Content Marketing For Associations

 

Article Contents:

 

Developing a plan to promote your event is a critical part of conference planning. Marketing can be expensive and time-consuming, and consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising. This is where content marketing comes into play.

Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and engage a target audience. This method goes hand-in-hand with your goal as an association: to educate industry professionals and association members.

Luckily, as an event planner, you have a secret weapon: you sit on a goldmine of valuable information. This allows you to:

  • Connect with professionals looking for industry-specific information
  • Remind members of the value your association provides year-round
  • Build awareness of your conference and other events
  • Extend the life of the materials you work hard to collect

These shiny knowledge-nuggets are not something you have to go mining for; they are already at your fingertips.

Why Content Marketing Works for Associations

Content marketing has become one of the most popular ways for organizations to promote themselves online. Associations have some unique advantages when it comes to content marketing:

  • You have existing material. The biggest barrier to content marketing is creating new material. Your existing library of content gives you a head start.
  • Your review process provides authority. You can be confident that your peer-reviewed materials are insightful. This can be especially handy if you are not a subject matter expert.
  • You have access to the latest thinking. Your conference is an industry leader in providing timely, relevant information, allowing you to continue your role as a thought leader throughout the year.
  • You get feedback from the industry. Your conference feedback can provide insight into which topics are most in-demand. Think of this as “focus group” input on the material in your collection.

Reusing your existing content allows you to give your content a second life and extend its use beyond your conference. Using actual event content gives potential attendees a glimpse of the kinds of material at your conference so they can see for themselves why yours is a “can’t miss” event.

Develop a Content Marketing Plan

The first step in launching a content marketing campaign is assessing your existing materials. Determine what kind of content you have available and where it will be located. Your association’s website may seem like a good idea at first, but as time goes on, content can get lost or buried as the site gets updated. It’s best to create a standalone digital conference library. This will give visitors an idea of the broad range of information they can rely on your conference for.

It’s also important to determine a schedule that you will be able to follow. Be realistic. Will you be able to consistently post two pieces of content each week? Or is one piece of content every two weeks more likely? The rate that you choose is less important than your ability to stay on schedule. Readers stay engaged with a blog or social media profile that is updated on a regular basis.

Now that you’ve identified the most relevant materials and decided on how much time you can devote to sharing content online, you’ll need to consider the best ways your association can reach its followers. How can you make your content clickable? One way to effectively grab your readers’ attention is by using images.

Create Images for Social Media

The web is becoming an increasingly visual medium. Adding visual elements to your posts is one of the most effective ways you can increase the impact of your messaging. In fact, posts that include images see 650% more engagement than posts with just text alone.

Here are three conference-specific scenarios where visuals would be an effective way to promote your event. For each scenario, there is an example of an online tool well-suited for creating attention-grabbing artwork with minimal effort.

Scenario #1 – Promote a session by a prominent speaker

The speakers at your conference are a major factor in drawing in attendees each year, so it should be no surprise that speakers make for effective promotional content.

Imagine you’ve just finished your speaker selection process and are ready to announce the keynote speaker. You could certainly type out a post listing their names and the topics they will be discussing (Borrrrrr-ingggg!). A much more engaging approach is to present the same information with a visual design to it.

The Tool #1: Pikiz

Pikiz is an image creator that is perfect for creating simple images that include text. Upload your own background image or choose from the images they have available. Then, double-click on the text box to add a customized message. Another great feature is that each social network has its own preset. This makes it super simple to post great-looking images to your favorite site.

 

Scenario #2 – Present research findings as an infographic

A presentation from last year’s conference coincides with some hot new research that is making the rounds. You know this is a great opportunity to join the conversation and promote your event. Since the presentation is available in your digital content library, it’s ready for people to see. But how do you make sure your post stands out from the crowd of others? Use the findings from the presentation and display it as an infographic!

The Tool #2: Infogr.am

Creating an infographic is a simple three-step process with infogr.am. Choose a design template, enter your data into their spreadsheet viewer and click share. That’s it! The program will create a shareable link to the social media site of your choice. You can also upload your own images or choose different fonts if you want a more customized design.

 

Scenario #3 – Call for award nominations using your own branded graphic

Part of your annual pre-event strategy is to ask for award nominations. You could do what you’ve always done: copy and paste the same text on the same social media networks and get the same results. Or, you can take it to the next level by creating a completely custom design (no designer needed)!

Tool #3: Canva

Canva is like working with a design pro that has dozens of designs ready for you to choose from (but doesn’t charge by the hour). Once you log in to Canva, you’ll see dozens of customizable templates sorted by format. Whether you are looking to create an image for social media, your blog or a poster, Canva has a file ready for you to start designing with. It’s also flexible enough to work with your existing elements. Just add your association logo, a picture of the award and text asking for nominations. You then have the option to share online or download.

 

Catch Their Eye

A well-designed image is critical in catching the attention of busy professionals, so having a visual presence online these days is essential. Presenting your existing content visually is a great way to keep your event in front of the attendees you want to attract.

Thankfully, the web is full of fast and intuitive ways to create custom graphics. With little effort, you can create designs that convey your message in an interesting and engaging way, and most importantly, in a way your audience enjoys seeing.

The next step is sharing those images and other content on platforms that will help you build and connect with your audience.

Promote Your Event on Social Media

Social media platforms are great hosts for content marketing pieces, particularly visuals. The best part about social media is that it’s not only for sharing content—it’s also great for building communities of like-minded people, just like your association! Each platform has its own strengths, so it’s important to assess these and plan content accordingly when designing a content marketing strategy. Below are a few of the most popular social media platforms to get you started.

Instagram

Another platform that’s useful for engaging members is Instagram, a photo and video-sharing social media app. Instagram is great for sharing eye-catching graphics and photos to promote your event and attract potential attendees. Users can accompany their photos with captions and hashtags, which help the posts be seen by non-followers.

Instagram is popular with your youngest members, making it the ideal platform for appealing to Millennials and Generation Z. By sharing posts on Instagram, you have a much higher chance of attracting and engaging a younger demographic to your conferences than on other platforms like Facebook. The most important aspect to Instagram is to make sure your posts are visually appealing and include appropriate hashtags to make sure they are seen.

Twitter

Twitter can be a fantastic tool for event professionals. Its design works well for promoting a conference or creating year-round awareness of your association. Being active on Twitter lets you connect with industry thought-leaders and attendees on a platform that they prefer.

Using original and industry hashtags, retweeting interesting industry sources and sharing quotes and links to your association’s content can transform your Twitter feed into a hub of relevant, valuable industry information. This way, you can keep current members engaged while attracting future members from other parts of the industry.

Twitter is also a great place for personal engagement with industry experts, your conference speakers and your members. Mention speakers in tweets; follow and retweet thought leaders; and like, retweet and reply to your follower’s tweets to create a sense of community while spreading the word about your event.

 

Snapchat

To reach younger members, try using Snapchat to promote your next conference. Snapchat is a particularly useful social media platform during your event, but can also be used before the conference to build anticipation. Snapchats stories, which last for 24 hours, allow you to share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of event set-up. Your speakers can also “take over” your stories to share some insider information about their presentations or industry topics.

A branded Geofilter can be designed specifically for your event and applied the day of the conference, so your attendees can use it when sending snapchats to their friends or story throughout the day. Not only will the Geofilter feel exclusive due to its limited availability, helping engage your attendees, but it can help spread the word about your association.

 

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most-used social media platforms across all age groups, which makes it the perfect place to provide event information and promote the sharing of your conference. Create a Facebook Page for your association where you can post conference information and other content.

You can also create a Facebook Event for your conference and invite current members, encouraging them to invite people who may be interested, as well. This is a free and easy way to spread the word and potentially reach new members through current advocates of your association.

 

Discover Your Audience’s Interests

Now you know that using conference content as a marketing tool is a great way for your audience to learn about your event and the value it provides.

But did you know that it can also be a great way for you to learn about your audience?

By analyzing the data from your content marketing posts, you can learn a number of important things about your audience. First, you can see what parts of the world your visitors come from; this can help you find speakers from those particular regions to boost attendance at your annual event. You can also identify which sites or platforms best connect you with your members, helping you tune your messages on the most critical platforms moving forward.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to identify which types of content your visitors prefer. This feedback can guide future conference planning as well as future content marketing efforts to best connect you with your audience.

Content marketing can also inform you about your own content. By recognizing what messaging is most effective with your audience, you will be better prepared for conference promotion techniques. Additionally, analytics can teach you which topics generate the most interest among your followers; consider including these topics in your next conference event.

Use the information you gain from your content marketing plan to inform future events, connect with key members and create a more successful content marketing strategy overall.

Make Your Content Work Year-Round

The whole point of content marketing is to show your followers you have value to offer with tangible pieces of content you’ve worked hard to collect. Choose the platforms that best connect with your audience and help your association achieve goals, whether that includes your website, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or one of the many others available online. Most of the content you share can be used across multiple platforms, giving you lots of opportunities to reach new people and prove the value of your event all year long.

If you’re interested in how to take your association’s content marketing strategy to the next level, download our free whitepaper, “Promote Your Event With Conference Content Marketing.”

Promote Your Training Courses With Content Marketing

 

We’ve heard from organizations that increasing enrollment in their continuing education courses can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive. Organizations sit on a goldmine of useful educational materials and resources, but might not know how to use them to their benefit.

Since getting new members to enroll in your courses is so important to your organization, you need a way to expand your reach and keep learners interested in your training courses year-round.

That’s why we’ve created a guide to help you use the educational materials you already have and share them on social media.

Our new whitepaper, “Promote Your Training Courses With Content Marketing,” offers in-depth strategies for:

  • How to transform existing educational content into shareable information
  • Which visual tools you can use to create eye-catching promotional graphics
  • How Twitter can help you build a community of learners
  • How to promote your courses as events on Facebook
  • How LinkedIn can help you expand your reach to users outside of your existing network

Using free social media tools to share your content is a great way to start using your educational materials to their full potential. If you’d like to learn how social media can help your organization engage new and existing learners, download our free whitepaper!

5 Ways to Use Video to Promote Your Conference

 

Video is quickly becoming one of the most popular mediums online. More people are watching and expecting video than ever before; in 2017, online video is expected to account for 74% of all online traffic. Videos inform viewers and can keep their attention for longer than a text post can.

Videos posted on YouTube or social media are great places to showcase highlights from your conference, present speaker information and generate excitement about your next event.

Here are five ways your organization can use video to promote your next conference:

  • Recap Video: There’s a lot going on at your events, which means there’s a lot to document! Recap videos help new or non-members understand what goes on at your events and can show that you provide a can’t-miss event. Record parts of the excitement during your conference, then compile clips into a visually interesting and informative recap video. Share the video shortly after the conference and then again as part of promotion for next year’s event to remind members of how much fun they had.
  • Announce Speakers: Announcing the speakers at your conference is a major selling point for your event and can help members make the decision to attend. Rather than writing bios for this year’s speakers, create short videos announcing each speaker and giving a preview of what their sessions will include.
  • Interview Speakers: Your conference speakers are industry experts, and attendees are interested in hearing what they have to say. To promote your upcoming event, record interviews with prominent speakers. Remember to have the speakers give an idea of what they will talk about at the conference, but don’t have them give their whole presentation.
  • Attendee Testimonials: Testimonials let you show the value your association offers members from members themselves! Record short interviews with attendees during the event asking their opinion on the conference and the organization. Combine a few of these together, and you’ve got a powerful testimonial video to use to promote the next event.
  • Session Recordings: Make arrangements to record sessions during the event so you can repurpose them online through your organization. But they also have another purpose—short segments can be used online to provide a glimpse into the conference as promotion for next year’s event. Potential attendees will love the ability to see what a session might be like before committing to attending. And, if they’re really interested in the topic, they might purchase the full proceedings, meaning more revenue for your organization!

Creating and sharing videos is easier than ever with the amount of quality equipment and software available today. Using videos to promote your conference can give members the information they need to help them decide whether to attend. Plus, they can easily share videos with friends on social media, meaning your promotion might reach new audiences. Using video to promote your conference is a great way to engage members and showcase some of the best parts of your event.

Does your association use video to promote events? What kind of video content do you create?

Use These Social Media Tips to Promote Your Event

 

One of the more surprising findings from our 2017 State of the Conference Industry report was how many associations are not re-using their conference content to promote their upcoming events. These organizations are missing a huge opportunity, so we decided to do something about it.

We created a guide to give you some ideas on how to start formulating a social media strategy for your association’s content.

Our whitepaper, “Promote Your Event with Conference Content Marketing” is a must-read if you’ve ever wondered:

  • How to transform existing content into shareable information
  • Which visual tools you can use to create graphics that pique your followers’ interests
  • How Twitter can help you maintain year-round awareness of your event
  • How to use Snapchat to engage younger members
  • How to use LinkedIn to share content with users outside of your member network

Effectively using social media is a great first step in taking advantage of your association’s existing content. If you want tips on how to re-use content on social media to promote your event and create year-round member engagement, download your free copy of the whitepaper!

Engage Younger Members by Listening to Their Solutions

 

Associations with engaged members have more success when it comes to membership renewals, word-of-mouth referrals and creating member-advocates. So it’s no surprise it is a popular topic for our customers. The annual conference has traditionally been a great way to build that engagement. When members come together into a single space to share an experience together, it generates a powerful sense of community.

What I appreciated with the post on Snapchat was that this wasn’t a case of using technology for technology’s sake. Instead, the suggestion is to try a new solution that creates a familiar outcome. As the article points out, Snapchat is how your younger members are already creating shared experiences. They are able to achieve a similar outcome as the annual conference but through a different process.

OK, enough about social media, let’s get back to the larger picture.

The key takeaway here is to make sure your new initiatives focus on achieving the correct goal. Trying to shoehorn every hot tech trend to fit your association will be a losing battle. Instead, continue to look for new solutions that solve the problems that need solving.

The best way to find new solutions is to look for input throughout your organization. Talk to members at all levels and ages from your association. When you listen to their suggestions, start by identifying the problem their recommendation solves before judging its merits.

Marketing with Conference Content: Part 4 – Promoting Your Conference with Twitter

 

Twitter is one of the most intimidating social media sites for people to start using. I’s seemingly secret language of #s and @s can easily scare off newcomers who try to use the service for the first time. (It’s such a common problem that Twitter has a glossary page to help users learn the terminology!)

Once you understand the basics, though, Twitter can be a fantastic tool for event professionals (or #eventprofs, in twitter lingo). Its design works well for promoting a conference or creating year-round awareness of your association. And, if your conference content is already available on a digital publishing platform, you are in luck! Twitter can extend the life of your content beyond your conference dates and make these assets effective year-round promotional pieces.

Being active on Twitter gives you a way to promote your conference, connect with industry thought leader and stay on top of industry news.

Here are 16 ways you can use Twitter to raise the profile of your association and conference.

Note: If you are new to Twitter, you’ll need to set up an account and get started before you can use these tips.

  • Create a hashtag for your event: This allows users to search for your event and to join in on the conversation.
  • Mention speakers from your conference: Speakers with an existing online presence can help spread the word about your event.
  • Create links to your existing content: Show the Twittersphere the kind of quality content your conference is known for.
  • Use quotes from your conference content: Pick interesting statements that your followers can retweet.
  • Encourage app downloads: Increase downloads of your app in the days leading up to the conference by including a link to the Apple Store or Google Play.
  • Promote your conference: Include details like date and location, then link to your registration form.
  • Tweet pictures from last year’s event: Keep your event top of mind by posting images from your previous events.
  • Tweet your social images: Twitter is the perfect place to showcase your infographics or other conference-promoting graphics.
  • Make announcements about attendance: Create excitement by tweeting out milestone attendance markers.
  • Promote your other online accounts: Make sure your Twitter followers know where to find you on other social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Promote updates to your website: Alert your followers about new materials that have been added to your digital publishing platform.
  • Find and follow thought leaders in your industry: Strengthen your in-person relationships by adding online connections.
  • Retweet interesting thoughts and articles from industry sources: Sharing their message with your followers may make them more likely to return the favor.
  • Search for relevant industry hashtags: Add these to your tweets, too, so people interested in your topic will see your messages.
  • Retweet news articles relevant to your industry: Make your feed the go-to source for the latest developments in your field.
  • Create a poll about a current event: Twitter lets you quickly poll your followers. Ask a question about a current event in your industry.

 

Being active on Twitter lets you connect with industry thought-leaders and attendees on a platform that they prefer. By engaging in industry-specific conversations, you can reinforce the expertise that your organization brings to the subject…all in 140 characters or less!

What are some of the other ways you have used Twitter to promote your conference? Any suggestions for creative ways to incorporate your existing conference content on the platform?

 

Interested in learning more about promoting an event with your existing conference materials?

Check out the other entries in our Marketing with Conference Content series for more ideas:

Part 1: The Event Planner’s Advantage

Part 2: 3 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd by Using Images

Part 3: How to Learn From Your Own Content [Infographic]

 

 

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!