How to make your conference social part 2: the bloggers’ hub

Angela Dunn

FirstWord Dossier

Continued from “How to make your conference social part 1: what’s your hashtag?

Conference organizers can make their conferences more social by hosting a “Bloggers’ Hub” at their event. Official bloggers extend the reach and knowledge share of a conference to a vast virtual audience around the world. These “official” bloggers are often invited because of their thought leadership in an industry, and they cover the event in lieu of paying an attendance fee. Some even raise funding for their transportation and lodging costs. Others are given access to a private “live” stream without traveling to the event.

A Bloggers’ Hub is an organized effort to accommodate the needs of official bloggers by savvy conference organizers who understand the value of these highly networked individuals. George Levy, VP of Online Marketing for HSM Americas, was an early pioneer of blogger outreach. He started a Bloggers’ Hub at the World Innovation Forum three years ago. Levy reiterates the importance of identifying a conference hashtag and displaying tweets on screens throughout the physical conference space, “It is a massive way to engage people with what is happening on stage and expands the reach of the conference globally.”

“It is a massive way to engage people with what is happening on stage and expands the reach of the conference globally.”

Interview with Renee Hopkins and Drew Marshall on The Bloggers’ Hub at #WIF11, World Innovation Forum 2011:-

Levy shared a valuable story on how the World Innovation Forum was practically shut down on Twitter in its first year for too much activity, ironically in the middle of a presentation by Biz Stone. “We weren’t exactly shut down, but Twitter limited all the activity that was coming from our IPs. Before you do a massive event, contact Twitter support and notify them of your location and the IPs you will be broadcasting from, and they will issue an exception,” advises Levy.

Levy says the idea for a Bloggers’ Hub came from a collaboration between organizers, sponsors and input from the bloggers themselves. “I am involved with some of the brightest people in the world, especially on the topic of innovation, and they really know what they are doing when it comes to social media. Why wouldn’t I want to leverage that?” It is this openness for honest feedback that has Levy tweaking and improving the Bloggers’ Hub every year.

As an official blogger at the World Innovation Forum 2011 and other conferences, I would like to share some best practices for conference organizers and bloggers.

“…the idea for a Bloggers’ Hub came from a collaboration between organizers, sponsors and input from the bloggers themselves.”

8 tips for conference organizers for a bloggers’ hub

1. Provide bloggers with great Wi-Fi access.

2. Provide a dedicated location where bloggers can set up equipment, have adequate lighting and power sources, as well as network with other bloggers.

3. Provide an info packet that contains:

• The conference hashtag and wireless access codes.

• A list of all official bloggers, their contact information and an organized Twitter list with bloggers’ and speakers’ Twitter usernames.

• Availability of additional photos and videos.

• Real-time contact information for event organizers and PR coordinators.

4. Try to provide bloggers with access to at least one headline speaker to interview. A two-minute sound bite captured on video is gold to the blogger, and YouTube videos are also great for elevating the conference in Google search.

5. Provide a quiet area with great lighting where interviews can take place without conference music blaring during breaks. Think “green room.”

6. Provide a breakfast, lunch or Tweetup where bloggers can network. Some events have a sponsor cover the cost of this gathering. The sponsor benefits by having the ability to network with the bloggers.

7. Provide an official blogger badge for your conference that bloggers can display on their sites.

8. Treat bloggers on par with traditional media.

“Don’t try to cover everything. Have a focus that will set your coverage apart from the rest.”

8 tips for official bloggers at conferences

1. Communicate your desire to be an official blogger to conference organizers. Demonstrate a track record in the subject matter expertise and have an established social network.

2. Prepare in advance. Have a strategy. Know the conference agenda and communicate your wish list for interviews. Oftentimes, speakers control their own agenda and organizers cannot guarantee an interview. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

3. Be social and get to know other bloggers. Be generous in retweeting and sharing good information from other bloggers.

4. Don’t try to cover everything. Have a focus that will set your coverage apart from the rest. Look for unique angles.

5. Anyone can regurgitate the same sound bites. Bring value by providing your own “point of view”. Bloggers are expected to voice opinions.

6. Interview attendees as well as speakers.

7. Bloggers should disclose any perks or compensation from organizers on their blog.

8. Be prepared to go non-stop and have plenty of energy. Get plenty of rest the day before and wear comfortable shoes.

Levy reminds us that the Web provides an opportunity for everyone to communicate and engage with the bright minds at conferences. As a former front man for a band, Levy says, “In the end, it’s all about delivering a good show.”

Interview with Ruth Sherman, one of the official bloggers at #WIF11:

Part three of this series can be viewed here.

About the author:

Angela Dunn did not pay a fee to attend the World Innovation Forum. Dunn has been an official blogger for conferences in innovation, social business, healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. If you would like Angela Dunn to cover your event, you can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter or via Google+.

Dunn is also a speaker who recently presented at the #RLTM conference in NYC on “Curating Content for Thought Leadership.” She is the founder of #ideachat, a monthly Twitter Chat on ideas, and is a contracted Pharma analyst on digital/social innovation for FirstWord Dossier. Dunn’s latest report just published is “Digital Marketing Talent: Who is Pharma Hiring?

What’s do you think is the most important consideration for setting up a bloggers’ hub?