Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hybrid Events Expand Audience and Increase Impact

A hybrid event is an event that provides both an in-person and an online experience, and can be an extremely effective way of expanding your reach to audiences who may otherwise be unable to attend.  While there are many benefits to hybrid events, many event planners share a common concern that the online experience may cannibalize audiences for their in-person experience.  However, the evidence suggests that online experiences do not negatively impact in-person attendance and, in many cases, they help to promote and drive in-person attendance.  Likewise, by delivering a hybrid experience, event owners can expand reach and inclusion of broader audiences to achieve greater impact. StatsAccording to research conducted by ROI of Engagement, 18% of virtual attendees to the Virtual Edge Summit in 2010 chose to attend the conference in person in 2011.  Likewise, a separate poll of those attendees revealed that 82% thought attending the virtual event was “very helpful” in making the decision to attend in person for the 2011 Summit.  Cisco experienced a similar trend with their 2009 Cisco Live! event.  According to Kathy Doyle, director of Global Cisco Live! and Networks Conferences, almost 35% of virtual attendees of the 2009 Cisco Live! event indicated that they would attend the in-person event in 2010, while only 7% of the in-person attendees said they would rather attend virtually.  “Bottom line: it doesn’t cannibalize your live events,” she says. “We see it now as an amazing marketing channel and awareness funnel for our activities.” Another insight comes from Dana Freker Doody, Vice President of Corporate Communications for the Expo Group.  According to Dana, “We are finding now, as we move into a few years of hybrid and virtual events under our belts, that face-to-face audiences are not disappearing.  We are not seeing cannibalization by putting out offerings online.  We are seeing more people actually being driven to the face-to-face event based on what they are seeing online.” There are many reasons the growth of online events isn’t leading to the demise of in-Conferenceperson events.  According to Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing, in-person events are still a great way to get an “out of the office” perspective, to meet new people and deepen relationships, to talk to vendors, and to use casual moments to form relationships and generate ideas. From Julius Solaris’ perspective, editor of Event Manager Blog, there are even a myriad of “secret” reasons we attend events ranging from a desire to get out of the office to wanting to attend parties with others in our industry.  One person I spoke to at a conference recently told me that he really appreciates being up close and in the same room as prestigious speakers. And just as there are valid reasons to attend in-person events, there are equally valid reasons to attend virtually.  Elimination of travel costs and more flexibility relative to one’s time commitment are a couple of key advantages for online attendees.  Still, others may prefer the anonymity of chatting or asking questions of speakers in virtual environments rather than in person.  Others like the quick access to support materials or the ability to bounce through multi-track sessions with ease. Ultimately, the hybrid event is a strong way to create an engaging and valuable experience for audiences with varying participation preferences. Furthermore, instead of thinking of an event as being online and in-person, I find it more useful to identify the audience member as being online or in-person (or both).  The distinction is subtle but important.  It helps us remember that the audience is participating in the same event through different mediums – and that those mediums should be tailored to provide the best possible attendee experience in their own unique ways.  Just as you’d expect a movie adaptation to take on a very different form than its Broadway counterpart, you should equally expect an online event to provide audiences with a uniquely virtual experience.  Wherever possible, Chattechnology can also help bridge the gap between the remote and local attendee.  Use of social tools like Twitter and Linked-In should be designed around the in-person and virtual attendee alike.  Speakers should be coached to present to the virtual audience as well as those in the room, and interactive opportunities like Q&A periods should incorporate both types of attendee. In summary, there are many driving reasons to attend an event in person, even when that event is viewable online.  Likewise, the evidence suggests that the addition of a virtual component to an event does not negatively impact in-person attendance.  Instead, it expands the reach of your message and drives awareness of, and attendance to, future events.  Ultimately, if your content is crafted with the audience in mind, and if your experience is designed to leverage the strengths of the mediums being used – a hybrid event can drive larger audiences and create powerful results.
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The Sublte Power Of Emotification

Emotion can be loosely defined as "a response to stimuli that involves physiological changes, which motivate a person to act."  Advertisers and marketers intrinsically understand the power of emotion to move people to purchase, donate, and even volunteer.  But advertisers aren't the only ones that draw on the power of emotion in everyday communication.  In an era of instant messaging and texting, emoticons are being  used to quickly convey sentiment and emotion within a medium where text is too constrained to do the job.  In essence, emoticons are a shortcut to transmitting emotion to others.  Along those lines, the use of emoticons to convey sentiment and also drive action is an area I'm referring to as emotification. Case in point, while configuring a blog that I manage, I recently installed a popular spam filtering plugin called Akismet.  While the product is technically free for personal use, the Akismet team does encourage that you donate if you appreciate the product.  While I like to reward producers of products I find valuable,  I also can't afford to make significant monetary donations to every plugin I use.  Still, I figured I'd at least contribute five or ten Akismet2dollars toward the cause.  That is until I ran into the little emoticon that sat at the Akismet checkout counter.  As it turns out, the donation I had in mind wasn't enough to turn the little fella's frown upside down.  I selected to leave a $12 donation, and while normally I'd feel good about my decision to support the developers, I couldn't feel good about my contribution knowing that the little face was still frowning at me.  I slid the slider bar and Akismet1realized that it didn't crack a smile until I hit the $24 mark.  So that is why I donated $24 to Akismet for their Spam filtering plugin.  Truth be told, if it didn't crack a smile until I reached $40 or more, I probably would have donated the greater amount. My point is this: I can't think of any verbiage that would have had the power to make me open my wallet the way that little smiley face did.  And yet, emotification in day-to-day scenarios is very infrequent.  What would happen if the tip guide on a guest check transitioned from showing the 10%, 15% and 20% tip percentages to a frowny face, smiley face, and super smiley face?  What if strong password indicators on websites went from red, yellow, and green signals to crying, smiling and laughing baby pictures?  Humans are both emotive and visual beings.  When there isn't enough time or space for words to do their job, we need to remember that there is no substitute for tapping into emotion… even at a very subtle level. Emoticons are a very basic way to convey simple emotion - and just a little dab of emotion can be enough to drive action. Have you seen good examples of emoticons at work?  Or, where do you think emotification could be used to drive action?  Share your thoughts in the comments.
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iStrategy Conference: Video Stats and Tips

video-iconRecently I had the opportunity to attend the iStrategy Conference in San Diego. The event brings together marketers of all kinds (Agency, Enterprise, Entrepreneurs, SEO, SMO, Analytics, Big Data, etc.) for a single day long, interactive conference. I was exposed to a lot of interesting people, companies and projects at the conference and found it a good use of my time and travel budget. While there were many great sessions and takeaways, I thought some of the video stats and tips I gathered may be appropriate to share here. Much (but not all) of the content below was shared by Courtney Pierce from Brightcove, an industry leading online video platform provider.
  • Earned and owned content is beginning to be more important to brands than paid.
  • Brands are becoming publishers and companies are building broadcast centers in-house.
  • On average, pages with video attract 2 to 3 times more traffic than those without and search engines favor sites that have video.
  • Including the word “video” in the email subject line nearly doubles email open rates (from 7% to 13% open rate).
  • Live streaming is growing in popularity
  • Mobile: Average user spends 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on a mobile device. Video viewing on mobile is increasing dramatically (300% growth YoY) and people are starting to watch longer form content on mobile.
  • Tactical Video Publishing Tips:
    • Thumbnails matter. Compelling thumbnails are proven to drive views.
    • Quality of content matters
    • Speed of loading matters: Studies show that users start to bail on a video if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds. If it doesn’t load within 10 seconds, 95% of viewers will have clicked away.
  • What brands can learn from successful YouTube content creators:
    • Ask people to share and/or subscribe (within the content)
    • Provide content with utility
    • Use annotations (clickable overlays) to drive engagement
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