Take the digital stage

Features
Take the digital stage

There are more ways to exploit your event content than ever, but how can you tell if it is being picked up and consumed

Making the most of your event’s content is easier than ever, thanks to the range of digital tools at our disposal. It is also a sure-fire way to reinforce your congress’ brand and entice potential visitors by showing them what they’ll miss if they don’t sign up for the next edition.

Creating the right digital strategy for exploiting your content is dependent on more than simply uploading content to a website. Used correctly, with prudent measurement and analysis, it can also tell you a great deal about the digital content needs of your potential delegates.

Today’s congress participants, both on and off-stage, produce content across a variety of media platforms, essentially mining your event and where possible providing what they extract with exposure elsewhere. People share slides, photos, interviews, short-form social media and, of course, videos. Lots of videos.

For example people stream live video from sessions through YouTube, Meerkat or Periscope TV, a tool owned by another well-known social media exchange platform: Twitter.

Pleasingly illustrated blogs on your website and features pushed out through social media tools such as SlideShare, or hosted on Facebook and LinkedIn are a good way of generating noise, but it is important to try and keep people on your site.

Collect, measure and analyse

Once the content has been collected and distributed online, it is important to find out how it is being consumed. This is where the free-to-use tool Google Analytics can do a lot for you, helping you to visualise all of the data.

David Haas of Freeman Seattle, speaking at PCMA’s Convening Leaders event in Vancouver earlier this year, made the point that analysing online behaviour is a good way to plan the optimisation of your digital content. Working with one of his clients, he noticed the average time a person spent on the show’s website was 38 seconds. Clearly something was amiss.

“So we started to delve deeper, we looked at where this traffic was coming from and found the vast majority was probably coming from mobile devices,” he said.

“So the first thing we found was that this client’s site was not ‘responsive’, a buzz-word that means user-friendly. This site rendered horribly on small screens, so we had to fix that immediately. That was the first problem to overcome.”

Haas points to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test as a tool for analysing and optimising digital output.

“You’re going to want to test all your web properties and make sure they are Google-friendly,” he says. “Google will do this for you. It’s a free service: you type in the URL and Google will give you all kinds of pointers on how you can improve your site.”

In the case of Haas’s client, the registration page itself was a significant problem. “People were getting to the page, and they were bailing because they couldn’t really do anything from their mobile device. Lord knows how many people we missed because they dropped,” he observes.

Eventually you will arrive at the stage where you’ve got to decide what to do with the data you’ve acquired on your digital content.

“You’ve spent weeks collecting data, building a strategy,  executing that, and when you get to the end you’re going to want to know if you won,” explained Reed Exhibitions’ Adam O’Hara, who shared the stage with Haas.

“Some executive is going to say  ‘did it work’ and you’re going to say ‘yes of course it did’. And they’re going to say ‘show me’.”

As Haas points out, developing that end game, those reasonable goals, is really important. It’s important because supporters can turn to detractors.

Building digital platforms for your content is about not just execution, but extrapolation.

Conference & Meetings World is published for the international conference and meetings industry. It tackles the issues facing organisers of international events. The editorial is independent, fresh and news driven, with a global reach.