At B2B Presence we pontificate in a self-serving way on the benefits of face-to-face media, and take pains to point out the shortcomings of webcasting and other “virtual” events (would you be happy with a “virtual” vacation?). However, we’re not blind to the glorious digital sunrise and we’re frequently scanning the horizon for signs of the inevitable convergence of live and virtual media.
Now comes Ziff Davis Enterprise, a company that frequently “gets it” before many others. This recent press release on their new tool to bridge virtual and live events is extremely promising. They appear to be leveraging this in their custom event business, so I would expect this to start small. The proof will be in streaming—we’ll keep an eye on this.
The rise and fall of ZDE’s custom events business is a story that deserves its own mini-series. This group, under Martha Schwartz and then Kirk Laughlin grew to mammoth Read more…
We regarded Twitter as a forum for teenage chat until we gave it a try and found that it drove a lot of traffic to our web sites. Audience acquisition is an obvious application for Twitter, as I wrote previously. A quick look around the web shows that a lot of event managers are using Twitter to connect with attendees and exhibitors prior to events and on site.
BusyEvent in their blog entry described a number of interesting ideas for integrating Twitter into the activities of a conference, including digital signage. One comment: they suggest setting up a twitter feed based on the name of the event. I would suggest that the event Twitter feed be delivered under the name of someone associated with the event—conference chair, editor, association executive. A person-to-person feed always grabs the user much more than a “brand” feed. Great Idea: get attendees to provide their Twitter name when Read more…
I have been working in the events and media space for close to 15 years and would consider myself a “hard-core” face-to-face events supporter but over the past two years I have had to acknowledge that virtual events are a platform that I need to embrace and learn about. So I get asked question all the time by experts in the events industry: “Do you think virtual events are the answer? Are they going to replace face-to-face events?” (no way–never), “Are they going to add excitement back to the events space?” (maybe), “Are they going to a major part of advertisers budgets? (maybe).
Obviously, no one knows the answer to those questions except for the first one. It is evident that in-person events will never go away. Yes, they will go through cycles and events that don’t remain relevant will struggle or go away but nothing can replace the handshake and the in-person relationship building–not the online communication and interaction of a virtual event, not the virtual business card exchange (who made that up?), not the online chat Read more…
We do a lot of posting to promote events and web sites. For almost a year, I’ve focused heavily on LinkedIn, and LinkedIn Groups, Facebook. (There also seem to be a lot of Ning-based industry sites popping up recently.) Twitter seemed like a lightweight entry into the category of social media, and I regarded it as a playground for tweens with a lot of free time.
This month I finally got around to making a half-hearted promo effort on Twitter. I was surprised to see the number of “followers” we were able to acquire without much effort, and after a few brief promotional “tweets” I was startled to discover that Twitter was driving almost 20% of the traffic to the web site we were promoting.
So I’m sold on the potential, and trying to develop my own brief on best practices. A couple of orgs that seem to be doing a good job touting their events: Glue Conference, Read more…
It was during the post-dot-com bust at Chemical Week and we were, literally, working under the shadow of 9/11. No one wanted to travel and everything was on hold. We were heading into the fiscal year with a shortfall of several hundred thousand dollars. It was not a time to plan a big new launch. We needed quick money.
Luckily, Mario Di Ubaldi, my VP at the time, brought experience from his previous position that gave us a crutch to hobble on. We got three major sponsors to go in on a CEO Roundtable. It was, essentially, 10 industry CEO’s sitting around a table participating in directed discussion followed by a dinner. Conversation was recorded and transcribed for an editorial piece. Sponsors got a seat at the table. A couple of other neat tricks made it successful.
It was hard work, but cheap to produce and it netted a quick $50k. Then we did Read more…
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In spite of the efforts of many conference and trade show organizers, conferences and trade shows are the primary form of social media in B2B. We event organizers can proudly say that our products were the original expression of the imperative need for social media in the business marketing mix. Unfortunately, our experience traps us in a box. We have focused a lifetime of effort on space sales, sponsorship schemes, and attendance brochures. The Zen approach would be to start from zero—obliterate the memory of past projects and say, “I have the Internet and these tools, I need to bring these people together–where shall I begin?”
With a Zen-like detachment from B2B markets (because the focus is B2C), this report from Aberdeen Group on The ROI on Social Media Marketing will be of benefit to event producers. There are several essential points made here that merit strong consideration Read more…
Here’s a great example of user-driven content coming from inside the dynamic world of business media: Zucchini Dinners provides an intimate setting for media executives to sit directly with 10 key executives. They create their own content, and drive their own discussions. This is an invitation-only event–I just stumbled on this site, so I don’t think you’re even supposed to know about this.
Another great concept is Lunch 2.0 which started in Silicon Valley and has recently come to New York. Nerds gather for lunch, and nerd-seeking organizations play host–what could be more perfect?
What do these events have in common? Purposely weak central-organizing structure (disintermediation) and food (integration). Why does food count as integration? Because you have to eat, and these events leverage that unavoidable fact.
Ignore the snarky tone of this post from Valleywag and consider 1. What tech conferences (and eventually all conferences) are becoming in spite of the efforts of conference organizers, and 2. what’s going on at the New York Times.
1. Face-to-face events have the potential to be the locus of an information broadcast driven by the participants. This is happening without encouragement from conference organizers. How does this get harnessed?
2. The New York Times gets it–hopefully not too late for their survival. Read this New York Magazine article on the renegade cybergeeks behind nytimes.com. I’ve seen a dozen things recently on the web site that made me stop and think. Some of them will work. Now they’re opening their API to outside developers. There’s a B2B event opportunity in there somewhere.
In the early days (around the turn of the century) I experienced a temporary nirvana wherein a basic promotional email blast to a qualified list regarding a decent conference could produce a response as high as 3%. We slashed our postal mailing budgets and reaped the benefits of free electronic promotion.
As the world caught on, response rates dropped. We started producing simple newsletters, or integrating our promotion with existing newsletter email. We continued to see delivery and open rates drop, and users opt out. I currently recommend at least a targeted postal mailing as part of an event marketing effort—not because response rates are good, but because the email channel is quickly exhausted and we have to use every promotional tool to recruit additional, incremental attendance. (I’m also looking at going back to fax promo as well—when was the last time you received a decent fax promo?)
It’s silly to cut down trees just because the electronic channel is choked with spam. One of the better potential solutions is outlined here by David Kalman of Terella. Read more…