Attendees: What is in Your Social Media Toolkit?

Recently, I was selected to be one of the MPI Social Media Guru’s for the Meeting Professionals International World Education Conference in Vancouver.

As part of the deal, I made this little video with my iphone:


The video immediately prompted questions about what I am bringing to participate in Social Media onsite. So, here is a list of what I am packing for the event.

iPhone 3GS: My Social Media Swiss Army Knife

The iphone has a camera, video camera, wifi capability, auto-upload to YouTube and photo editing software. plus a number of social apps. I plan to use my phone for most of my on-the-spot content capture and creation that will occur in the hallway conversations and during meals. Expect to see tons of photos and videos from me. All via the iphone.

Macbook Pro 13 inch: My workshop

I can type like a world champion with the keyboard and film short videos with the built-in webcam. I can edit movies, write power tweets, schedule tweets, write/publish blog posts and podcast. I will use the Macbook Pro during sessions to write and respond to tweets – because I type to slow on my iphone 3GS.

Powerstrip and Extension Cord: My Lifeline

Apple makes great products – but they never have enough battery power. To keep myself plugged-in to the content, I will carry a powerstrip and an extension cord around with me.

Headphones: My Podcasting Tools

Mike McAllen and I plan to record a few editions of our Going Digital Podcast. So, I will bring along my headphones with microphone to make sure that I am ready to record a show in the hallways or on the Expo floor.

Paper / Pen / Pencil: My Old School Tools

While I am mostly digital, I still like to use paper and pen to frame up ideas or solidify my understanding of interesting concepts. So, I plan to have a pad of paper and pencil in my bag as well.

Small Rollerbag: My Transportion

While the A-Team has a cool van to carry their gear, I will have a roller bag – backpack thing. Um, not so cool. But I need it! One of the challenges of carrying your gear is that you need compartments and organization. The roller bag backpack gives me an office on the go type of setup. So, I can setup and unpack in a few minutes. (If you have a cooler suggestion – let me know. I am all listening.)

Bottom Line

In my opinion, these tools will be more than sufficient to engage with you all of the on-site and remote attendees via Social Media. 

What do you have in your Social Media Toolkit?  Is there anything else that you recommend?

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Are You Ready for Social Media in the New Event World?

Social Media in the New Events World Report PictureA few months ago, I was asked to contribute to a research report on Social Media in events. The researcher was looking for insight on social media in events across several different dimensions – technology tools, event strategy, event design, co-creation, collaboration, etc.

Yesterday, that report was finally published by Echelon Design. The report highlights several case studies that reflect the possibilities for enhancing and enriching any event strategy. There are thoughts and insights from many people including:
> Kenny Lauer, Executive Director of Digital Experience at George P. Johnson Company
> Dennis Shiao, VP Product Marketing for InXpo
> Jeff Hurt, Director of Education and Engagement, Velvet Chain Consulting
> John Jainschigg, Director of Internet and Community at Ziff-Davis Enterprise
> Eric Lukazewski, Marketing Director and Social Media Strategist, Echelon Design

Talking about the report, Eric Lukazewski said, “we’ll continue to see an evolving event world with accelerated change and technology will forevermore be one of these primary factors.” This report helps all event professionals understand the new opportunities that social media brings to the table for marketing and expanding their own events.

Download the Free Report: Social Media in the New Event World.

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The Twitter Experiment in Face-to-Face Learning

We can learn a lot about using technology in events from watching what is happening in college classrooms.

This video called The Twitter Experiment from the University of Texas provides a good case study of the role that Twitter can play in Face-to-Face learning. Take a few minutes and watch it.


How Could This Experiment Translate to Events?

As I watched the video there were several benefits that I think are worth noting for events as well.

  1. Twitter’s 140 character limit helps attendees quickly get to the main point of their message.
  2. Using a tool like Twitter allows you to get more input, ideas, questions and comments from a broader segment of the audience in a shorter period of time.
  3. Attendees can use both mobile phones and laptops to participate – in the conference room.
  4. Attendees can participate in the discussion remotely.
  5. Shy people (or people that use English as a second language) don’t have to worry about speaking up in front of the entire audience.
  6. Learners can post the key points on Twitter to help reinforce them.
  7. The chat archive can be used as notes, so attendees can to go back and review what happened.

Bottom Line

There are several benefits to using Twitter in face-to-face events or instructor led learning environments.

Keep Dr. Rankin’s final comment in mind as you get started: “It’s going to be messy…but messy doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be bad.

What other benefits to using Twitter in face-to-face meetings or instructor led learning environments would you add?

Five Perspectives on Technology in Learning & Events

Last week, I came across five different articles on technology that are worth your attention. In some cases these articles are directly related to meetings and events. In other cases the linkage is indirect. Regardless, I thought these perspectives would be useful to you as you think about using technology inside of your events.

Feel free to comment and share.

How Can Technology Enhances Live Meetings?

Are you looking for some innovative and forward thinking on the role that technology can play in meetings? Checkout the Webinar and White paper from the IACC (International Association of Conference Centers) on Technology. This webinar is loaded with advanced thinking in communication, collaboration and co-creation using technology and live events.  They cover everything from the brain to space utilization to technology trends – and much more.

IACC Though Leadership Summit Video (first 90 minutes had me scribbling ideas madly)

> Summary Blog Post

> IACC WhitePaper

Can Technology Make You Happy? You Betcha!

A recent survey of 35,000 people found that technology was linked to happiness. People of all ages agreed that they liked the things that technology can do for them. The statistics are counter-intuitive to those that say that technology is harming our lives – and that we need less of it. (Read More)

Helping Students Learn How to Enjoy Learning

“A classroom should be the place for students to open their minds and also express themselves”, says Travis Allen founder of the iSchool Initiative. Travis’ group is bringing the student perspective on technology use into the learning development process. (Read More)

How to Optimize Your Texting Response Rate

Speakers – Are you looking for strategies that help you improve your response rates with audience polling? PollEverywhere recently summarized several tips together in one place. This summary is super-helpful. (Read More)

Sidebar: The speaker Jim Carrol used Poll Everyhwere to solicit answers to the question – what is the biggest challenge for the meeting industry going forward?

Seth Godin Offers Sound Ideas for Developers Creating iPad Applications for Meetings

There are a lot of people that are predicting the role that the iPad will play in meetings. In fact, I have been a part of the prediction parade twice: iPad – It just works -but will it work for events? and What iPad Means to Meetings. The marketer, Seth Godin put together some sound advice for anyone developing an iPad application for meetings of all sizes. (Read More)

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Mobile: What is Your Favorite Event App?

Mobile Apps are changing the way that we communicate, collaborate and share in the same way that the internet did 15 years ago.

Here’s a quick example.

While I was searching for a new house, I would drive through different neighborhoods to see if I liked the area. Then, I used a mobile app to help me find homes that were available nearby.

Mobile Home Search MapThe app displayed homes that were for sale on a Google map interface that included a “you are here dot”. This location based feature allowed me to quickly see what was for sale nearby AND do a quick check for “curb appeal.”

If the home passed this first test, I would tap on the screen and the app showed me 10 photos of the inside. If I liked the home, I would forward the MLS number to my real estate agent and ask him to arrange an appointment. I could do all of that sitting in my car with a few taps.

This single app brought together my location, a map, a searchable database of the homes for sale on the market AND the photos of those homes. The information was available at my fingertips, when I needed it and where I needed it AND it was easy to use.

What Could this Mean for Events?

Think about the possibilities in the context of a large meeting, conference or festival.

What kind of information would be useful to have in the palm of your hand at an event? Think about standing on a tradeshow floor looking for other attendees, or booths. Think about sitting in the conference room with 800 people listening to someone rattle off out of date statistics – that you know are wrong. Think about being at a festival and figuring out how you get to the next venue. Or think about being at the State Fair — where is that Deep-Fried-Snickers-bar-on-a-stick vendor?

The possibilities for attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and organizers at events are numerous.

What is Your Favorite Event App?

Mike McAllen and I are collecting a list of event apps for the next episode of our Going Digital podcast. If you have any meetings or event based mobile applications that you would like to share with others – please send us an email at meetingspodcast at or leave a comment below.

We would be happy to talk about your favorite apps on our show AND give you all of the credit!!

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New Meetings Podcast Series – Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith

We need to a better job of talking about the benefits, opportunities and challenges of using technology in meetings and events.

Mike McAllen and I are taking this challenge to heart. Today, we are launching a new show focused on technology strategy, social media and the latest trends and tools in event technology. Our goal is to create another platform for discussing event technology.

We are calling this new show “Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith.” You can listen to the first installment here.

Meetings Podcast – Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith

Using a 20 minute podcast format, we will cover a couple of topics during each show, answer at least one listener question and give you ONE tip that you can take back to your office today and try.

The podcast will be available on Meetings PodcastiTunes and here – on

By making the show available on these three platforms, we hope that we can create opportunities for you to listen to our show while gardening, commuting to work or waiting in the departure lounge. Of course, we would be happy if you listened to the show in any other location that you thought was appropriate as well.

Initially, the show will be sponsored by If you would like to sponsor the show, please contact me at blog (at) or Mike at meetingspodcast at We would be happy to talk to you about a customized program.

Finally, if you have any topics, people, products or news that we should be discussing – please be sure to let us know. We would be happy to include it in our next show.

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Inspiration for Your Shiny New Event App

application examplesOver the past few months, I have been collecting smart phone apps that I think are doing “cool” and “innovative” things in my inspiration folder.

While I haven’t found any “event” app that seems to pull everything together in “just the right way” – I have found several event apps that are worth checking out. In fact, if you could mash the best elements of these apps together – you could have an awesome event app. Today, I want to share a few of these apps with you.

Without further ado, here are five event apps. that I hope provide you a little inspiration.

Vancouver Olympics 2010

> Which Event: 2010 Vancouver Olympics

> What does it do: This app was designed to be an Olympics guide that fit into the palm of your hand. It provided a real time schedule of events that was searchable and sortable by venue, date, event type, etc. It used the phone’s geo-position capability to help users find their way to venues, etc. Finally, there was a live Medal scoreboard and news stream that helped you stay on top of the latest news.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I thought the user interface was innovative and well done on this application. While I was writing this post, I learned that if you shake the phone while the app is on – it will show you different videos. Cool. (Don’t ask me why I was shaking my iphone!)

Meet Different 2010

> Which Event: Meeting Professionals Internationl’s North American Education Conference (called Meet Different)

> What does it do: This app provided a real time schedule, links to social tools, speaker profiles, etc. Some of the same stuff as above.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I liked how this application bridged the social applications (Twitter, Pathable community, etc.) into the application.

March Madness on Demand

> Which Event: 2010 NCAA College Basketball Tournament

> What does it do: This app provided a status update on all games, streamed the radio broadcasts and live video broadcasts from the games. Also, it linked personalized content just for me on the NCAA hoops website. Finally, the application sent me notifications that told me when games were close OR when a potential upset was about to happen.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: The live video and alerts (also called push notifications) were awesome here! You could select different types of alerts that you wanted to receive. Then the application would send you these little “heads up messages.” I think this could be a useful way to send attendees special update messages like “You better get to the lobby! The bus is leaving in 10 minutes.”


MTO Summit Chicago

> Which Event: Meeting TechOnline Summit Chicago

> What does it do: This app provided a schedule for the event, personalized schedule, link to speaker profiles, exhibitor information, session feedback forms, twitter stream and the exhibitor guide.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: The personalized schedule was very useful. I could select different sessions from the event and include them in my schedule. It was very easy to do and I could see how it would simplify life at larger, more complex events. Also, this application had surveys and feedback forms embedded in the schedule. Having paperless feedback forms rather than paper made it easy to complete the forms and submit them – like 1-2-3.

Digital Now

> Which Event: Digital Now Conference

> What does it do: This app provided an agenda, speaker profiles, video case studies, partner information, linkedin and twitter integration, ability to send feedback to organizer and the ability to record audio notes.

> Why is it a source of inspiration: I really enjoyed the video case studies. It seemed that the videos were embedded in the application when I downloaded it. I didn’t have to connect to some other place etc. This was a great thing. Also, the links to the social sites (twitter and linkedin) allowed me to engage right away from the application.

Digital Now Video Case Study Screen

Bottom Line

Hopefully this post gives you a good idea of some of the creative things that other events are doing with their smart phone apps. I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I imagine that there are many more interesting ideas out there as well.

What other “event focused apps” would you recommend event organizers consider for inspiration? What other features would you like to see in these apps?

(PS – For those of you that would like to debate the validity of smart phone apps vs handheld devices for events — hold your horses — that will be another post. Save your ammunition and check back in a few days.)

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Stars, Champions, Trolls and Your Event Community

Taming Wild ThingsWe know much more about setting up and managing an event community than we did a year ago.

The report “Best Practices in Online Community Management” produced by Pathable reads like a secret decoder ring for first time event community managers.

While the report is loaded with with helpful advice, I thought these four things stood out:

Recruit the Stars

The report recommends that you go find “stars” to come hangout in your community and contribute to it. Just like in night clubs, these stars draw others into the conversations and to the community, etc. The report offers seven different tips for recruiting stars and engaging them.

Find A Champion

This is the internal leader that is committed to make sure that the online community succeeds. Based on my experience in corporate america, the stronger the champion the better the project result.

Control the Trolls

This report offers strategies to contain and mitigate negative actions by troublemakers (trolls or Wild Things) that want to pollute your event’s social network. Think about the tips in this section like “Rodent Killer.”


Most event communities allow attendees to connect their friends/contacts, status updates, etc with other social networks (think Linkedin or Twitter). This allows attendees to leverage their connections and engagement in other places with the event social network.

Bottom Line

If you find a champion that can bring the stars into your online event community and squash the trolls – then you will increase your odds of ending up with a rich thriving event community.

You can download the original report from Pathable directly here: Best Practices in Online Community Management (sorry, you must register with Pathable.)

What other resources would you recommend to first time community managers?

image via: fashionartiste
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How Many Remote Controls Does It Take To Watch a Movie?

Sitting down to watch a movie at my home is an adventure. What about at yours?

Sometimes I feel like I am in one of the Indiana Jones films. There are treasure hunts, puzzles, etc. Let me explain what happens.

Indiana Jones blended image

Step 1: Equipment Check

There are three remotes that control the TV, DVD player and cable at my home. Each of these devices has about 20 buttons each. For some reason, I need all three of them to turn on household favorites “Baby Einstein” or “Dora the Explorer.”

Without fail, whenever it is time to start watching a movie – one or two remotes have been captured by miniature pirates (disguised as princesses) and hidden with other loot.

Step 2: Remote Control Treasure Hunt

Once, I have identified which remote controls are missing – I begin my treasure hunt (without a map).  Since my little one has loot hiding skills that would make Davy Jones proud, it takes me several minutes to find these remotes.

Step 3: Which Button is It Anyway?

You would think that turning on the TV, DVD player and changing the channels would be simple. Sometimes I feel like I am solving some type of riddle or complex Suduko puzzle. There are numbers and letters going everywhere. I have to correctly identify the order of the remotes then select the correct buttons to push. Since, there are 60 buttons, I regularly get it wrong and have to start over. Luckily, I don’t get dropped into a viper pit after making mistakes.

What Does This Mean For Events?

Smart phone apps, handheld devices, virtual event technology and social media tools are all technologies that require attendees participation. While I am willing to work with the three remotes and play treasure hunt, attendees will not do it. They are going to use technology that supports and enhances their event experience – AND helps them achieve their objectives.

So, the next time an event technology vendor says – “Wow – let me show you the latest blah, blah, blah….It’s Awesome!!”  Consider the question posed at the start of this post: How many remote controls does it take to watch a movie?  Then ask yourself how many treasure hunts and complex riddles will you need to help attendees solve to effectively use this technology?  If the answer is – a lot – you may want to choose another solution.

image credit: tim_norris
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Interactivity is important, because…

Let’s see if we can build a short presentation around the importance of interactivity to hybrid events using ONLY your ideas. I think that we can do it. What do you think – will you help us try?

All that I need you to do is answer this one tiny question: Interactivity is important for hybrid events, because _____________.

Then, I will take care of the rest. I will try to post the presentation here by the end of next week.

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