What do you do when you produce the world’s leading virtualization conference? You make it better, of course! VMware teamed with Jive Software to take the once-per-year VMworld conference and extended it (online) into a 365-day-per-year, always-on community. A Case Study on this initiative can be found here:
And this quote from Eric Nielsen of VMware sums it all up:
We expanded the VMworld conference from a three day event for 15,000 to a 365 day/year destination for 50,000 virtualization professionals. — Eric Nielsen, Director of Web Communities, VMware
So that’s a triple play for VMworld – by complementing their event online, they’ve generated a more than 3x increase of participating virtualization professionals. As quoted in the Case Study, the VMworld.com community has 35,000 active members, generates 35,000 page views per day and 2,000 video views per day.
Quite an impressive level of activity. A clear example of an active community at work – 35,000 page views (in a single day) is hard to come by with traditional b-to-b content. However, in a highly active social community, the blog posts, discussion board entries, podcast downloads, video views, “ask the expert” questions, etc. – all contribute to traffic generation.
Just have a look at the volume of Discussion Board traffic:
Now that’s an active community at work. But there’s a chicken and egg problem – how do you generate an active community in the first place? Well, the organizers of VMworld.com made the wise move to integrate a full suite of social networking tools – essentially building a mini-Facebook around the conference. Tools available include:
- Discussion Boards
- Podcasts – both those produced for the conference, as well as third party / external podcasts
- Integration with social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Blogs – both in-house and third party
- Ask The Expert sessions and content
- Photo Wall (with pictures from the physical event)
VMworld.com also leveraged neat tools within Jive Software’s platform to encourage activity. For instance, on a blog post, a user can click on “Watch This Blog Post” and be notified when comments are appended to that post. Additionally, most content pages have a left-hand sidebar titled “More Like This”, which certainly encourages additional clicks and page views (it worked for me!).
VMworld created virtual conference sponsorship packages for exhibitors, with pricing discounted if you’re already exhibiting at the VMworld physical conference. 3D style booths are planned – the current community features 2D style booths. Here’s the Dell booth:
This shows the top third of the booth – below it is Dell content, along with community content (blogs, discussion posts, etc.) around Dell topics. You’ll notice a “floor map” of the booth, which shows the physical location of my avatar. Users utilize the arrow keys on their keyboard to move around within the booth.
VMworld Europe “floors” later this month (February 24-26) in Cannes. If you’re lucky enough to get to Cannes, enjoy the show. If you’re not able to attend, then go online and enjoy the online networking. Registration for VMworld Europe can be found here:
There is also a virtual party for the virtual conference. http://vmworldunderground.com tries to accomplish to just that.
VMworld is very impressive! Its especially relevant considering this economy, when the vast majority of companies are cutting back on travel expenses. We are going to see a trend of more and more people taking conferences online like this to stay connected.
Good timing on the writeup too – Eric of VMware just did a live webcast with us (Jive). You can watch the video and get the slides here:
Paul: Good point. But, even without a cut-back in travel, I think VMworld is on the right track to do a virtual event to complement a physical event – after all, a physical event occurs in selected cities (often just a single city), whereas an event that takes place online is available globally. So as VMworld saw, the potential audience to the event increases dramatically.
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