What are social media strategists best at? A lot of things, definitely! One of the strongest? Planning!
Whether virtual or in-person, conferences are the place to form genuine, quality connections with like-minded professionals. They allow you to learn from presenters and their success stories, meet fellow marketers both in and outside your industry , and connect with vendors whose products might be able to streamline your processes. There’s so much juice to squeeze from the conference circuit that attendance – and maybe sponsorships – should be in the master plan.
But how do you decide? The list of conferences is essentially endless. Where do you want to go? Who do you want to see? What conferences are most popular for your industry? What’s your budget? If you can think of it, there is probably a conference of some size dedicated to it.
If you want to get planning, here are some tips on how to prepare for & make the most of your conference experience.
Sync Your Calendars
For starters, sync your calendars. What team members will be attending or manning a booth with you and what do your schedules look like? Block out any dates that will not work, and be sure to note any large meetings or deadlines to ensure you stay organized and on-schedule before and after any conferences you may attend. Then you can begin your research.
When beginning to plan your conference strategy, think big. What are the biggest conferences for your industry? List them in a spreadsheet and log things like location, price, size, dates, and keynote speakers or topics if they’re available. This will help narrow things down in the future, but initially, cast the net far and wide. Sometimes you’ll learn the most from a conference outside your industry or something with a niche topic. Don’t forget to check out the Social Media & Technology Conferences we’ve identified for you to give you a jumpstart.
Continue to research and as your spreadsheet grows, identify what characteristics are most important to you. Are you gravitating toward content creation? Building tactical skills? Is there a thought leader that keeps popping up? Use these themes to begin to narrow down your list.
A Little Friendly Competition
A little competitor analysis never hurt anyone. Dedicate some time to see what events your competitors are interested in and/or are attending. Same goes for friends in your industry. Is there any organization that isn’t a direct competitor but markets to the same audience? Give their social media pages a follow and see if they have conference plans. Are they worth your while? Maybe yes, maybe no. But certainly something to take a look at! Sometimes the different perspective on your industry is just what you need to unlock a fresh audience.
Grab Your Sharpie
Once your list feels complete, this is key: Save a copy! You just completed a large portion of research! Back up that file for use in future years and planning sessions. Then grab your sharpie and start striking. Are there events out of your budget? Do you want to stick to a certain geographic region? Strike out the ones that are too big or too small; the ones that are too far from your industry or interests; the ones that are too pricey or too niche. Once you pare it down, start to compare dates. (Remember that first tip?) What dates fit best with you and your colleagues’ schedules? Confirm your budget and tap those “register now” links!
Especially for social media managers, the burnout is real. Conferences can help combat this, generate new ideas, and offer the avenue for genuine connection among marketers as long as you’re well-prepped and ready to perform. Happy planning!