Events are still a crucial part of our business calendars. Most people are fairly comfortable with running a typical event; you book the venue, the invitations are sent out, presentations prepared and attendees (hopefully) walk away with some value. But in the digital age, that walk away value has never been more important.
One tactic that has an impressive impact, and can differentiate your event from others, is a live blog.
Live blogs: the opportunities
We’ve previously discussed the advantages of live-streaming your event, but having a live blog presents advantages of its own:
• It can create a buzz as the event is taking place, capturing the activity that’s happening and sharing it with attendees and non-attendees.
• It can extend the reach of your event to a much broader audience.
• It allows you to add value to your clients by identifying and sharing relevant key points from sessions.
• With a live blog you can encourage, direct and showcase discussion about your event.
• It extends the life of the event beyond the actual day – it is an easily accessible record of your event.
Your audience will expect to see some digital content associated with the event. And it can help drive sales. A recent study by Virtual Edge Institute shows that 82% of online audiences said they found digital content helpful in deciding whether to attend an event in-person the following year.
In our own report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, we found that 97% of business event customers see digital content as a non-negotiable essential of an event.
What is a live blog?
A live blog differs from a ‘regular’ blog in that it is a real-time narrative of an event. It plays a critical role in the Digital Event Newsroom set-up that we create for clients to help them get the most out of their events.
Live blog success in 8 steps
1. Choosing the right platform
Platforms like CoverItLive, Livefyre, Storify and ScribbleLive create a dedicated box on your website to publish short-form and mid-form updates. The most recently updated posts automatically appear at the top.
If your website doesn’t support any of these platforms, you can continually update a regular blog post and manually input timestamps for each update.
2. Starting up
The most important part of the live blog is the introductory text – the first words that most readers will see when they click on your live blog. Keeping this text as fresh and up-to-date as possible is key.
The perspective you can give at 7:00 am for a 9:00 am event will be different from what you can provide at 7:30 p.m – so it’s important to keep updating the introduction to capture the attention of the readers as they arrive on your page.
3. Provide insight
The live blog should provide insights gleaned from the experts at your event. The old format of keeping insight ‘exclusive’ and behind closed doors is old hat in the digital age. After all, your aim is to convince the online audience that your events are interesting, valuable and worth attending. Providing this sort of insight can also build trust, something that is even more important in the digital age.
You don’t need to create verbatim accounts of the presentations to share insights – we’ve found that succinct summaries that highlight the key points of a session, work well. We’ve also used quote cards or quick turnaround videos, detailing the key points made by high-profile speakers.
Quick tip: look at the event’s session summaries beforehand; you can often write an introductory paragraph for the latest update before the session has even begun.
4. Keep it interesting
Don’t let your live blog become monotonous – mix up the types of content that you’re providing. For example, you could:
• Vary your word count as much as possible. A five-word post can be just as powerful as 500 words, if you’re saying the right thing.
• Use interesting graphics or photographs to keep the blog up-to-date as you work on a slightly longer piece.
• Breaking up long posts with shorter ones makes the blog more visually appealing to readers.
5. Link to session summaries and quick-turn around blogs
At the events we cover for our clients, our team of journalists sit in the sessions at the event, or use livestream coverage, to write up traditional blog posts and detailed summaries. These make for an easy update to the live blog; post the introduction to these traditional blog posts with a “read more” button linking to the full blog once it is live.
6. Track, monitor and share
Social media is a live blogger’s best friend. While updating the live blog, the writer should be monitoring the event and session hashtags. This keeps the blog alive; great tweets, Instagram pictures and photos from attendees and speakers help build the story of the event. It also brings an extra ‘shareable’ element to the blog which helps you spread the word.
7. Continuously edit
When you’re running a live blog, it might be tempting to rush content out as fast as possible However, to ensure your live blog stands out from the rest, your writer should be going back to previous posts, to make sure they as filled out and up-to-date as possible.
Bear in mind that, while it’s important for a live blog to be up-to-date, it’s not the end of the world if the blog goes without an update for a few minutes.
8. Finish up
When the event has finished for the day be sure to close the live blog properly. Use a simple message like:
“That’s all from today, join us tomorrow at 7:00am for more action and insight.”
But the live blogger’s job doesn’t end there. They should go back through the day’s blog to do one final update, tidy up and sub edit. The live blog may well continue to be promoted after the event, so it needs to be of the highest standard.
On the second day of an event, you can pick highlights from day one to use as pre-prepared updates that morning.
The Global Education and Skills Forum is a great example of a live blog.
Have you used a live blog at your event? If you’d like to find out how we can help bring your event to life and reach more people, then get in touch.
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687
Adam Shirley is a Account Manager at Formative Content and specialises in digital content and writing for social media.
Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.