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Call for feedback! Brief Survey for Professionals Tasked with Social Media

social media survey

If you have a moment (just a moment – I promise!), I am calling for professionals tasked with managing social media for your organization and/or organization’s event to complete a brief survey (just six questions!). I’m hoping to gather some industry standards to learn more about the dedicated time needed to manage primarily Twitter-driven social media initiatives.

I will post the final results here in about a week. Thank you in advance for your valuable input!

You can complete the survey here:


My Favorite Tech Tool of the Moment: Google Search Stories for YouTube

My buddies over at Engage365 recently introduced me to Google Search Stories for YouTube. Search Stories is a simple to use video creator that allows you to enter up to six search queries, select a musical track and upload a pretty professional looking video to YouTube. The possibilities are endless – commercials, product promotions, blog entries, etc.

Until today I had only created one Search Story, a promotional piece to generate excitement for my work’s annual conference. Turns out that my work liked it so much that it is now embedded on our annual conference’s homepage as a featured video!

With Search Stories, you have the ability to set the Search Story to pull the queries from not only the web, but to pull specifically from images, blogs, news, books or products. This combined with the wide range of musical themes to choose from allows you to easily generate the emotion and tone you are going for – whether somber, dramatic, action-packed or silly.

Check out the Search Story I made about the game changing moments I have experienced as a result of social media and the amazing #eventprofs Twitter community. Enjoy!

Next Steps – Even More Targeted, Relevant Social Media Research – Care to offer some advice?

Year-round, I send out a monthly newsletter to our regular exhibitors. Articles typically cover upcoming deadlines, important dates, registration statistics, advertising opportunities, sponsorship opportunities, etc. Now that my organization has made the decision to move forward with social media initiatives for our 2010 annual meeting, I’ve realized that the exhibitor newsletter opens up a perfect opportunity to explore *exactly* what our exhibitors are doing, or not doing, or are interested in doing, with regards to social media – and their perspective on social media initiatives led by show management.

We are approaching social media with a carefully considered and thoughtful short-term strategy, which will provide us with the metrics to then determine our long-term strategy. One important consideration as we move forward is finding new and creative ways to leverage social media to increase the value of exhibiting and sponsorship in and around our annual meeting. This could range from new sponsor benefits to new metrics to provide in return for sponsorship and/or increased exhibit hall traffic.

The natural first step seems to be surveying our exhibitors to see where they are currently with social media and how they would like to see both their organization and show management using social media.

Please keep in mind that this is concerning a medical meeting, and thus subject to regulatory and compliance considerations, i.e., activities should not be too “carnivally” or “fun” in nature and should reflect a professional tone.

The goals of the survey would include:

Would the exhibitors benefit and appreciate social media initiatives led by show management geared at:

  • Attendees in an attempt to boost exhibit hall traffic; and if so, we would encourage them to provide suggestions to optimize this use of social media
  • Exhibitors to open up the collaborative “town hall” discussion year-round, and to exhibitors of all sizes and types

Obvious survey items would include requesting exhibitors to share their organization’s current social media involvement, the level of involvement for their personal use of social media, their opinion of various prospective social media initiatives (e.g. exhibit hall ‘scavenger hunt’, announcing product theater presentations, exhibit hall hours reminders, etc.) to increase exhibit hall traffic, positive/negative social media experiences at similar meetings, etc.

My question for you all –

Based on the goals of the survey – what unique and helpful questions would you include in the survey (taking into consideration the current regulatory landscape)?

EventCamp2010 Series – Post V

The Ultimate Balancing Act: Hybrid Events

Jeff Hurt opened his EventCamp breakout, Meeting the Needs of Face-to-Face & Virtual Audiences, with some tough questions:

  • How do you keep content relevant for both types of attendees?
  • How do you keep the connection with both types of attendees in sync?
  • How do you determine the right balance and pay attention closely enough to ensure you maintain it?
  • How do you keep from alienating one segment?
  • Do we understand learning and listening behavior?

And more importantly . . .

  • What is the profile of the person responsible for your social media initiatives?

Jeff warned against going with a social media silo. You should be aiming for a social media champion. Someone who lives, eats and breathes social media. They are passionate and excited about it and literally perk up anytime they hear social media come up in conversation. They are more than willing to educate co-workers, demonstrate its value, and show people how relevant it can be to your interests and goals.

Jeff advised that you check out your prospective social media champion’s footprint in the social media world. Are they already blogging?  Does their blog attract any attention? Are they actively reading and commenting on other relevant blogs? Are they on Twitter, etc?

Some people in the session felt that a social media career is short-lived. I think it depends on the industry you are in. If it doesn’t align with your goals to have an “online community manager” maybe it would be a better fit for you to divide the responsibilities over the marketing department or designated representatives throughout the company.

The latter brings up yet another concern I hear far too often: If I allow representatives from each department, or even the whole company to represent our brand in social media, I’ll lose control!

Jeff’s take?

Wake up. Enter Web 2.0, attendee 2.0, customer 2.0, and well, EVERYTHING 2.0.

Control is history.

Your best bet is to welcome the communication revolution instead of hiding. Listen, learn, set appropriate ground rules and get your feet wet.

Or just pretend it’s not there, and risk being a headline in a social media public relations nightmare like these folks . . .

United Airlines Gets the Viral Video Treatment It Never Wanted

“Motrin moms,” a-Twitter over ad, take on Big Pharma–And win

Local News Commits a Twitter-Induced Billboard FAIL

Paul Salinger was also in this session and explained how companies like Oracle are moving towards a hybrid model – they are developing specific guidelines about what employees can and cannot do, especially when they are representing the brand. These guidelines are not in place to control them, but to ensure that the brand is not unintentionally misrepresented. He agreed with Jeff that control is history – addressing concerns and setting guidelines is the most appropriate course of action.

Clearly, there is a need for social media guidelines in the workplace. Jeff told us that one in five companies currently have social media guidelines in place. He encouraged us to take a look at existing social media policies and adapt as needed.

Jeff said it best:  You trust them to represent your brand on the phone and e-mail. Why don’t you trust them online . . . on LinkedIn . . . Facebook?

How does this relate to hybrid events?

He encouraged us to teach the culture of listening.

  • Listen to your attendees weeks before the event. This will prepare you to be ready to respond right away on-site. Empower your staff to become the concierge and run interference.
  • Be sure to utilize your laptop to communicate during the event. Even the face-to-face audience will use virtual to communicate with the panel and live attendees.

During several EventCamp sessions, there were assigned moderators with the task of watching the virtual audience via the Tweetstream for questions/comments/complaints/revolts and the speaker would check in with that moderator throughout the session.

Some other great ideas from Jeff on engaging the virtual and face-to-face audience to create successful hybrid events:

  • Every 20 or 30 minutes, have the presenter assign the live participants an activity to keep them busy/engaged. During that time, turn to the virtual audience exclusively, giving a recap or some other personal line of communication that will take their virtual participation to the next level.
    • This was perfectly demonstrated at EventCamp. Being that we had none other than the beautiful and talented tradeshow presenter Emilie Barta in attendance, our quick-thinking EventCamp organizers put her to work. On the fly, she graciously interviewed speakers at the conclusion of their session on the webcast, specifically for the virtual audience.
  • It doesn’t always have to be live-action for virtual participants. Archive it. That way, remote attendees who were unable to log on during the live talk can access the archive at a time when they are able to tune out distractions.
    • (Trust me, as much as I’d love to participate in the many free virtual events out there, 9am – 5pm, Monday through Friday more than likely isn’t going to fly for me, or more importantly my employer, as is probably the case with many of you out there. Make it an option for us to view it outside of those times, when we can give it our full attention.)
  • Generate interest through bite-sized clips. The virtual audience has a short attention span and high expectations. Short, ten-minute clips with quality content will generate interest.
  • Recognize that virtual and live are different, with different pro’s and con’s
  • Train your presenters to open with a question specifically to the virtual audience, like “Who’s out there and where are you joining us from?” You will know because of the technology involved with virtual how many people are watching and often, who is watching. If only three of 15 participants respond, call out some of the others who are not fully engaged with a friendly, “Hey, name, I don’t think I heard from you. Are you there?”
  • How do you engage late adopters? Teach them – the biggest mistake we can make is assuming they already get it. Nurture your members to be able to use and appreciate the tools.
  • Have virtual attendees meet up face-to-face regionally (think Superbowl party style) so they can enjoy the benefits of face-to-face while participating with other virtual attendees. Assign a moderator. Be sure to prep the presenter to engage with them.

Several months back over the phone, Mike McCurry described Jeff Hurt as a “change agent”. At the time I don’t think I quite grasped what he really meant.

Little did I know that Mike and Google really hit the nail on the head in this case:

Change agent:

An individual recruited prior to implementation of a change; must be representative of the user population, understand the reasoning behind the change, and help to communicate the excitement, possibilities, and details of the change to others within the organization.

EventCamp2010 Series – Post IV

Evolution of Online Networking Platforms and the Events Industry

In a lively breakout panel moderated by Jessica Levin, Clinton Bonner of The Social Collective and Tony Veroeven of Omnipress discussed the tools, potential value and best practices surrounding online conference communities.

Needs Assessment: What should you consider when trying to determine if these online community tools are right for your event?

The panelists agree that we are currently in Event Community 1.0 and people are very quick to turn down new platforms without much of an effort to see what they have to offer.

Ray Hansen really made this point stick with me when he explained later that day it’s important we remind ourselves that this technology is very new. We are a group of tech savvy people in the events industry, so more than anyone else, we are responsible for giving new technology a fair shot. Sometimes, we are all a bit too skeptical too early into trying something new and this is no different for event technology.

Some key takeaways from the panel

  • Proximity-based alerts encourage participation/engagement (imagine how cool that would be for a mobile tradeshow scavenger hunt!)
  • Even without the proximity-based alerts, you could easily incorporate an exhibit hall passport program on mobile versions of these platforms
  • What happens when negative comments from attendees pop-up in the online community? Address it promptly and politely. Offer an alternative or a solution
  • Attendees will ask “What’s in it for me?” when deciding whether the online community is worth their time. The most important thing is to show a specific win right off the bat. Prove that the online platform is not just a LinkedIn or Facebook mash-up
  • Need a communications plan to reach out to them – before, during and after the event
  • People go to events to learn, but also to network. They are hoping to meet the right people. (This is a great example of what these online platforms can offer that other sites like LinkedIn and Facebook do not. However, LinkedIn keeps evolving their events application and may eventually offer this as well. What can the other platforms do to stay ahead?)
  • Seamless integration, syncing to registration pages, etc. is a must
  • Some groups just aren’t ready for these platforms . . . yet. (The example given for this was doctors and lawyers. I don’t know about lawyers, but I think that with easily-accessible education/how-to’s from show management, doctors could really see some value in these online community platforms.)
  • Show management needs to be a cheerleader in promoting awareness of the medium and educate attendees how to use it and the potential value
  • A sleek interface for a mobile version of the platform is a must. We want the technology on our phones just as much, if not more than on a laptop. (apparently, a mobile version of the EventCamp platform was available, but I didn’t know this at the time)

Some other thoughts . . .

  • Is there an option for live chat in any of these platforms, besides Twebevent?
  • Is there a way you can see who else is “viewing now”? That may encourage interaction and participation.
  • It would be fun and engaging to have a Flicker-type application embedded within the platform. (Does this already exist and I missed it?)
  • I’d like to have the option to add or vote on specific things I hope the speaker addresses during a session in a public area.
  • Why not allow sponsors to purchase the ability to (or have complimentary access to, as a sponsor benefit) hold a focus group on these platforms in conjunction with EventCamp 2011? It could be a lunchtime option for a limited number of attendees that fit the appropriate demographic. The general target audience is there already, and the focus groups could potentially offset some of the costs associated with running EventCamp, while giving the sponsor ideas and feedback.
  • I would like to be able to tag specific conversations, similar to Google Reader, on these platforms. It loses value for me, when I get a digest in my inbox at the end of the day with numerous conversations on topics that may or may not be relevant to me. If there was a way to easily navigate, tag, and filter the conversations (like in Google Reader), I’d be less likely to get overwhelmed and just delete the digest.

This breakout was certainly a hot topic, with tons of questions (some skeptical, some not) from both virtual and live attendees.

I really appreciate the panelists’ willingness to participate in this type of forum. When you’re brave enough to sit on a panel where the pro’s and con’s of your specific product are up for debate, that simply speaks volumes about you and how you run your business.

Thank you, Clinton and Tony for sharing your honest and valuable insight. This breakout definitely opened up my eyes on some things and I learned a lot!

EventCamp Series – Post III

Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.

Leave it to good ol’ Samuel J. Smith to shake things up at EventCamp. One of the most unique, and now talked about, sessions at EventCamp was his breakout, innocently titled “Integrating Social Media On-Site”.

Sam started off his presentation with a short video about the power of social media. Unfortunately, I was sitting towards the back of the room and wasn’t fast enough to catch everything, but here is the gist of what I considered to be the most powerful takeaway from the video:

TELL ME . . . and I’ll forget

SHOW ME . . . and I may remember

INVOLVE ME . . . and I’ll understand

[sidebar: Sam, can you please post the video online? I think we’d all like to see it again and/or share with colleagues]

After the video, Sam had us rearrange the seats fishbowl-style, a circle, with 4 or 5 seats in the middle. The goal of the fishbowl is to have an informal panel, constantly changing, with the goal of garnering dialogue from a variety of viewpoints and keeping things interesting. Sam’s role as moderator/facilitator was to ensure that interested participants got a chance to speak and that the discussion didn’t veer off topic.

To get things started, Sam fed us some “fish food” by asking the group about current usage of social media by attendees? The group agreed that most people are using social media, at least on *some* level. From Flicker, to Facebook, to message boards, to listserves, to Twitter, to YouTube, most people have at least a small amount of experience with at least one social media medium.

The trick is to find what your people are using, how they are using it, and optimize it.

To really get the conversation going, Sam asked us a question that we should constantly consider when delving into social media – How can you create value for your members so they will TRY social media?

Key Takeaways


Use it to push out updates to schedule, sessions, events, etc.

Customer Service

Someone gave an example of an exhibitor complaining via Twitter about not being able to set up their booth the same day they arrived. Show management immediately responded via Twitter with an apology and a promise to revise their policies for future events. This response was enough to satisfy the annoyed exhibitor.

(I apologize to whoever gave this example; I didn’t get your name in the notes. Let me know if it was you.)

Creating Experiences Requires a Comfort Level

As the organizer of the event, it is our responsibility to create a social media environment at the event, meaning interactions are safe, available, and interested attendees will join in. It’s not just about the tools, it’s important to nurture the environment.

Help Your Attendees

Remember when you first joined Twitter? It seemed pointless, confusing . . . until you found “your people”. Remember when you found the #eventprofs, #assnchat or #tradeshows hashtags? Finding people with relevant interests in social media is key. Help your attendees along the way – that is the only way they will be truly engaged participants.

Thank you Sam, for introducing us to this neat session format and for providing great fish food!

As always, if I missed anything, or if you have anything to add, please do so in the comments below!

EventCamp Series – Post II

Holy backchannel!

One of the coolest things about EventCamp10 was the backchannel. Being that such enthusiastic live and virtual attendees were participating both in the live sessions and on the backchannel, it could be difficult and somewhat frustrating to wait your turn to ask a question or make a comment.

Enter . . . the backchannel. It was certainly a lively one, and definitely enhanced the education and value of my time at EventCamp.

The best thing about 140 characters? It’s the perfect size for a key takeaway. With so many people firing them out, the #EC10 tweetstream is truly an awesome supplement to the real deal.

Now down to business.

Following the opening keynote of EventCamp10 was a breakout, Creating Hybrid Events, lead by a panel consisting of Mike McCurry, Paul Salinger and Rob Swanwick.

A hybrid event is a face-to-face event that has at least one virtual component to it, be it a live web cast, participants contributing via a chat platform, Google Wave, etc. The message of the panelists was that if we are successful in engaging a virtual audience along with the face-to-face audience, hybrid events will complement the content and extend the reach of the event.

There are a lot of challenges, unexpected and expected, when trying to engage the virtual audience. In my own experiences attempting to participate in webinars/webcasts and virtual events, I’ve encountered several challenges myself:

  • Poor internet connection leads to delay
  • If the event takes place during business hours and I want to participate live, instead of watching the archive, it’s nearly impossible to dedicate adequate attention to the event.
  • For me, there is just something about being there live that helps me to get more out of it. I’m not just talking networking, my ability to really digest what was covered is lacking.

This doesn’t mean that virtual should be counted out. It just means that everyday distractions and technical challenges create obstacles for virtual attendees. Also, the reasons why we went to EventCamp are because we understand that this technology is fairly new, constantly changing, and has room for improvement. We went there to bounce ideas, questions and experiences off of one another.

Key Takeaways

  • Virtual component gives you the valuable opportunity to track and measure participation, usage and reach
  • Publish the hashtag on event website and invitations – get the word out, AKA “seeding”
    • Kevin Richardson (virtual attendee) said this best: @klrichardson key to hybrid event – work in virtual space prior to event. Seed & then sow. Compliment content for virtual audience #ec10
  • Consider turning your website into an event platform temporarily, for a week around the event. What everyone really wants, the organizer(s), participants, speakers and sponsors is to talk to one another. Make it easy.
  • Freemium versus premium. This can be a touchy subject. Maybe free for members, low rate for non-members? Look at your audience and evaluate their expectations and what you are confident you can deliver.
    • Andy Lawson of Freeman said it a bit more eloquently: @freemanco_andy: Cost should match value when deciding on pricing for virtual. Expectation is the wildcard. Each attendee/customer values differently #ec10
  • My thought – what about a relatively low fee, but if the attendees RT a promotional message with the hashtag and/or subscribe to your blog, give them free access?
  • Dana Freker Doody (another virtual attendee) of The Expo Group had an interesting question – would the pay-if-you-want-to model work?
    • @theexpogroup: @klrichardson Thx I optimistically believe members want to see their organizations/communities succeed & want to contribute (if value) #ec10
  • Embrace the virtual audience, one way could be designating a facilitator/moderator for virtual attendees.

Whether or not you were able to attend virtually or in person, the tweetstream and the great blog posts popping up reinforce what we learned while offering things to contemplate and fresh insight.

I’m sure I missed some great information from this session, if you caught something I didn’t, please share it in the comments below!

Here is a photo of part of “blogger’s row” that I snagged from McCurry’s Corner.

Moment of genius? Or just trying to look like one? 🙂

Paul Salinger and I sitting on "blogger's row"

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