Make the most of your virtual conference content by converting your video into dozens of content marketing assets to grow and engage your audience.
Did your company’s grand plans for a huge conference complete with an 80’s dance party get scuttled due to coronavirus concerns?
You might need to save the leg warmers and Aqua Net for next year. As with nearly all other large events in 2020, you’ve likely had to quickly transition your plans from a live event to a livestreamed virtual conference. One virtual event platform, 6Connex, said that business was up more than 1,000% as of May, with over 52,000 virtual events scheduled since the start of COVID-19.
Hosting a cocktail hour over Zoom may not feel quite the same as bellying up to a raucous bar for a Cyndi Lauper singalong, but for many companies, virtual conferences provide far more value in terms of audience reach for much lower production costs than hosting a live event—and they can provide you with thousands of hours of material that you can repurpose into many formats all year long to continually engage with your audience.
While so much of the action at live events happens in between sessions, everything is captured online in a virtual conference. And that makes it an ideal opportunity for content marketers to capitalize on all that content and use it to create a content strategy that will help you engage with your prospects across all the formats and platforms they engage with.
Here are some tips on building an innovative strategy to leverage virtual conferences to create compelling content that helps you tell your brand story:
The benefit of a virtual conference is there’s no excuse for not having high quality video and audio of all your speakers and panelists, while you might only budget for the expense of video production for your keynotes at a live conference. That means you have countless opportunities to tap into your speakers’ wisdom and look for ways to repurpose their words. To do this efficiently, use a transcription tool or service to transcribe all of your video content, with timestamps included so that you know where to find pivotal moments that you’ll want to return to again.
Your company may or may not already have a defined content strategy. If so, you can use your core messaging to tease out the content from the conference that best resonates with that—if not, it’s a good opportunity to focus on identifying the key themes and messaging that came out of the conference sessions. Most likely, you’ll already have a strong sense of what resonated with you and your attendees based on your experience participating in the conference and reviewing feedback from your attendees. What were they most engaged with? What did they ask questions about or want more of? What were some key trends that you saw in a variety of the speakers’ sessions? Ask stakeholders at your company what they found most compelling from the sessions and use their feedback to help prioritize your content themes.
In many cases, themes are built into the conference agenda, but you’ll likely also discover parallels between diverse speakers’ views from reviewing the content after the fact. You can use your transcriptions to search for relevant keywords and see where they pop up, then highlight content that connects with each other in some way. The array of material from the conference should provide an ideal opportunity to weave disparate experiences together into a cohesive whole.
Beyond looking at the speech transcripts themselves, you can also look through chat transcripts from each session to see what insightful comments your attendees made, and highlight the ones you’d like to spotlight in your content. This is a great opportunity to get a better understanding of your audience, and to turn your customers themselves into thought leaders for your brand.
At this point, the content can be as messy as you want it to be: A Google Doc that incorporates quotes and notes from various sessions that thematically relate should be just fine. Share your collection of quotes with your team and work together on coming up with a core group of 5-10 cohesive themes that you can use to spin off many pieces of content across a variety of formats.
Next, determine what your overall goals are. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Then you’ll want to pair frequent blog content with a robust social media schedule to help you maximize your reach. Want to increase engagement? Look for ways to repurpose your existing video content into shorter segments and edited montages. Want to generate more leads? Gated content like ebooks and white papers can be valuable for this. Often, you’ll have multiple goals, so a broad mix of assets may make sense, too.
To determine your cadence, think about what resources you have available to help with the content production. Do you have an in-house editorial and design team on the ready, or will you be relying on freelancers or an agency? If you’re considering an external partner, make sure you pick one that will collaborate with you in the way that you need them to—some agencies insist on taking full ownership of the process, while smaller ones are more likely to participate in a more open partnership with you and your team.
When building your editorial calendar template, you can start simple: Pick one of the themes you’ve identified, and pair it with an asset type (blog, ebook, video, etc.). Plot out a monthly schedule for roughly how many of each type of themed asset your team plans to produce, and identify the metrics you’ll use for measuring its success (impressions, engagement, shares, etc.).
Now, you’re ready to get into the meat of things. Look at your notes and quotes and start building out concepts for the types of content you’ll create, grouping them by theme and asset type. You may find that speeches from your company leadership can be repurposed directly into thought leadership blog posts and ebooks, using their own bylines.
External experts’ quotes can be used as a springboard for diving into ideas they covered more deeply—this is a good opportunity to look at attendees’ questions and comments and elaborate on those.
You might also build a round-up blog post, or even a slideshow, that collects various speakers’ and attendees’ thoughts organized around one of your themes.
Look at concepts for repurposing your video content itself, too: You can build out ideas for spotlighting individual segments, or splice together several different clips, incorporating voice-over or additional introductory content if desired.
Don’t forget about “snackable” social media content, too: Look for speakers’ quotes that could serve as motivational quotes or mantras, and create graphics that incorporate a still frame of the speaker or an animated drawing, so that your followers can share them on their social media streams.
Finally, it’s time to start building out your content based on your editorial calendar. Your internal team and/or agency or freelancers should be able to easily build out your assets based on the content outlines you’ve developed, complete with relevant notes, sections of transcripts, and presentation slides. In some cases, it may make sense to go deeper into a topic than the speaker originally covered—in this case, it might make sense to have a follow-up call with that speaker, so you can add additional value to the content that you can showcase to attendees.
When developing content, make sure that you have a streamlined and clear-cut process for managing the review process. At Eucalypt Media, we use a project management system to scope out all of the steps in each project, including who’s the responsible party for each step and when each stage will be completed. Include your writers, editors, graphic designers, and project stakeholders in the process, delineating when each member is responsible for their steps. If you’re working with an agency, they may handle much of this process on their side; work with them to determine at which points it makes sense for your team to step in and provide feedback.
Finally, make sure you have a solid distribution plan for your content to reach your virtual conference attendees and beyond. You can start by targeting your existing contact list from the conference and past clients with an email newsletter that shares your recent content. Share the content on your social channels, making sure to tag the influencers and experts that you’ve quoted or mentioned so that they’ll be sure to re-share it to their own audiences. Depending on the content type, it might also be worth putting some paid spending behind it to expand to new audiences on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn.
Your virtual conference content can serve as a goldmine of thought leadership for your organization. By digging into your video sessions and transcripts, you can easily generate the brilliant ideas your marketing team needs to keep your audience captivated until it’s finally time to hit the road again.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than 16 years.
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