Written by Katie Zupancic and Alyssa Curran
Content marketing used to be reserved for SEOs and marketers. Now, it seems like everyone has a blog (short for web log) – and these online content hubs are highly valuable for those who know how and when to use them. If you have a B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing model with events, a blog is an excellent place to share participant facing information. Today, we’ll focus on how an event production company or nonprofit can use a blog to educate their participants. The methods used in this post can be expanded and molded for many different contexts as you develop your blog strategy.
- Harness the How-To
Many of the events we manage have a participant center; that is, a virtual portal that houses event registration information, fundraising tools, and other valuable content that strive to make the participant experience interactive from the moment of registration to the post-event thank you. While our intentions are always to make using that participant portal clear and straightforward, we all know that often the way we envision some tools to work is not quite the same way they’re received on the user’s end. Using your blog to explain how to do different tasks is an excellent way to demystify your participant center, call attention to tools that need a little more love, and even garner feedback about what participants would like to see more (or less) of. Here’s an example from the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®.
- Share Stories
The best kind of learning is the kind that doesn’t feel like a lesson, and that’s exactly why sharing participant stories is an excellent way to give the real experience of your event. You know your event is more than just a 5K, cyclathon, or festival. Many people who attend may have a personal connection to the cause or have a great story, like a proposal, a special connection between teammates, or the accomplishment of a personal fitness goal. To identify those stories, talk to your team after an event and ask them to share with you any people they met who had particularly moving or interesting stories. Also, while you’re at your event, go talk to your participants! You never know who you’ll meet and what they’ve experienced.
- Go Behind the Scenes
We love television shows like “How It’s Made” and “Dirty Jobs” because they show us things we don’t get to see every day. People love to get a sneak peek or be shown exclusive content, and your event is likely full of safe-to-share secrets that get people excited and engaged. If you’re lucky enough to have a great deal of sharable content about how your event is put together (and you won’t get the legal team knocking on your door), form a whole series of behind-the-scenes information, like an Insider’s Guide or Countdown.
- Link Love
Don’t forget the most practical reason why your blog is a great place to educate your participants: it’s an anchor for all of your other content. Your blog needs to link to many places on your website: registration pages, information, and contact information. Don’t forget to sprinkle in links where applicable in your blog posts, too — if you’re sharing a really compelling personal participant story, invite your readers to register at the end (with a link) so they too can experience the power of your event. Likewise, if you’re answering a question that gets asked frequently, link to those FAQ pages in your posts.
- Make Connections
Why have a blog when you could just post everything on social media? We know that social media is not a place where people take the time to read long form content. You have just a few seconds in a newsfeed to engage a reader, and quite simply, lots of your content deserves more time. However, how do you get people to make the jump from social media to your blog? You make connections. Invite your participants to your blog. Share about it often, and invite visitors to submit blog ideas and stories. You could even have a section on your blog that says “Share a Story.” Remember — a blog shouldn’t be just a megaphone for your brand or event, but rather, a virtual watering hole where people stop by, get some information, soak up the experience, and then want to come back.
As your blog begins to grow in readership and your portfolio of curated content begins to expand, don’t be afraid to experiment with new types of content and new ways to share stories with your readers. Try a “soft launch” of new ideas or campaigns or try sharing a participant story in a completely new way. You might find that framing content differently on your blog is more helpful to your readers. See your blog as a playground where you can bend your brand rules a little to make sure you are having an authentic conversation with your readers and are providing them the information that they need to fundraise, grow their team, and return year-after-year.
Katie works on marketing and sponsorship for MuckFest® MS, a fun mud and obstacle 5K in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. She also enjoys exploring the city of Chicago with her tiny puppy, Annie. Connect with her here: LinkedIn, Twitter.
Alyssa works on social media for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, a 60-mile walk to end breast cancer. When she’s not tweeting, “Liking”, or blogging, she’s crafting recipes in the kitchen, hiking, or buying more nail polish she doesn’t need. Tweet her on Twitter or link up with her on LinkedIn.