Most event marketers are trying to find the best way to maximize the power of social media at their events. But that can be hard to do if Facebook and Twitter are the only tools in their bag of tricks. With new and more targeted platforms popping up daily, it can be just as challenging to keep up with which ones are relevant and useful for the event industry. EM narrowed the field to eight of the most interesting social media tools, sites and platforms fit for events.
What it does: The darling of the last 60 days, Foursquare has steadily become an online Twitter-based sensation. The basic premise: Using Twitter, players in the Foursquare game “check in” via tweet to the locations in real life that they visit. By doing so, they win “badges” that equate to bragging rights. The most sought- after badges can inspire fierce competition and “swarming” (another badge that players win if enough people check in at one location). Brands that want to be part of the action invite attendees to check in at their event, if they already use the app. If not, they can invite them to download the app to any smartphone and then start checking in. Important note: Foursquare uses the Internet to find your location, so if you’re in an obscure locale, you’re outta luck.
Why use it: Consumers love a little healthy competition, and Foursquare can bring that competitive spirit to life at your event. If you want guests to come to your booth or fan zone, and return again and again, let people know that the “mayor” of your zone (the user who checks in the most) gets special perks, like a jump to the front of the line, discounts or cool giveaways. Be creative. If you give them the tools and the incentive, they may “check in” at your next event and inspire others to do the same.
AerWave by Aerva
What it does: Aerva’s new widget allows brands to aggregate most major social media feeds into one easy to read display, which is then broadcast to a screen via a proprietary player for all event attendees to see and (hopefully) interact with via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other platforms. Use it for large audiences who need to see your display to follow a Twitter hashtag, or get updates from your branded Facebook page. Great for conferences and trade shows, or large consumer events.
Why use it: Though it is possible to build a multi-platform widget of your own and then connect a flat screen television to a laptop for display, there are a lot of moving parts in that kind of an operation, which makes for a greater chance of snafu. To avoid that possibility, AerWave’s simpler methodology might be the answer, for about $1,000 in annual subscription costs.
SocialTalk by Syncapse
What it does: So your brand already has a presence in social media. You’re on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Now, the time has come to get the detailed tracking you need to prove that your time is well spent and that the trusted staffers who are managing your social identity have the supervision they need. Enter SocialTalk. This content management system takes care of the whole cycle, from creation to measurement, across several major platforms. Once the post or tweet or video is created, it goes though a predetermined workflow path, which includes automated approval mechanisms and tracking for changes and edits. Finally, the data capture tool is truly powerful, with an integrated dashboard for all key metrics, tracking data for key commentators followers and fans.
Why use it: Because it matters how and why your online presence gets there and what happens to the investment in time and money you made to be there. It’s just that simple. Thing to know: SocialTalk isn’t free. Contact a Syncapse sales person for more info.
Chatter by Salesforce.com
What it does: Chatter is a secure, private social media cloud à la Twitter, that will allow members of an organization to collaborate in real time on projects across distance. (Note: Chatter is still in beta and is scheduled for full release this year.) It incorporates document sharing, outside social networks like Facebook and Twitter, an app exchange for Chatter-specific mobile apps, feeds for projects and events that matter to the user and security protocols that keep only the people who should be in the know, in the loop.
Why use it: Well, the tricky part is that Chatter is a feature of Salesforce, a CRM platform, so if you don’t use salesforce.com, and don’t plan to, then Chatter isn’t for you. However, if you do or are considering it, then Chatter’s ability to keep your team all on the same page, on the back end, where key communications, files and instructions are communicated in real time, it might make the difference between a disaster and a disaster averted.
What it does: This live video feed website is pretty simple to use; set up an account, plug your camera into your computer (gotta be online, remember), name your show, then broadcast your live event like a live television show. Easy as that. The possibilities are endless: “XYZ Brand presents, live coverage of its national road tour. Tune in Fridays at 5:00.”
Why use it: Though pre-recorded video as seen on Vimeo, YouTube and countless other sites have value, live, unedited viewing is much more trustworthy to consumer audiences than recordings. Also, it really helps absent attendees taste a bit of the energy of the event when they can see it as it happens. Finally, because it’s live, the length of the clip isn’t a problem, though bandwidth can be. Tip: Make sure your connection is fast enough to handle the feed. If your live event has a wide audience, some of whom might not make it but want to feel like they’re there, and you want a professional, high quality look, with the comfortable familiarity of television, Ustream could be the way to go.
What it does: Forget the notion that LinkedIn is just about networking now in case you need to look for a job later. Most of the active users of LinkedIn are not there for the networking, but for research. They’re looking into people they might do business with and businesses they might hire or recently heard about. Therefore, the opportunity exists to augment your next trade-show presence (live or virtual) with your company’s LinkedIn profile. “Want to know more about us and about our company? Visit us at …” Get it?
Why use it: It has been said that LinkedIn is out of date and growing irrelevant. Untrue, especially in the b-to-b world, thanks in large part to a suite of new features the site is in the process of rolling out. One of the more recent is the “Follow Company” button, which lets users and visitors link to a given company as easily as a “fan” on Facebook. Followers will get info on new hires and promotions, new jobs and company profile updates. Delish.
What it does: Gowalla is a location-based social network. Consumers use it to direct friends and neighbors to the coolest places, like restaurants, hiking paths and other hotspots, in their cities. If you want to be one of those places, you just have to get the Gowalla cred to do it. Unlike Foursquare, you can register your event site, even if it doesn’t have a true street address. Once you do, Gowalla’s giant e-map will put a pin on your spot and start tracking who’s coming. If you’re really cool, you might be chosen as a Gowalla featured spot, but don’t get too excited—that takes awhile. Gowalla is downloadable as an app to most smartphones and can be used online directly.
Why use it: Gowalla allows you to earn that off-beat street cred that keeps you from looking like Big Brother’s holding company. It also enables your brand’s existing fans and followers to share the virtues of your event with their network of friends and colleagues. The virtual recommendations may help drive attendance or bring together like-minded consumers interested in your brand.
What it does: Conferences and trade shows are the natural home of this event-based social networking tool, but with a little creativity it can be translated to a variety of events. Three Stage Media, which owns the eventSocial software, says it can embed the program into any event’s microsite or homepage in about a week. To do so, the organizer has to upload the .csv file of the attendee list to eventSocial and the company does the rest. Once uploaded and set up, attendees can search their own networks for people they know who are attending the show, and invite non-attendees to come to the show, if they think they’d enjoy the subject matter.
Why use it: Everyone knows that the most important advocate for a brand or event is an attendee, so eventSocial has created a great way for attendees to collaborate on site and bring new attendees into the mix who might otherwise have not come at all. EM