How to Run a Conference Using Airtable

Running conferences requires staying on top of guests, venues, suppliers and so much more. This week Colleen is going to show us how to manage all things conferences using Airtable, Zapier, and Placid.



Getting Started with Creating Social Image Posts for Conference Speakers

Having recently helped organize State of Flow, a digital creator’s retreat organized by the Webflow community, Colleen Brady (@colleenmbrady) joins guest host Unicorn Factory founder Connor Finlayson (@finlaysonconnor) to discuss how to use Airtable to organize all things conferences. After reviewing a conference-centric Airtable base, they built a workflow for generating social media images using Placid to use in event promotion. Rounding out the conversation, they connected the Airtable base to Zapier to schedule social posts freeing conference organizers from manually scheduling posts in Buffer or other social media tools.

Snapshot of Airtable Base Schema
Conference Base Schema Created with Airtable Entity Extension

Who this video is for and what you’ll learn

This video is for Airtable advanced beginners and up. Anyone newer to Airtable can fill in any knowledge gaps by watching Airtable in 60 Minutes with Aron Korenblit. While the use case focuses on creating and sharing social posts for event promotion, the principles and workflows can easily be adapted for use by social media marketers, content creators, and more.

How to follow along

The following tools were used in this stream:

Let’s get into it

Background (05:26)

Prior to the stream, an Airtable base was created to illustrate the various pieces that can be managed from a single base. This included creating “People” and “Social Posts” tables.

Snapshot of "People" table in Airtable
Overview of "People" Table in Airtable

Step 1: An Overview of Our “People” and “Social Posts” Tables (07:29)

Events aren’t possible without people.

In the “Peoples” table, a multi-select field called “Role” is used to indicate the role(s) each person fills: attendee, organizer, speaker, crew, volunteer, etc.

We also included a “Social Post Status” select field for keeping track of whether or not we had created a social post for a particular speaker and a linked record field to easily access the created posts. While we could technically create and manage social posts from within the “People” table, it adds unnecessary fields since we don’t intend to create social posts for every single person.

When we’re ready to create a social post for a speaker, we update the “Social Post Status” field to “Send to Social Posts”. This causes the record to move to the “Send Draft Content to Social Posts” view. Upon entering the “Send Draft Content to Social Posts” view, the “Send ‘Speaker’ Details to ‘Social Posts’” automation copies information over to the “Social Posts” table.

Snapshot Showing Filtering of Airtable Records for "Send to Social Posts" View
"Send to Social Posts" View in "People" Table

Screenshot Showing Automation Settings for Sending a Record from People Table to Social Posts
Automation Settings for Sending a Record from "People" to "Social Posts"

Step 2: Refining Our “Social Posts” Table (10:32)

Our “Social Posts” table includes the text that we’ve copied over to “Social Posts” and links back to the original record in “People.”

Since we plan to generate images in Placid, we created two new fields to hold the finalized images:

  • Attachment Field: “Created Social Image”
  • URL Field: “Created Social URL”

Our “Social Posts” table contains linked record and roll-up fields referencing data in the “People” table. If we pass these to Placid, they will appear as IDs in our created images and not meaningful text. This is easily solved by adding formula fields to our "Social Posts" table that we will reference from Placid.

  • Formula Field: “Speaker for Placid”
  • Formula Field: “Talk Title for Placid”
Screenshot Showing How to Use a Formula Field to Reference Another Field
Using a Formula Field to Capture Data from Linked Record and Roll-up Fields

Since Placid will also want to know what records will need images, we created a view which will be referenced in a follow-on step.

Airtable Screenshot Showing Settings for Adding a Record to the "Send to Placid" View
Settings for Adding a Record to the "Send to Placid" View

Step 3: Configuring Placid to Create Our Social Images (18:12)

With our "Social Posts" table ready, it’s now time to start connecting it with Placid. This involves creating a new project, creating a template that uses our field names from Airtable, adding in our Airtable API key, and running the automation. More often than not, we’ll be making social images in bursts so no need to have automations running regularly and not outputting any results. That's why we elected to run the image generation step manually from within Placid.

Step 4: Creating a Zap to Send Scheduled Tweets (34:44)

With Zapier connected to our Airtable base and to a Twitter account, the last step was to create a zap to send scheduled tweets. Our "Social Posts" table already contained a field for the approximate time a post should be made along with an "Autopost Status" field that evaluates the current time and when a post should happen. The "Autopost Status" formula results in either a "0" or "1", which will be used in a view that sends records to Zapier.

NOTE: Due to polling frequencies, your post will not happen at the exact time you have scheduled, so do not use this workflow for posts that need to happen at a precise time.

Screenshot Showing Autopost Formula
Settings for "Autopost Status" Formula

The first step in our zap was to pull data from the “Social Posts” table in our Airtable base. We selected the “New Record” option based on an Airtable view that made sure that the content had been approved for posting and that it was time to post.

Screenshot of Settings for Our Airtable View to Send Posts to Twitter
Settings for the View to Be Used in Zap to Send a Tweet

The next part of the zap was to create a Tweet. After selecting the Twitter account where the tweet should be posted, we constructed a tweet by selecting fields from our Airtable base containing the post content and the image. When selecting an image, be sure to select the image’s URL.

With the tweet constructed, we added an extra step to update our Airtable record to indicate that the post had been sent to Twitter and recorded the zap ID which can sometimes be helpful for troubleshooting purposes.

Following these steps resulted in a sample post being sent on Finlayson's Twitter account. One of the next fixes for this workflow is to make sure that the speaker's Twitter username displays properly. For testing purposes, we used "twitter" but neglected the "@".

Additional Tips

This workflow can be adapted in a number of ways. On the stream, Finlayson shared how he plans to use this workflow for his business. Another way to adapt this workflow is to use a different image creation service like BannerBear. Lastly, Lola Ojabowale showed how to use Aryshare to post social graphics from Airtable on a prior stream.

Furthermore, the “Posts” table can become a single source of truth for all social media posts if a version of this workflow is applied to the Sponsors table and by adding in general marketing messages to the “Posts” table.

Are you using Airtable or other nocode tools for event or social media management? Let me know.

Key takeaways

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