what you’ll never say in your job as an event planner. If you learn more about the EventCMS and find out how much simpler event content management can be, maybe “Content delivery was pretty easy this year!“ will be something you can actually say without a smirk. Wouldn’t that be nice?

3 Requirements for Delivering Quality Association Content to Members

It is the end of 2012, and just as every year, there are thousands of “Top 10” posts: “Top 10 Trends of 2012,” “Top 10 Events of 2012,” “Top 10 Top 10 Lists;” it’s exhausting. I call them “Top 10” posts, but as we all know, they range from a list of five to sometimes hundreds (who would ever spend that much time going through a list that big is beyond me) of usually meaningless bits of information.

However, this year I came across a Top 10 list that really got me thinking. It was titled “Top 10 Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Posts of 2012,” and it highlighted a list of the website’s most viewed posts of the year. What was brought to my attention is something I try to tell our employees and clients as much as possible; if you want to write content that gets a lot of views, you must do three things (Yes, I’m sorry, another list.)

3 Ways to Increase Association Content Views

  1. Be Concise. There is in fact a reason why writers, bloggers and blabbers use lists so often. It’s because they are concise and get to the point. People are interested in their chosen topic, and they want the information in a tidy, little package. Do the same for your members and attendees; wrap that present of information up nice and neat for them. Some call this spoon feeding them information, but no matter what you call it, just make it easy to take in.
  2. Be Interesting. When you are writing a story, a lesson, even a tidbit of cool information, the thing that gets it noticed the most is making it interesting. Be unique, and write about a topic no one has heard before, or maybe choose an old topic and take a different approach than the norm.
  3. Be Relevant. As unique and interesting as you can be, the topic and information still has to be relevant to your members and attendees. Writing about the “Top 10 Things Your Dog Did in 2012” may be interesting to some, but it isn’t relevant to your organization’s goals or to what members or attendees would like to learn.

What else do you do to make sure you are delivering quality association content to your members?

5 Ways to Make Pinterest Work for Your Association

Is your association ignoring Pinterest in hopes that its popularity falls stagnant like Myspace or iTunes Ping?

If you’re looking to grow your association’s membership and promote your valuable educational content, avoiding Pinterest could be a big mistake.

I recently saw this great infographic called “Pin It to Win It” that does a great job of breaking down Pinterest for marketers. Here’s what I learned.

Defining Your Target Market

Before deciding to add Pinterest to the list of your association’s social media sites, it’s important to determine if their typical users align with your target market.

Here are a few facts about typical Pinterest users:

  • 87% of Pinterest users are female.
  • The most popular age range is 35-44 (29%), followed by ages 25-34 (27%).
  • The average income of users is between $25,000-$49,999 (37%), followed by $50,000-$74,999 (33%).

If this profile sounds like the members your association is trying to attract, then it’s time to fit Pinterest into your social media strategy.

5 Tips for Targeting the Right Audience on Pinterest

  1. Research your target market. How are the members you want to attract using Pinterest? What categories are they interested in? What content are they pinning? You want to make sure your association is posting relevant content your potential members will find and be interested in.
  2. Utilize the “Pin It” button. Your social media widgets should already be front and center on your association website or digital publishing platform. Simply add the “Pin It” button so users know your association is active on Pinterest, too.
  3. Make your content “pin-able.” Since Pinterest embraces the use of visual content, you should audit the images on your association’s website. Are there images on every page of content? Try to pin each page of content on your website. If an image isn’t available, users will not be able to pin content onto their boards.
  4. Don’t use Pinterest solely for self-promotion. Yes, your ultimate goal may be to expand your brand and increase membership, but Pinterest users don’t necessarily want to be “sold to.” Post content they will find valuable such as past conference proceedings, publications and other content you house in your digital publishing platform. Think of Pinterest as another way to promote your content marketing efforts.
  5. Learn from other associations on Pinterest. Do a search for associations on Pinterest. Who is showing up? How are they ensuring they’re found in searches? What boards have they created that have gained a significant number of followers? Apply some of what seems to be working for other organizations.

How have you seen other associations use Pinterest to attract more members? Give your input in the comments section below!

3 Steps to Making Your Content Easily Searchable Online

As discussed in our recent article, “Why Does Online Association Content Require a Search Tool?,” having a robust, full-text search engine that is intuitive and easy-to-use is the key to a successful digital publishing platform.

“Members and users will return to your publishing platform again and again if they are able to search your content quickly and easily, and, more important, find what they are looking for.”

So, how exactly do you begin to organize your content to ensure it is intuitive for your members to find online?

Checklist – Developing a Full-Text Search Engine for Association Content

Step 1: Decide how you want to organize your content.

Examples:

  • Table of Contents
  • Author Index
  • Subject or Track
  • Conference
  • Year
  • Type (presentation, paper, video, etc.)

Step 2: Create a list of the fields (metadata filters) to include in your Search tool. These are the fields your users will select as filters to find relevant content more quickly.

Examples:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Topic
  • Keywords
  • Publisher
  • Conference
  • Year of conference/publication
  • Type of document

Step 3: Determine your Search tool’s features, layout and capabilities.

Examples:

  • Simple Search and Advanced Search options
  • Location – on left navigation bar, pop-up screen, separate screen
  • Placement, color, size and prominence of Search button

Learn more here: Guide to Making Online Content Searchable

Or, simply click the green download button below.

Why Does Online Association Content Require a Search Tool?

Do you have large works of association content housed on office shelves or saved digitally in files inaccessible to your members?

With the growth of content marketing and Knowledge Centers, or digital publishing platforms, associations are starting to use this valuable content as a resource to their members.

But to make online content useful, you need to develop a powerful search tool for your users.

  • Searching Content Needs to Be Intuitive.
    Digital publishing platforms can hold a lot of useful content. Unfortunately, making that content available via PDF or Microsoft Word files online isn’t as efficient as it is in print. Users need to intuitively be able to find the specific content most important to them.
  • Quick Search Results is Essential
    Individuals consume content differently online than they do in print. Members want to find exactly what they are looking for quickly. Having an advanced search tool on your content website will lead them to exactly what they’re looking for.

Searchability is Key

Searchability is the key to the success when posting association content online. Members and users will return to your publishing platform again and again if they are able to search your content quickly and easily, and, more important, find what they are looking for.

What kind of online search tool are you providing your members so they find content quickly and intuitively? Let us know on Twitter: #omnipress

How to Deliver Association Content Elements

One of my favorite things about content marketing is it has absolutely nothing to do with Chemistry.

At least that’s what I thought until I read Andy Crestodina’s article entitled, “Content Chemistry: The Periodic Table of Content.”

Apparently, content and chemistry have a lot more in common than I thought.

The Periodic Table of Content

Andy Crestodina tells us, “Content is made up of pieces. And pieces can be broken down into smaller pieces or combined into larger pieces, just like the elements on the Periodic Table.”

As an association, you naturally have many of these content elements such as Pp (Presentations), Pdf (PDFs), Bk (Books) and maybe even Eb (eBooks).

But your valuable association content doesn’t belong in a metaphoric Periodic Table. So where do you store all of the elements that make up your association?

Delivering Your Association’s Content Elements

Digital publishing platforms house all your association’s content elements, and it gives your members ONE place to find everything they’re looking for.

What does an online library look like?

Check out the Transportation Research Board’s Knowledge Center. It has everything from indexed content, to advanced search. The very best part is every page is search engine optimized, making the association find-able and discoverable on the web.

online publishing platform

3 Content Marketing Lessons Associations Should Learn From The Hunger Games

Have you heard about that movie,
The Hunger Games
?

Judging by the grossed $68.2 million on opening day alone,
I’m guessing you have.

But, I’m also willing to bet you heard about the movie long before it hit theaters either on Facebook or Twitter. The Hunger Games took on social media by storm!

But what made Lionsgate’s marketing such a success (on such a small budget nonetheless)?

Social Media Marketing with a Content Strategy

Most major film studios follow the same approach to social media where they use inexpensive content (i.e. a still photo of a gorgeous actress), post it on Facebook and Twitter, and rely on a viral marketing strategy where fans get excited, and amplify the buzz by liking and retweeting.

So what was different about Lionsgate’s social media marketing approach with The Hunger Games?

Lionsgate actually created valuable content that went far beyond a photo or video clip. For example, they created an interactive tour of the Capitol where fans were able to register as citizens by connecting to their Facebook or Twitter accounts and providing their email addresses. Once a citizen, fans can gain access to tour different areas of the Capitol as seen in the movie.

Lionsgate didn’t just create another movie advertisement; they created an interactive experience sparking fan engagement before and after they watched the movie in packed theaters. They also didn’t rely on viral marketing. They clearly planned out how they were going to promote their content across multiple social media platforms.

The Bonus: Lionsgate was operating on a promotion budget HALF the normal block buster movie.

What Associations Can Learn About Content From The Hunger Games

Social media marketing is very powerful in combination with a solid content strategy.

You shouldn’t need to create a social buzz for your content. Your content should create a social buzz for you. Here’s how:

  1. Create Engaging Content. Of course it’s a good idea to look at what other associations are doing with their content, but don’t be afraid to take it one step farther. For example, if you want to create a webinar series for members, try incorporating live polling or interactive gaming to keep them engaged. Also, when creating content, always consider what will keep members engaged before and after the content as well. For the webinar example, gain momentum ahead of time with social media sites, and make sure your recorded webinars are made available to share with friends after the series has ended.
  2. Allow Access and Make Your Association Found. Don’t be afraid to share content with non-members to entice them to join your association. Stake out where your members are hanging out… are they on Twitter? LinkedIn? That’s where you should be promoting your content because where there are members you will find your future members. Marketing across several social media platforms, as seen in the tweet above (where you promote access to exclusive video content on Twitter for playing a game on Facebook), also helps extend your association’s reach.
  3. Be a Baller on a Budget. Be conscious of your budget. Creativity doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money. As an association, you naturally have tons of archived content from annual meetings and publications, so all you need to do is repurpose it in a fun way for your members and non-members.

What are some creative ways you are engaging members with content?

Tell us about it on Twitter: #omnipress

Association Update: Now 1 in 5 American Adults Own a Tablet

Whether you like it or not, your association’s publications are trickier to convert into an eBook format than John Grisham’s latest novel. Complex tables, graphics and mathematical formulas can often be a bit of a challenge in the conversion process.

But, that is no excuse for your association to avoid this “whole eBook trend.”

… eBooks are here to stay!

3 Reasons eBooks are Here to Stay

  1. eBooks are being offered in libraries .
    In a recent article on NorthJersey.com, it was stated, “With the rise in popularity of e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad and Nook from Barnes & Noble, local libraries are seeing a major increase in the demand for e-books, but there’s not enough of a supply of them.” With demand increasing, local libraries are now putting more focus on their digital collections. But, the pressure for eBooks will not just be on local libraries, if you’re association isn’t feeling the heat yet, it will soon.
  2. Tablet owners nearly doubled over the 2012 holiday season.
    In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the number of tablet owners nearly doubled after the 2012 holiday season. Now 1 in 5 (19%) of American Adults own a tablet. As tablet sales increase, so will the number of requests for your association’s educational publications and conference proceedings to be offered in eBook format.
  3. eReader technology is only getting better.
    In the same study by The Pew Research Center, while they didn’t mention the most popular tablet, they did attribute the surge in tablet sales on the release of the new Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook tablet. According to a recent article on CNET, Amazon has been reluctant to give away sales figures, but analysts have estimated Amazon shipped nearly 4 million Kindle Fires during the fourth quarter of 2011.

Association Content Delivery is Critical

Your association’s educational content is what drives growth and keeps you relevant to your members. Providing that valuable content in the format your members want is just as critical as the content itself.

If you aren’t providing your eReading members your educational publications and other association content in an eBook format, someone else will.

Where do eBooks fit in your content strategy for 2012?

 

BTW – We’ve created “The Omnipress Guide to Association eBooks” to help our customers understand the conversion and distribution processes. You can check it out in the Customer Tools section of our website.

 

Digital Publishing Platforms | Conference Handouts Website or Online Archive?

Looking for a new, affordable way to put conference proceedings, speaker presentations or session handouts online for your next annual meeting?

Or maybe your association is looking for a way to create an entire eLibrary of scholarly publications and technical conference papers from the past 10, 20 or 30+ years?

Most associations are at some stage of creating an online content strategy. Some associations are just looking for a way to quickly place some handouts online, while others are looking for a way to put an entire library of association knowledge online for members and non-members alike to easily find and search.

2 Ways Associations Create Digital Publishing Platforms

Many associations are now using digital publishing platforms for their annual meeting materials and/or full library of educational publications.

Here are two ways you can use a digital publishing platform:

  1. Conference Handout Website: Some associations are using a simplified digital publishing platform to host their symposium materials. It’s a low-cost way to put session handouts, speaker presentations and conference proceedings online for an annual meeting. Websites are all branded, optimized for search engines and have full text and advanced search options so attendees can find the handouts they’re looking for quickly.
  2. Digital Library of Scholarly Content: A full-fledged digital publishing platform hosts and organizes years of conference proceedings and scholarly publications in one centralized hub (we’re talking thousands of documents). This eLibrary has all the benefits of the simple conference handout website, but offers more access management and more customized and advanced features to meet specific objectives.

It’s Not a Learning Management System

It’s important to remember that a digital publishing platform is not a Learning Management System (LMS). Digital publishing platforms (whether they are simple conference websites or full-blown archives of digital content) are discoverable by major search engines, host various types of content from journals to webinars and have advanced search options within the site.

Still confused? Check out more of the differences between a Digital Publishing Platform and LMS.

The Evolution of Conference Materials

Stop printing conference materials…no, wait. Maybe put them online and just offer stapled handouts. Here’s an idea: Record every breakout session and sell them to members after the meeting – Too risky!

Video didn’t kill radio. It complemented it. The web (and social web) haven’t killed print, but the format in which you provide attendees their educational materials (technical papers, abstracts, session handouts, etc.) has become more complex than ever. Go too far in one direction and you risk irritating older members and weakening your on-site education. Don’t evolve your association to the web and you look like a dinosaur.

Here’s how we’ve seen the educational materials (or learning tools) evolve since the 80s.

Are you keeping up with the Association-Jones’?

1980s | Print, Print, Print!

Conference materials were primarily in the form of a bound printed book or binder. Sometimes these were multi-volume technical papers or just long abstracts. The content was rich, but proceedings materials were bulky and inconsistently formatted.

1990s | Introducing Floppy Disks and CD-ROMs

Much like the 1980s, printed conference materials were still in heavy production with the growing popularity of three-ring conference binders. Except now, technology kicked in with 3.5 inch floppy disks and PDF files. Yes, even the digital versions were clunky, but they were still “digital.” They offered search capabilities across content, cost savings (especially for high page count, high quantity materials) and less bulk for attendees.

Scanning and OCRing technical papers were the primary ways to turn paper into digital. Using high-speed scanners and conversion software, search-ability was 95%. As we approached 2000, MS Office documents were becoming a major means of supplying content, and converting from Word to PDF was very common.

In the mid-1990s, conference CD-ROMs were introduced. Amen! With both print and digital delivery solutions, conference organizers were unsure of which to provide attendees, so for many years, attendees frequently received both. These digital offerings had a simple menu and a few options to navigate to technical papers. In addition, the powerful Adobe search provided users a fast way to find content.

2000s | Growing Online Popularity

In the late 1990s into 2005, conference CDs were the hot commodity. Some groups started putting all their technical papers and speaker presentations on CD-ROM, and only printed a program book for conferences. Some associations took to the CD for creating multi-year archives of conference materials dating back 5 to even 20 years.

Putting conference handouts online was a passion for meeting industry professionals, but the reality was resistant attendees and a lack of bandwidth and Wi-Fi connectivity at events.

In 2003, PowerPoint presentations began to erode the integrity of the written paper. Regarding educational meeting content, bullets and slides versus written-out paragraphs weakened the integrity of the conference giveaway. A slideshow without the talk wasn’t as valuable. The good news was authors were supplying digital files, and content had more color, depth and smaller file sizes, (sometimes) making it good for the faster web.

By 2006, large bound content was printed far less, and customized seminar and course content continued to be printed.

Around 2007, flash drives entered the market, competing against CD-ROMs. Even though they were more expensive, flash drives were “new and cool” and reusable to attendees, which added value and increased sponsorship opportunities. Regardless, everyone wanted to “go green,” and attendees began to see paperless conference themes with recycled paper and conference content on CD-ROMs and flash drives, with only a printed program or conference learning journal for note-taking.

2010-Present | Conference Handouts in Print, Digital and Online

Today, we’re still seeing a mix of content delivery, from print to digital to online. Associations have more of a grasp on a content strategy. The buzz of a green paperless meeting is turning into offering what makes the right sense at the right cost. Often, attendees will be offered content delivery choices upon registration. Some associations are leveraging social media websites like Twitter and LinkedIn or Online Event Communities for attendees to engage with each other and associations’ educational content.

More associations are now looking at different delivery methods in order to give conference attendees and members access to educational content anywhere, anytime and anyhow.

Online Conference Libraries, aka online archives of conference handouts and proceedings, are on the rise. Associations are quickly figuring out that putting their content in these centralized hubs allows their association to be discovered by search engines like Google in the abyss of the world wide web. The sites’ easy search tools allow users to find the exact conference materials they’re looking for, whether the annual conference was five years ago or two days ago. What’s more is associations can often charge for access to content or limit access to conference attendees or members.

But conference attendees don’t just want online access to conference handouts and proceedings. They want access on their iPads, Kindles and smartphones, as well. Trying to read PDF files is great on a desktop computer, but it doesn’t work so well on smaller reading devices like your iPhone. As a result, conference materials are starting to be produced in mobile-friendly eBook format. Converting conference content into ePub or Mobi doesn’t just make it easier for attendees to read your conference program—it allows them to change the font size, highlight and personalize it for their own unique reading experience.

Life just isn’t so simple anymore when the number of content delivery alternatives continues to increase.

This may not be your exact timeline, but it’s an aggregate. Where does your organization fit in? What’s going to be next?

Is Your Association Attracting Generation Y Membership?

In the words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin’.”

I’m not sure if Bob Dylan was intending for his 1964 hit to reference associations, but it’s fitting, isn’t it?

Recently, Steve Manicor and Tracy Gundert sat amongst other association professionals at the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives (WSAE) meeting where a hot topic was the changing demographic in associations. Networking and educational content were big talking points, and here I’ve mixed in my Generation Y perspective.

Associations are Facing a Shift in Demographics

If we look at associations today, it’s becoming clearer that the median age of members is continuing to rise. In order for associations to continue to grow, it’s important to start looking at ways to attract the next generation.

The problem with attracting Generation Y is that we are of a different breed. As a “Gen Y-er,” I can attest I need more than a face-to-face annual meeting with keynote speakers and a printed manual to join your association.

As you know, networking and educational content remain critical to attracting new members, but technology and the generation gap have complicated things.

Networking Isn’t Just Face-to-Face Anymore

Are you providing your members with a place to network year-round? Are you leveraging your association on Twitter and other social media sites?

Networking remains an important factor in gaining new members, but the way we network has evolved greatly. Networking isn’t just face-to-face anymore, and Generation Y loves to “Facebook stalk.” Before we meet new people face-to-face, we like to check them out on social media and learn about their interests. Whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or a conference website, it’s important for associations to provide a place for their members to engage, network and, of course, “Facebook stalk.”

Face-to-Face Meetings Have Evolved, Too

Are your annual meetings educational and fun?

If you’re still holding your annual meeting in outdated session rooms of older convention halls with the buzzing fluorescent lights, metal chairs and one-way speaker communication, you’re risking your members being uncomfortable, bored and not engaged. The associations attracting Generation Y members are leveraging breakout sessions, themed events, social gaming and different presentation formats such as pecha kucha, fish bowls and so forth. It’s about the attendee experience.

How Findable is Your Educational Content?

How are you leveraging your association content to attract new members? How are you making sure they are finding your content on the internet? How are you making your content more usable and shareable?

Access is critical! A printed conference program is no longer sufficient. To keep Generation X and Y happy, you now need a printed program, a conference flash drive chock full of speaker presentations, session handouts available online before, during and after the meeting (don’t forget about Wi-Fi and mobile-friendly access!) AND an eBook. (Ok, so you may not need ALL of these, but member expectations are rising in regards to what they are getting for their money.)

Consulting your crystal ball won’t help. Understanding how members and attendees want to receive your association’s educational content is not a guessing game. The key is to ask members what they want, provide options and be multifaceted.

Generation Y Learned Differently

We aren’t trying to be a pain in your association – This is how Generation Y learned!

In college, we learned through two-way discussion sessions and watched streaming presentations. We bought printed course books and study guides, but we also were required to read scholarly journals online (that we didn’t have to search for far and wide on the internet).

We network online. We spend more time on social media websites networking than we’d like to admit. We use Facebook and LinkedIn to build relationships and share information just to stay connected. If we know we’re going to meet someone new, we like to connect with them ahead of time online.

And guess what – My Generation X boss feels the same way.

So while you listen to some Bob Dylan, talk to us on Twitter!
How is your association attracting new Generation Y membership? #omnipress

What’s a Digital Publishing Platform to Your Association Content?

What do you call the website containing all your educational content – the technical papers, recordings, presentations, handouts, and publications? (This is no joke. There’s no punch line!)

Many associations simply refer to this as “putting conference materials online” or “online handouts.” Sure that’s what you’re doing, but what if you had a catchy, memorable name you could market and build your brand on?

What Associations Call “Putting Content Online”

  • eLibrary
  • Library of Knowledge
  • Knowledge Community – (For public facing communities)
  • Proceedings Central
  • Central Repository
  • Online Destination Site
  • Resource Center
  • Digital Library
  • Body of Knowledge
  • (Name of Org) Central
  • Electronic Resource Library
  • Knowledge Library

We call it a Digital Publishing Platform,or eLibrary (or Knowledge Center).

Tomato- tomahto, right?

Sharing your educational content to members and using it to attract new members can be the lifeblood of your association. That’s the most important part.

What’s your “digital publishing platform”?