5 Ways, Tips, Things and Reasons on Virtual Events and Social Media

March 26, 2012


Regular readers (and pattern matchers) know that many of my 2012 posts have been lists of five. Continuing with my fondness for lists, I thought I’d make a list of lists. So without further ado, here are assorted “lists of five” posts that I recently published.


5 Ways to Get Started with Google Plus.
5 Tips for Organizing Your Google+ Circles.
5 Tips for Hosting Google+ Hangouts.
5 Reasons Google Plus May Be the Social Network of the Future.

As a special bonus, I’ve organized the four posts (above) into an eBook, which you can download here.


Top 5 Ways Virtual Events Are Like Football Games.
5 Ways Face-to-Face Events Are Like Family Reunions.
5 Hybrid Event Tips for Trade Associations.

Social Media

5 Things I’ve Learned About Pinterest.
5 Things Virtual Event Platforms Can Learn from Pinterest.
5 Reasons I’m Breaking Up With You, TweetDeck.
5 Reasons “Words With Friends” Is Awesome.

5 Reasons I’m Breaking Up With You, TweetDeck

February 27, 2012


We’ve had a great time together, TweetDeck. And believe me, it’s not you, it’s me. Breaking up is hard to do, so I’ve decided to compose this posting to let you know. Yes, yes, that was quite impersonal of me. Let me explain why I feel the way I do.

1) Curbing Application Proliferation.

Despite the emergence of SaaS, we have more and more applications running on our desktop or laptop. If I could accomplish all of my Twitter activity within my browser, then you, unfortunately, are one less application I need to have running (I’m so sorry).

And I’ll tell you a dirty little secret about social streams: they consume lots of memory! My browsers tend to consume 250-700+ MB and you, while consuming less, still needed 100-200+ MB of tender loving RAM. With one less application, my computer is already running faster. Like I said, it’s me, not you.

2) The New @Connect Tab.

Yes, yes, it seems I’m already seeing other services. This one happens to be called Twitter.com. The New Twitter (or is it the “New New New Twitter”?) has a nifty “@Connect” tab. Under “Interactions,” it lists everything I want to know:

  1. Mentions.
  3. When someone “Favorites” my tweet.
  4. New followers.
  5. When someone adds me to their Twitter List.

You, TweetDeck, had columns available for mentions and new followers, but I’d often miss seeing retweets. And, to have this all in a single place is useful to me. So in this case, TweetDeck, I’m afraid it’s you and not me.

3) Twitter “Home” Got Better.

Yes, the new love of my life, Twitter.com, improved the “Home” tab. I remember the day I first laid eyes on you, TweetDeck. When I entered a URL, you’d auto-shorten it for me. And oh, did I love that. But this is now a standard feature on most tweet services, including Twitter.com.

In addition, I like glancing at the “Who to follow” area of “Home” and always seeing someone I recognize. I don’t mind the fact that it really should be “Whom to follow,” as I’m not a stickler or anything like that.

And finally, when my tweet stream is flying off the edge, I like how Twitter.com shows, “372 new Tweets” (or whatever the number is) and forces a click (from me) to display them. I think we were moving too fast together, TweetDeck, as your tweet stream would constantly flow.

4) Nifty new #Discover tab.

I like the nifty new #Discover tab on New Twitter. It’s rendered like a newspaper site, with key topics as headlines. I can follow a link and see tweets on the selected topic. And there’s always a single content piece (article) beneath the headline. So I can browse interesting articles, if I’m so inclined. My oh my, TweetDeck, I wonder if Twitter has crossed over from technology provider to media company?

5) But Wait.

But here’s the one thing Twitter.com cannot provide me. Your columns, TweetDeck. I could set up a number of columns for topics and hash tags and be able to glance at the related streams. I used to monitor mentions of my employer, along with the #eventprofs hash tag. On Twitter.com, I need to manually check those “feeds” from time to time.


Well, TweetDeck, you were certainly my first love. But you know what? Twitter acquired you in May 2011, so while I’m leaving you, I’m certainly staying in the same neighborhood. And I bet that your parent doesn’t mind that I’m now exclusively using Twitter.com. Take care and perhaps we’ll see each other again.


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How To Use Twitter For Virtual Event User Support

March 8, 2010

End user support for virtual events has traditionally been provided via a small number of channels: email and telephone support (which is especially useful for users having issues entering the virtual event) and “in-show support”, which is typically provided in a “help booth” within the virtual event.  With growing use of social media, however, attendees are leveraging their social network tools to request (and receive) user support.

From my observations, Twitter is the most widely used social network for virtual event support requests (today) – however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see increased “calls for help” via Facebook and LinkedIn.  This posting provides tips and best practices on providing virtual event end user support via Twitter.

Create/Establish a Twitter Account

Users can’t find you on Twitter if you’re not there, which means that if you don’t already have a presence on Twitter, you’ll need to create one.  I recommend a Twitter ID that incorporates your company name – or, the product, platform or service that you provide (if that’s different from your company name).  In addition, be transparent about the contributors (employees) who tweet on behalf of your company and brand.

Create A Real-Time Dashboard (of  tweets)

Configure your Twitter client (e.g. TweetDeck, Seesmic, etc.) with the relevant search terms and hash tags related to your virtual event.  At minimum, you’ll want to monitor the following:

  1. @Replies sent to your Twitter account (in TweetDeck, the column is labeled “Mentions”)
  2. A search on the hash tag for your virtual event
  3. A search on your company name – or, the name of your platform, product or service
  4. A search on the virtual event’s name or title

If it helps you stay more focused, delete columns that are unrelated to the virtual event – the result will be a single app that consolidates all “chatter” related to your event.  I recommend that you monitor for new tweets every 15 minutes while the event is live.

Allocate Proper Staffing & Get Started Early

In the same manner that you allocate support staff to booths, email inboxes and telephones, be sure to allocate staff to “Twitter support”.  You want to get up and running early – I recommend monitoring Twitter at least one full hour before the official opening of your virtual event.  Virtual event producers typically allow exhibitors into the environment prior to attendees – so during the “early period”, be on the look-out for tweets from exhibitors who may need assistance finding their way into their virtual booths.

Have at least one person who is “primary” for Twitter support throughout the event day.  And, know that Twitter users expect quick turnaround to their tweets.  Trend setters such as @comcastcares have provided highly responsive and immediate customer care on Twitter, which has raised the bar for everyone else.  Users on Twitter have come to expect similar care and responsiveness.

If you do not respond within 15-20 minutes of users’ original tweet, they may issue a subsequent tweet, letting the “world” (e.g. their followers + users who are following the event’s hash tag) know that they’ve received no response from the event provider.  So be sure to provide prompt service – if your customer care is prompt and effective, you’ll be rewarded.  Users are just as quick to say “thanks” (on Twitter) and acknowledge the great service you provide.

Following Up With A User

I prefer to handle support issues via 1-on-1 care.  Before you contact the user, review their Twitter profile – as background to your upcoming dialog, it’s good to know the user’s company, title and number of Twitter followers.  I like to know if the user has an audience of 100 on Twitter – or, an audience of 100,000.  In addition, read the user’s last 10-15 tweets, to get to know his/her interests, hot buttons, etc.

Now you’re ready to make contact.  I prefer to connect directly – a direct message on Twitter (if the user is following you), a direct email (if you have his/her email address) or a private chat within the virtual event (if the user is logged in at the time).  If none of these channels are available to you, send the user a public message on Twitter and provide your direct contact info (e.g. your email address).

It’s important to personalize your brand, letting users know that there are “real people” behind your corporate Twitter account – and, providing them with a direct means for getting in touch.

1-on-1 Triage

To prepare you for a “triage session” with your end user, I like the have the following information available via URLs that I can provide to the user:

  1. Technical requirements for accessing/attending the virtual event
  2. Automated system check that allows a user to test their system
  3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) related to the virtual event
  4. A “contact us” page related to end user support (e.g. providing an email address, phone number, etc.)

In addition, be sure to have higher level “support experts” available in case you need to delegate a sophisticated system issue.  The experts should be available within the virtual event – or, be available “on call” to jump in as needed.


Once you’ve resolved a user’s issue, follow them on Twitter – this allows them to send you direct messages.  And, it allows you to be quickly apprised of any subsequent issues they may come across.  Later on in the day, check if the user is logged in to the virtual event – if so, send a private chat request and politely ask how the event is going.  It’s always good for users to know that you’re actively supporting the event and genuinely interested in their satisfaction.

On Twitter, respond to each and every end user “tweet” – mention that the issue is resolved and invite the user to contact you back as needed.  Be careful, however, not to include the event’s hash tag on all of these follow-up tweets.  As the virtual event platform, you do not want to have a significant presence in the hash tag’s tweetstream.  Rather, only include the hash tag if your tweet relates to system-wide updates (applicable to all or most users).

The occasional update (with the hash tag) shows users that you’re listening – and replying to every single tweet shows your followers that you are responsive to each issue that arises.

The Entire Team Contributes

If your virtual event support staff is comprised of active Twitter users, encourage them to tweet about the event – have them highlight interesting sessions, pass along comments from enthusiastic attendees or simply state that they’re having a great time.  This helps promote the event itself – and, highlights the depth of the team behind the event support.  Take it a step further and create a Twitter List of your staff – allowing interested users to follow your employees tweets via a list.


The world is going social, which means that user support and customer service need to be “socially listening” (and responding).  Get ahead of the curve – be sure to support your next virtual event on Twitter.

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How To Promote Your Virtual Event On Twitter

October 26, 2009


With a rapidly growing and highly engaged user base, Twitter can be a great vehicle for driving registrations and attendance to your next virtual event.  Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get that done:

  1. Find your target audience on Twitter – first, of course, you need to define the target audience of your virtual event.  Once you do, go seek them out on Twitter – you don’t need to engage with them on Twitter just yet, but you can start following them – and identify the “places” where they tend to congregate (e.g. read their tweets, click through on links they’re sharing, read their blogs, attend chats they participate in, etc.).  You may find that by following folks, they’ll follow you back – and, may engage with you on their own.  Next, leverage Twitter’s search capabilities – search on key terms associated with your virtual event and observe who’s tweeting about them.  Sign up for a service like tweetbeep and you’ll receive daily email alerts with all tweets about your selected terms.  Start following the folks who seem to know what they’re talking about, as your virtual event may be of interest to them.
  2. Identify Twitter users whom your target audience follows – if you handled Step #1 well, then you’ve half-way completed this step already.  By researching topics (and users) on Twitter, you’ll begin to build an authority map – those with more authority on topics tend to have more followers.  Identify users whom your target audience is following – then, determine which users they’re following (and so on).  You’re now starting to build potential promoters who can help in the outreach efforts of your virtual event.
  3. Leverage prominent or active tweeters in your own company – is your CEO or VP Marketing an active tweeter?  If so, them reach out to their multitude of followers to promote the virtual event.  On your corporate web site, use a service such as TweepML to share a list of your company’s Twitter users – giving web site visitors a single-click option to start following every member of that list!
  4. Identify other prominent / relevant Twitter users – find prominent industry bloggers and start reading their blogs.  Engage with them by leaving comments on their blogs or send them @replies via Twitter.  Making these folks aware of your virtual event is a good thing (e.g. perhaps they’ll attend) – having them promote the event on your behalf is even better.
  5. Build your Twitter following – if you’ll be using a corporate branded Twitter account to focus your marketing efforts, use the aforementioned steps to start building your list of followers.  For me, quality always trumps quantity with Twitter followers – I’d rather have the right people follow my corporate branded account than have 200 “non relevant” folks follow me (in the hopes that I’ll follow them back).  Especially with a corporate Twitter account – make every tweet count.  Potential followers will often review your last 5 or last 10 tweets – if you tweet too often about breakfast or the weather, then you will NOT be followed.
  6. Start promoting by adding value – first, you never want to over-promote your virtual event.  Doing so will only turn users off from your corporate branded Twitter account.  Each time you promote the virtual event, you want to add value.  So again, make every tweet (promotion) account and give users something useful each time.  Similarly, ask your fellow promoters to start spreading the word – and suggest phrases or facts they should be using in their tweets.  Use a link shortener such as bit.ly and track the number of clicks you generate – this way, you can start to determine what’s working and what’s not working.
  7. Define (and use) your virtual event’s hash tag – make sure all tweets (e.g. from you, your colleagues and your fellow promoters) utilize the hash tag that you’ve created for your virtual event.  Ask your event’s exhibitors to pitch in as well – have them tweet about their presence at the event.  Once you’ve seeded the discussion with your event’s hash tag, you may see the interaction and commentary spread – if a few prominent tweeters jump in (e.g. >100,000 followers) and their tweets are then re-tweeted by other prominent tweeters, then awareness of your virtual event can spread beyond even your wildest dreams.
  8. Leverage other (relevant) hash tags – the hash tag can be a wildly effective means for promoting content to indirect followers – I may only have a few hundred followers, but if I post something insightful with the #eventprofs hash tag, I may have my message seen by the 50,000 (this number used merely as an example) users who monitor that hash tag.  Make sure the hash tag is relevant to your virtual event – assuming it is, including that hash tag along with your event’s tag. [Addendum, 10/27/09: be careful not to over-promote to the related hash tags, as constant promotion of your virtual event will surely turn off the followers of that hash tag – you’ll even receive backlash from them]
  9. Think outside the box – instead of continually pointing users to the registration page for your virtual event, try to mix things up – link to other areas, such as: short video of the keynote speaker; text quote from a prominent presenter; a testimonial (quote) from a pre-registered attendee; a twitpic (image) of the event’s show floor or auditorium; a page that lists titles or companies who have already registered.  Of course, on all of these pages, place a link to your event’s registration page.
  10. Have fun – Twitter can be an effective business tool – but remember, it’s also fun!

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How To Promote Your #Virtual Event On Twitter: http://bit.ly/n74Aj #eventprofs


Real-Time Search For Virtual Events

June 15, 2009

Among its many uses, Twitter has become an indispensable technology for event planners – whether the events are physical, virtual or mesh/hybrid.  Just about every event today defines a Twitter hashtag, which allows Twitter users (“tweeps”) to associate their tweets with the event.  If you want to follow comments about TWTRCON SF 09 (which is now over), just search for the hash tag “#twtrcon” in the Twitter client of your choosing.  Here’s how it looks for me in Tweetdeck:


The great thing about Tweetdeck is that the “search view” updates in near-real-time, which means that as new tweets are posted with that hashtag, I see them appear in this particular search pane.  Periodically glancing at a hashtag search in Tweetdeck allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of a live event that might be occurring hundreds of miles away.

Similarly, I’ve attended physical events where I’ve spotted Tweetdeck running on attendees’ laptops – clearly, they’re tweeting about panel discussions, keynote presentations, etc. right there from the event itself.  Those who left their laptops tucked away are likely sending status updates from a Twitter client on their smartphone.

The beauty of Twitter is not just in its capability for organizing a global discussion around particular events – it’s also great for tracking what’s being discussed around a topic.  For a b-to-b marketer, you might want to know what’s being said about your products and services.  For a salesperson, you might want to know how the competition is positioning themselves.  Twitter allows you to search for that chatter in real-time – and, third party services (e.g. tweetbeep, twilert, etc.) allow you to set up agents to send you search results via email.

Now, let’s consider a virtual event.  With all due respect to great White Papers, Case Studies and Product Collateral, I find that the most interesting content at a virtual event is the group chat that occurs in booths and lounges (e.g. the Networking Lounge).  If microblogging content occurs in the statusphere, then I think of a virtual event’s chat content as the chat-o-sphere.

In a very active/engaging virtual event (e.g. lots of activity, plus a number of interesting Webcasts/Videocasts), it can be hard to keep up with all the interesting discussion in the chat-o-sphere.  If I’ve attended a 50-minute Webcast and return to the Lounge, I’ll often find 100 chat entries added since my last visit – it can be challenging to read through what I’ve missed.

Virtual event platforms may need to consider Twitter-like capabilities to search the chat-o-sphere in real-time – and, provide Tweetdeck-like widgets to keep real-time views on specific tags or search terms.  Exhibitors at a virtual event may be interested in real-time searches on the following terms (within a Lounge chat):

  1. Mentions of my company’s name
  2. Mentions of my own name
  3. Mentions of my competitor companies’ names
  4. Mentions of my products
  5. Mentions of my compentitors companies’ products

An exhibitor tracking these search terms can quickly send a product marketer, sales engineer, etc. into the Lounge to quickly address questions being posed – or, simply participate in the discussion.

What do you think about the chat-o-sphere in virtual events – is there value in real-time search against it?

Related Links

  1. NY Times: Hey, Just a Minute (or Why Google Isn’t Twitter)
  2. Blog posting: For Virtual Worlds Info, Here’s Whom I Follow on Twitter (and Why)
  3. Blog posting: Leverage Twitter for Virtual Tradeshow Outreach

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