Helping event organizers and sponsors get more return on investment for their events is what I do, and video content has proven itself to be extremely useful. In this short primer on how I use video, I’ll talk about my basic approach to event videos, using examples of before, during, and after video content.

My practice

I’m a “content creative” – a writer, photographer, and interviewer. Much of my work pre-digital was journalistic. Since boarding the digital bus in 2009, it’s become less old-school journalism and more new-school embedded journalism. I use my skills to help tell the stories of people’s businesses, organizations, and events. Video has become an increasingly important part of that work.

“Embedded journalism” and video are especially important at a time when many of the traditional media do not have budgets to cover events as they once did; businesses are seeing the value of creating their own media from their perspective. For event organizers and marketers, you’ll want to look at how to use video before, during, and after your events.

Before the event

Videos made before an event have four primary purposes:

  • basic marketing of the event (letting people know what’s happening, who will be there, why they should attend, etc);
  • highlighting key speakers or special activities;
  • promoting the hosting business or organization;
  • promoting event sponsors.

Having a central location to host all of your event video content is critical, as is having a registration page that allows you to embed video. Your central spot may be part of your website or it might be a standalone publishing platform (eg. Tumblr, Medium, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, etc), but that is the place where anyone can easily find all of your event video content.

For event registration, I like using event platforms that allow me to do at least four basic things:

  1. create an attractive landing page with ease and in a timely fashion;
  2. recognize sponsors with logo placement;
  3. provide a basic range of registration options (eg. early bird, regular, hidden, etc); and,
  4. embed photographs, posters, – and of course, videos!

Once I’ve created the landing page, I’ll buy a domain and forward it the landing page.

A good example of a landing page that uses video, includes graphical elements, sponsor logos, and video is the page we created at LocalizingProsperity.ca. We’ve used an interview with panelist and facilitator Sandra Hamilton to promote the event. As you’ll see, in this case, we treated the interview as a news story.

We used a similar treatment with featured speaker Jayesh Parmar of Picatic.com, prior to the Think BIGger events in February 2014. Jay is an easy interview, a relaxed and animated speaker. We quickly created a script and he delivered.  

Sometimes the client has their own event registration page, one that doesn’t allow video embedding. In that case, we create video content on social media that points to their registration page (and, I also encourage them to find a video-friendly registration platform, like Picatic).

Here’s an example of an interview with Truck Loggers’ Association President Don Banasky.

Don is comfortable in front of a camera, and this video went on to become one of the most viewed items on the TLA Facebook page prior to the event. In the end, not only did it help drive registration for the 72nd annual TLA convention, it helped fuel a surge of traffic to TLA social media sites before, during, and after the event.

I’ve used the YouTube example for this post. If you’re on Facebook you can see the (much more popular and effective) post here. As recent research is showing, embedding your video on Facebook is an effective strategy for event registration. This is especially the case when coupled with the “Call to Action” feature that Facebook now includes in video posts. When I’m using a landing page for my events, I simply drop that URL into the Facebook “Call to Action.” Visitors are then greeted with the same or similar video on arrival at the landing page, underlining the “why register” message.

“Before” videos that feature event sponsors are also helpful for organizers. As part of their fundraising and sponsor-development, organizers of the 2014 Flavour Gourmet Picnic asked me to do an informal interview with Lori Palmeire. Lori is with sponsor organization Dairy Farmers Canada. This video helped illustrate the kind of exposure and storytelling that other, prospective sponsors would get as part of their relationship with the Flavour Gourmet Picnic.  

For another example of a sponsor video in the “before” event stage, here’s Adil Amlani. Adil owns Sure Copy and is a sponsor of the #WeAreYQQ project on Vancouver Island. The video gives Adil an opportunity to talk about his business – and to tell others why he’s sponsoring the events related to the project.

During

Once the promotion has been done, the focus moves to the event itself. “During event” video content is the most engaging of the Before/During/After content. Social tools give you the ability to create real-time and almost-real-time coverage, and post content where your target audience is watching. I’ve also found that “during” video is the most durable, most evergreen, most shared of my event content.

The focus here should be on short video clips, posted immediately to the social networks most used by event participants. Immediate content sharing helps event participants with their own social media practice, whether it’s personal or professional. You’re providing engaging content that  they get to share without having to create their own content, they can “report back” to their followers (and the office at home) about what they’re seeing, learning, and helping to create.

For Participants

You can also give participants a bit of the limelight, their “15 minutes of fame,” as it were (although you’re better off giving them 2-3 minutes, to be most effective). Here’s an example from the November StartupWeekend event in Vancouver. I’d just met Denny Horlicks. We got talking about Bitcoin. He got me started with an account. I asked him to give a short explanation as part of my event coverage.

In this clip, I interviewed Olena and Andrew of Pieoneers.com. We kept bumping into each other during Vancouver’s StartupWeek activities. I took the opportunity to ask them to tell me – and those watching the media I was creating for StartupWeek – about their work.

Both Denny and the Pieoneers crew have used these clips to promote their own work. This was one of the ways that organizers and sponsors realized value from investing in video event coverage, coupled with social media: participants re-posted and shared event content, expanding the event’s reach.

For Speakers

For speakers, “during event” content makes it easy for them to promote their own involvement in the event. It’s also a very good way for organizers to increase ROI: they’re adding value to the speakers’ participation when they are featured in “during event” content.    

Dan Martell is a Canadian rockstar entrepreneur. I grabbed him for a recap of key takeaways from part of his presentation at a Startup Grind event in Vancouver in 2014.

I covered the annual OMG Social Media Conference and interviewed presenter Mary Crowe. Mary is responsible for brand marketing at Whole Foods in the Pacific Northwest. I asked her for her three social media best practices for startups. This video has been widely re-posted, to the benefit of the OMG organizers – and to the benefit of Mary Crowe and Whole Foods.

For Sponsors

For sponsors, “during event” content affords the richest opportunity to associate their products and services with participants, and with “virtual participants” – the people who are interested in the event but are not able to participate, or who have chosen not to participate.

Here’s an example from the 2014 Flavour Gourmet Picnic event. Susan Auchterlonie is the Executive Director of the North Island College Foundation, sponsoring agency for this event. We made her “thank you” video just as the gates were closing on another very successful Flavour Gourmet Picnic. Instead of relying on YouTube, we posted to Facebook, as most of the event audience was local and active on that medium. 

For Organizers

For organizers, the benefits of “during event” video content are profound. Your ability, as an event organizer, to provide added value to your registrants, speakers, and sponsors differentiates you from events where an “embedded journalist” approach isn’t being used. You’re also giving yourself a significant marketing advantage by giving “virtual participants” (again, those who can’t or won’t attend) a way to engage – and, if the quality of the content demonstrates – a reason to register for your next event.

To recap: I like to focus on three types of “during event” content:

  • participants and their experiences of the event, reasons for being at the event, reflections on the event;
  • speakers and their experiences, as well as key takeaways from their presentations;
  • sponsors and their experiences and takeaways.

After

After the event video content can be categorized in two ways:

  • a summary of the event, preferably with event organizers;
  • a collection of “during event” content, packaged in blog posts.

The latter is easiest to put together as you’ve already done the preliminary work of creating during the event videos, some of which may not have been posted. This is often the case with busy events: you simply can’t get everything you’ve captured online during the event. Which is a good thing because you’ll want to have fresh content to release over several days after the event, sustaining both the interest in and the “in the moment” feel of the event.

For StartupWeek Vancouver I created an omnibus post that sponsors, organizers, speakers, and participants are free to borrow and share from. 

The work of wrapping things up, and then moving on to the next project, means organizers are hard to pin down for something that’s passed. This is unfortunate. As an organizer or sponsor, you now have an opportunity, while you have social media and participants’ attention (real and virtual), to summarize – and more importantly, to invite participation in future events.

Greg Spievak is the owner of ReBoot Communications. He is the organizer and host of the annual Privacy and Security conference. Greg was exhausted at the end of the 16th annual event. I had to grab this clip before he collapsed.

My interview with Ian McKay after the 2014 StartupWeek Vancouver events is an example of a sponsor able to effectively tell a bigger story, based on the success of an event. Ian is the CEO of Vancouver Economic Commission.

If you can’t get event sponsors or organizers to make event 15 minutes for a short summary after the event, I’ve found it useful to interview participants and/or speakers about their experiences. I had to do that for the 2012 Flavour Gourmet Picnic. Luckily, I had a very gregarious subject in “AJ.”

Summary

Video should be a critical part of any event. Before the event, it allows speakers, organizers, and sponsors to use their own voice to communicate with your intended audience. Embedding video on registration pages helps make the case for your event more effectively than much of the words on your page. Creating a dedicated microsite for your event, and populating it with video interviews with key speakers, participants, and sponsors, helps people put faces and voices to your event.

During the event, updating your microsite, your Facebook page, your LinkedIn page with current videos helps people feel like they’re participating. Providing opportunities for them to share your videos means they are participating, encouraging them to take part in the event next year – or next month!

After the event video sets the stage for your next event. For those who didn’t attend, your interviews and recaps provide a visual enticement. They make the case for signing up next time. They also demonstrate to sponsors that you’re committed to providing value for them, even though the event has passed.

Content marketing is a competitive publishing exercise. We’re all looking for new content, engaging content, and content that speaks to our audience. Video – before, during, and after – events is perhaps the single most important form of content available to organizers and sponsors. You’re already investing in bringing people – speakers, sponsors, delegates, and participants – together. This is no small investment. Make sure you’re protecting – and enhancing – that investment by capturing it on video. You may not be able to get it all, but at least create a “must have” list of interviews and b-roll and set your in-house team loose. If you don’t have an in-house team, hire a creative with journalistic talents to tackle this list. Putting video to work for your event is one of the best ways to increase your event ROI.

Hans Peter Meyer