How to Live Blog Effectively

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Nov 2, 2009
More Articles by Janet


With Pubcon coming up next week in Las Vegas (sidenote: Yee Ha!), I’ll be live blogging many sessions from the conference, so I thought it might be an appropriate time to share my tips and techniques for live blogging from a conference with all of you.

Why Live Blog in the First Place?

Why go to all the trouble of live blogging from an event? Live blogging really helps you get noticed and gain new readership as well as Twitter followers. While I’m not really a Twitter heavyweight when it comes to followers, I average at least 100 new followers per day when I live blog at a conference. I currently have about 1800 or more followers, so 100 new ones per day would be a 6% increase in followers per day. Not bad for one day’s work!

What Should You Carry in Your Bag?

If you’re planning on live blogging at an event, it helps to come well-prepared. Here’s what I always carry with me, other than just my laptop:

  • Power Strip
    I carry a power strip with me to every conference now. Why? Many times, conferences are at convention centers or hotels, and many times, there are not enough outlets for every laptop to plug in. If you’re planning on live blogging all day, you likely don’t have the battery power to last for seven or more hours and do all of that live blogging.A power strip allows you to be the hero of the live bloggers. If there aren’t enough power outlets, but you have a power strip with you, others will gladly share the power outlet since they can share your power strip. Problem solved!
  • Broadband Card
    If you don’t have a broadband card, I highly recommend one, especially for live blogging at events. Why? Often the conference location has limited or poor wi-fi capability — even at Internet-related conferences. Just two weeks ago, our own Renee Revetta attended TWTRCON DC and found that Internet connectivity was slim to none (due likely to malfunctions), but her broadband card still allowed her to live blog from the event. Having immediate connectivity can make a big difference in when your coverage gets posted to your blog — and as you’ll see below, that can make a big difference in readership and promotion of you post by others.
  • Optional: Camera or Phone w/Camera
    If you have time to add them, images from the presentation are helpful for several reasons: 1) they give your blog post more useful content in the form of related-images (like pictures of the speakers themselves) and 2) if the speaker is fast, you can take a quick snapshot of the screen/slide to refer back to it later. I mostly use my camera in my phone, and it works well.

What Techniques Help Get Your Posts Noticed?

So you’re a the conference and you’re live blogging your heart out. Now how can you get your coverage noticed and promoted by others? Here are the best practices I use:

  • Post FAST!
    As soon as you can after a conference session is over, get your coverage posted to your blog. In the day of immediate information sharing, the fastest post may get the most viewers — especially by those following conference coverage. So be sure to get that post up fast!How can you be fast? My method is to open WordPress and essentially take notes as the speakers are presenting — directly in WordPress. Then quickly clean up the notes to form a blog post. Be sure to work dilligently, though, and avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Send the Post to Those Covering the Conference
    Often conferences will have someone compiling conference-related blog posts. For instance, Barry Schwarz offen compiles the blog posts surrounding SMX conferences and posts them to Search Engine Land and The Daily Search Cap email. Reach out to those compiling conference-related posts so they know to follow your updates for inclusion in these compilation lists.
  • Tweet the Post, and Use the Conference Hashtag
    If you don’t know who is compiling conference-related posts, another helpful way to find them (and others interested in conference news) is to use the conference hashtag when tweeting your post. Most conferences establish these hashtags and promote them during the event (for example, Pubcon’s will likely be #pubcon). Those following the hashtag are looking for conference-related posts, like yours, and will likely help promote, retweet, or even just will be another visitor/reader at the very least.
  • Include Tools and Other Useful Mentions in Your Post
    Some of my most popular live blog posts feature tools mentioned at a conference session. Tools are one of the best things I find out about at conferences, and tools are important not just to conference attendees and the like, but rather to everyone in your field. If tools are mentioned during the session, be sure to include them with links to the tool sites.

Those are my tips — hope you find them helpful. Be sure to follow me @janetdmiller for my Pubcon conference updates next week. And if you’re at #Pubcon, find me — I’ll gladly share my power strip. :)

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