This blog has moved and been brought into the fold of my full website- BrandtKrueger.com
You can access the blog here: BrandtKrueger.com/blog/
Hope to see you there!
Twitter hashtags like #eventprofs that once had active and vibrant chats twice a week. On April 6, 2014, #eventprofs chats were quietly retired with the following announcement by Brandt Krueger:
The #EventProfs weekly chats are currently living on a beach, sipping boat drinks, in retirement. More info here.
This came after a period of disengagement when even chats with celebrity guests like the head of Wolfgang Puck Catering were not well attended. I participated in that chat and it was embarrassing that hardly anyone turned up for a guest of that caliber. Now #eventprofs consist of individuals sharing their own products, services and content. Little interaction is taking place.
The demise of the #eventprofs chats is one of a number of signs of the decline in social media engagement. One of the basic features of social media is that it is inherently social. It is a medium of interaction and of giving as well as taking.
Another symptom is that there seems to be a sharp decline in the number of tweets that are retweeted. Individuals are more likely to favorite content so that they can access it later and less likely to retweet and share it with their followers. I have never conducted a study but this conclusion is based on my own observations.
Barrons has observed a decline in activity and engagement across all channels:
There is less of a tendency to “like” Facebook pages and share the content of others on Facebook. This even happens on platforms like Triberr in which some individuals rarely take the time to share the content of other tribe members.
In LinkedIn Groups, many members place more of an emphasis on posting content their own content than participating in discussions and helping other group members by answering the questions they have posted.
The final trend is a slower rate of following people back, even people who take the time to share one’s content.
Fellow blogger Jenise Fryatt once identified the steps that are needed to use social media effectively:
This earned her the title of Queen of #EIR.
Lately there seems to be an emphasis only on Inform.
No one would ever think of going to a networking event and spending the whole evening approaching people, handing out business cards, giving elevator pitches and then moving on before anyone has a chance to respond. Yet , this is precisely how many are approaching social media.
Are we undermining the effectiveness of social media? It’s something to think about.
Social Media Today seems to agree. The Wall Street Journal reported a Twopcharts finding that:
As of May 21, 2014 no one had shared Brandt Krueger’s blog post announcing the end of chats or commented on the post. No one had retweeted or responded to the announcement on the official #eventprofs account that chats had been retired. There were only 2 comments on Brandt’s blog post.
One thing is certain, disengagement is reducing the value of social media and that’s unfortunate.
Photo Credit: Fraser Mummery
Anne Thornley-Brown is the President of Executive Oasis International, a Toronto Team Building firm. Anne manages the 185,000+ Event Planning and Event Management Group on LinkedIn. She is active on Twitter @executiveoasis and she blogs for Cvent Blog and Huffington Post.
Is your level of social media engagement increasing or decreasing? Why?
What is contributing to the decline in social media engagement?
I’ve been putting this post off for a while, but it’s time to face facts. As I mentioned in my previous #EventProfs chat update, I became the temporary community manager for the #EventProfs Twitter chats for two reasons- 1) I got a lot out of them when I first joined Twitter, and didn’t want to see them dissolve, and 2) I figured even a half-a-community manager was better than nothing. Unfortunately, I think it’s time to admit that my schedule no longer permits me to have even one cheek on the chair.
And so, for the following reasons, I’m announcing the semi-official retirement of the #EventProfs chats:
I think the survey results actually mirror my own feelings and situation- too busy to be the kind of quality community manager that the project would require to really get it moving again, but really wanting to see them continue on and thrive. I met so many wonderful people in those chats. So many of the good things in my life and career, I can trace back to them in one way or another.
Was the low turnout depressing? Sure, but these are not sour grapes- just an acknowledgement of the reality of the situation. Without being able to devote the kind of time needed to really promote the chats, how could I really expect them to take off?
So I thank all of you who contributed to the short lived revival of the chats. I met some new folks and made some new Twitter friends, which was always my favorite part of the chats. I cleaned up the wiki a little bit, and I encourage you to wander through the archives, as a lot of the topics are still relevant today.
Now, it goes without saying that if anyone wants to take up the charge, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I’ll be happy help you get things going again. But it might be time to finally realize that the community has moved on, and formed other communities. I know I’ll be doing all I can to create a new community around Event Alley, and hope to see a lot of you there. There’s still so much we can learn from each other.
Be well, my friends.
So towards the middle of last year, I was lamenting the fact that the weekly #eventprofs twitter chats appeared to be abandoned. I approached Adrian Segar (from conferencesthatwork.com, and a prior community manager), and Lara McCulloch (from ready2spark.com, and who is generally credited with starting the #eventprofs hashtag on Twitter). I expressed my desire that the chats continue, and suggested that I become the temporary community manager until someone who had more time and drive for the project could be found. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the project, but I figured that even a bad community manager was better than no community manager, and attempted to revive the chats.
Attendance was sparse, but a lot of people seemed to really like the idea of the chats and expressed a desire for them to continue. Towards the end of 2013, I released a survey to gather data from folks on if, and how, they’d like the chats to continue. My intention was to take that information and use it to guide the chats for 2014. There’s a lot of good information in the surveys, and I look forward to sharing that data with you.
Now, remember that part about not having a lot of time and “even a bad community manager…”
So I just wanted to let everyone know that I fully intend to bring back the chats, but a couple things have delayed the restart for 2014. First off, our January at metroConnections was off the charts. One of our biggest months ever, and definitely our largest January of all time. This certainly seems to lend support to the data being reported that the meetings and events industry is rebounding from the recession! Now, in the midst of that January, as I announced in a previous blog article, I’ve joined the team at Event Alley, and am now a co-host and producer of the Event Alley Show, a weekly live Internet broadcast focused on the meetings and events industry. This has proven to be a lot of (rewarding!) work as well, as we completely rebranded and moved the show off of the audio-only BlogTalkRadio platform and on to live Hangouts on Air and YouTube. Anyone who knows me knows that it has been a dream of mine for a while to be part of a show like this, and it’s already been an amazing experience!
So, that’s the update- still working on finding a good time and format for the #eventprofs chats, and still very open to your comments, and suggestions. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to fill out the survey. Also please check out the #EventProfs wiki, which contains all the archives of the chats going back for quite some time.
Once things settle down, I’m planning on bringing back the chats officially!
Be well out there, folks!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
First Ever Live Radio Show for the Event Industry Moves to Video, Adds New Team Members, Changes Air Day
Weekly online talk show will address challenges and bridge the gap between planners around the world in a new format, reaching thousands of event professionals each year
WASHINGTON, January 15
After 46 audio episodes last year, weekly online talk show Event Alley (www.eventalleyshow.com) is teaming up with new sponsors Eventsforce and HighRoad Solution to advance the event industry through a new video format.
Launched in January 2013, Event Alley offers business professionals the opportunity to ask for advice on challenges and current event projects, learn about new and exciting tools for planners, talk to leading authorities interviewed on air, hear about news stories affecting the industry, and give opinions on topics important to the community. The show will now air live weekly on Wednesdays at 10:00 AM PST / 1:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM CET, with recordings available in video and audio formats on the web.
Lindsey Rosenthal continues as the show’s executive producer and host, and will be joined weekly by Brandt Krueger, an event technology specialist based at metroConnections in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Canadian event producer Tahira Endean, CMP, of Cantrav Services in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Event Alley will return on Wednesday, January 22, with hosts Lindsey Rosenthal, Brandt Krueger, and Tahira Endean addressing recent events, industry news, and engaging live with audience members about experiences at The Special Event in Nashville, Tennessee, and PCMA’s Convening Leaders in Boston, Massachusetts.
About Event Alley
Lindsey Rosenthal is the chief strategist of Events For Good (www.eventsforgood.org), a consulting firm helping nonprofits learn how to more effectively raise money through events. Rosenthal combines customized and memorable event experiences and effective and successful fundraising campaigns to yield impressive results based on the practice of fundraising event strategy.
Brandt Krueger is the director of video and production technology at metroConnections (www.metroconnections.com), which offers a single source for creating and managing the entire event experience from conferences and meetings to stage productions and transportation. For more than a decade, Brandt Krueger has been instrumental in the technology and production aspects of delivering client “wow” moments.
Tahira Endean is the director of creative and production at Cantrav Services (www.cantrav.com), a people-based organization that brings together the knowledge and passion of a team built over 30 continuous years of serving meetings, events and incentives to create smart, memorable and relevant programs.
Audience feedback is one of the most important ways you can improve you meetings and events. Comment cards or surveys can help guide you when it comes to crafting your next event, but why not take advantage of the group while you have them and get real-time feedback?
When you’re looking for a rough idea of how an audience is feeling, just having a show of hands might be sufficient. When it comes time for an exact vote count, or if you just want to add a splash of technology to your meeting, you may want to consider many of the great interactive polling options available.
Interactive polling technology goes by many names and comes in many packages. The most common of the options is still, by far, the wireless keypad. These are handheld devices with a number keypad on them and perhaps an LED display to let the voter know their vote has been counted.
Different people refer to these keypads in different ways. Here’s just a few of them:
There are scores of different makes and models of these keypad devices, but they all pretty much run the same way. The presenter will ask a question and usually display a slide with the answer options. An example might be “Which of our products do you think has the highest profit margin? 1) Wrenches, 2) Hammers, or 3) Screwdrivers.” Sometimes this slide is displayed via specially designed software. In other systems the options might be embedded in a PowerPoint deck.
Note: Many of the dedicated software systems for APT haven’t been updated in a long time, so they can look a little dated. However, with a few modern exceptions, I haven’t found embedding the polling in PowerPoint to be very stable, and can cause crashes. I’ll take a little dated and stable over pretty and likely to blow up, any day.
Once the question has been posed, the audience members take their keypads and enter in the number that corresponds to their answer. If the keypad has a display, the number they entered will display to indicate that their vote has been registered. The keypads operate on a closed wireless network, and send their signals to a base station located backstage or at the tech table. This base station is hooked up to a laptop where the data is crunched and the results can be displayed- again via dedicated software or embedded in PowerPoint.
The speaker is now able to address the results in real time. If the audience chose screwdrivers as being the most profitable, but in actuality hammers are, it can serve as an educational moment for both the speaker and the audience. It’s not difficult to imagine that this kind of real time information can be extremely valuable to C and D level executive wanting to know if their corporate messaging and education are actually sinking in with the rank and file.
The biggest advantage to this type of interactive polling is that is is a closed network, compared to some of the options we’re about to look at. It should come as no surprise then that these types of hardware solutions are popular with financial and medical groups, where security and confidentiality are extremely important. We recently provided polling keypads for a group that was so secure that the techs had to leave the room during deliberations, and only allowed back in to run the equipment during the “Is the motion adopted? Yes or No” phase.
Many of the handheld solutions have been around a while, and as such can look a little dated in the era of smartphones. There are a few high end models, however, that offer their users a whole new level of interactivity. These new models feature full QWERTY keyboards, color display screens, and even built in microphone and wireless audio support. If the voting needs to be tracked, attendees can insert a special encoded badge into the keypad, identifying them. To return to anonymous polling, they simply need to remove the badge. This kind of tracking allows this hardware to do more than just polling and relaying audience questions. It allows them to manage other portions of your event, such as silent auction bidding.
While they can be quite a bit more expensive when compared to the old standby keypads, they can replace many other expensive systems at an event, such as wireless translation headsets, and audience QnA microphones. When used to their full potential they can be worth every penny and provide a rich, fully interactive experience.
Just as conference and trade show brochures are being phased out in favor of mobile phone applications, so to are the old polling keypads. With the majority of meeting and conference goers walking around with a wireless supercomputer in their pocket, more and more planners are exploring the world of mobile and web-based polling technology. There are many services out there, and they’re all a little different, so it’s extremely important to know your audience and know at what level of interaction they’re mostly likely to participate. Some Internet-based services even allow users to vote through multiple options, increasing the response rate dramatically. These options include voting via text message, a mobile web site, or even via Twitter.
Many mobile event apps are building in the ability to push polling to their users in an attempt to be the “One App to Rule Them All”. Others use stand alone polling apps, and still others use mobile web pages. Whichever route you go, be sure to take into account how that data will be gathered and displayed. Almost all of these services are going to require internet access of some kind in order for the attendees to send their responses, so there either needs to be quality cellular data services or WiFi available. This is where text message polling can come in handy, as the cellular connectivity level for sending texts is much lower than data. In other words, you can send a text message with “only one bar” of signal much easier than you can access a mobile web page on the data network.
Much like the keypad network, the responses are sent to a central location, only instead of a wireless base station, the responses are sent to a server provided by the service. Results can then be accessed via the web, so once again you’ll need to make sure whatever machine needs to display the results has a solid internet connection in order to retrieve the data.
Note: Be sure to get an idea of what the results display will look like, too. Many of the mobile apps that have built in polling don’t have an effective way of displaying that data live in the room, and are designed more to replace comment cards than to be truly interactive polling. Even in full screen mode they might have scrollbars, links, and logos (other than yours) on the results page.
These services are growing in popularity exponentially with our customers. We find that once they dip their toes in the interactive polling pool, they become addicted (in a good way) to that instant feedback. Everything from educational quizzes and game shows, to voting on what to name their internal network, customers are finding more and more creative uses for live interactive polling.
This post was originally going to be titled On Why Your App is NOT Augmented Reality. I was all set to go on an epic rant about how several high profile event apps were being touted as “augmented reality”, when in fact they weren’t AR at all. They were just ordinary apps, pretending to be augmented reality, as part of the seemingly never-ending feature war that the mobile conference and meeting app market has become.
But… after discussing the topic with some other industry folks (thanks @kristicasey!), that’s not entirely fair. I’m still not 100% convinced the examples I’m about to give are AR, but I’m willing to entertain the possibility that they’re a tiny fraction, of a small percentage, of the potential for the AR apps of the future.
So what is an augmented reality app? Before I can even think about accusing someone of not being AR when they say they are, I should probably define that, eh?
I define an augmented reality app as something that displays a live view of the world (i.e. “reality”) and then takes information, graphics, animation, sound, or other data and adds it as a layer over or alongside that reality (i.e. “augments it”). So the definition of an Augmented Reality App, is any app that – wait for it – augments reality. Weird.
Surprisingly, if you look around the web that’s pretty close to the definition everywhere, much like looking up the word “recursion” on Google (“Did you mean: recursion”).
The first key part of that definition is the word “live”. If I take your picture with my cell phone and then use an app to draw on squiggly hair and Snidely Whiplash mustache, I can’t think of anyone other than an argumentative philosopher that would say that app is somehow an augmented reality app. It would, however, be hilarious.
The second key part of the definition is “layer over”, as in- you see (or hear, or smell) reality, but information about that reality is also being given to you by whatever device or app you’re using.
My perfect example of what an augmented reality app could be: Imagine you’re at a trade show and want to get to a specific vendor. You hold up your phone (or look through your Google Glass) and you see what you see in real life- booths, displays, people, carpet (double padded… oooooh…) However, when you input the name of a vendor you want to find, a large arrow appears in the image, hovering over where you want to go. On the carpet below you appears a line with arrows on it, showing you the quickest way to the booth. Along the way, you see the names of each vendor hovering over their booth, with a button to favorite or remind you to look at later. You don’t bump into anyone, because you’re seeing all this through your device, layered over reality. As you approach your destination, the arrow gets larger and larger, until you’re standing right under it, in all it’s 3D glory! This kind of AR is called “geotagged” as it’s information based on specific locations in your environment.
Another example: You point your device at a conference brochure, and a beautiful animated version of the conference logo on the page appears and dazzles you. You open the booklet to the speaker bios page. Each one of the photos now has a highlight box around it. You select a speaker and their photo comes to life, and the speaker gives you, in their own words, a 30 second description of their session. Again you can tag the speaker as a session you’d like to learn more on, and move on to the next. This kind of AR is known as “marker based”, as its animations and information is keyed off certain markers contained in the printed brochure, showing your device where to layer over the data.
Now, for those who don’t happen to have these magical devices, you can still wander the trade show floor with a paper map, trying to find booth 702 in Aisle G, or you can just look at the speaker bios and the two sentence descriptions of the sessions in the conference brochure. Those who have downloaded the app and have the right hardware? They will experience an immersive world of extra content, all subtly branded and sponsored.
A book is not augmented reality. A book is something that takes you out of reality. It can be very informative, even about your current surroundings or situation, but it exists outside of that situation, and would still exist if you were in a completely different place, doing completely different things. A map is not augmented reality. You have to look at the map, interpret it, then look up and try and apply that information to the world.
Likewise, a traditional conference app is not augmented reality. You open it, you read it, it informs your decisions, and you apply it to reality. While you’re looking at it, though, you are almost completely disconnected from reality.
So what about the apps that spawned this article? One, from a high end hotel chain, claims to make them the “First North American Luxury Hotel Brand to Feature Augmented Realty” in its ads. The other is from a music festival sponsored by a large U.S. (but no longer American owned) beer brewery. In both cases you had to open a pre-downloaded app, the app would engage the camera in the device, and then you point it at some printed materials. Once the app recognized the materials, the page “came to life” in the display with a colorful, approximately 3 second animation.
Aaaaaaaaand done. That was the end, as far as I’m concerned, of the augmented reality portion of the evening. After that three second animation layered over the printed page, you were taken to a menu, in the case of the music festival. The hotel? A full screen video with a couple of buttons, one of which would let you skip the content. From that point on, the apps looked and behaved just like any other event or conference app, with links to schedules, bios, bands, special offers, and other normal old “exclusive” content.
So are these apps “Augmented Reality Apps”? I would say no. Three seconds of AR does not make it an augmented reality app. But look closely at the hotel’s claim- they “Feature Augmented Reality”. It’s not an augmented reality app, it’s an app that features augmented reality. Likewise with the festival app. Despite the headlines for the articles written about it “bringing augmented reality to events”, the actual app makers themselves hold no such illusions:
“When you hold your phone up to an image or product, it takes just seconds to get that experience on your phone,” <redacted> said. “Once you get that experience, that’s when people really start engaging, whether playing a game or doing polling or whatever”
So the idea is to hook them with a few seconds of something interesting, then get them to do something else- play a game, polling, whatever. Fair enough.
So are these apps using AR? Technically, yes. Are they using AR for anything other than just a quick, flashy gimmick? No. What you’re looking at through the display is almost irrelevant- it’s just a cute animation based on the printed material that triggered it. The difference between that and scanning a QR code is minimal, at best.
Think I’m being too harsh? Do yourself a favor and watch this demonstration:
That video is from 2007. TWO THOUSAND FREAKING SEVEN. Think about that. That’s a full three years before the iPad. Here we are six years later, and the computing power in our mobile devices is bordering on the obscene. My earlier two examples might have seemed a little far fetched, but are they really? After watching that video, I can’t help but feel that we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. I know there’s people out there right now, pushing the the technology to the limit, and what’s coming around the corner is going to blow your freakin’ mind.
In the meantime, you’re telling me that the best we can do is a three second animation over your conference brochure cover or print ad? C’mon, son. I want my giant floating arrows and talking speaker pages.
So if that’s it- that’s all you’re going to do with AR, you should save yourself the money and buy all your attendees an extra slice of bacon for breakfast. They’ll be happier for it. For the money the hotel chain spent on the app, plus the giveaways and discounts the app provided, they could have become the “First Luxury Hotel Brand to Feature Complimentary WiFi. Because You Deserve It.” The copy would have written itself…