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Posts tagged ‘Audience Engagement’

Introducing SocialPoint

You create awesome events for your brand or cause. It’s our job to help you spread that awesomeness in social media.

You probably have a nucleus of social savvy attendees who are blackbelts in mobile phone and social media kung fu. These attendees will tweet, blog, check in and make status updates during your event.  And, you love them for what they do.

What about the Passionate Patties and Thumbless Theos who love your brand or cause but couldn’t tweet their way out of a room? They would start a movement for you in social media if they could.

For these attendees – you need something simple and fun. You need SocialPoint.

The Secret Ingredient

SocialPoint is the secret ingredient to spreading awesomeness.  We make it super-simple for attendees to share big ideas from your event with their friends on Facebook. We give attendees a branded RFID-enabled wristband (or badge). They touch and go at social points around your event. Then, posts appear on their Facebook wall.

Here’s the real magic. When your attendees post on their own Time Line, you increase your social media impact by up to 100x versus posting on your brand’s Facebook page. That’s a huge difference. With those numbers, think about how much you increase the number of likes, shares and comments, too.

Mix It Up

This is a new service that we are offering for events. It’s a great way to mix up your events and expand your social media execution.

Do us a favor check out the website, download the brochure and like us on Facebook.

GPJ’s David Rich on Bringing Digital To Events

Are you overwhelmed by colleagues wanting to add social media tools to your events? Are you wondering where to start?

Start by listening this Podcast with David Rich, Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Worldwide at George P. Johnson. David offers healthy insights and practical advice for event professionals that are wondering where to start and how to think about integrating digital technology into their events.


10 Insights From The Interview:

  1. What is it about experiences that transform people in a powerful way? It takes more than performers.  It’s People, environments, props, etc.
  2. Digital Technology gives us more tactics than we have ever had before – to move people to action. More ways to interact, deepen connections, etc.
  3. Don’t get mesmerized by the technology and implement technology for technology’s sake.
  4. Start with your Goals and Objectives, then understand your audience, then look at what interactions are required to move people to action.
  5. Look at where people are interacting online and meet them there. Don’t try to force them to meet in a new place.
  6. In digital, it is easier to gather measurable data than face-to-face. That measurement can be translated into customer insights.
  7. GPJ’s Digital Blueprint is a toolkit to help people organize their thoughts, develop a plan and not panic. You don’t need to panic.
  8. Digital is a new medium with new requirements. In a face-to-face event, normally the scale of an event helps us blot out distraction. In Virtual Events, the opposite is true. You are looking at a 2 X 2 screen and there are distractions everywhere.
  9. The difference between face-to-face and digital is comparable to the difference between Broadway and Film. In film, you want to be as subtle as possible because the camera can pick up each movement. In Broadway, you are trying to broadcast to the last row.
  10. Meetings and Events are the original form of social media.

Bottom Line

Going Digital is not about using the latest shiny objects. It is about building experiences in this new medium that move people to action. Start with objectives and strategy, look at your audience’s behaviors AND THEN look for the tools and tactics.

The Future of Meetings: Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother?The Future of Meetings was a hot topic at the MPI World Education Conference this week. While there was a lot of discussion around the topic – the answer was not so easy to pin down. At times, I felt like the baby bird searching for his mother in P.D. Eastman’s Story “Are You My Mother.”

Is “Technology” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends some people flying toward technology. This was evidenced by the thousands of attendees that flocked to the many technology sessions to learn about the latest whizbangs and strategies. This was evidenced by the paperless program, the Mobile apps and the Pathable community.

So, it’s technology right? Smartphones and that kind of stuff. Um, not exactly.

Is “Environment” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends others into the “better room layout” and “environment” corner. Joan Eisenstodt, for example, wants pictures on the walls, natural light and flexible space. When she says that many in the crowd nod with approval. Some cheer. Venue Executives mumble profanities. While others would just be happy if the room setup would match the session. “Rounds in the general session room? What’s that all about,” asks one attendee.

So, it’s environment right? Redesign the conference centers OR match the room setup to the needs. That must be the future of meetings. Um, not exactly.

Is “Content” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings sends others into the “content” corner. These people are talking about content delivery, interactive formats, learning styles, objectives, discovery, etc. They say less time listening to boring speakers and more time interacting in an informal learning environment. When someone says more collaboration and interaction – groups of people start whooping and hollering Texas style. Speakers scratch their heads and ask if better hand gestures would help.

So, it’s content right? Use more collaborative formats. Get people out of chairs and writing on white boards. Um, not exactly.

Is “Attendee Experience” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings gets others talking about attendee experience. It’s about putting the attendee at the center of the event. Ruud Janssen says that we need to think about it like “100 events for 100 people.” Another person talks about interviewing “professional attendees” – the conference road warriors – and using their needs as the model for how these experiences could work.

So, it’s attendee experience right? Design events with the attendee in mind. Um, not exactly.

Is “Storytelling” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of meetings gets others talking about storytelling. It’s about narrative and personas they say. They talk about the strong characters in movies and books that we identify with. They talk about the dilemmas created in good vs. evil situations. They continue on with more stuff that is over our heads – but sounds good. Many nod in approval.

So, it’s storytelling right? We just hire a scriptwriter create good characters, put Bruce MacMillan in a flying harness and get Stephen Spielberg to show us how to produce the stuff. Um, not exactly.

Is “Inspiration” the Future of Meetings?

The keynote speakers from the Opening General Session will tell you that the future of meetings is about passion and inspiring people to become part of something greater than themselves. They will site examples of people coming from remarkable circumstances that you couldn’t ever imagine to do something extraordinary. Since, we are all amazed – we nod with approval and donate $20.

So, it’s inspiration right? We find someone or something that inspires us – like Bruce Willis or the A-team. Then we book them for our next event. That’s the ticket! Um, not exactly.

Is “Outside the Industry” the Future of Meetings?

The topic of the future of events gets others to talk about looking outside our industry for the answer. Looking for inspiration in art, in movies, in design, in Farmville, in nature and in space. Or was it in Oldspice? Regardless, asking ourselves what the Future of Meetings looks like – doesn’t help – because we all have the similar answers. As we hear this point of view, we nod again.

So, it’s looking outside ourselves right? We watch a few OldSpice commercials, play Farmville and “friend” that Zuckerberg dude who created Facebook – then we will know the future of events. Right? Um, not exactly.

So what is the Future of Meetings?

Well, if the future of meetings is not technology or space or content or attendee experience or inspiration or outside factors – then what is it?

I have no idea. I just can tell you that it is not ONE of those factors – it is all of them. As far as I can tell that is the conclusion drawn from the MPI World Education Conference.

What do you think our future meetings and events will look like? or what do they need to look like?

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Note: I did receive partial registration reduction for agreeing to participate in the Social Media Guru program at MPI’s World Education Conference.

Are You Ready for Social Media in the New Event World?

Social Media in the New Events World Report PictureA few months ago, I was asked to contribute to a research report on Social Media in events. The researcher was looking for insight on social media in events across several different dimensions – technology tools, event strategy, event design, co-creation, collaboration, etc.

Yesterday, that report was finally published by Echelon Design. The report highlights several case studies that reflect the possibilities for enhancing and enriching any event strategy. There are thoughts and insights from many people including:
> Kenny Lauer, Executive Director of Digital Experience at George P. Johnson Company
> Dennis Shiao, VP Product Marketing for InXpo
> Jeff Hurt, Director of Education and Engagement, Velvet Chain Consulting
> John Jainschigg, Director of Internet and Community at Ziff-Davis Enterprise
> Eric Lukazewski, Marketing Director and Social Media Strategist, Echelon Design

Talking about the report, Eric Lukazewski said, “we’ll continue to see an evolving event world with accelerated change and technology will forevermore be one of these primary factors.” This report helps all event professionals understand the new opportunities that social media brings to the table for marketing and expanding their own events.

Download the Free Report: Social Media in the New Event World.

The Twitter Experiment in Face-to-Face Learning

We can learn a lot about using technology in events from watching what is happening in college classrooms.

This video called The Twitter Experiment from the University of Texas provides a good case study of the role that Twitter can play in Face-to-Face learning. Take a few minutes and watch it.

How Could This Experiment Translate to Events?

As I watched the video there were several benefits that I think are worth noting for events as well.

  1. Twitter’s 140 character limit helps attendees quickly get to the main point of their message.
  2. Using a tool like Twitter allows you to get more input, ideas, questions and comments from a broader segment of the audience in a shorter period of time.
  3. Attendees can use both mobile phones and laptops to participate – in the conference room.
  4. Attendees can participate in the discussion remotely.
  5. Shy people (or people that use English as a second language) don’t have to worry about speaking up in front of the entire audience.
  6. Learners can post the key points on Twitter to help reinforce them.
  7. The chat archive can be used as notes, so attendees can to go back and review what happened.

Bottom Line

There are several benefits to using Twitter in face-to-face events or instructor led learning environments.

Keep Dr. Rankin’s final comment in mind as you get started: “It’s going to be messy…but messy doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be bad.

What other benefits to using Twitter in face-to-face meetings or instructor led learning environments would you add?

New Meetings Podcast Series – Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith

We need to a better job of talking about the benefits, opportunities and challenges of using technology in meetings and events.

Mike McAllen and I are taking this challenge to heart. Today, we are launching a new show focused on technology strategy, social media and the latest trends and tools in event technology. Our goal is to create another platform for discussing event technology.

We are calling this new show “Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith.” You can listen to the first installment here.

Meetings Podcast – Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith

Using a 20 minute podcast format, we will cover a couple of topics during each show, answer at least one listener question and give you ONE tip that you can take back to your office today and try.

The podcast will be available on Meetings PodcastiTunes and here – on

By making the show available on these three platforms, we hope that we can create opportunities for you to listen to our show while gardening, commuting to work or waiting in the departure lounge. Of course, we would be happy if you listened to the show in any other location that you thought was appropriate as well.

Initially, the show will be sponsored by If you would like to sponsor the show, please contact me at blog (at) or Mike at meetingspodcast at We would be happy to talk to you about a customized program.

Finally, if you have any topics, people, products or news that we should be discussing – please be sure to let us know. We would be happy to include it in our next show.

Stars, Champions, Trolls and Your Event Community

Taming Wild ThingsWe know much more about setting up and managing an event community than we did a year ago.

The report “Best Practices in Online Community Management” produced by Pathable reads like a secret decoder ring for first time event community managers.

While the report is loaded with with helpful advice, I thought these four things stood out:

Recruit the Stars

The report recommends that you go find “stars” to come hangout in your community and contribute to it. Just like in night clubs, these stars draw others into the conversations and to the community, etc. The report offers seven different tips for recruiting stars and engaging them.

Find A Champion

This is the internal leader that is committed to make sure that the online community succeeds. Based on my experience in corporate america, the stronger the champion the better the project result.

Control the Trolls

This report offers strategies to contain and mitigate negative actions by troublemakers (trolls or Wild Things) that want to pollute your event’s social network. Think about the tips in this section like “Rodent Killer.”


Most event communities allow attendees to connect their friends/contacts, status updates, etc with other social networks (think Linkedin or Twitter). This allows attendees to leverage their connections and engagement in other places with the event social network.

Bottom Line

If you find a champion that can bring the stars into your online event community and squash the trolls – then you will increase your odds of ending up with a rich thriving event community.

You can download the original report from Pathable directly here: Best Practices in Online Community Management (sorry, you must register with Pathable.)

What other resources would you recommend to first time community managers?

image via: fashionartiste

How Many Remote Controls Does It Take To Watch a Movie?

Sitting down to watch a movie at my home is an adventure. What about at yours?

Sometimes I feel like I am in one of the Indiana Jones films. There are treasure hunts, puzzles, etc. Let me explain what happens.

Indiana Jones blended image

Step 1: Equipment Check

There are three remotes that control the TV, DVD player and cable at my home. Each of these devices has about 20 buttons each. For some reason, I need all three of them to turn on household favorites “Baby Einstein” or “Dora the Explorer.”

Without fail, whenever it is time to start watching a movie – one or two remotes have been captured by miniature pirates (disguised as princesses) and hidden with other loot.

Step 2: Remote Control Treasure Hunt

Once, I have identified which remote controls are missing – I begin my treasure hunt (without a map).  Since my little one has loot hiding skills that would make Davy Jones proud, it takes me several minutes to find these remotes.

Step 3: Which Button is It Anyway?

You would think that turning on the TV, DVD player and changing the channels would be simple. Sometimes I feel like I am solving some type of riddle or complex Suduko puzzle. There are numbers and letters going everywhere. I have to correctly identify the order of the remotes then select the correct buttons to push. Since, there are 60 buttons, I regularly get it wrong and have to start over. Luckily, I don’t get dropped into a viper pit after making mistakes.

What Does This Mean For Events?

Smart phone apps, handheld devices, virtual event technology and social media tools are all technologies that require attendees participation. While I am willing to work with the three remotes and play treasure hunt, attendees will not do it. They are going to use technology that supports and enhances their event experience – AND helps them achieve their objectives.

So, the next time an event technology vendor says – “Wow – let me show you the latest blah, blah, blah….It’s Awesome!!”  Consider the question posed at the start of this post: How many remote controls does it take to watch a movie?  Then ask yourself how many treasure hunts and complex riddles will you need to help attendees solve to effectively use this technology?  If the answer is – a lot – you may want to choose another solution.

image credit: tim_norris

Interactivity is important, because…

Let’s see if we can build a short presentation around the importance of interactivity to hybrid events using ONLY your ideas. I think that we can do it. What do you think – will you help us try?

All that I need you to do is answer this one tiny question: Interactivity is important for hybrid events, because _____________.

Then, I will take care of the rest. I will try to post the presentation here by the end of next week.

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.


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