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Is Your Mingle Stick Poken Attendees in the BeLinker

In his book Here Comes Everybody Clay Shirky writes – “If you give them more of a reason to do something, they will do more of it, and if you make it easier to do more of something that they are already inclined to do, they will also do more of it.

Shirky came to mind when I heard that 3,000 attendees at an HR Block conference exchanged 153,000 digital business cards and 15,000 paperless brochures using the Busy Event BeLinker. (Case)

The BeLinker must be dead simple for attendees to understand and use. When I talked with Brian Slawin of Busy Event recently, I asked him – how did you get so many people to use it?

Brian emphasized three things:

  1. The organizer sent attendees emails telling them about the new technology.
  2. Attendees had a demonstration & short activity at the beginning to introduce people to the tech and let them try it.
  3. They had a support area for attendees with questions.

The Message: Simple is Good – but so is making sure that attendees feel comfortable with the technology.

Wait! Wait! There’s More!

While Busy Event has a great case – several similar technologies have entered the market in the past 15 months. Here are some examples:

> Poken – Originally designed for college kids, these are sponsorable take home versions of Busy Event. By touching your Poken to another attendee’s Poken, you can exchange social business cards that connect each other’s facebook, twitter and linkedin accounts together. By the looks of things – it is taking off at events. Read the BMW Case Study and IBM Case Study to see how this tool is being used.

> Mingle Stick – This little gadget works similarly to BusyEvent and Poken – except that it is not as robust as BusyEvent or as cool as Poken.

> Living TradeShow – The LivingTradeshow Crickit gives attendees a one button system for exchanging lead information. These little devices are tied to a powerful backend database and onsite network (like BusyEvent) to let exhibitors look at lead information in a live format. The cool thing about these CrickIt devices is that they can be custom molded for each tradeshow and serve as a take-home item.

A Word of Caution – About Mobile Devices

For those of you drinking the mobile-phone KoolAid, I think mobile has some work to do to become as-simple-for-attendees-to-use as these new gadgets.  With mobile, you run into all kinds of problems with different hardware models, software compatibility, compliance, etc.  At a recent event, I discovered that the attendees had many different types of phones and software applications. Trying to exchange mobile contact information was sometimes more effort than it was worth.

Bottom Line

These new simple gadgets are creating new ways for event attendees to connect and share leads, exchange contact information and connect their social world to the real world. By giving all attendees the same technology (Belinkers, Pokens, MingleSticks or CrickITs) you are making sure that they are all working with the same business productivity tools.

What do you think?

image: courtesy of Busy Event

Reminder: I don’t receive any form of compensation for product reviews.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Samuel:

    I agree with you that simple and intuitive devices are the way to go. Isn’t that how Apple got rich? However, the perception of complexity is also important. No one wants a gadget that can only do one thing even if they only use it for one thing. They want something that “appears” complicated but are secretly glad it is easy to use.I think it’s about design. Make it look sleek and sell it in different colors and put a few buttons on it but make it sure its core functionality is solid and super easy to use and you have a winner. I think mobile will be there someday. You still can’t make a call with a Mingle Stick.

    Michelle

    April 16, 2010
    • Thanks for your comment! I laughed a little when I read your statement – “no one wants a gadget that can do only one thing.” When I first heard of some of these gadgets, I thought like you did. It wasn’t until I started seeing case studies and video testimonials that I started believing that these tools could work.

      April 19, 2010
  2. Sam, I don’t be-think that these solutions are going to win the race. Here’s a couple thoughts on why:

    1) Contacts without qualifying can be pretty useless on the expo floor.

    2) Event communities are on the rise and offer deeper value by providing connections in advance, during and onsite vs. just onsite. I want to make the most of my mingling by connecting in advance.

    3) If I really want a relationship with you, I want the comfort of knowing I got your biz card in my pocket. Shortly after, I’m going to connect with you on LinkedIn and maybe another platform or two. Exhibitors still like the paper based lead retrieval so they can have the comfort of walking off the show floor with a fist full of leads.

    4) Many of these platforms are competing against the major registration companies for show organizer and exhibitor spend. If a device company plans on making it, they need the endorsement of one of the 3 big registration companies to build some critical mass.

    April 17, 2010
    • Great counter arguments, Dave. Lot to chew on there.

      When I look at the event technology market – I think it’s still early. We are still in the early adopter stage in this market. We need to see more expansion, innovation and choice — before we can see consolidation. In my opinion, these tools represent a step forward. We need to take more steps.

      Also, you indirectly said that these technologies are not the ideal solution for networking. I agree with that. For example, most of them only answer 1 of the 5 key questions that an attendee needs to answer for effective networking: See this post for more details: (http://interactivemeetingtechnology.com/2009/10/03/how-to-save-attendees-from-networking-hell/) Until these solutions can answer all 5 questions – there will still be room for improvement.

      Thanks for the comments and insight.

      – Sam

      April 19, 2010

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