The Conference Content Revolution
Associations have been serving up conference content for as long as they have existed, and up until the last couple of decades, the primary content delivery methods were printed publications and oral presentations. Over the last 15 years we’ve seen a slow transition to other content delivery media as associations started sharing content via audio tapes, searchable CDs and, more recently, synchronized audio/PowerPoint recordings. But during the last two years, technology has created a tipping point in the conference industry that has lead to an explosion of options in the capture and distribution of conference content.
The very definition of what conference content is has even changed over the past few years. It use to be that conference content was an authored paper or presentation, now it might include discussion threads in a conference community , tweets, pictures, videos or any other user generated content—is this content worth saving, sharing and indexing? Do you share this information after the conference? Does this content have value? These are all questions a conference manager has to consider in today’s environment.
Valued Content vs. Content Strategies
This explosion of content creation and distribution options has been a two-edged sword for conference planners. The new options mean event organizers have much easier ways to build value, improve usability and enrich conference content, but it also means a lot more planning and complexities when formulating a content strategy.
In today’s technology driven world a conference planner has to consider and wide range of options when it comes to conference content, contemplating issues such as:
- How content will be searched?
- Who will have access to the content?
- Who gets content for free?
- Who will pay for it?
- Will content be recorded or streamed live?
- Will different groups get access to different types of content?
- Can you charge different groups different prices for content?
- What different types of media will be included as content?
- Will content be indexed by Google?
- What content needs to be printed and what needs to be online?
- How can an organization analyze what content is being viewed?
- How will the content be shared between members?
These questions are just the beginning of what a meeting planner now needs to consider when thinking about content.
Mobile Content: From Smartphones to iPads
How about all those mobile devices? Conference attendees now expect to access papers, schedules, speaker profiles and other relevant conference information from any number of mobile devices. Understanding how your content will be displayed and making it usable for each of the various mobile devices can be complex and confusing.
Hybrid Event Content
How about content delivery for hybrid events? Do you provided recorded sessions or live streaming feeds to remote attendees? If it’s a live feed, how do you remote attendees participate and engage – through Twitter, chat or email? Up to a few years ago technology made it very difficult or cost prohibitive to live stream a conference for remote attendees, but now with broadband access and streaming servers, it’s both possible and cost effective.
Sorting through the Options
These are all things meeting planners most struggle with to bring value to users. It can be easy to get paralyzed by all the options available, but you if you look at each of these options as an opportunity to bring value to your member this can be a very exciting time. As a meeting planner you now have options you could only dream about just two or three years ago. These are game-changing opportunities for both you and your organization.
The key is to find trusted partners who can help guide you through this process. There is a small but growing group of people who are working to define the future of content and conferences. A great place to start might be Event Camp Twin Cities . This small event was designed as an idea lab for conferences of the future, but I was pleasantly surprised to realize that it was really a showcase of ideas for the conferences of today. Take a look at their online content – it may give you ideas to take a whole new look at your conference content strategy.
Questions for our readers
- How are you balancing your content delivery strategies with all the new options?
- Does one person make decisions about the way content is packaged, or do different departments and committees work together?