I wrote a piece in 2017 about the foundations of the digital transformation in the events industry. At that time, the mice industry was trailing behind and had a lot of work to do. Two years on, and technology has advanced rapidly. So, does the events industry stand now? Technology is transforming the way we live and do business. Most industries have adopted it, changing many aspects of their design and makeup in the process. Digital tools are now a crucial part of strategic event management due to their proven ability to bring in substantial benefits. These benefits include significant cost and time savings, higher attendee satisfaction, and better exposure and image building.

The growth of the web is making many changes in all sectors. But, what influence is the digital transformation movement having on the meetings and event industry now that we have embraced it?

What exactly is digital transformation?

“Digital transformation is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.” – Gartner

Digital transformation allows people to solve their traditional business problems in new ways. It offers new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting our traditional methods.

Digital transformation in the events industry

The events industry is embracing digital transformation with all the latest tech on display at conferences and meetings. But, the new technologies available are assisting conference organisers with creating an immersive experience, making the registration process seamless. Those are the two basic, but major changes we are seeing. We are now in the Age of Experience. This means that every event, no matter how small now needs to become an immersive experience. The modern generation will settle for nothing less.

Technologies like 3D, VR, and AR can blend the digital and physical aspects of an event. They help create authentic conversations between delegates, attendees and speakers. This technology gives events the potential to become content marketing engines. As organisers in the events industry, we are now able to turn attendees into participants by adding an experiential dimension to our events, making a conference or any other event a collaborative occurrence as opposed to a function that people attend just for the purpose of consuming knowledge.

So, what can we expect in 2019 and thereafter?  

Digital transformation will have an ever-evolving effect on the events industry, with these four tech-trends at the forefront.

1.   Facial recognition

This exciting technology will permanently eliminate paper from the registration and entry process. It will also optimise the security at conferences, streamlining access.

2.   Virtual Reality

A technology that is constantly evolving has now merged with social media. Oculus venues is a virtual reality platform that enables live events to be seen with Live Nation, Ticketmaster, and through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The obvious point being that attendees don’t have to physically be there to experience your event.

3.   Augmented reality

Perhaps more effective than virtual reality, augmented reality is having a massive impact on the events industry. Engagement for events is crucial and can be very challenging given the demands of the modern consumer. Augmented Reality will boost engagement levels and create hype on social media by encouraging attendees to interact with your content and, in turn, share it with their following.

4.    Artificial intelligence

Smart technology is influencing the events industry in a big way too. By utilising chatbots in a wide range of scenarios, event planners can automate several tasks, better serving their attendees.  

Conclusion

So, as you can see, technology has been implemented and used to great effect already in the events industry. Associations are taking great interest in investing in new technologies, but this means a total overhaul of existing systems and practices. All for the betterment of the industry of course. The events industry is changing, and progressing in order to adapt to current trends, but these trends are forever changing. It never stops. It is a perpetual investigation and evolution of science. As players in this industry, we should continue to embrace it and view it as a thrilling time, full of opportunity and potential. We must, however, constantly seek ways in which we can be at the forefront instead of continually playing catch-up.

To learn about ways in which your association can truly embrace digital transformation in the meetings and events industry, get in touch with me. I specialise in delivering results for stakeholders within the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Event Industry as well as for Associations and SMBs.

Social Media Networks

Social Media Networks Basics: Consistency

Social Media Networks, what’s important? Social Media has changed thе wау markets work. Thе nееd fоr companies and organisations tо bе оn social media networks іѕ mоrе оf а necessity thаn а choice. You, аѕ аn owner аnd entrepreneur, nееd tо stay оnе step аhеаd іf уоu аrе tо get bеttеr аnd mоrе qualitative profits аnd benefits than your adversaries. Thеrе аrе mаnу ways іn whісh уоu саn leverage thеѕе mediums аnd tools tо stay аhеаd оf уоur competitors асrоѕѕ multiple social media channels, but one of the primary virtue should be consistency:

Stick wіth уоur brand nаmе оr Username асrоѕѕ platforms

Trу tо grab thе ѕаmе username fоr уоur brand’s social profiles. Thіѕ way, people саn type іn уоur username frоm оnе network tо thе nеxt tо find уоu quickly аnd nоt accidentally stumble uроn а personal account created bу ѕоmеоnе оutѕіdе оf уоur brand. Sо еvеn іf уоu do not want tо set uр аnd uѕе а раrtісulаr social media account rіght now, bе ѕurе tо reserve уоur branded username, јuѕt іn case. This way іt doesn’t еnd uр wіth ѕоmеоnе else.

Related: Facebook for Business

Uѕе thе sаmе Profile Photo

Thе оnе common element оf mоѕt social media networks іѕ thе profile picture. Thіѕ image wіll bе displayed оn уоur main profile page аѕ wеll аѕ (on mоѕt networks) nеxt tо уоur updates. Tо create а consistent brand image асrоѕѕ аll оf уоur social networks, соnѕіdеr uѕіng thе ѕаmе profile photo асrоѕѕ аll оf them, whеthеr іt іѕ уоur brand logo оr уоur professional headshot.

Run thе sаmе Campaign

Anоthеr great wау tо portray а consistent brand image асrоѕѕ multiple networks іѕ tо promote thе ѕаmе campaign simultaneously. Remember thаt it’s nоt overkill – ѕоmе people prefer оnе platform tо another. If уоu оnlу run а campaign оn Twitter, уоu mіght mіѕѕ оut оn captivating уоur Facebook audience. Yоu саn start uр Twitter, thеn move оn tо Facebook аnd lаtеr wіth Youtube. Thіѕ wіll аlѕо hеlр build excitement аmоng уоur social media visitors аbоut уоur nеw promotion. Imagine thеу start аt Twitter, thеn move оn tо уоur Facebook, thеn еnd uр watching уоur videos. It wоuld bе lіkе tаkіng thеm thrоugh а complete online sales process, hореfullу leading thеm rіght tо уоur website.

Create thе sаmе Theme

A theme соuld bе аnуthіng frоm а current background image tо а universal message. It’s simply ѕоmеthіng thаt lеtѕ people knоw thеу аrе ѕtіll wіth thе ѕаmе brand frоm оnе social media property tо thе next. Coldplay uѕеѕ graffiti іn dіffеrеnt areas оf thеіr profiles оn Twitter.
Bу dоіng this, you’ll portray thе ѕаmе feeling асrоѕѕ dіffеrеnt parts оf уоur brand’s social presence wіthоut hаvіng tо асtuаllу spell іt оut fоr them.

Related: Social Media Marketing for the MICE Industry

Share thе sаmе Message

Hаvе а major update thаt уоu don’t wаnt уоur fans tо miss? Bе ѕurе tо share іt асrоѕѕ multiple networks simultaneously. Thаt way, іf уоu hаvе groups оf fans whо follow уоu оn оnе network оvеr аnоthеr, thеу won’t mіѕѕ уоur big news.

Following this simple rules wіll mаkе іt comfortable fоr уоur fans tо recognise уоur status updates whеrе еvеr thеу ѕее thеm аnd mаkе thеm feel confident іn thе fact thаt thеу аrе connecting wіth уоur brand.

The article Social Media Networks Basics: Consistency was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.

digital marketing

6 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Digital Marketing for An Event

Are you doing your own digital marketing for an event, conference or association? If you’re a Digital Marketing Director or CEO, chances are you are currently responsible for this or at least have been before. I understand how stressful this can be and are aware of the complexities it entails.

In the modern climate, many corporations, associations and destination bureaus are being faced with over-burdened staff and diminishing spend. Not to mention a lack of expertise or know how in the rapidly changing digital sphere.

As a result, many of them have had to reassess their event strategies, thus turning to outsourcing for their event marketing needs.

There’s a wide array of benefits when it comes to outsourcing a digital marketing company to manage your event requirements. This is because running an event is an intricate and expensive undertaking so the preparation and management of every detail count, especially when it comes to foot traffic, the overall success of your event, and maximising your budget.

How do you know when to outsource? Have you thought about the reason as to why one would? Here are our 8 reasons why you should outsource your digital marketing for an event from this moment onward.

Save time

This one is seemingly obvious but if you outsource your digital marketing needs to an agency that does it for multiple clients daily, you’ll save so much time because of their experience, the number of people that will be working on your event simultaneously and their ability to get tasks done quickly and efficiently.

Agencies are also aware of all the added value you can acquire through digital marketing and are experts at implementing strategies in order to do so – getting you more for your money, more out of the timeframe and adding to the experience with content creation ideas.

Reduce costs

This also means a decrease in expenditure. Getting more done in less time because of able bodies and experience means getting the most out of your budget. As the saying goes, time is money and you’ll find that by using a digital marketing agency, you’ll save more money than you ever anticipated.

Think about if you had to go at it alone. You’d have to hire several experts to help you action strategies effectively and efficiently. With a digital marketing agency, the package or hours you pay for will cover the huge cost of attempting it internally, never mind the tedious task of having to brief new employees on your vision. Their staff already have the depth of skills needed which means no HR headaches either.

Tap into industry experience

By outsourcing to a digital marketing company, you’ll be tapping into years’ worth of collective experiences such as using content marketing methods, video and social media marketing which is backed by professional data analytics to gain trust from your attendees. At FM Waechter, targeted, interactive and measurable promotion are used for events.

These include:

An in-depth digital marketing plan is the foundation of a successful event and achieving your goals in terms of interest and numbers through the door.

Focus on your core business

When the digital marketing aspect of your event is covered, it gives you the time to focus and expand upon the things that you do best. By freeing up internal resources, you will effectively be enabling your team to be able to focus on the areas where they maximise their time.

As you’ll be well aware of, a successful event demands a detailed master plan and a timeline and budget that is followed strictly. This pertains to the practical, physical side of the event. By outsourcing your digital marketing, you and your team will be able to focus on these defining aspects.

Creativity

Digital marketers are creatives. They are capable of marketing your event or conference in an authentic, captivating, and compelling way. They will also do so objectively; sometimes one can be too close to the project. Never underestimate an outside perspective on your ideas.

Expert digital marketers will assist in making the event a success because they have a world of ideas and industry insight. Further to this, they execute these ideas and strategies with a marketing mindset and instinct toward your expectation and vision.

Learn from them

When you outsource your digital marketing, these individuals will become your partners in strategizing. They will work with your people on a daily basis. This will result in your staff learning crucial methods from them. This can only be a positive thing for building the expertise of your internal resources and may just save you money further down the line.

Conclusion

With so much on your plate and so much to be offered by outsourcing this critical element of you event, why hesitate? Speak to a specialist in digital marketing for events immediately! For advice, solutions and ideas on how to make the most of the opportunities that Digital Marketing offer your event, get in touch with FM Waechter!

digital transformation event industry

4 Concepts To Understand Digital Transformation in the Event Industry

As most meeting planners and event organisers know, technological disruption has brought profound changes to the MICE industry. Today, meetings, conferences, and exhibitions are increasingly being planned, organised and managed using digital tools. Digital tools are becoming an integral part of strategic event management given their proven ability to bring in substantial benefits. Such as significant cost and time savings, higher attendee satisfaction, and better exposure and image building.

Widespread digitalisation has brought us closer to a new understanding of communication within the meetings industry and being familiar with the key components this transformation is essential for planners, organisers, marketers, and anyone involved. In this post, we introduce four concepts that can help you understand the foundations of the digital transformation in the event industry.

1. Bringing In An Experiential Dimension

If you thought that we live in a digital era, think again: experts believe we are in the early stages of the Age of Experience. This means that every event now has the potential to become an immersive experience marked by authenticity and lasting engagement. Technologies like VR, AR, and 3D can unify the digital and physical aspects of an event, help create bi-directional conversations between the different parties involved, and eventually become content marketing engines in their own right. Moreover, adding an experiential dimension to an event turns attendees into participants, and motivates them to go from being consumers of information to have an active role in the generation of knowledge.

Related: Content Marketing for Associations: How to Grow Membership in the Digital Space

2. The User Experience of Events

Linked to the above is the fact that digitalisation has created a direct connection between the organisation and management of events and the field of user experience. The principles of UX are relevant to any digital tools used at events, and include:

  • Simplification of information: digital tools used at events should be designed to make it easy for participants to absorb and digest the information presented
  • Trust: when effective digital tools are in place, participants can appreciate how much time and effort have gone into creating an event that meets their expectations. This creates a sense of transparency that reinforces trustworthiness in the organiser
  • Feedback: not every participant is equally tech savvy, so it is important to ensure that event apps and other digital tools used at an industry event provide users with clear signals and timely feedback on how they should be used
  • Invisibility: great technology is as unobtrusive as possible. People expect tech tools to be an extension of their daily lives, so their implementation at events is no exception and should be planned with a focus on seamless functionality
  • More control to the user: digital event tools must shift the focus of control from the organiser to the attendee since flexible and user-friendly applications can empower participants and contribute to higher satisfaction rates

Related: Developing Social Media Strategies for Conferences & Events

3. Personalisation and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence and related digital technologies, such as mixed-reality tech, are leading the digital transformation in the event industry. These tools enable organisers to create fully personalised environments in ways that were unthinkable only a few years ago.

AI applications (like iBeacons, concierge apps, and chatbots) can quickly gather contextual and granular data about attendees preferences and behaviour and provide them with real-time and relevant information, delivering curated content and offering opportunities for feedback. In addition to helping organise attendee-led events, these tools allow organisers to plan future and more personalised events, facilitate research, and bring valuable insights into lead management, as long as they are used alongside robust data security measures.

4. Networked Communities

Despite the emphasis on personalisation, every industry event has a clear social and relational component. Conferences, meetings, trade fairs, seminars, and similar events can be considered living organisms that rely on deep networks and meaningful connections to prosper. This is why the concept of networked communities is central to the digital transformation in the event industry. Tools like social media chats and online forums facilitate the emergence of communities at a conference or exhibition and play a role in helping keep communities alive throughout and after the event. When creating networks between and within attendees is at the core of event design, the technology used goes from being a product to becoming a service that enables meaningful and lasting conversations between all parties involved.

Conclusion

Digital tech is quickly becoming the backbone of events in the MICE industry. The digital transformation in the event industry is underpinned by the inclusion of experiential dimensions, the principles of UX design, growing personalisation, and networked communities that add human value to any event. These four concepts are far from short-lived trends since according to a recent report, nearly 70 percent of event organisers believe that digitalisation is here to stay. As time goes by, the implementation of events technology will give rise to new insights and opportunities. Events can become spaces for learning, interaction, innovation, and more, so now is the time to consider how you can take your event to the next level and jump on the bandwagon of digital transformation in the event industry.

The post 4 Concepts To Understand Digital Transformation in the Event Industry was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.

influencer marketing

Influencer Marketing In The Meetings Industry

There are three reasons why you would be in search of marketing tips and ideas as an association; to attract new members, to acquire event attendees or to attract sponsors. These three factors combined are the foundation of any successful association and any successful event. There are many marketing techniques at your disposal. But in the age of the influencer, it strikes me as peculiar that influencer marketing is greatly absent in the MICE industry. Influencer marketing is a hyper-trend used by a broad spectrum of companies, from tech giants and start-ups to fashion houses and food companies. In the meetings industry, however, we are only just starting to catch on.

In a survey conducted by EventMB’s 2018 State of the Event Industry which had 2,223 respondents, a mere 24.6 per cent of planners stated that they are considering investing in influencer marketing, while 32.6 percent said they do not intend to at all, which left 42.8 per cent of them stating they have no idea.

I believe that influencer marketing is the future of the meetings industry and I will tell you why. First off, for those who are unaware of what influencer marketing is:

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a variety of marketing where the focus is on influential people rather than on a brands target market as a whole across social media. It is the utilisation of individuals who have influence over potential customers for marketing purposes.

Genuine influence

Now, the difference between paid advertising and influencer marketing is that the latter has an invested audience whom they have accumulated organically.

Their audience is made up of individuals that respond to the content they share. Not only that, but the content shared shapes their perceptions, moulding their personal goals, ambitions and perception of true living.

How does this pertain to the meetings industry?

Through the use of influencers, associations and event planners can tap into a niche, industry-specific markets. The markets you need to speak to and engage in order to garner new members and event attendees. By utilising certain influencers, you will be targeting an audience that is already active and receptive to certain subjects.

By harnessing these already established relationships, it will stretch your social media reach further than simply posting content online and setting up a paid advertising strategy to support it. Associations need reach, and influencers have it – genuine reach. Meeting planners need to engage attendees, and influencers can do it on their behalf.

What does this mean?

With credible influencers, their audiences will more than likely lap up any information by that particular individual. So, this means better results. Even though you will pay for it, the reach is much more credible and authentic than simply setting up paid advertisements.

According to Word of MICE, 81% of consumers’ purchase decisions are directly influenced by social media posts. The meeting industry is slowly catching on in terms of realising where their audiences reside. However, they need to make up for lost time concerning the benefits of influencer marketing.

Now, let us delve a little deeper.

Influencers share their experiences and products. They generate and post creative content through a wide array of platforms such as video, blog, social media posts etc in order to raise awareness or foster interest in their activities and interests, tapping into a like-minded community.

Therefore, influencers form part of the community that they engage with and act as a reliable connection between brands and consumers. They provide a practical perspective to their network. It is a combination of marketing and PR, except more human.

How do you find influencers for the meetings industry?

This is reliant on what type of event you are going to organise and manage. Some events may require micro-influencers which are more niche for accessing more specialised markets.

If you are hosting an event that is more general and business orientated, these influencers could be on LinkedIn. In order to source such individuals, you will need to conduct extensive research. Look for individuals who share articles on best practices and trends or have active, engaging conversations online that are relevant to the industry you are targeting.

Tools for identifying influencers

Technology offers a vast range of innovative social tools that will help you to not only identify and engage with credible, industry-specific influencers but also help you build, organise and track an identification strategy. Influencers can be just as, if not more effective than a revered industry spokesperson with regards to attracting interest in your meeting. This is of course down to their authenticity, relevance and following.

Potential attendees of an event or meeting are often looking for reassurance from people they trust before committing. You will discover that there are authentic, powerful individuals out there that are passionate about elevating the profile of the meetings industry. It is just a matter of finding and building mutually beneficial relationships with them.

If you are looking for expert advice on event planning and management, get in touch with me today. We offer solutions specifically tailored to multiple sectors in the MICE Industry.

Content Performance Marketing

Content Performance Marketing: Making the Right Choices at the Right Times

Marketing is apparently not what it used to be. Online retailers are now vying for the attention of an increasingly demanding public; mainly about what can only be called a fickle millennial generation. Thus, it is very much “out with the old and in with the new” when looking at successful marketing strategies. This is arguably the main reason why content performance marketing is now being embraced across the boards. How can this approach be employed to measure critical data accurately and more importantly, how will this data-driven method continue to change the marketing community? 

Content Performance Marketing: The Critical Role of ROI 

From a broad aspect, the ultimate goal of content performance marketing is to understand the demand for specific content. The ability of the advertiser to leverage past and present analytics will provide a much more seamless approach. Of course, this strategy can also help to predict the ROI associated with an ongoing sales campaign accurately. To be quite clear, this is a different methodology when compared to more traditional forms of content marketing. 

Related: Formulating an effective approach to Content Marketing

Past approaches would gauge marketing performance by merely churning out material and observing which approaches worked the best. Unfortunately, this would often fail to target the appropriate customer base, and without a firm connection with the consumer, substantial amounts of revenue would be squandered. Performance-oriented marketing stresses quality over quantity. The on-demand material will also help to evaluate present and future ROI; essential for any business.  

Predictive Analyses and Performance Marketing 

Another tenet embraced by this type of marketing involves data analyses and performance optimisation. To put this another way, the marketer will leverage all available information (through existing analytics) to better understand how to segment and distribute the content itself. For instance, some campaigns would be much more efficient as email advertisements while others are intended for a social media audience. Understanding how a brand will perform in the eyes of its audience will also help to increase ROI and to maintain a stable connection with the buyer. The enterprise can better understand what is working and what is not. 

Segmenting the Buyer Community 

Past companies would essentially disseminate information to the masses. If they threw enough jam onto a wall, perhaps some would stick. Doing so is once again incredibly wasteful concerning ROI, and in some cases, the audience itself could become alienated. 

Analysing the performance of content enables a company to make timely decisions and to deliver the correct material at the right time to the precise audience. This granular and segmented approach can also help to increase brand loyalty; a benefit not to be overlooked in such a competitive atmosphere. 

Related: Mobile App Marketing for your Business or Organisation

Content Performance Marketing: Lean and Versatile 

Another reason why so many firms are shifting their focus towards this strategy is that in-house expenditures can be dramatically reduced without sacrificing quality. Correct performance analyses will enable management to build leaner teams and enhance interdepartmental accountability. Establishing strong data-driven connections associated with any sales campaign can provide the insight and clarity to make the best choices at the best moments. 

Tying Together Performance and the Customer Experience 

18 billion dollars was spent on content creation during 2016 within the United States alone. It is therefore easy to appreciate why understanding how this content is performing using real-time methods is so important. Content marketing is here to stay. Regarding sheer efficiency, take advantage by measuring your performance.

The article Content Performance Marketing: Making the Right Choices at the Right Times was first published on fmwaechter.com. Author Frank M. Waechter.

One Year Of GDPR And The Outlook For Your Organisation

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018, and a year later, it seems clear that data protection and privacy rights are taking centre stage on a global scale and are not a strictly European phenomenon. Data and privacy professionals are counting the days until the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) — similar to GDPR in its scope and requirements — comes into effect next year, and similar laws are being drafted in countries like Brazil and India.

The run-up to GDPR’s enforcement date last May was fraught with uncertainty as organizations scrambled to decide how they would adjust their operations to comply with the new regulations. Readiness for GDPR had to be implemented across several departments, creating multiple and unique compliance challenges. Fast forward to May 2019, and organizations are still trying to come to terms with GDPR’s practical impact, and department-specific compliance challenges remain a significant hurdle.

By the end of 2018, and six months after GDPR came into effect, a survey by the International Association Of Privacy Professionals depicted a mixed picture of the status of GDPR compliance. On the one hand, working towards compliance seems easier in practice than it was on paper. Three-quarters of respondents said they had appointed a data protection officer, and three in four claimed they had made changes to products and services for compliance purposes. However, more than half of respondents admitted they were far from achieving compliance, and nearly 20 per cent said full compliance might never be achieved.

As far as associations are concerned, GDPR compliance has prompted an overdue reconsideration of data security in their technical infrastructure, management systems, and member data collection and handling procedures.

GDPR Requirements

Here’s a review of GDPR’s requirements as they relate to the business events industry:

  • Consent — GDPR requires explicit consent to store and use data belonging to any EU resident or citizen attending your event. Organizers must specify their reasons to collect data, how data will be used, whether any third parties like suppliers, exhibitors, or sponsors will have access to such data, and for how long. During event registration, attendees must give specific consent to each and every activity that requires data collection, and they must be able to opt out.
  • Data-breach notification — Event organizers must have data-breach notification procedures in place and be able to demonstrate that they are doing everything in their power to safeguard attendee data. This includes training your entire team, defining best practices, and establishing incident reporting procedures.
  • Access — Upon request, you must give attendees free-of-charge digital copies of their data as well as details on where the data is being stored and for which purposes.
  • Right to be forgotten — EU citizens or residents can request that you delete their data. Proof of compliance is also required.
  • Portability — Upon request, you must securely transfer attendee data to a different data controller.
  • Data protection officers — When involved in the large-scale processing of data, controllers and data processors (which in the case of many event organizers are one and the same) must appoint a data protection officer.
  • Privacy by design — Privacy and data protection cannot merely be add-ons to your systems but must be integral to the entire organisation.

Where Do We Stand Now?

How far have we come in the meetings industry implementing the requirements above? There are noticeable changes across three main areas:

  • CommunicationsPrivacy, consent, and data protection now govern the interactions between event organizers and attendees, which requires the modification of communication strategies. New terms of service are usually communicated via email. Opt-ins and consent requests also required website or event tech app updates, which now must incorporate footers, banners, or checkboxes, detailing their privacy and cookie policy, as well as users’ rights.
  • Handling Requests — Organizations should be prepared to handle data access requests from attendees or members, who also have the right to request data deletion or amendment. Some organizations have taken a proactive approach and made changes to their association-management systems to enable them to handle these requests appropriately — even if they have had no requests so far.
  • Third-Party Services and Suppliers — Some event organizers use third parties as data processors, and GDPR compliance is expected from vendors and contractors too. In some cases, contracts have had to be rewritten, or suppliers had to be replaced.

These changes hint at a change of mindset among PCOs: For some, compliance is not purely a legal issue, but a matter of ethics and organizational culture, something that adds intrinsic value to an association or organization. This is a promising aspect of GDPR and likely to become even more critical in the future.

What’s Next?

It seems clear that GDPR compliance will be an ongoing effort extending beyond the regulations’ enforcement date. On this note, enforcement will become increasingly rigorous: Fines for non-compliance are already being issued, signalling event organizers about the risks of complacency. Key takeaways from the fines already levied are:

  • There are now legal precedents, and the grace period is over. Regulators expect organizations to be proactive regardless of where their headquarters are located or who provides/maintains their data-management systems.
  • Proactivity means making demonstrable efforts to comply — the keyword being demonstrable. No organization is too small or too big to be exempt.
  • Implementing GDPR can get complex, but it’s helpful to focus on the seven basic requirements listed above and be ready to fine-tune them continuously — and not only when you are hosting events.

It is also essential to create mechanisms that reinforce cybersecurity. GDPR readiness audits can take so much of your time and resources that they may interfere or distract you from enforcing other security mechanisms.

Looking ahead, you should also be vigilant about the impact of GDPR on your marketing practices, in particular where email marketing, marketing automation, and public relations are concerned. These should be governed by the principles of GDPR: transparency, accountability, privacy by design, and freely given consent.

Frank M. Waechter is a Europe–based digital marketer specializing in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and events industry as well as associations and small- and mid-size businesses. His company’s services include digital engagement strategy; conference and event social-media marketing; live, on-site digital engagement; and training, digital transformation and speaking.

This article was first published on PCMA.

digital transformation event industry

Digital Transformation in the Meetings and Events Industry

I wrote a piece in 2017 about the foundations of the digital transformation in the events industry. At that time, the mice industry was trailing behind and had a lot of work to do. Two years on, and technology has advanced rapidly. So, does the events industry stand now? Technology is transforming the way we live and do business. Most industries have adopted it, changing many aspects of their design and makeup in the process. Digital tools are now a crucial part of strategic event management due to their proven ability to bring in substantial benefits. These benefits include significant cost and time savings, higher attendee satisfaction, and better exposure and image building.

The growth of the web is making many changes in all sectors. But, what influence is the digital transformation movement having on the meetings and event industry now that we have embraced it?

What exactly is digital transformation?

“Digital transformation is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.” – Gartner

Digital transformation allows people to solve their traditional business problems in new ways. It offers new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting our traditional methods.

Digital transformation in the events industry

The events industry is embracing digital transformation with all the latest tech on display at conferences and meetings. But, the new technologies available are assisting conference organisers with creating an immersive experience, making the registration process seamless. Those are the two basic, but major changes we are seeing. We are now in the Age of Experience. This means that every event, no matter how small now needs to become an immersive experience. The modern generation will settle for nothing less.

Technologies like 3D, VR, and AR can blend the digital and physical aspects of an event. They help create authentic conversations between delegates, attendees and speakers. This technology gives events the potential to become content marketing engines. As organisers in the events industry, we are now able to turn attendees into participants by adding an experiential dimension to our events, making a conference or any other event a collaborative occurrence as opposed to a function that people attend just for the purpose of consuming knowledge.

So, what can we expect in 2019 and thereafter?  

Digital transformation will have an ever-evolving effect on the events industry, with these four tech-trends at the forefront.

1.   Facial recognition

This exciting technology will permanently eliminate paper from the registration and entry process. It will also optimise the security at conferences, streamlining access.

2.   Virtual Reality

A technology that is constantly evolving has now merged with social media. Oculus venues is a virtual reality platform that enables live events to be seen with Live Nation, Ticketmaster, and through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The obvious point being that attendees don’t have to physically be there to experience your event.

3.   Augmented reality

Perhaps more effective than virtual reality, augmented reality is having a massive impact on the events industry. Engagement for events is crucial and can be very challenging given the demands of the modern consumer. Augmented Reality will boost engagement levels and create hype on social media by encouraging attendees to interact with your content and, in turn, share it with their following.

4.    Artificial intelligence

Smart technology is influencing the events industry in a big way too. By utilising chatbots in a wide range of scenarios, event planners can automate several tasks, better serving their attendees.  

Conclusion

So, as you can see, technology has been implemented and used to great effect already in the events industry. Associations are taking great interest in investing in new technologies, but this means a total overhaul of existing systems and practices. All for the betterment of the industry of course. The events industry is changing, and progressing in order to adapt to current trends, but these trends are forever changing. It never stops. It is a perpetual investigation and evolution of science. As players in this industry, we should continue to embrace it and view it as a thrilling time, full of opportunity and potential. We must, however, constantly seek ways in which we can be at the forefront instead of continually playing catch-up.

To learn about ways in which your association can truly embrace digital transformation in the meetings and events industry, get in touch with me. I specialise in delivering results for stakeholders within the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Event Industry as well as for Associations and SMBs.

advanced data analytics

Advanced Data Analytics: One of our Data-Sets is Missing!

How advanced data analytics are changing the way we use business intelligence 

There is a false maxim, which still does the rounds, that blights any industry that uses computational models to analyse its marketplace. Interestingly it’s one that’s often rolled out by so-called panels of experts, often with a self-serving smile on their faces. I’m talking about “lies, damned lies and statistics”: a statement that suggests that data can be manipulated in any fashion to arrive at whatever conclusion one wants. Businesses, however, are primarily interested in using information to improve their performance; not to massage the figures on their end-of-year accounts. Data has the power to transform companies’ balance sheets; the real issue is not whether we should rely on data, but how good it is and whether we are using the right methods to understand it.

What we can do now that we couldn’t do yesterday  

Advanced data analytics can deliver the power of computing to help organisations understand their customers in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Algorithms, which in the past required that data be boiled down to unambiguous text and figures, can now be built to interpret pictures, video, even the nuances of speech. Why is this so important? Because the best information of all, particularly that contained in word of mouth, will be found in people’s interactions with each other on social media. Increasingly this is where the data is; the data we will miss out on if we don’t fully engage with our online communities.

“He’s only a Wookie”

To give a topical example, Candace Payne’s decision to video herself enjoying the moment she tried on Hasbro’s electronic Chewbacca mask broke the record for most viewed Facebook Live video by a country mile. Media outlets just cannot keep up with the rate at which her post is being viewed, but we are now comfortably into the hundreds of millions.

Related Blog: Lights, Camera, Action! The Why and How of Video Marketing

The most interesting fact of all about this viral video to beat all other viral videos is that the product at its centre was purchased in a clearance sale. Now the company has a moneymaker beyond its wildest dreams and for which it can justifiably pitch a market price that meets the new demand Candace’s video has created.

How advanced data analytics and Candace Payne go together

What Hasbro does next will determine how much hay they can make while the sun is still shining. Think back to the comment I made about Candace’s video. In the few minutes that I’ve been writing another fifty words or so, her views will have gone up in the thousands, maybe even the tens of thousands. Who’s looking and where are they? What are they saying? And perhaps most important of all, “when” are they? Not only can we find these answers; we can do so in real time. In other words, Hasbro and others can decide how they will respond to market opportunities on the basis of what their customers think now, not what they thought last week, last month or last year. Knowing what’s happening to our own products and services can also be extended into understanding what our competitors are doing too. The new ways we can look at data are reinventing the world of statistics and, thanks to innovations in cloud computing, you don’t have to reinvent your IT infrastructure to take advantage of what advanced data analytics have to offer. 

The title for this blog paraphrases the 1942 film by British-Hungarian team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, “One of Our Aircraft is Missing”. The Dutch who rescued the airmen in the film assumed at first that they were spies because there was no trace of the plane they said they had bailed from. If they had had the sort of intelligence provided by advanced data analytics, they would never have jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Social Media For Science And Research_ Current Trends And Future Possibilities

Social Media For Science And Research: Current Trends And Future Possibilities

It’s no secret that social networks are among the most widely adopted technologies of our times. Almost 40 per cent of the world’s population now uses social media and the figures only keep growing. Yet it seems that there is a gap between science and technology when it comes to the use of social media in scientific communities. In this post we explore the advantages of using social media for science, as a scientist and the possibilities that these technologies offer to both science and society.

Related: A Quick Guide To Integrating Social Media Into Your Event Communication Plan

The Role Of Social Media In Science Communication

Rates of social media use in the scientific community are low when compared to the general public or even to other professional groups. The traditional nature of scientific communication is unidirectional (think about conferences or articles in peer-reviewed journals), but this long-form narrative contrasts with the current evolution of communicative preferences across the globe. Nowadays, two-way interactive exchanges find in social media platforms the ideal space for conversations between people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Scientists and researchers usually prefer to use professional networks with a clear scientific or academic focus. This is the case of Researchgate, Labs Explorer, Academia, or Mendeley, which are considered the best scientific social networks. But this begs the question of whether platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn are being unfairly overlooked and could in fact contribute something to scientific research.

Related: Developing Social Media Strategies for Conferences & Events

The truth is that there is a reluctance when it comes to using social media as a scientist. A 2014 survey revealed that a large amount of US-based scientists will never consider using Twitter or Facebook for academic or professional work. The problem seems to stem from issues of reputation and credibility, hence the preference for more exclusive or professional networks like the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph. Within the scientific community, social media networks are generally perceived as not suited for “high-quality” science given the amount of banal or irrelevant content that is available on them. Credibility issues stem from the fact that very few authoritative voices are present on these platforms, but at the same time this can be an opportunity for scientiststo fill the void.

Advantages Of Using Social Media For Science

The “Big 3” (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) have the potential to be the best scientific social networks if they are used to promote research interests expertly.

2018 study showed that some science-related pages and Facebook profiles have a follower base in the tens of millions. The fact that they can reach such wide and non-specialised audience means there is potential for scientists to see this platform as a space where to create online communities that have common interests. Facebook’s social nature makes it easy to find audiences with similar concerns or likely to collaborate in projects ranging from research sponsorship to events funding. On this note, a study of the engagement levels generated by science-related Facebook pages showed that the highest engagement was achieved by posts related to research funding, and a US study confirmed that many scientists think that having a social media presence can help them demonstrate relevance to funding agencies.

Related: Content Performance Marketing: Making the Right Choices at the Right Times

LinkedIn has a wider acceptance among scientists perhaps due to the idea that this network as a high-profile platform with a predominantly professional focus. But this platform offers more than the option to create an online profile, and it can become the virtual equivalent of a lab meeting or a discussion between like-minded professionals.

Twitter is often used to interact with fellow scientists, tweet about research or link to relevant articles. Some studies have shown that academic tweets lead to increased citations and paper downloads, so this platform can be an alternative way of establishing a presence within the scientific community. It is also worth noting that only 5 per cent of Twitter interactions involve organisations and the media, so there is potential for exposure when organising events or drawing attention to scientific activities that require funding.

There are two Twitter features that are specifically useful in the scientific arena: conference hashtags have proven particularly powerful, and lists can help create online communities of individuals with common interests and goals.

What’s more, Twitter can indeed be used to support the scientific process by providing raw data that has immense value in and of itself from a sociological point of view. Researchers, scientists, and conference organisers can gain extremely valuable insights into how social media users react and interact with news and announcements, and these findings can be then used to discern patterns and modify online strategies to reach an even wider audience in terms that make sense to them.

To recap, social media can become a productive communication channel for researchers to find funding, for conference organisers to attract delegates and sponsors, and for scientists to raise awareness about their work. All these platforms can be used to cultivate stronger links with colleagues all over the world and to raise awareness about current research on social issues. To make the best use of social media, it’s important to keep two things in mind: focus on the audience and focus on purpose. The quality of social media content and interactions is not an inherent characteristic of the platform itself, but rather depends on how they are used. And only good things can happen when they are used for purposes like outreach, communication, and collaboration.

Related: 4 Concepts To Understand Digital Transformation in the Event Industry

Social Media Platforms And Science Technology: Future Trends And Possibilities

Ultimately, the issue at stake is whether and how social media can be used in a better way for science. In this sense, it’s sensible to suggest that the expert use of social media can complement and boost scientific endeavours across three main areas:

  • Social media networks can help spread scientific knowledge. Sharing is the very nature of these platforms, so they can help bring down barriers to the dissemination of scientific information and foster a culture of science communication between different stakeholders.
  • They can also help make research and scientific contributions more widely available. Traditionally, scientific communities have been “gated”, but social media can contribute to the democratisation of scientific discourse and make it available to more people. As a side effect, this can generate curiosity and / or a deeper appreciation for the contributions that science has made and can made to society at large.
  • Last but not least, science itself can have a stronger online profile thanks to social networks. This can add credibility to the wealth of information generated in the public sphere, counter the effects of fake news or unproven claims with solid scientific research, and generate public debate about issues that are of paramount importance for society as a whole. This is already happening in areas like food security and environmental science.

To summarise what we have discussed so far, one of the key roles of science is to research social issues and find transformative solutions to questions that concern us all, and social media platforms are just another medium to promote scientific activity and make it more accessible. The channel is there, so all that remains is for scientific communities to make the best possible use of the tools available to promote their research interests and extend the benefits of science to the general public.

facebook

5 Effective Techniques to Market Your Conference on Facebook

 
One of the biggest challenges for any conference or event organiser is ensuring good ROI. Also, making sure that their event is well attended and supported.
 
Achieving this is easier said than done. Yet, are you taking advantage of one of the largest opportunities for getting the attendance, return and support? You need this to make your event a success.
 
Using Facebook to correctly market your event at precise times is a great way to get started.
 
Marketing events on Facebook can prove to be incredibly effective. Given the size and nature of Facebook, it can be the ideal tool to improving your returns. According to WebHosting.com, Facebook has 2.23 billion active monthly users, making it by far the largest social network globally. Additionally, they state that as of May 2018, there were 80 million Business pages on the platform.
 
With so many opportunities to engage, communicate and share with an audience, it is the perfect place to promote your upcoming event.
 
In the current digital age, social media platforms are one of the most effective ways to create awareness around events. With that in mind, here are five effective ways to take advantage of Facebook marketing for your next event:
 

Increase Your Reach and Attendance With a Facebook Event

 
This quick and easy step is essential to making the most out of Facebook for your conference as it will help with overall awareness.
 
After setting up the event, choose the right event name, cover image and then add the relevant details. Don’t forget to convey the right message about your event to your audience. Be mindful of the information you provide. Ensure to include your ticketing link so that it is easy for your audience to book their spot.
 
When you create your event, you will be able to invite attendees from your Facebook friends list. A great tactic is to incentivise fellow industry experts or speakers at the event to invite their own friends or connections.
 
This will ensure that your organic reach is far wider, appealing to people who are likely interested in your event.
 
Additionally, when someone is invited to an event by someone they know and respect, it makes them significantly more likely to sign up and attend.
 
Another great feature of Facebook events is that those who RSVP as “going” or “interested” will receive regular reminders as your conference draws closer.
 
However, the most valuable benefit of creating a Facebook event is the free newsfeed placements that your attendees generate.
 
When an individual accepts the invite to your event, it is automatically posted to their wall. As a result, their friends’ timeline, has greater organic reach for your event.
 

Create Facebook Content that Promotes Your Conference

 
Social Media is most effective when it is in fact social. Avoid using aggressive and direct sales techniques. Rather communicate the value that your conference can add to those who attend it. By giving them an indication of how they can benefit, they are far more likely to express interest or attend.
 
When it comes to conferences, an effective technique for communicating value is by sharing content from previous conferences. Alternatively, provide a taste of what attendees can expect.
 
Communicating what they will take away or stand to gain from attending your conference is a great strategy to attract attendees. Information from speakers or key topics that can create discussions online are great sources of content.
 

Target Interested Audiences With Facebook Ads

 
Due to updated algorithms and Facebook’s changing privacy settings, it is harder than ever for content to be seen organically. Simply put, there is very little chance of someone who does not already like your Facebook page seeing your content organically.
 
Running ads and promoting your event on Facebook allows you to reach more people and even sell tickets to your conference or event.
 
The convenience factor when it comes to buying a ticket can be the difference between a ticket sold and an empty seat at your conference. So, keep this in mind when promoting your event. All you need is a few clicks on your event page to make a booking. Setting this up is relatively simple and the benefits can exceed your expectations!
 
If you’re looking for increased awareness among people interested in your event, a targeted Facebook advert will help you reach them. Ensure you include all the information that your event can offer them!
 
Whilst Facebook advertising can be competitive, the right balance of accurate targeting and excellent content can yield results far more effectively than traditional marketing.
 

Cultivate Organic Awareness of your Event

 
Although paid advertising is powerful, organic awareness is just as efficient if you can get it right. Why not recruit your followers and partners to help with awareness?
 
This is achievable by enabling affiliates the opportunity to share and connect. If you have speakers or conference partners, ask them to invite their followers. Provide them with everything they’ll need in order to do so. This will take little effort from their side while boosting their credibility among their own followers. It’s a mutually beneficial method.
 
Additionally, start a conversation. Include the social handles of your speakers within your event description. Attendees or potential attendees can then converse with your speakers or partners about the content of your upcoming conference. You can even go so far as to create an authentic hashtag for your event.
 

Use Testimonials As Marketing Content

 
The value in testimonials is boundless. Having customer reviews of your event is a brilliant idea. It can resonate with visitors who are unfamiliar with your conference or business.
 
Include statements that epitomise the excitement of future speakers and past attendees. More so, loyal attendees that are enthusiastic about your upcoming conference.
 
Use them to create visual content to share on your conference’s event page. You can easily do this by using a graphic-design tool website.
 
Testimonials can be incredibly persuasive marketing tools for influencing potential attendees’ decisions to sign up for your event. It’ll also increase your credibility.
 
If you’re looking for more specific advice or need some help with marketing your conference get in touch with us.