Like many people right now, you’re probably reading this while working from home. Your commute is a walk downstairs, your desk is the kitchen table and you’ve got a new colleague with four legs and a tail. It’s all a bit bizarre.

It’s a whole new way of life, in fact, and it’s challenging. Especially as our home, work and social lives are colliding like never before.

So how can we juggle all this and come out feeling… OK? This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and its theme – kindness – has rarely seemed more important. About 30% of the UK workforce has been diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime, according to Business in the Community. And two in five employees say their work has affected their mental health.

Given everything we’ve got going on at home – and, of course, what’s happening in the world outside – it seems unlikely the current crisis will help these figures. But there are some simple things we can do to make our work days a little easier for ourselves and others. Here are five of them.

Finish on time

Drawing a line under the work day is something I found challenging when we started working remotely full-time.

I’m not alone. Last year, 92% of employees working from home reported responding to emails outside of office hours. It’s nobody’s fault, at least not in my case – usually it’s because we work across time zones. But feeling like you’re always ‘on call’ has been found to cause significant stress and anxiety.

So what’s the answer? For me, bringing my day to an end just like I would in an office has helped. I wish colleagues a good evening then shut down my computer. I know my leisure time has started, and it tells everyone else I’m finished for the day. Setting boundaries like this can really help with mental wellbeing while working from home, according to the NHS.

Find your dedicated workspace

It’s easier to finish for the day when you can walk out of the office and shut the door behind you. But now, for many, that office is scattered all over their house, and living and working in the same space can be another cause of anxiety.

So, if you can, choose one area to work in. Forbes suggests, perhaps unsurprisingly, that quiet areas are best. The NHS recommends finding somewhere away from distractions and, if possible, with a door that you can close. And a comfortable set-up is vital for long periods of work – your back will thank you.

Whatever you do, though, it might be best not to work from your bed, however tempting it might seem.

Get out and about

Research shows spending as little as two hours a week in nature significantly improves our health and wellbeing. That’s less than 20 minutes per day.

Being in nature can improve our mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger and help us feel more relaxed, according to Mind. It’s been found to help with anxiety and depression too. And a small screen break will help declutter your brain, refresh your eyes and break up the day.

So whether it’s a garden, local park or just a walk around the block, get out there – it all helps.

Manage your online meetings

During lockdown almost every area of our lives has been forced online, covering us with a giant digital tapestry that can sometimes feel overwhelming.

And with work meetings and social events happening in the same place – on apps like Microsoft Teams or Zoom, that have been instrumental to businesses and a lifeline to those in isolation during the crisis – many people are reporting signs of ‘video call fatigue’. Constantly having to perform for the camera and process non-verbal cues such as body language and eye contact are at the root of this, experts say.

As the Mental Health Foundation says, there’s no substitute for seeing another person’s face – but use your diary to clearly say to others when you’re available to speak.

Be kind to yourself (and others)

To say things are challenging for us all at the moment is an understatement. Everyone will be experiencing their own difficulties, but experts say that showing empathy, consideration and kindness to ourselves and others can help us all.

Kindness helps reduce stress, boosts happiness and improves our emotional wellbeing. And acts of kindness – like asking colleagues how they are, setting up a virtual coffee club or being there for a co-worker that has had a bad day – can make a big difference to people who are struggling, says the Mental Health Foundation.

And if you feel less productive than you usually do, that’s all right – no one is expected to have all the answers at a time like this. Just be realistic about what you can achieve, find what works for you and try to enjoy your free time. And look after yourselves!

 

About the author: Seb Budd is a Social Media Executive at Formative Content. He is responsible for planning, executing and driving the social media and blog content for the company, as well as our clients. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

Every client I work with has a data story to tell. From combining weather data with AI in order to accurately trade renewable energy, to using data from smart vehicles to lower insurance premiums, there are so many businesses doing exciting things with data right now.

But what about using data as an integral part of a marketing and communications strategy? Instead of simply creating content about how data is being used in the business, how about using data to find out what stories an organisation has to tell, and what stories its audiences are interested in hearing?

Here are three main ways to do this and create data-driven content:

1. Using public data

When we talk about data journalism, it usually refers to the interrogation of publicly available datasets in order to find a story.

One of the main methods employed by journalists is requesting data from public bodies under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.

Making the request is the easy part. When the data arrives it is rarely collated or organised how you want it; instead, it is sent in a variety of formats, from spreadsheets to photocopies of letters.

The journalist will then need to clean up and organise this data in such a way that the story starts to reveal itself. For example, to produce this story on police out-of-court settlements, The Guardian contacted the UK’s 43 police forces. It then pulled together all of the responses into a single dataset to reveal that settlements had totalled £30 million in four years.

While traditionally the preserve of data journalists, there are some more adventurous companies now using FOIs to generate their own stories. For example, cloud services provider NetApp sent FOI requests to the UK’s NHS trusts about their use of AI. After collecting the responses from 61 trusts, NetApp was able to generate substantial press coverage on its story that 52% of NHS trusts were already using AI in some form.

But FOI requests aren’t the only way that organisations can generate stories from publicly available data. There are many public bodies, especially at the global level, that make their data freely available and easily accessible. For example, we worked with the Wellcome Trust to interrogate World Health Organisation data and created three data visualisations that told the story of the importance of vaccines.

2. Using a social listening tool

Social media gives every organisation a wealth of information about their audiences. Using tools that ‘listen’ to conversations is a great way of identifying hot topics and trending themes.

For example, social listening tool Pulsar ran a search of Chief Information Officers (CIO) on Twitter to find out about the key themes and topics they are interested in. It then used that data to publish content on its own website revealing those trends.

Tools such as Pulsar not only offer a way to pinpoint broad themes, they can also be used to deliver more nuanced insights that may not yet have played a role in any content strategy.

We used Pulsar to identify the topics being discussed on Twitter by a target audience of one of our clients. This audience was tech-focused and made up predominantly of CIOs. Many of the results of our search simply confirmed our editorial hunch that themes such as Blockchain and AI would be an extremely important part of the content strategy. 

However, it also identified that a topic gaining a good deal of traction among this audience was ‘women in tech’. This was something that the client had not previously considered as part of its content strategy. As a result of this insight, we were able to build women-specific and gender equality-focused content into the campaign.

3. Using your own data

Companies today have a vast array of data at their fingertips, telling them everything from the demographics of customers to how their business and assets are operating and performing. 

This data can be mined to create stories. To date, this approach is rare in business-to-business organisations, but it is common among tech companies that analyse their app data. 

For example, fitness app Strava revealed that 19 January is “Quitters Day” – the day that most people give up on their New Year’s resolution to be more healthy. Airbnb, meanwhile, went through its data to reveal that Wales was the trending region for those holidaying in the UK. 

However, there is a reason that few companies beyond app developers mine their data to generate content: data on its own is never enough. Reams of statistics won’t magically conjure up increased engagement on social media. There still needs to be someone with the ability to interpret that data, someone who understands what resonates with audiences, and what makes a great story.

For example, technology company NTT runs the data analytics for the Tour de France. Despite having a wealth of data at their disposal, their executives admit that they must still work with journalists to find the most compelling stories among the numbers. 

Ultimately, the only organisations likely to successfully generate data-driven content are those that have realised the value of applying journalistic values to their marketing and communication strategies.

And while it may be difficult to directly link brand journalism and thought leadership to sales, the body of evidence around their importance is growing: Edelman’s 2020 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study found that 88% of decision-makers believe that thought leadership is effective at enhancing their perceptions of an organisation.

It’s also important to remember that data will never give you the whole answer, and content strategies shouldn’t be built on data alone.

As Formative Content CEO Gay Flashman points out in her book Powerful B2B Content, building up a steady flow of content that connects with your audiences requires multiple approaches to “story mining”, both inside and outside your organisation. This will still include old-fashioned concepts such as having conversations with colleagues and customers, as well as setting up processes that enable those conversations on a regular basis.

But in 2020, data should at least be part of the process for creating content that connects with your customers.

READ MORE: 

About the author: John McKenna is a Senior Content Editor at Formative Content. An experienced business journalist, John now combines journalism with data to help global organisations tell their stories.

Formative Content is a corporate digital agency working with some of the world’s most widely known and well-respected multinational organisations. If you’d like help with your digital marketing campaigns, get in touch.

We all want to be noticed. What’s the point in making all that shiny content if no one is looking at it?

And for most of us we want that content to be noticed – and enjoyed – by an ever-increasing number of people.

The internet is a crowded space though, with lots of brands shouting, stomping their feet and jumping up and down for attention.

What can your business do to rise above this noise?

At the newsrewired event at Reuters in London earlier this month, Vogue International head of audience growth Sarah Marshall shared her top tips.

 

1) Set KPIs

Marshall suggests you have three to four KPIs, specific to what you want from your audience. This could be the classic metric of unique users, or it might be looking for a little more loyalty through the tracking of repeat visitors. Others you might want to consider include Facebook shares or Instagram likes.

 

2) Get the business onside

You could have some pushback internally on why you need to grow your audience. If you’re focussed on luxury, or a specific target audience, you might need to explain to senior leadership (or even members of your own team) why growing your audience matters.

Marshall created a two-page document for each head of department at Vogue so that everyone received the same message and could share it with their teams.

 

3) Agree targets – and remind people what they are

Marshall worked to create a simple email update at Vogue. It tells key people how far they are from monthly audience targets relative to how many days are left.

The simple visual format doesn’t rely on opening a spreadsheet and can be viewed on desktop and mobile, with it landing in each editor’s inbox every Monday.   

 

4) Get the key people in the same room

No matter how big you are, it’s vital to get the important people in the same room. Whether you’re agreeing targets, sharing best practice or planning campaigns, workshops and growth days can save weeks of back-and-forth via email.

This is especially vital if you have key staff based across the globe, distributing content across multiple platforms in multiple languages.

 

5) Compile a growth book

Your staff are the best source of knowledge you have – what works, what doesn’t and simply what has been tried – so share it.

Marshall, for example, asks editors to share three growth initiatives from their newsroom.

A growth book can be a great help in getting the best ideas on paper, literally.

 

6) Growth plan

It might sound obvious, but have a plan.

You need to make sure you have a regular flow of content, distribute it on the appropriate channels, and engage with your community regularly.

Marshall sends her team a form to complete that asks key questions about what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it.

 

7) Have monthly check-ins

You’ve got a plan, you’ve got KPIs, you’ve got best practice, so what’s next?

Check-ins.

Again, it sounds pretty obvious, but if you want growth, you need to monitor it, discuss it and adapt as necessary.

 

8) Respond to changing algorithms

Just because something has worked in the past, doesn’t mean it’ll work indefinitely – particularly when you’re at the mercy of social media algorithms.

Stay agile, diversify and ultimately respond to changes. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind.

 

If you’d like us to help you get the most out of your social media strategy, get in touch.

Email: office@formativecontent.com or call our team on +44 (0) 20 7206 2687.

Enjoyed this post? Read Why your business may be losing Twitter followers

Joe Myers is Managing Editor at Formative Content and leads our Social and Web team.

Social media is a constantly changing landscape for marketing professionals. Algorithmic updates on both Facebook and Twitter – which affect how corporates promote themselves on these platforms – show that marketers need to be aware of the wider social network opportunities available.

One of these is Instagram. Launched in 2010, this is a platform that has grown increasingly popular with brands and marketers. A big reason for this is an algorithmic change in 2016. Before this the site would show your posts in chronological order. Now the algorithm tailors your newsfeed in response to the posts users engage with; this means that the posts people like, comment on and share are more likely to be seen by a bigger audience.

At first this change was unpopular with users, but the platform now reports that people are “engaging with the community in a more active way” following the update. What this means is that Instagram offers untapped potential for brands to explore, so here are some tips to help you get started.

What to post

The difference between Instagram and other social networks is that you are not able to include links on posts, so the focus of your content is photos and videos rather than text. While it is easy to think such posts are not well suited to corporate brands, with the right strategy you can make them work for your company.

Types of content that do well on Instagram are:

Choose a theme

At first sight, your Instagram profile can seem a confusing place as it displays all your images at once; so it is important to think carefully about how your visuals work both individually and collectively. The crucial thing here is to have a posting strategy and plan what events or announcements you want to place on it and when.

Alongside this you might want to consider how background themes and reoccurring motifs in your posts can help to bolster your corporate identity on the platform. For example, (RED) uses pastel backgrounds that give all of its images a gentle brand identity while UNICEF mostly posts photos of people and children, which reinforces its emphasis on young people and families.

Hashtags

Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more user engagement on Instagram. The more that people interact with your content, the more chance your posts have of being featured on a hashtag page, which increases your potential reach.

Credit: Instagram

People who follow the hashtags will then be able to see your post, giving you the chance to reach a new audience.

Stories and Live

Instagram Stories – used by more than 300 million people a day –  are short videos or photo sequences that can provide insight into one topic. These live on the platform for 24 hours and, if you have a verified account with more than 10,000 followers, you can add links that can gain traffic, generate leads and increase sales.

The kinds of stories that brands can produce varies enormously. One method is to use them as a type of video. National Geographic, for example, uses them to tell a narrative that makes great use of wildlife and natural photography that is clearly aligned to the brand’s core identity.

Others use Instagram Stories to give behind-the-scenes views of an organization; NASA uses them for events but also to explain what employees do.

Credit: Instagram

Meanwhile, Instagram Live is a real-time streaming service that can be particularly useful for event coverage and generating a conversation with your audience. Like the stories, these are available for 24 hours after the livestream has ended.

While instagram does not follow a similar pattern to Facebook or Twitter, the potential for promoting corporate content should not be ignored. By using all the available features, and having a carefully planned posting strategy, you will be able to reach a new audience on a platform that is rapidly growing in popularity.

 

If you’d like us to help you get the most out of your social media strategy, get in touch. 

Email: office@formativecontent.com or call our team on +44 (0) 20 7206 2687.

Enjoyed this post? Read How to curate quality social media content

Laura Nash is a Content Producer at Formative Content and specialises in digital content and writing for social media.

Does this sound like one of your company’s straplines?

“Backed by our track record in multi-layer MPLS networking, our NFV/SDN-driven end-to-end solutions enable service innovation from the network edge right to its core.”

If so, you’re clearly in an industry that needs to speak to technical experts.

Whether you’re in IT, telecoms, engineering or finance, your content needs to show potential customers that you know your stuff. If someone Googles ‘multi-layer MPLS networking’ or ‘NFV/SDN’ – or whatever your keywords may be – you want your site to come top of the list.

So, we’re all good with that strapline then? Not quite.

Hook, line and sinker

The problem is, your audience is not just experts Googling your keywords.

While experts are often your first foot in the door with a new client, they are unlikely to be the only influencers and are rarely the final decision-makers.

Whether it’s on the web, via social channels or at events, you need to get your message across to a lot of people who don’t understand your ‘lingo’: marketers, operational staff, procurement professionals, CFOs and even CEOs.

So, in designing your content, your first concern should be to make it appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.

Reel them in

Next, you need to pull those readers in right from the get go.  

In this multi-channel world, our attention span is shorter than ever. Since the year 2000, it has fallen from 12 to eight seconds. That’s an attention span roughly equivalent to that of a goldfish.   

So, the best way of grabbing people’s attention? Keep it simple – no matter how complex your technology. That does not mean that you should dumb down your messages. It’s just a case of delivering them in a way that makes them more accessible to a wider audience.

Will this turn off more technically-minded audience members? Not if it’s done well. Who doesn’t prefer an easy read over a hard one? What’s more, having accessible content doesn’t preclude you from also creating ‘deep dives’ for expert audiences later in the sales cycle. But before you dive, paddle.

What to think about

So how you go about attracting and reeling in those readers? Here are a few tips:

Drop the jargon

When you’ve been in an industry for a long time, using jargon becomes second nature. For many of your audiences, you might as well be speaking a different language. To avoid descending into technobabble, get someone outside your department or even outside the organisation to vet your corporate content – or use an external writer from the outset.  

Take a big picture view

It’s easy to get bogged down in detail, especially if you work with a lot of experts. To show how important a particular technology or concept is, you need to step back and look at the bigger picture.    

For example, a campaign I ran a few years back for a telecom company talked safe order clomid online about helping small businesses grow faster by enabling them to punch above their weight and challenge much bigger competitors. We never mentioned the technology which made it all happen.   

What does it mean to Joe Bloggs?

Even if your business is B2B, your customers will ultimately sell to end-users – whether it’s consumers or businesses. Ask yourself what benefits these people will get?

Instead of talking about your marvellous call centre technology you could focus on how it reduces waiting time for callers – the biggest gripe people have with customer service lines – and how it pushes down costs.

It’s like…

I recently wrote a series of articles on a system for managing, orchestrating and automating telecom networks. Unless this is your ‘patch’, these terms will mean very little. But what if I said that it’s like Windows for telephone networks? All of a sudden, a complex technology becomes something that most readers can relate to.

It brings it closer to home – after all, nearly 300 million people in the world use Windows at work and at home.

Bring facts and figures to life

Facts and figures are important. But use too many and they can be off-putting. It’s important to bring them to life. The global food price index sounds dull, but how about the following intro:

“For those with a sweet tooth, there’s bad news in the latest global food price index. Over the last year, the price of sugar has risen and dropped like the stiff peaks of a perfect meringue.”

Along the same lines, percentages may sound very authoritative, but using ‘a third’, ‘more than half’ or ‘6 in 10’ makes your figures easier for readers to visualise.

Use examples

When you are trying to make something complex easier to understand, examples are worth their weight in gold. What will your product or technology do, in practical terms?

Going back to our original example, what are ‘NFV/SDN-driven end-to-end solutions’ good for? For example, the technology might let more people live-stream a popular concert or football match. This means that everyone trying access the live feed can do so without delays and disruptions, contributing to that all-important customer experience.   

What they need to hear is what it means for their business and to the bottom line.

What do you need to catch a ‘goldfish’? Make it interesting and make it accessible. Whether it’s the CEO or a software developer, they are more likely to relate to your content if you give them an interesting hook.

If you’d like to hear how we can help your business produce journalistic content, get in touch today.

Email: enquiries@http://formativecontent.com or call our team on 01494 672 122

Andrea Willige is an Account Director at Formative Content, leading campaigns and creating compelling content for our technology clients, amongst others.

Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

For an event to be credible, it must have regular blog content and social media postings. That is the opinion of the absolutely overwhelming majority – 97% – of people who have attended a business event in the last two years.

The finding is from a survey commissioned by Formative Content for its new report: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital.

Rapid change

The report polled event organisers and attendees to gauge opinion on what is experienced and expected in the industry and how organisers are responding to rapidly changing demands.

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The flip said of the 97% figure, of course, is that only 3% of those who have been to events would regard an event as credible if it did not have digital content. It is a stark demonstration of how mobile devices and digital content have become a central part of the event experience.

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Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

Information expectation

The central role of online content was highlighted by the fact that the majority of people who attended events said they used the events online presence as their main source of information ahead of and during the event.

Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

The report shows what a challenging time it is to be running events, with a fragmented media market and multiple, rapidly evolving technologies. But it concludes that with an informed content strategy, there are unique opportunities to too.

“For innovative, dynamic organisations, this is also a time of almost limitless possibilities. With strategic thinking, audiences can be engaged like never before. Credible, authentic and democratic involvement fosters interest and loyalty and helps build a brand that can endure and expand.”

The study sets out the need for a Digital Action Plan to engage and inform event customers before, during and after events and shows how events can evolve to become a year-round brand.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

Traditionally, event planning was all about the event itself, building momentum ahead of the meeting, after which it abruptly dropped away.

Today, clients expect much, much more: engagement in the run up to the event, a broad range of resources during it and then, after the event is over, for the information, insight and knowledge-sharing to continue.

A new report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, from Formative Content, examines ways events organisers can meet these new challenges.

A challenge, an opportunity

The report sets out how to develop a bespoke engagement programme – the Digital Action Plan.

By developing content for use before, during and after a meeting, the event gains resonance and reach while its impact is amplified and extended.

It involves pinpointing what your audience is interested in, what information they are seeking to gain knowledge of and which platforms they most traditionally engage with.

Content offered to support a live event might range from a social media post, infographics, and blogs to specially commissioned research.

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Three core elements

The key to building a successful plan is ensuring that all content informs and engages around the key topics of the event and provides value and interest to its audience.

It is about constructing a continuous path of engagement which continues before, during and after the event.

Before the event the Digital Action Plan should focus on engaging and sharing: for example through dedicated content hubs, articles, insight and sharable content.

During the event, the plan should turn to curating and creating: live coverage and highly interactive content.

Afterwards it is essential to maintain the conversation and grow the brand beyond the event buy accutane 40 mg until it becomes a destination in itself.

Building the arc

It is a challenging time to be running events. With a fragmented media market and multiple, ever changing technologies, people are being bombarded with information. It is so much harder for event organisers to ensure their voice is heard.

But for innovative, dynamic organisations, this is also a time of almost limitless possibilities. With strategic thinking, audiences can be engaged like never before.

A Digital Action Plan allows event organisers to map out and deliver a complete arc of engagement for their audience – leveraging technologies and content well before the event, during the experience and well after the doors have closed.

For more information on building a Digital Action Plan for your event, download the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Just enter your name and email address below.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

The many challenges facing event organisers have been highlighted by a unique survey into the industry commissioned for a new report The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, from Formative Content.

As the ways in which people network and consume information continue to evolve and proliferate, over a third of event organisers believe that industry needs to adapt to reflect a hyper-connected world.

While 56% think events have a secure future, 35% believe their survival is contingent on significant change.

1610b03_future_events_final_approved

The report examines the challenges and opportunities presented as the industry tries to invent new ways to engage and leverage digital without threatening the very reasons audiences attend live events.

The survey shows what organisers are now expected to provide, with a decisive 97% of event attendees saying an online presence was vital if the event was to have credibility.

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Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

As time constraints grow and budgets are tightened, the competition for event audiences is growing, notes the report. Audiences are being bombarded with huge volumes of information via multiple platforms presenting both a product and a marketing challenge.

So how do event organisers respond to these challenges? The answer is carefully tailored digital engagement: a Digital Action Plan.

By developing content for use before, during and after a meeting, the event gains resonance and reach while its impact is amplified and extended.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

[jumplead_form id=”57f3c2f16726daf16b8b459c”]

Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

Events are undergoing a profound change, transformed by digital technologies and content like so many other industries. But what does the future really hold, and how can events professionals harness the opportunities presented by these dramatic shifts?

These were the questions we set out to answer at an event in London this morning, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, to coincide with the release of our report of the same name. The session was moderated by Formative Content CEO Gay Flashman with presentations from Jazmin Beale from Olympia London, Una O’Sullivan of KPMG, Lucy Eldred from KNect365 and Joe Edwards of Sage.

One of the key questions surrounding digital content for events is – if you put all of your event content online, won’t delegates be less likely to actually attend?  It’s a moot point, according to Joe Edwards, a comms industry veteran. Whilst the digital toolkit now available to event organisers is the most varied it has ever been, there is still one central purpose of holding an event and that is to network, he said: “People talk about ROI and leads, but one of the most important part of events is connecting people together face to face.”

It was an attitude shared by Una O’Sullivan, who runs a biannual internal KPMG event: “A conference is a social event,” she said. “It’s about getting people talking together.”

Indeed, research conducted by Formative Content for our report shows that almost 50% of those that attend events do so predominantly for the networking opportunities that the event presents.

The key challenges

But of course, you still have to get people to the event in the first place. This was one of the enduring challenges for organisers, according to Jazmin Beale.  Jazmin was perfectly placed to outline the problems faced, given that she stewards 220 events every year at Olympia London, with a combined footfall of over 1.5 million.

The main challenges were threefold, she said. Firstly, driving revenue by getting people to the conferences and getting exhibitors to hire stands; secondly, maintaining the quality and quantity of attendees: “Like any party, the people who attend contribute greatly to the event experience,” she said; and thirdly, the realisation that digital engagement throughout the year encourages repeat attendance and word of mouth referral, and is therefore key to any event.

“Many leading shows are on the journey to become a brand in their own right, and are engaging their industry with great content,” she said.

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How to make digital content work

How are events making digital content work for them? Joe Edwards thinks that organising social media at events is a bit like herding cats, but, that said, it can be done very effectively.

“The most important thing for social, when looking at events: it’s all about increasing awareness – and that has to be emotive, exciting and engaging,” he said. “If I see another video of people walking through doors and vox pops saying how great the conference is, I will shoot myself,” he promised. “It’s got to be done differently.”

Among the more inventive methods Joe said he has used was demonstrating the Internet of Things by having delegates send a tweet with a hashtag and a particular number in order to switch on a lightbulb. The key was to “connect the message of the event to some sort of activation idea within the event,” he said.

Lucy Eldred’s KNect365 Finance runs 48 events under 13 different brands every year, and also tries inventive ways to engage the audience. She tries to make her content stand out with a Graham Norton-style chat show for one of their key annual events, the FundForum Asia.

“We try to do content that speaks to people as people,” she explained. “We do a daily livestream chat show, like Graham Norton for the Asset Management community, and it is relatively entertaining given how dry the subject matter is. We send it out immediately to our global audience and it’s a way of them accessing the content of the event in an engaging way.”

Joe Edwards recommends implementing a social command centre at events, with social media managers dedicated to pushing content outside of the physical event. “They can identify and direct conversations; they can promote questions and promote engagement while the talk is going on. The command centre can also manage the live feed with photos, vox pops, and videos, as well as moderating the social conversation around the event.”

Una O’Sullivan also makes great use of video and pictures, “We have a video booth where we get people talking together, and it shows that we are a collaborative organisation.”

Living beyond the moment

But perhaps the biggest take-away of the event was the importance of maintaining that audience engagement across the year.

Una O’Sullivan faces this challenge in mobilising internal engagement at KPMG. She runs a bi-annual gathering of 200 – 250 financial services leaders within the organisation, which serves as an opportunity for financial services leadership to set out their strategy and gather inputs from partners at the coalface. The most valuable part is getting that information and knowledge to cascade down the organisation, as she explained:

“There is very much a before, during and after,” she said. “The purpose of the conference’s digital output is to firstly, help the delegates get the most out of the conference by preparing them; secondly, to capture the news and the conversation at the event, but thirdly, and by far the most importantly, for the delegates to be able to take the information back and cascade it. There are some really important messages that can be taken back to member firms, global account teams, and of course to the clients.”

Among Una’s box of tricks is a well-designed message from KPMG’s global chairman, which is sent out pre-event to the delegates, summarising the purpose of their attendance and imparting relevant information. Then there are daily updates sent to delegates, as well as a wrap up of the day’s discussions. There is a global news site which enjoys very good engagement and which, for the week of the conference, is full of stories from the event.

Finally, there is a toolkit produced at the end of the event, which is sent out to every member of the financial services team – some 30,000 people.

“Content is so much more than telling people what happened at the event, it’s a year-round process,” agreed Lucy Eldred. “If you can get them to engage at the time of the conference and come to you because of the insightful information that you are providing, then you can continue to provide that content year round and become a source of insight for your prospective conference-goers.”

The future is bright

According to the research conducted by Formative Content, over 90% of event organisers believe the industry has a secure future – but only if it embraces full-time digital communication.

“In an increasingly digital world, events bring communities together – face to face,” said Jazmin. “They share a common belief, a passion or hobby, through a shared industry or as part of a local, national or international community.  Events make things happen.  They ignite ideas and knowledge.  They progress education and understanding.  They create and enrich the communities they serve.  They bring investment to the country and local communities.”

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Alex Gray is a Senior Writer at Formative Content responsible for writing fast-turnaround, engaging blogs on a variety of topics and industries.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

Hashtags are an important feature of any social media strategy.  According to research by Twitter, tweets with one or more hashtags can increase engagement by almost 100%.

It’s easy to see why skilful use of hashtags can raise the awareness and the visibility of your events.

Having a hashtag for your event is useful from a content marketing standpoint. But it is also useful for social media analytics and metrics, because it centralises all the online discussion about your event.

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So how do you choose an event hashtag?

Example of a successful event hashtag:

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the games industry’s biggest exhibition simply used the hashtag #E32016 for this year’s event – simple, unique, memorable and relevant.

This tweet with a photo and just the hashtag for text got over 100 shares.

When and where should I start using my event hashtag?

You should be using your event’s hashtag in the build-up to the event, during it, and in the aftermath.

Your hashtag should be included in all social promotions of your event, especially on twitter. Create your hashtag as soon as possible to get the social buzz going. Promote your hashtag and include it on all your promotional materials and comms.

Twitter’s research also shows that posting a concentrated number of Tweets in a short timespan can increase follower growth 50% more than average.

This means live-tweeting and posting updates about an event using your hashtag is a simple way to grow followers and increase interaction on social media.

After the event, writing digital thank you cards for your attendees is a good way to keep the conversation going – so make sure you are using your hashtag there too!

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Adam Shirley is a Content Producer 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.