In the first part of this series, I covered a few of the basic techniques and approaches to blogging from conferences. Conference blogging is a great opportunity to introduce new ideas for your readers and provide direct quotes and interviews. In this post, we’ll talk about ways to make the most of the blogging medium itself in the context of a conference while at the same time being sensitive to the needs of your readers.
As a conference blogger, you enjoy many freedoms. You don’t have to stick to the straight and narrow. You can explore new territory and leverage all the benefits of the blogging medium to welcome your readers into the event. Below you’ll find a few ideas do to just this.
1 – Blogging, of course, allows you to publish to the web instantly. But is this always the best idea? Approaches to blogging about a conference are as numerous as the individuals who blog conferences. Some prefer to “live-blog” a conference (like live reporting) and provide stream-of-consciousness coverage and real-time commentary for their readers. Others choose to take notes and then blog in a more reflective fashion — perhaps after-hours in their hotel room or even the following week when they’ve returned home from the event. The timing will vary depending on your goals. Is it important to get information out to your readers right away, or would they benefit more from a carefully studied analysis? These are things you’ll have to consider.
2 – Stay loose, be open to new opinions, and use your blogging as a way to expand your own frame of reference. Seek topics tangential to your areas of interest, and explore them with your readers. Communicating a topic that’s new to you is a great way to reinforce your own learning.
3 – Tag your posts. Tagging your posts can help search engines figure out what your content is all about, and it can also help people using tag searches on sites like Technorati find your posts more easily. If you’re using WordPress, you can use a plugin like Bunny’s Technorati Tags to avoid having to code your tags manually to invoke a tag search on Technorati. Once you’ve published your tagged post, click on each of your tags to make sure they invoke the tag search you intend.
Some conferences have an “official” tag so all conference-related posts can be collected with a single query. When I blog a conference, I tend to use the sanctioned tag plus others variations I think people might search. For example, if the given tag is “NewComm,” I’ll tag my posts “NewComm,” “NewComm07,” and “New Communications Forum.”
4 – Create a post that mentions other people who are blogging at the conference, and link to their blogs and posts they’ve written about the conference. Use a blog search engine like Technorati to find others who might be blogging from your conference. (Try a tag search like this one!)
5 – As a way of adding visual interest, post digital photos you take at the conference, or create an account on a photo sharing site like Flickr and give readers a link to your Flick pages.
6 – Don’t forget that a significant amount of material about a conference is posted to the web after the event has ended – blog posts, photos, and video clips will all continue to be published in the following weeks. Your readers might enjoy a follow-up post several weeks after the event, pointing out additional resources of interest.
As I’ve said earlier, because of your knowledge of the background and content of industry events you attend, you’ll be in a position to provide commentary and story angles on many events. If you’re an industry outsider looking in on things — well, there’s an interesting angle right there. In addition, conferences are a great place to get mentally stimulated and then explore some of that new-found stimuli via blogging.
In the final post in this mini-series on conference blogging, I’ll talk about ways to add dimension to your conference blogging by using video.