How to Leverage Digital and Social Media at Events/Conferences

by Alan Belniak on June 21, 2010 · 32 comments

in business, Social Media

In a previous post, I mentioned that I attended my company’s annual customer conference.  My role there this year was different than in years past, when I was a product manager.  This year, I was a (self-titled) digital media nerd.  One aspect of my role at the event was to capture video, audio, pictures, and digital words of the event itself.  In advance of the event, I worked with our web team to get a digital media aggregator page set up on our website – this would give a glimpse into the event for those who couldn’t attend (customers, prospects, employees).  Most of what I produced ended up here. In that previous post, I talk about the event from two perspectives.  In this post, I want to break down some of the numbers of the digital content.  Perhaps you’re looking to do something similar.  Perhaps you’re just interested.  In any event, here’s the digital content, by the numbers.  The rest of the post is broken up into the main segments of the page.

PTC USER Videos

(to see a playlist of the videos from just the event, click here; to see PTC’s entire YouTube collection, click here)

  • About ten HD FlipCams were distributed to PTC employees prior to event, complete with a 30-minute tutorial on how to use them
  • The goal was to capture buzz and the ‘from the floor’ view of the event
    • We also had a compact professional recording studio there as well, because we have a top-notch recording crewPTC's recording studio
  • Overall, 27 videos uploaded, between Monday, June 7 and Tuesday, June 15
    • It’s important to note that the upload dates are staggered, as this affects the view count
  • As of June 15, 2010, there were 3717 video views
  • This represents 4.7% of total viewership on PTCStudio channel in its history
    • What this means: one event, from user-generated content, garnered almost 5 percent of the channel’s total lifetime traffic
  • Not bad, since the cost to produce the videos was already factored in (employee time at the conference; hosting by YouTube; editing/cropping by me)
  • 0 video responses, 1 comment posted
    • Not great, but not surprising either

PTC USER Pictures

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/ptcuserevents/)

  • Flickr account created to permit pictures of the event to be submitted by attendees
  • Submit address: [suppressed]
  • View address: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ptcuserevents
  • Goal was to crowd-source the visual aspect of the event to attendees
    • The tag line I created to sell the idea was “PTC USER… through the eyes of the user!”
  • Many mobile phones have cameras
  • No professional photographer was hired (huge cost savings!)
  • Most of the pictures that were submitted were ultimately posted – I was the filter/approver
    • These pictures were also used in the daily slide shows
  • E-mail and view addresses were not promoted strongly – only through WOM and in the Tuesday paper newsletter distributed at the event
  • In the end, 172 items uploaded, registering 2,777 views (as of June 19)

Twitter and PTC USER

(to see some of the tweets mentioned follow this link: http://twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/ptcuser10)

  • We heavily promoted use of the #ptcuser10 hash tag in email, web communications, and even in some of the speakers’ title slides
  • Large display screen outside main exhibit hall near cyber café and charging stations for maximum visibilityPTC's recording studio
  • I sent multiple tweets about tweeting from mobile devices, how to follow many people at once, etc.  I knew that tweeting was new for some people and wanted to get them up to speed
  • Using one tool to investigate this…
    • 333 tweets (from Sun Jun 13 back to Tue, Jun 8) containing #ptcuser10
    • 13,040 people reached
    • 95,787 impressions (number of times people saw something with this topic)
    • About 75% were regular tweets; almost 25% were re-tweets, and 3% were @ replies
    • 89 unique people tweeting on the topic
    • There were more tweets (and thus all stats above are better than stated), but the reporting tool I used / Twitter’s service capped the search back to five days; I ran my report seven days after the event started

PTC USER Blogs

  • 35 bloggers agreed to displaying their feed
  • Mix of 1.0 journalists, 2.0 journalists, PTC employees, and PTC customers
  • We used a blog widget was on the aggregator page, showing the 15 most recent posts
  • This was achieved pretty easily, with the help of the awesome web team at PTC: I took all of the feeds that we wanted to use and made a separate folder in my Google Reader account.  I them made this a public feed.  We simply piped in that URL into a widget that displayed the 15 most recent posts.
  • Click-through traffic on the blogs was very light – actually, somewhat disappointing.  In all, only 1 click-through was registered on the blogs.
  • In thinking this through with others, the click-rate was low perhaps because no images came through (just the text).  Also, the blogs were at the bottom of the page, below the fold.
  • In addition, blogs take more time to consume than images, video, and tweets.

The PTC USER Digital Media Aggregator Page, Overall

(http://www.ptc.com/events/ptcuser10/)

  • 5200 hits from Sunday through Friday (June 6 through June 11)
  • On actual page, 123 total clicks, sending people to other content
  • In order of popularity, top 5 clicks:
    • PTC Studio link (at the top)
    • Flickr photos (individual)
    • Products (in the header)
      • This was unexpected!
  • PlanetPTC Community logo (we launched a customer community at the event and displayed a logo/link for people to sign up and join)
  • The www.flickr.com URL
  • The majority of the traffic (a little under half) came on Monday of the event.
    • Why is this important? If we want to show something next year in a limited fashion (or for a limited time, but to reach a maximum number of people), we’ll use the viewership stats from this year as a proxy.
  • 80% of the traffic was from the US, which isn’t that much of a surprise.  About 1% was from China.
    • I note this because there was concern that web visitors from China wouldn’t be able to see some of the content on the page due to restrictions.  We had to make a calculated decision on finding a way to showcase as much media as possible, to the broadest audience possible, while minimizing the amount of custom web development work.  Now that we have this data, we can make smart decisions about what we do next year.

So that’s the digital aspect of our event in a nutshell.  I had fun putting this together, because it’s a challenge to really understand if this was a success or not.  I went back and measured all of this after the fact on my own accord.  I want to be in a position to make well-informed decisions about the kind of content we put up on the page for next year, and I feel pretty confident I have the information with which to do that.

How about you?  Have you significantly leveraged digital media at a tradeshow or event?  Care to share any stories?  Or, have you been at a tradeshow or event where they leveraged other kinds of digital media?  What were they?

image sources: PTCUSEREvents Flickr stream


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