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Insights from Experient’s Technology and Meetings in the Future Webcast

Yesterday, Experient webcast a panel session on “Technology and Meetings in the Future” from their E4 Conference in Maryland. There were about 50 people watching it online, plus a room full of people onsite. Stephen Nold of Advon Technologies moderated a panel that included Nicole Buraglio (Hanley Woods Exhibitions), Mike Immerwahr (Microsoft), and RD Whitney (Taurus Online Media). You can watch it and look at a visual recap.

Most of the discussion revolved around Social Media and how it is redefining events, event experiences, communication and marketing/promotion. Here are a couple of ideas that caught my attention.

Social Media Landscape credit: Fred Cavazza, Creative Commons license

Credit: Fred Cavazza, Creative Commons license

Shift Happening in Marketing  of Events

The shift from Push to Pull puts customers in control. Customers here means participants, exhibitors and sponsors. As people start collecting information in new ways event organizers need to be prepared and change accordingly. For example, email marketing with graphics that looks nice on a computer screen ends up garbled on a mobile phone. On the other hand, through communities it is now easier to reach out and connect with your customers directly. Nicole Buraglio said “we listen to our customers and give them what they want.”  To adapt, her company has redefined the way that they are doing business. How are you adapting?

New Competitors And New Opportunities

Today’s social media tools allow us to share, collaborate, communicate and self-organize. I got the sense through the webcast that many event organizers are trying to grasp with this new reality. RD Whitney, a commercial events organizer, said his largest competitor for one event is a blog. Yes! One guy with a Macbook blogging from his mother’s basement is threatening an entire event!  On the other hand, RD Whitney said his organization uses online communities to create new events. They create communities, establish a beachhead, and if there is interest in a face2face event – they create one.

Communities are the Gateway to Live Participation

The panelists agreed that connecting with participants through online communities are vital for an event’s success in the new world. The panelists indicated that they had successfully used social media to connect with their communities to achieve the following: creating new events, learning what participants wanted, generating word of mouth marketing, getting qualitative feedback and getting people to attend the event. Stephen Nold shared a story how MeetingTechOnline asked speakers to tweet comments and increased attendance at a face-to-face event by 8%.

Controversy: Should you Create Your Own Event Community?

When it came to the tactics and actions that you should take for using Social Media for your events, the panelists and twittersphere started to disagree. There are some that would prefer to connect through the existing Mega-One-Size-Fits-All-Communities like Facebook (200 million), Linkedin (40 million), Twitter (12 million). While others preferred to create separate private online communities. In my opinion, you should always engage people on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Then, create a private community if you want people to have conversations about who’s coming, the hot topics and exchange information about your event.

What do you think?

So, those were my observations from the webinar. Anything else that you would like to add?  Are you using Online Communities to engage your participants? What types of results are you getting? Please share your opinions and insights.

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