(Part two of my reflections on EventCamp 2010, held February 6th in New York City. Part One here.)
As at every good conference, it was the people who made EventCamp 2010 most memorable. I can confirm that #eventprofs are just as cool face-to-face as online! To be warmly accepted in New York City by members of a virtual community that I joined just ten weeks ago, and to enjoy curiosity and interest about my book and Conferences That Work from members of the professional events industry for many years was a great experience for me.
I made and strengthened many relationships at EC10, and I learned some interesting things. Hopefully some will be new to you as well. Here’s a summary:
- Paul Salinger: 1) Oracle runs thousands of events every year. Oracle’s European face-to-face meeting attendance was falling. Making them hybrid events (f2f events with a simultaneous remote audience) has turned this around. 2) But Paul is not a fan of the current generation of commercial virtual event platforms.
- Twitter is being used successfully to drive retail sales to physical venues (e.g. “first 100 people to whisper “puppy” at our New York store get a free cupcake”).
- In a similar vein, Jeff Hurt kindly explained to me how FourSquare is being used to cross-market between businesses that are close to each other (“check in at this hotel and get a free drink at the neighborhood bar tonight”).
- How to price attendance at virtual events compared to the price for traditional attendees? No agreement at EC10 – one person had successfully charged the same (~200 people, half present half remote) which surprised most people. Someone suggested trying a contribution model.
- Robert Swanwick recommended posting video clips of conference presenters online before the event starts, giving participants an advance look so they can better choose the sessions they attend.
- Tools for event streaming: Robert mentioned Procaster for stream editing and his product twebevent [Jan 2013 update: alas, twebevent is no more] which is available in a free version.
- Jeff Hurt gave everyone a Post-It note and asked us to “write what you want to learn in this session”. He had the notes read out, while simultaneously grouping them into similar themes. Then Jeff facilitated a session discussion and exploration of these themes, while skillfully weaving in his own comments and thoughts. This was a simple and effective technique for letting groups effectively explore the issues they want to explore.
- Have an “MC of remote audience” who monitors the back-channel (usually a hashtagged Twitter feed) for audience questions and comments and communicates them to the local audience.
- Find out who your brand champions are (specific customers who are enthusiastic evangelists for your products/services), stay in close touch with them, and be real nice to them!
- Google “social media releases” to find out about how to write them – they’re not the same as traditional press releases. You can build social media releases on pitchengine or prweb.
- What’s the most common technical problem for hybrid events? Not enough Internet bandwidth! Mary Ann Pierce told us that for several thousand people, she supplied dedicated 100MB service!
- Here’s a great idea of Jeff Hurt’s to help to keep a balance between the needs of face-to-face and remote audiences during a session. Periodically, have the f2f audience hold five-minute discussions in small groups, while the speaker interacts directly with the remote audience!
- Remember that the typical attention span of an attendee at a session is about ten minutes. Consider switching your mode of interaction frequently to hold attendee interest.
- Don’t just stream events. Record the stream and make it available on demand. A lot more people will watch it that way.
That’s my list. If you were at EC10, feel free to add yours!