Why your thought leadership campaign should include an event

Thought leadership campaigns can be synonymous with content marketing and often involve a lot of social-media visibility and large volumes of whitepapers, blog posts and other content. Adding a thought leadership event into your campaign can be a powerful addition as they allow you to show off your experts, test new ideas with live results, connect with your audience directly and produce ‘live’ and ‘trending’ content. So let’s look at the biggest opportunities your business can benefit from hosting a thought leadership event. 

 

Boost your brand 

 

Hosting an event is subtle, engaging and innovative marketing at its best. Rather than constantly trying to connect with your audience through social media campaigns and content, you’re aligning your brand with a positive and interactive experience that will remain front of mind. 

By making your thought leaders directly accessible to your audience, it’s a great chance for individuals and companies to come together to share and sharpen their expertise, which in turn will create a sizable boost to your brand. 

Introduce social media hashtags and competitions at your event to get trending and expand your audience further. The more you can get your attendees to share, endorse and show off your brand and event on social media the better, this will further your reach and brand awareness within their virtual community.

Although your event may pass by in a day or two, the impact of your event will stay around for longer. Through video recordings, pictures and reviews, you have re-usable content for your website and social media to further boost your thought leadership campaign. The follow-up engagement from your event can be just as important as on the day so it is vital to continue to share results and newly discovered content from the event. 

 

Show you are the expert in your field 

 

Thought leadership events are an innovative way for companies to participate and lead the important discussion topics of their industry. If organised correctly, your business could be well on its way to being an industry leader and advisor. 

By selecting hot, buzz-worthy topics in your field, with top, influential speakers you will instantly attract your current audience to attend your event but also potentially reach and entice a fresh group of people who may not have heard of your company before. Don’t be afraid to bring in speakers from outside your business, aligning your brand with reputable and established experts helps your audience associate you with one another. Speakers that are industry influencers can attract large audience numbers to your event that you can convert into your community and customers. 

Panel-style thought leadership events are especially helpful for creating engaging and insightful discussions not only between speakers but also the audience interaction. You want your event to encourage and provide learning, discussion and networking opportunities that showcase that you are the experts in your field. Attendees will expect to come away with genuine insight that they can pass on or apply once they have left the event. 

Remember the main goal will be to establish your brand as a go-to industry resource for knowledge and expertise and you can’t do that without the right topics and speakers. 

 

Engage your community 

 

As great as events are at bringing in new members to your business’ community, they’re also a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with your current community and audience. Maintaining that communication and interaction between customers, leaders and staff is vital to ensuring your brand remains seen as relevant and important to the industry. 

Ensure your event is filled with Q&A, networking and meet and greet opportunities, the more your community feels involved the more they will look back at you for advice and insight. 

 

Thought leadership has become a big part of business communication lingo but take a look at your campaign and see if you could be getting even more out of your campaign by running a thought leadership event. The more you make your brand accessible to its community and directly showcase your experts, the more success you will have in establishing your brand as a leader in your industry. 

When organising your event it’s important to keep the following questions front of mind: 

  • How will it advance our thought leadership campaign? 
  • What do we want to present to participants?
  •  What do you want them to take home?
  • How do we want them to engage with us in the future?

 

 

Looking for more advice on how to run a thought leadership event? Speak to our Sleek experts here. We are ready to help whether you are looking to take your event virtual this year or are planning ahead for next year. 

Did you catch our last blog? Read about our guide to overcoming the challenges of virtual events here. 

Overcoming the Challenges of Virtual Events

The change from a physical to a virtual event can present a range of new and unexpected challenges, and whilst you may not be able to directly create some of the values that face-to-face interaction brings, virtual events are creating the opportunity we need to communicate with our community. 

So how do you turn an event, filled with networking opportunities, interactive sessions, and the attendee insights they generate into a virtual event?  And once you do, how do you engage and ensure your attendees get the value that they would normally obtain throughout attending a physical event? 

Understanding the right platform for you 

Hosting a virtual event still requires the same amount of attention to detail and planning as an in-person event. Before searching your way through the different platform options, plan out your event as you normally would and understand what you need the platform to do for you, not the other way around. Understanding how you want to communicate and interact with your audience will ensure you do not get overwhelmed with the design and look of the event and instead remain on track with your messaging and collaboration goals.   

Consider what technology and communication software your company already uses and if there is a way to involve and intertwine it with the new virtual software.  

Generating interaction and engagement

One of the harder challenges to overcome is an audience that isn’t engaging and is distracted by their surroundings. In a physical setting, an audience instantly feels connected and you have their attention. It is also an environment where attendees feel comfortable to freely think and speak their mind, but take away the face-to-face element and add in distractions such as a phone, emails and other tabs open on a computer, gaining their attention for a day or for a few hours becomes a serious challenge. 

This is where your content and speakers are key! By providing high-value content, delivered by highly valued speakers, your attendance and engagement rate will increase dramatically. Keep sessions short and sharp to keep your audience’s attention and to boost attendance to the live session, consider making some exclusive content available only if attendees stream the session live and not watch back the recording. 

Remember that not all speakers will feel comfortable talking to a screen as many speakers feed off an audience’s energy, so selecting a speaker that knows how to engage in this new setting is crucial. A good way around this is organising panel discussions, it allows for a more open and insightful conversation and removes the pressure some presenters may feel just talking to camera. 

An important part of getting the audience to interact is creating opportunities that allow the audience to be involved. Use a platform that can have live Q&A discussions between your presenters and audience, or create polling and quizzes within the presentations with live feedback from the presenter. The more that your audience understands that their participation has a purpose the more you will see your event succeed.  

Building relationships 

A significant part of why people attend events is the relationship building and networking opportunities that are offered. Being able to have access to interact with people that you normally wouldn’t. Recreating that in a virtual environment can be challenging, however, virtual events have now progressed into great networking opportunities that can have that personal touch. 

Build your event to have breakout and knowledge sharing groups or small workshops. Use a platform that allows attendees to be able to talk to each other. Virtual events no longer have to be one presenter just talking to a screen, the more you allow for participation and interaction the more relationships will be able to be built. 

The technology blunders 

Do a practice session! The best way to find out if there are going to be issues is to organise a full event run through. Find out if there is a scratchy microphone or camera now rather than trying to fix it when you’re live. On the day, get your presenters to log in 30minutes early, giving yourself plenty of time to fix any technical issues. 

Ensure you have someone standing by who is familiar with the technology for troubleshooting through the live event if problems do arise. 

During your practice session, map out your customer journey and click through the event as if you were going through their experience. Can the attendee access all the links and sessions and participate in polling or Q&A activities? Make sure the customer journey is an easy one, you want to make it as simple as possible for everyone to be able to participate and be involved. 

What is most important is creating a space that allows your audience to interact and feel as though they are a part of a community even though they aren’t physically there. 

#SpeakToSleek about planning your virtual event, our #DreamTeam are the experts when it comes to overcoming any event challenges. Contact us here.