I recently had the pleasure of attending EventCamp Twin Cities - without leaving my office. How? I attended the virtual event, held in tandem with the live, face-to-face (F2F) event in the Twin Cities. I was extremely impressed by the entire event and particularly the virtual side. Thanks to technology partners like Intefy and Sonic Foundry, as well as awesome organizers like Samuel J. Smith of Interactive Meeting Technology, Ray Hansen of Appevision and EventCamp Twin Cities virtual host Emilie Barta, my experience as a virtual attendee was as if I were right there in the room, participating with everyone else. I came away from EventCamp Twin Cities filled with excitement to attend (in person) the upcoming EventCamp East Coast in Philadelphia.
I even tweeted during the event about my excitement...
...which got this response from @suzannecarawan:
It definitely made me think. Since we work with many event organizers on social media, outreach and community building for their events, this experience made me wonder about how well virtual and hybrid (mix of virtual and F2F) events could work for larger conferences. I think that the possibilities would be endless and present enormous opportunity to engage not only past attendees who could not make it to the event, but new audiences interested in the content on offer. I recall a song from my Girl Scout days we used to sing at the end of troop meetings: "Make new friends, but keep the old/One is silver and the other gold." Build new relationships, build upon existing ones.
Unfortunately, there seems to be this assumption that virtual and hybrid events will cannibalize attendance to the live event. In reality, virtual and hybrid events (when done right) can actually help increase attendance to subsequent live events by broadening the event’s reach and generating interest from new audience bases. Read about the case of Cisco and the phenomenal results they achieved from their hybrid events – where 55% of virtual attendees were "net-new" and 35% said they’d attend a live event. Another example of hybrid events that work is the IN Zone at TS2 2010, where the "Continuing the Conversation" virtual audience grew by 106% as they watched interviews conducted by Emilie Barta and participated in discussions via social media channels.
What we have to get past is the notion that virtual and hybrid events will become a reason for attendees not to pay. Instead, they’re a reason for those who cannot attend the live event to still participate. Why would you want to alienate those who cannot attend in person just because they’re not paying the big bucks to do so? Hybrid events present a huge opportunity to engage a portion of your audience during a live event that you wouldn’t have engaged otherwise. They may already be following your event via Twitter, Facebook, blogs or other online news sources – why not acknowledge those folks and invite them to participate where they are?
Plus, if your content is strong and valuable enough, you might even consider charging a fee to attend virtually, or even offering a tiered model with free and premium virtual attendance. In fact, according to a recent survey of 112 associations conducted by Tagoras, only 2-3% of groups that are planning virtual conferences for the first time say they will offer it for free – in fact, most are looking to charge as close to the price of the F2F conferences as they can. Michael McCurry of Experient wrote an excellent article exploring revenue models for hybrid events, which I highly recommend reading if you’re considering “hybridizing” your event.
So - are you convinced yet, or do you still have reservations? What have your experiences been with virtual and hybrid events as related to your live event attendance?Posted by Kari Rippetoe at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
Location-based services are the newest trend in social networking, and as such the big players in the space (Foursquare and Gowalla) are getting all sorts of attention and scrutiny. While many users of such services love broadcasting their whereabouts to their online friends and earning badges and titles of distinction in the process (Player Please badge, anyone?), others are a bit wary of them and their usefulness – and are especially concerned with potential privacy issues.
Businesses, on the other hand, are starting to find value of their own in using location-based services as a marketing tool. Even event marketers are starting to experiment with location-based social networking to promote a conference, specific exhibitor, or special sessions – something we did for this year's NAB Show.
The only problem is when it comes to events and conferences, services like Foursquare and Gowalla aren't quite ready for prime time. While the concept of checking in to an event or exhibitor booth in order to drive traffic and generate interest is definitely cool, the functionality is not conducive to a conference setting due to two big issues:
Location-based gaming app SCVNGR looks like it's really going places (and racking up some points at those places, too). The Google-backed start-up combines the concept of "checking in" to venues with the fun and interactivity of an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Players discover cool new places, find fun new things to do, share their activity with friends and can even earn virtual (and sometimes real-world) rewards. Upon visiting and checking in to a venue, users of the app are required to complete a "challenge", which could range from taking a photo to something more complex. Users can rack up points for completing challenges, which could be used to win prizes.
What impressed me most about SCVNGR is the applications in a conference setting are endless and benefit not only attendees, but also exhibitors. Conferences can create custom "treks" consisting of 20-35 locations, taking people on a certain path around the conference or expo. Imagine offering this to exhibitors as a value-add to drive traffic to their booths while interacting in a fun and engaging way with attendees/prospective customers, or even using this as a way to promote certain sessions or guide people through conference tracks. You might even create a social media hub at your event with a digital "leader board" displaying attendee names and their scores, along with photos that have been taken or other media created in the process.
It's free to create places and challenges at those places, however the creation of treks (what will link all those places and challenges together into a complete, branded experience) is only available to enterprise clients of SCVNGR. With the creation of custom treks come features like the leader board, an activity screen, analytics, game design and turnkey support.
Double Dutch is really touting itself as the location-based app for events, and for good reason. It's a white-label app that is custom-built for an event – which does away with the inherent issue I mentioned above with checking in to a conference (or specific location at a conference) with Foursquare or Gowalla. This means individual booths and sessions can be built into the app for attendees to check in to within the confines of the event venue itself, and they have the option of broadcasting their conference whereabouts to only other attendees.
Double Dutch can also be used by attendees to interact with each other and at different sessions. For instance, they can use it to rate speakers and even submit questions to them via RSS. A gaming element can also be built into the app and used in much the same way as Scvngr, incentivizing attendees with custom-branded stickers for completing tasks like checking in at exhibitor booths and sessions, taking photos and even rating speakers. For those of you in exhibitor sales and marketing, these stickers can be sold to exhibitors as a way to market their presence.
Double Dutch clients can also create leader boards and have access to an analytics dashboard to monitor activity, speaker feedback and how people are engaging with the app. They can also use the Double Dutch API to connect Facebook, Twitter and blogs to the app – allowing attendees to post their whereabouts and reviews to those places if they choose. The fact that it combines the gaming element with additional ways for attendees to interact with each other and with exhibitors and speakers makes this a valuable tool for event marketers.
Double Dutch is currently available on iPhone only at the moment, but should be available across all platforms soon.
I think both of these apps have massive value to offer for event marketers and organizers – both from an attendee and exhibitor standpoint. There are costs involved in working with both Scvngr and Double Dutch, but I also think the potential for generating ROI on either one is huge, not to mention the opportunity to engage attendees directly with fun games, event networking and built-in feedback loops.
Have you used either of these apps for an event? Tell us about your experience!
Tuvel Communications is the online PR firm for the NAB Show, and in addition to being the "voice" behind the show's social media outposts (Twitter, Facebook pages, LinkedIn group), we also devised and implemented creative pre-show and on-site social media promotions to engage attendees, drive registrations and generate excitement.
This year Foursquare became a major player in the social media game, and although we did not implement a full-scale location-based program, we did monitor how people were using Foursquare at the show, plus we came up with a last minute on-site contest that utilized the geo-location social network. What we learned was quite interesting and makes all of us here at Tuvel very excited about the possibilities Foursquare presents for the event marketing and conference business(s).
What did we do?
I mentioned earlier that throughout the show, we were monitoring how attendees were using Foursquare on-site. We found that in addition to people checking in through the show page we created, others were creating their own NAB Show pages on Foursquare and checking in through those. We also found that some exhibitors had created Foursquare pages for their own booths, using the same method outlined above (they used their company names and booth numbers in the Name fields).
I recently talked about our use of Foursquare in a discussion on the Engage 365 Community, and a great comment was made by John Barber that "the more event Foursquare pages that are added by your method, the longer becomes the flat list of places that all come up at the venue's main geo-location." This is a great point, and I would certainly not say our implementation method was in any way foolproof. This, however, is more attributable to the limits of the tool itself. When it comes to Foursquare's use at conferences, it's definitely not ready for prime time (although I hope to see that change soon).
As for our Stan Lee session contest, we garnered a grand total of 15 check-ins. Considering that it was a last-minute guerilla marketing tactic with literally a morning's worth of marketing to promote it and where we were basically experimenting with Foursquare's use at an individual conference session, I would say it worked pretty well.
Have you ever seen Foursquare used (or used it yourself) for event marketing? What were the results and how did you gauge them?
Here at Tuvel Communications, we have executed conference and expo social media programs for clients like the NAB Show and 1105 Government Information Group. We've learned several lessons along the way, and I thought it would be useful to get these thoughts down on digital paper to share with you so can be better prepared when it comes to social media marketing at events.
Having said all of that, don't underestimate the importance of feedback from conference organizers, attendees and exhibitors. It's easy to feel excitement in the air when you hear comments like "you guys are doing something different this year" or "there really is a lot of activity, I notice it."
With last week's pivotal announcement of Facebook's Open Graph, the "one graph to rule them all" as it’s been referred to rather humorously (and yet, at the same time quite ominously), the Interwebs have been all abuzz with talk of how this will affect the web as we know it. While the ubiquitous term "Web 2.0" refers to the next generation of the web - an increasingly social entity due to social media and networking sites like Twitter, YouTube, and of course Facebook - the question on many minds is how the web will evolve with the introduction of Open Graph and whether it will now become one big social network.
As an online marketer, however, I've been more interested in how Facebook's new set of Open Graph features can be used to extend the reach of a brand and its content. Gone is the ability to become a "fan" of something, whether it's a brand, product, or business. If you have a formerly-known-as-"fan page" (not sure what it's called now – just a "page"?), then your fans are now people who "like" you. Kind of reminds me of those little notes we used to pass to each other in school ("Do you like me? Check Yes or No").
Using the new set of social plugins provided by Facebook, "Like" and "Recommend" buttons can now be integrated into virtually any website - so if you're signed in to Facebook and you visit a website with these buttons perched next to its content, you can share that content with your Facebook friends with just a click.
On top of that, Facebook now also has widgets that display content your friends recommend and like on a website. For instance, when I visit CNN.com, I can see from the Facebook widget on the homepage the articles with which my friends have interacted in some way – recommended, liked, shared, and commented on.
Can you imagine the possibilities here? These widgets can be integrated into blogs, news sites, e-commerce sites, and online communities in so many different ways. While there has been a bit of a backlash in response to Open Graph regarding privacy concerns (aren't there always when it comes to Facebook?), I see this a positive boon for marketers and the social web as a whole.
Your turn: What are your thoughts on Facebook's Open Graph and its marketing possibilities?Posted by Kari Rippetoe at 04:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
One thing helping RSS become more mainstream (if it hasn't already!) are offerings that people can use. We all know the time savings and efficiency that RSS brings but vertical use will speak volumes.
Technorati Tags:Posted by Mitch at 02:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
(heard about it on The Escape Blog)
Nick Usborne and Marketing Experiments has a piece on Dial-up service and all I can say is 'Amen'! I just spent the good part of a week on dial-up and it was painful. Broken images, downloads that never downloaded, 'files not found' all make for a tedious experience. The biggest drag, outside of frustration, is time wasted. Forget deep linking on a dial-up. You can also forget image heavy websites like The Washington Post.
Technorati Tags:Posted by Mitch at 07:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
Steve Rubel is talking about Ajax and advertising. I first heard about Ajax from Venturepreneur, in a funding conversation. Both of these folks mention Adaptive Path. Janice Fraser, Adaptive Path CEO, had a great essay on Ajax's tipping point.
Something is happening right now, and the developer community has an electric gleam in its eye.
More: It's a Whole New Internet.
Technorati Tags:Posted by Mitch at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
A recent post to the AdMarketing list:
On a recent trip, I pulled up my RSS/Really Simple Syndication newsreader only to find that all of my web feeds were missing! This means that all of the content that I was automatically getting at the press of a button was gone for good. These days, loosing your web feeds is kinda like loosing the inbox. I was using the FeedReader newsreader...
Anyway, does anyone have recommendations for a newsreader that you like? Some of the popular brands: feedster, bloglines, newsgator. If you send me recommendations directly or even post them to my blog, I'll return a list of AdMarketing favorites. There are many newsreaders out there (link to a list follows). It would be good to see what other AdMarketers are using.
Mitch Arnowitz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Managing Director; Tuvel Communications
P: 301.545.0843 C: 301.524.1587
Engaging Your Customers in Unconventional Ways
Technorati Tags:Posted by Mitch at 09:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
I'm thrown for a loop though. One place that I surely thought to have an RSS feed would be a publication on knowledge management and collaboration! Problem is that they don't have a feed, making it more difficult for me to get to their content.
I could always order the print publication but may risk tossing it in with the other magazines that "I don't have time for". This is a good magazine-- I'll have to try and remember to visit the website each month.
Technorati Tags:Posted by Mitch at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
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