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I am both excited & honoured to be heading to the very first Food Bloggers of Canada conference this weekend to speak on an panel of brand and blogger experts. With 80 bloggers and another 20+ brand representatives, I will have captive audience to share my knowledge and experience with.

If you’re a brand attending any conference you should be prepared. Know what actions have to be taken before, during and after the conference. Rarely will you get a chance like this to make a personal face-to-face connection with your bloggers, so take full advantage of it. To get you started, I put together a Conference “To-Do” List for Brands….

To-Do Before the Conference:

Announce Your Attendance // Before the event, announce your attendance and/or sponsorship at the conference. Tell your audience what the conference is about, and what you will be doing there.
Interact with the Attendees Online // As soon as the attendee list is available, you should start following all attendees. Adding them to a Twitter list can help you keep track. Engage with them around the conference. Ask who is going, what they are looking forward to, and let them know you will be there.
Prepare Your Business Cards & Offers //  Depending on the conference rules, you may be able to hand out coupons for you product with you business cards. Make sure you have enough on hand to give out to bloggers who really take a keen interest in your product. This can help build a strong personal connection and keep your product top of mind.
Know Your Bloggers // Chances are a few of the blogger you have worked with will be attending. Make sure you know who they are, what they look like, and even what their past week has involved (read their blog). These should be the bloggers you search out first, connect with them, reinforce that relationship.

To-Do At the Conference:

Make Use of the Hashtag // Use the show hashtag to promote yourself as much as possible (without overdoing it). Most conferences have a designated tag, and when they see that being used, they will re-tweet you, giving you more reach. Make sure your spread your tweets 20-30 minutes apart, so you don’t flood your followers’ streams.
Share It It Real-time // Share your photos/videos on your social networks in real-time. Facebook is a great platform for sharing photos in real-time. Take at least 10-15 photos & 1-2 videos and post them to your wall throughout the event. Encourage blogger attendees to post to your wall as well, or tag themselves in your photos.
Network // Get to know the attendees well, make a lasting impression on them – you may find yourself working with them in the future.
Write It Down // Take notes during the sessions, this can be an educational experience for you as well. Use those notes to write informative blog posts which will allow you to capitalize on search traffic.

To-Do After the Conference:

Close Up + Follow Up // Take out that stack of business cards and follow every single blogger on Twitter, Facebook and their blog. Visit their blog and comment on their conference post. Tell them it was great to finally meet them in person, and you look forward to working with them in the future. Solidify your relationship. In the following weeks monitor the conference attendees blogs and Twitter stream for any mention of them using your product. If they mention you, comment on their blog post and engage with them on Twitter.
Blog About It // Do a wrap-up post on your immediately after the conference describing your experience  The timeliness will help you capitalize on the conference generated buzz. Mention the bloggers you met. What you learned at the session. Include lots of “pinnable” pictures. If you have more than 10 great pictures from the event, consider creating a Facebook album. Encourage the conference attendees to tag themselves in your pictures!

Remember, this is just to get you started. There are so many uses for social media when it comes to covering an event. It’s a great tool to create buzz around you and your products, and hopefully make you the busiest brand rep at the conference!

How do you use social media to promote yourself at an event, consumer/trade show, or conference?

Are you a blogger attending the upcoming FBC Conference? Then check out my Conference Attendee “To Do” Lists on my personal blog.

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{photo via Alt Summit}

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