For the past 5 years, many of us interested in Events & Technology have been meeting each year at SXSW. This March, that tradition continues at a Meet Up I am hosting there to expand on these explorations. Details are as follows:
Better Events Through Technology Meet Up
Saturday, March 11, 12:30-1:30pm
Austin JW Marriott, Room 209
You can favorite the event and add it to your schedule here:
Description: Not another panel — this will be a Meet Up for those that love events, but also hunger for a better tech-enabled experience. If you are an event producer or sponsor, a creator or power user of EventTech tools, or an Event Technologist, this Meet Up is for you. More than networking, our goal is to share with one another cool tech-enabled best practices that we can use to give us more joy and success, here at SXSW this week, and at our own future events.
Please shoot me a quick email if you plan to join us, and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop on future updates for this session, as well as other events of interest to the event and EventTech community.
I hope to see you there,
Great piece in TechCrunch about one of the first real surveys to measure people’s receptivity to iBeacon messaging in retail stores, which looks to be quite high.
For those of us in the event space, this closing quote speaks to the long term potential:
“And it’s not just retail stores, either. Eventbase, Urban Airship and the Mobile Marketing Association are blanketing the Cannes Lions Festival — an atavistic tribute to marketing manipulation held in France this week — with beacons that will trigger polling and surveys from the festival’s official app. The app will also enable attendees to keep track of each other in real-time with the ‘Around Me’ feature in the culmination of a thousand ‘local social’ wet dream concept apps.
The heavy presence in the app and at the event is no accident, of course. Beacons are considered the next frontier for marketers, and demonstrating their precision and power at the hot industry event of the year is savvy for companies like Eventbase and Urban Airship, who are tapping into the field.”
Your #Hashtag is Your Event
An interactive conversation for the Event Community
Session Recap from SXSW
Session Hashtag: #Eventtech
The advent of online tools and technologies has changed the world of live events, in more ways than we know. We as event professionals need to deal with that change—to discover the best ways to integrate technology.
The Advent of iBeacon
As an example, iBeacons, which burst on to the scene with iOS7, represent a ground breaking technology. iBeacons can be used to add value to events in a myriad of ways, including getting your badge faster, checking into discussions, networking, wayfinding, and others….
iBeacon features like the Session Live function from Eventbase, which we demoed at the SXSW session, offer new ways to create an event “back channel” discussion, just for those that are in the room (as opposed to publicly, such as on Twitter). It also creates a persistent network of people you can connect with afterwards.
The challenge with much dedicated event technology: How much adoption of your technology do you get? Because Twitter is so widely used, it has emerged as a powerful event networking tool. If you encourage people to share your event experience on Twitter, you can open it up to the whole population, not just those that are there at the event. In this way, events today are more than the physical presence of being in the room, hence our thesis: “Your #hashtag is your event.”
The Challenges of new technology
Technology can also be a real challenge for events, as we fight for people’s attention and to get them to our events. As we all get more connected through technology, the live experience of being at events has actually become even more desirable and more important. But we as event producers are challenged to deliver more value—to up our game, and to make these live experiences truly unique.
For example, trending hashtags will attract spammers (turning it into a #bashtag, if you will). But various curation tools can help you combat that.
“Custom Timelines” are potentially a killer app within Twitter. They allow you to curate your best content, which can be very useful around your event hashtag. Twitter Custom Timelines offer an easy, low friction way using TweetDeck to curate your best content and then publish it back out (through Twitter and/or through embedding it on your site). This has far reaching positive impact for events, though it’s a feature that hasn’t been promoted very heavily by Twitter so far.
When it comes to getting people to tweet at your event, keep in mind that 40% of people on Twitter don’t Tweet, they just read. So, focus on the 60% who will spread your message, recognizing there is also value in those who just read. But largely, you need to invest in engaging with the brand ambassadors, the “chatterboxes” that can amplify your message.
And keep in mind, your efforts need to extend beyond Twitter and should most likely include: YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Email—and perhaps Pinterest and others.
Stay focused on your lasting impact
Against this backdrop of New Technologies, the pillars of events remain the same:
1. A content piece offering learning/entertainment
2. A social piece offering networking/parties
3. Lasting value for the participants
What kind of ongoing impact you are looking for is key in deciding about your technology mix.
The changing face of Sponsorship
This is especially true when it comes to Sponsorship, another component of events that is getting radically changed by new technologies.
They key question about sponsorship at the session: “How do I get more?”
The sponsorship industry as a whole is still largely playing catch up with digital rights and opportunities. All the things we are talking about here: Extending the value of your event online, hashtags, curation—they all can add tremendous value to a sponsorship, but packaging that and then sharing it in such a way that it encourages Sponsors to invest more money with your event, that is where the art comes into it.
Ultimately though, that is where the future lies, and that is where you have an incentives to invest your technology efforts—in your curated feeds, etc…, because your sponsors will recognize the value of this going forward.
Beacons as both challenge and opportunity
As we consider Sponsorship and the commercial aspects of our events, it’s worth keeping in mind one danger of iBeacons, which is as they catch on at Retail, that shoppers will receive too many push notifications—leading to a potential backlash.
We in the world of events have a special opportunity, being more educational and often less directly commerce-focused, to really deliver true added value to our audiences with Beacons.
Finally, the passive check-in aspect of iBeacons can give you info and heat maps that can help you make decisions as an event producer, regardless of people’s willingness to publicly check-in, post or declare themselves. This is worth keeping in mind as we realize that, over time, we in the event business, like every business, will to some extent be in the data business.
Monetizing our events
How we monetizes our events remains a challenge. Events are great for educating and engaging, but direct selling often takes place after the event. Your audience can be alienated by too strong a sales pitch, rather than the educational approach. Ultimately, the relationship gets started at the event and based on what you learn, you can then be more appropriate as you reach out with a sales message after.
This is a real challenge for those of us who put on events, (especially B2B events) and for sponsors and exhibitors. The ROI tends to come later, and it’s harder to measure and to attribute to one’s event efforts—it’s not like Google Search Ads—and this can be a problem when we have to fight for budget for our events.
By employing best practices, including those around new technologies (see below), events can build your pipeline and increase your sales. They always have and always will. One hope is that new technologies will also help us better measure that value—and attribute it appropriately to our event efforts and sponsorships. That may still seem like a Holy Grail as of today, but with the continued advent of new technologies for events, that may not be for long.
Resources (mentioned in the Session):
Twitter Custom Timelines https://blog.twitter.com/2013/introducing-custom-timelines
Cisco CMX http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/enterprise-networks/connected-mobile-experiences/index.html
Crimson Hexagon http://www.crimsonhexagon.com/
TechCrunch TV (as a best practice approach to sharing Tech Crunch Disrupt content with a remote audience.)
And a Special Thanks to @tomspano for joining me as co-presenter this year, and also to @j3ffsinclair of Eventbase for bringing the Apple and Qualcomm Gimbal based iBeacon technology for us to experiment with and learn about.
Scavenger Hunts represent some of the best early iBeacon tests for events. One of the things I find intriguing about them is that they point to the ways that sponsorship and even gamification can play a part in adding value to events. As the interactions increase between iBeacon enabled spaces and well- conceived mobile apps, sponsors can in turn benefit in a number of new ways from that process.
Presuming iBeacon and Events are of interest, please check out this post http://www.eventmanagerblog.
I call this sampling of recent posts from the “beac-osphere” iBeacon 201 as it includes more advanced possibilities, use cases, and deeper analytics, building on those I included in iBeacon 101 last week.
As before, I tend to focus on uses of Beacons beyond retail, or to look at retail examples through the lens of how they might transform the world of live event and venues. Enjoy!