Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Live Blogging for Nonprofits

Ah, social media! It's everywhere, all the time and frankly, loads of fun! Erik Evans joins us again with an article on live blogging during events. Haven't you noticed that at practically every conference you attend people are multi-tasking with their devices even as workshops are being conducted. Live blogging can help you keep your attendees focused on your organization and what's happening in real time. Thanks again Erik! Bunnie

Live Blogging for Nonprofits

by Erik Evans
Public Relations and Web Information, Sons of Norway

If last year’s election cycle taught non-profits nothing else, we learned that live blogging from an event is of great interest to the public at large. Whether it was on the campaign trail, at the RNC/DNC or even from the inauguration ceremony, people loved reading real-time accounts of an event they were unable to attend. The same can be said of an association or non-profit’s members.

For many of these two groups we often hear member comments about their regret in not being able to attend large events because they lived too far away, the cost of attendance were too high, etc. A good way to overcome this challenge is by taking a note from what we saw from the campaign trail and began blogging live from the events you host or sponsor.

For example, if you are hosting or sponsoring a big event, turn your blog into THE resource for up-to-date information about the event, which helps build excitement amongst your members/audience who were already planning to attend. Then, during the event, make live posts with real-time updates about what's happening at the event, issues being discussed, interviews of VIP's and post photos from social events.

It's an exciting challenge, but a challenge nonetheless. You'll learn quickly that if you are going to do this, you're often expected to be in more than one place at a time. For that reason alone, it’s best to try and plan out your days ahead of time and learn as much as you can about what’s going on when. Also, trying to carry a camera, laptop, assorted cables, etc. proved to be difficult and sometimes a hindrance as well.

In the end, though, it can be well worth the effort because of three important results you may see. First, it keeps non-attending members engaged in the event by making them feel like they were part of the experience. Second, by showing them all the fun and excitement they missed, you are showing that attendance is worth the travel and cost of attendance. Essentially, you are increasing the chances that these folks will attend in the future. Last of all, you have probably exposed a whole new group of people, those who read the blog but aren't members, to your organization in action. This kind of exposure can be very helpful in recruiting new members.This is especially true when you work with the event planners to get into places/meet VIP's that most attendees can’t, then blog about it. It’s like giving your readers a proverbial backstage pass, which engages and entices them to participate in the future.

Also, I've learned that blogging live from events can stretch your current sponsorship budget even further. You see, blogging about an event you sponsor can be just as valuable to the planners as a cash contribution because it can lend weight and added credibility. The best part is that the cost is minimal on your part and it’s something you should probably be doing anyhow.

In the end blogs can serve a lot of purposes, all of which help strengthen a non-profit and increase interaction with its members.

To learn more about live-blogging, or using other forms of social media as a resource, contact Erik Evans at eevans@sofn.com.

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