Archive Monthly Archives: April 2014

Social Displays at Events – The Billion Dollar Idea

Billion $ Idea

I have been a huge advocate of social displays at events for many years. The benefits of using social displays at your event FAR outweigh the issues.Yet social display technology is still very new technology…so there are issues that need to be considered and addressed.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a social display:

1. There is a BIG misconception out there about social displays. Most believe this is a simple fun idea – IT IS NOT – it is VERY POWERFUL marketing, and should be respected as such.

REMEMBER Ellen at the Oscars taking that iconic Hollywood selfie (think of the TV as the “social display” at your event)? That ONE event tweet brought SAMSUNG a billion dollars in business…YES…a BILLION $$$ worth of BUSINESS.

ONE TWEET=A BILLION DOLLARS. Do I have your attention now?

2. Terminology in Digital Technology is not uniform across all companies – this is a problem because right now, Digital Technology is a “country” where many different countries are coming together and trying to communicate using their own language. This leaves most people involved very confused as to what the others is talking about. [for instance – Twitterwalls, Tweetwalls, Social Media Walls, Social Boards are being most commonly and standardly called – SOCIAL DISPLAYS]

3. Not ALL social display companies are created equal. The natural process of eliminating the wheat from the chaff has not occurred yet with social display companies because of how new the technology is.

The MOST important thing when choosing a social display company is REAL-TIME CUSTOMER SERVICE – if the social display company does not have your event as it’s priority throughout your event, do not use them.

4. Monitoring is an ABSOLUTE. Monitoring should be done by a person that knows the desires of EVERY sponsor, exhibitor, speaker, etc, involved in the event. If this sounds somewhat unrealistic – your right – BUT none the less, it is true.

Best case scenario? Each individual company involved in the event, that cares about it’s brand reputation online and in the real world, should have a person specifically chosen to monitor the hashtag for the event. HUGE benefits will come out of this.

TIP – these days…ALL PR is good PR, it is just about how a brand handles it.

5. Placement of social displays are key. As with real estate, it is location, location, location. I would not take the advice of those attending your event to make this decision for you. Evaluate it yourself. For instance, your speakers may have heard social displays distract from their spotlight. Speakers don’t understand the concept of how to USE social displays to benefit themselves so they perceive that they are fighting with the social display for attention. It isn’t true. Social displays are a huge benefit to them, as well as everyone else at the event, once they are shown how to use them properly.

6. Before you look at having a great social display presentation – BEFORE you consider incorporating a lot of digital technology into your event – consider investing in a reputable “professionally managed” internet connectivity company – they will be the backbone of your entire event.

THINK security and digital overload issues.

7. I could go on, but in truth, if I were an Event Professional, I would hire a digital tech professional who knows all the ins and outs of social display technology and marketing to run your event social display. It is that important.

The BENEFITS of Social Displays at your event are amazing. Event Social Displays will revolutionize marketing…online and in the real-world. However, a solid strategy needs to be laid out for your event social display. To do that, Event Professionals need to understand that although Social Displays may look like a simple fun idea, they are some of the most powerful marketing at your event. Dont let anyone else tell you differently.

Social Media Marketing, Hashtags (social keywords) for Wedding Professionals and Brides

 STAND out BRIDE

It is interesting in an industry where the word “engagement” is of the highest importance that when it comes to social media marketing, the industry professionals are less than engaging on their social platforms; More often than not, wedding professionals use a splattering of common unoriginal bridal themed photos that do nothing to define one wedding provider from another; And if interactions are taking place at all with potential clients through social platforms, engagement appears to be seriously lacking.

To make social media marketing work for wedding professionals seeking more bridal clients, wedding service providers need to find their social “sweet spot” by integrating feelings, emotions, and passions into the “posting” mix. SHOW your excitement, SHOW your passion, EXPRESS your thrill for potential clients’ engagements, weddings, and the event that is to be the “happiest day of their lives”. You will find by doing this, that you will NOT have to SELL your BRAND, instead your brand will sell itself. AND imagine this…you will actually have FUN doing it.

JOY is a powerful motivator. Genuinely sharing the joy of another is powerfully bonding and engaging. Some of the most joyous experiences on earth are all surrounding LOVE. As wedding professionals, you are in the business of “love and joy”. With the evolution of social marketing, wedding professionals are in the perfect industry to use these two emotions to draw clients to their brand and encourage influencers to do the selling for you. Social marketing is about showing personality. Social marketing is not the time to be overly conservative (aka boring). Boring, online, IS THE KISS OF DEATH.

[TIP: Sit down with your digital device, have fun, and ENAGE with your friends, followers, and those seeking supporters of their love and joy online. STOP running around and thinking I have to do this and I have to do that. Create a brand party online through social media and be the star of your own brand party – it is that simple…and that FUN.]

Posting to your social platforms must employ posts with feeling – meaning you are going to have to be more creative with your words, not just your photos. Feeling INCLUDES all things that are genuine, like disappointment and concern. [for example, if a teen posts on Twitter about her friends getting married and her not, let her know you support her and applaud her as appropriate; if a young man says he is waiting to get married because he wants what’s best for his children and a marriage to last forever, applaud him for his ideals] This kind of authentic interaction will encourage future interactions and recommendations by those you engage with. You and your brand will be known as the wedding service provider that “cares”. To be recognized for that online in your niche is a powerful social marketing tool. It defines you and your BRAND, separating you from the crowd.

Here are some more vital social marketing tips for wedding and bridal professionals –

  • You must be posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, AND Pinterest. Try using a posting and scheduling platform like Hootsuite to make your life a little easier. The basic Hootsuite usage fee is free-$6 per month and will make your life exceedingly easier when it comes to posting to several platforms. [NOTE: you can not post to Instagram or Pinterest from Hootsuite]
  • USE one or all of these hashtags when you post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram AND Pinterest. Hashtags have been getting a bad rap recently, but they are totally necessary when it comes to being found by new clients.
    • Think of hashtags as social keywords for SEO.
    • Using a hashtag is like having a powerful search tool for your brand and industry at your fingertips.
    • Using a hashtag means you can be found no matter what time of week or day that you post.
    • Using a hashtag doesn’t mean that you always have to use the hashtag symbol (#) – a hashtag is simply an appropriate keyword that is used to search within a platform.
  • Here are some of the top hastags / keywords that I have found appropriate for the bridal industry – #Love, #Wedding, #Engagement (popular in reaching wedding professionals), #Bridal, #Bride, #Engaged (popular in reaching those newly engaged), #MyWeddingDay (popular on Instagram), #BrideToBe (popular on Twitter), getting married (without the hashtag symbol in front of it), and any hashtags that would be used to define your location (like #SanDiego or San Diego). My suggestion to you is to try using these words with and without the hashtag symbol (#) in front of them – both will give different results and reach different groups of people.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to use keywords that seem like they are appropriate to the industry yet in the past tense – like #MyWeddingDay – couples who have just gotten married, usually have many friends that are about to get married, and can become your most enthusiastic influencers – their good AND bad experiences with other providers can lead their friends right to you.

Now, get online, have FUN and BE ENGAGING! Cheers!

Social Marketing…the Secret Formula

 

Social Formula

Social marketing is very different than traditional marketing but still, Marketing and PR pros must work together to create an overall brand experience, and Brand Innovators must still consider the impact of the overall strategy in the real world and online.

In the past with real world marketing, the large corporate brand ruled and the message was pushed on the consumer. Today, because of social platforms, the consumer has taken control. It no longer matters if you are a big brand or a small brand. If you have the innovative moxy, you can rule.

So what is the secret social formula?

Truthfully, NO ONE really knows yet. Each Brand online must be promoted as unique in some way. So each brand strategy requires stepping into the proverbial promotional lab and testing it out. With real world marketing and advertising, companies grew to expect previously tested processes and strategies. But it took years of traditional marketing experiments to define how to romance the consumer in the real world. Now things have changed again. Marketers and PR pros have been thrown into yet another experimental phase but clients are still looking for solid results; the trick is getting results while hanging out in the online “promotional” lab.

One thing has become very clear though, you must NICHE your Brand online (and roll that niche over into the real world). Truly, this is a concept that needs to be embraced by ALL brands, large and small. Our world is no longer the “MAD MEN” show of advertising and marketing. Your brand is no longer competing with other local businesses or even national, it is competing with the world. Large or small, social marketing is about finding and making a niche that is “uniquely yours”, exactly where you are at. McDonalds has embraced this concept and “niched” themselves to the different markets they reside in – India’s McDonalds does not serve beef burgers, it serves chicken ala McEverything…Germany’s McDonalds serves McBeer….Italy’s serves McEspresso…Japan’s serves McSeaweed fries – you get the idea.

So how do you apply this to your company or personal brand?

Don’t follow the crowd. Bring your individual passions and beliefs to your brand.

For example –

If you are a national brand that stands for a cause – EMBRACE it WITH GUSTO online and then those who also have a passion for that cause, will embrace your brand and become its most vehement brand marketers and influencers.

If you are an accountant that LOVES to surf, talk it up, along with your business of accounting on all your social platforms and your website. Then, the surf community will embrace YOU as their accountant. Your Brand will become KNOWN as the surf loving accounting company – securing that niche for your Brand.

If you are a realtor that LOVES wine as a hobby – become the realtor that talks about homes and wine online for your location, and then those who want to buy a house in your community, that also love wine, will FIND YOU and want to work with your Brand because of your common passions – securing that NICHE for your Brand. (The opposite of this would be promoting yourself as the realtor that does foreclosures. Doing what millions of other realtors are doing in your area is effectively following the “crowd”. This does the exact opposite of defining your Brand. No niche and your Brand sinks into the abyss. This happens often, leaving people claiming, “social media marketing does not work!” when truly it is their lack of individuality that leaves them sinking.)

Niche marketing as a promotional concept has always been done, perhaps accidentally, through networking and micro level marketing but with the ushering in of social, it has become more pronounced and the definitive backbone of making your brand stand out online and in the real world.

So the Formula?…TRY THIS…

LOCATION + PASSIONS & BELIEFS + BUSINESS OFFERING = A STAND-OUT BRAND that will move from the online world to the real world with ease

The truth is, with social marketing, your beliefs and passions DO matter, as much as your customers. It is the coming together of those passions and beliefs that will lead to your Brand’s social sweet spot.

 

 

#EventTech for #EventProfs – Internet Connectivity, Professional Network Management, Dedicated Bandwidth, Beacon Technology…HUH?

Event Tech

Huh? Is right. If you haven’t already been overwhelmed by the new terminology that has been thrown at you in the past 10 years with online technology, than prepare yourself, because if you are in the event industry, your learning curve is about to accelerate.

I find myself using several terms for one process even when speaking with those industry professionals that are defining the Event Digital Technology Industry. The industry is rather new in many aspects and even with the #1 ranked event and experience marketing agency in the world, George P Johnson, I find that the digital event terminology is only clear within their company brand. Often, outside the walls of each individual digital technology company, one could call themselves, multi-digi-lingual (yes, I just made that up).

So for me to be able to intelligently discuss the…rapid changes, necessary requirements, and valuable uses…of #EventTech amongst #EventProfs…I will continue to multi-digi-define in my articles the “process / service / platform/ apps / products” – here to be known as “event tools” in a way that I hope makes it easier to understand for the end-user (probably you).

[IMPORTANT terminology –

  • #EventTech is a common hashtag used by event tool creators to showcase their event tools on social platforms
  • #EventProfs is the popular hashtag used on social platforms to reach Event Professionals
  • Social Platforms refer to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, etc
  • Event Tools refer to any process / service / platform/ app / product created by technology professionals to be used in regards to events
  • End-user refers to all those that utilize the event tools, including event professionals and event attendees]

4.3 billion people, 60% of the world’s population carry a mobile digital device [Stats via Bloomberg Businessweek, Feb 4th, 2014] With this knowledge it is easy to anticipate that the use of technology at events will continue to grow and expand as the profit value of digital event marketing becomes more universally recognized.

That means that ANY event, whether using a lot of technology or not, whether rural or urban, is going to have to pull its weight in bandwidth and secure connections to keep information flowing properly thus keeping event attendees happily posting their real-time experiences and thoughts about your event BRAND.

Two things I would say are quickly becoming the backbone of ALL events – secure, accessible, reliable managed internet connectivity or professional network management, and dedicated bandwidth and/or Beacon Technology.

Most event venues are starting to comprehend that high functioning internet connectivity has become absolute in offering their venue for all types of events. However, upgrading current venue internet service is not enough. Reliable full-on-support during your event is essential. With all the digital and social technology being used at events these days, making sure the wifi technology is always working properly in real-time is of the highest importance.

During events there is a surge of activity within a specified time-frame, and with the almost assured use of wifi by 99% of exhibitors and attendees, often a standard wifi connection, for instance one that is offered by a hotel to all hotel guests, can easily become over loaded and/or unsecure. To avoid issues such as these, you’ll want to make sure someone is onsite managing the event wifi network in “real-time” while your event is in progress. That means monitoring security, monitoring bandwidth supply and demand, looking out for wireless interference, creating and enforcing wifi fair-use rules and fixing any issues that may arise.

Managed internet connectivity or network management is about hiring a professional company (outside the venue internet provider) to bring in, and run all aspects of the wifi connections at your event. Hiring a company to assure the smooth running of something that is so essential to your entire event takes pressure and responsibility off the Event Professional and assures that all the other systems and event tools will comply with needs and rules, and function properly.

Personal hotspots are commonly being used at events also and this causes a conflict of wifi connectivity because of too much wifi noise traveling through the confined event space and interfering with each others connectivity. This should not be allowed at events. It should be recommended that all attendees whether guest or exhibitor be directed to connect with the professionally managed SECURE dedicated event internet and wifi. Having a professional network management company on site puts the burden of internet workability and security on them to maintain and improve in real time if need be – and most likely, there will be a need.

If your event’s internet connectivity fails, it will be reflected onto your event BRAND and make it appear unprofessional with attendees losing trust in your overall event process and brand. No matter how small or large your event, or how much technology you are offering at the event, you are also guaranteed to have attendees connecting to their personal social platforms. Even with something so simple, if they do not have the ability to efficiently connect, your event will be seen as less than reliable and unprofessional…even if it is the fault of the venue. I will emphasize again, secure, accessible, reliable Managed Internet Connectivity IS THE BACKBONE of your event. So invest in that FIRST.

Directly piggy backing on Managed Internet Connectivity is dedicated bandwidth and/or Beacon Technology. I mentioned above the use of personal hotspots (wireless connections) by exhibitors and the use of cellular connections by each individual attendee to connect with their brand marketing processes and platforms. These personal wifi connections interfere with the wireless access points you are depending on to serve your entire event. In a sense this is in line with dedicated bandwidth but dedicated bandwidth through your event allows you to make sure that everyone has what they need and when they need it. Dedicated means it is “yours” only – you can offer this to speakers, individual venders, etc at your events and then control the cross-over of transmissions so that they don’t interfere with each other.

 

Beacon Technology gives exhibitors the ability to easily deliver targeted information and video content in-the-moment, on-the-spot directly to attendees’ smartphones. Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or countertop — that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet. They are poised to transform how event organizers, attendees and exhibitors communicate with people at events. Event attendees are starting to expect paperless real-time delivery of relevant information directly to their portable devices wherever they are, and whenever they want it. Beacon Technology optimizes the opportunity to immediately connect with event attendees within your event defined environment. Beacon Technology delivers, indoors or outdoors, immediate content promoting enhanced engagements and an overall better attendee experience.

Quality Internet connectivity and dedicated bandwidth / Beacon Technology are two ways to ensure that your event will be seen in a professional light. Invest well in these options and secure an overall positive experience for your exhibitors and attendees therefore ensuring positive reporting by them about your event BRAND.

I would love to hear your feedback on the topic. Please contact me directly.

Monetize your Event as a BRAND with Event Digital Technology

Monetize Events

We are in the middle of an event technology revolution. It can be an overwhelming proposition but one that cannot be ignored. Event professionals will have three options when it comes to dealing with event technology:

  1. Ignore it – never a good idea but especially in the fast paced dynamic event industry
  2. Embrace it and learn it all yourself – a full time job and huge undertaking
  3. Rely on Event Tech Professionals to advise, strategize and run that side of your event for you –

Since being an Event Professional is already considered one of the most stressful jobs in the world [The Most Stressful Jobs of 2014 by CareerCast], I’m going to highly recommend you consider #3. Besides the fact that the standard requirements of event production are already very demanding for Event Professionals, using Event Technology requires not only knowing the terminology involved but also –

  1. knowing which technology to use for which aspect of the event
  2. knowing which of the multiple digital technology companies to choose
  3. knowing how all those different technologies work together from tech company to tech company
  4. and keeping up with the ever changing and adding of new technologies

 

The other important aspect of understanding how to use Event Technology is from the marketing side. Depending on what technology you decide to incorporate into your event, there is the “behind the façade” power aspect of digital online and social marketing incorporated into it all. Although it is not often talked about, and can be lost amongst all the tech talk of digital technology, the value of social and online marketing associated with the digital technology used at events is HUGE.

 

For instance, you pay your event speakers lots of money, and perhaps in the past, that value for your event as a BRAND ends at the event door and only continues on for the actual speaker though product and book sales, etc. But with Event Digital Technology, attendees come to the event to hear the speaker, and with the right event technology, your event as a BRAND, can continue to capture that value and extend it to promote the event beyond the “45 minute” speaking engagement. This is done by event attendees connecting the hot points used by the speaker to promote the event as a BRAND in itself. Event attendees “spread the word” through their use of digital technology to their individual social media accounts and website blogs. When this is done in real-time with the incorporation of digital technology, your event details now reach the “10,000 followers” of all the attendees that happen to report about the awesome speaker they saw at the awesome EVENT. THINK association by affiliation – it is incredible PR at an incredible value…and these interactions can be measured, captured and sold.

 

In my other article on Twitter and Event Digital Technology, I emphasized the use of Social Displays (also known as Twitterwalls, Tweetwalls, and live feeds) and their value in online marketing, but with the digital technology already available to us, attendees are doing so much more. Event attendees are connecting, doing business, catching leads, getting sales, setting appointments, evaluating products, (making lifelong friends)…through EVENTS on a micro and macro level inside the event and all the way around the world with astounding efficiency by using the digital technology supplied at YOUR EVENT. There are many ways to monetize that for your event BRAND and if you are not doing that NOW at every event, you are seriously losing out.

 

Event Digital Technology is NOT to be trifled with. We are talking powerful stuff here. These days, Events + Digital Technology equals money MADE not just money spent. Think of it this way…Events are the Facebook to the crowd. Events are fun, engaging, and interactive like Facebook. But at the end of the day, how does Facebook make the big money? By gathering the analytics, stats, contacts and networks associated with the crowd’s need to connect. With the right Event Digital Technology, your event can become the BRAND that makes big profits off the interaction of the crowd by collecting those analytics and stats to SELL back to the attendees or those that want to market to them.