Feb 28, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

Virtual Event Vendor Checklist: Integration with Social Media

via Flickr by Karen Eliot

There has been an interesting discussion on Focus regarding the role of social integration within the virtual platforms. As social media and networking is an integral part of an overal virtual events strategy, including marketing, audience engagement, and event promotion, I wanted to higlight some of the key points mentioned that should be part of your checklist.

Note: Unless indicated, comments are based on my experience going into various platforms and are not indicative of any one platform’s pros/cons:

1. Registration: To date, most of the platforms require a separate registration form and then ask for your Linkedin, Facebook, and/or Twitter login information after you’ve registered. Oftentimes, this is a multi-step process. Points to consider:

Axel Shultze, CEO of Social Media Academy (@AxelS): “We use http://xeesm.com as a bridge between the virtual event platform – in our case On24 – and the social web.”

- Does your platform directly allow people to register using Facebook connect or other social network login?

- If not, do you have a third-party application that can bridge this?

Joerg Rathenberg, VP of Marketing, Unsifair (@jrathenberg): “On the microsite or landing page you have the ability for registrants to forwad the link to their communities using the integrated social media icons as well as email. You can also use twitter and FB icons to increase your followership from here.”

- After registering, can registrants share this with their friends and followers via social media or email?

- If so, can I append a conference/event hashtag to the message?

2. Friends & Family: If you allow the virtual event platform to connect to your social networks, the benefit of this is to evaluate your social graph to determine which of your connections are registered for the event, attend the event in real-time, and/or who might be interested in that event. Taking this a step further, based on your profile, and eventually the types of individuals you connect with online, the platform should then provide you with matches of prospective individuals with whom you should connect. This increases your networking opportunities accordingly.

- Do you have the ability to provide recommended matches based on my profile?

- Can you see which of my connections are registered/attending the event?

- Can you identify which of my contacts may be most interested in this event and send them a personal invitation from me to attend this event?

3. Consistent Social Presence: From my perspective, the social media integration seems to be inconsistent throughout the event. For example, the Twitter stream may be available in the lounge area but doesn’t appear in the exhibit hall or when you’re viewing a presentation. Furthermore, most of the platforms have two different areas for a general chat within the event, usually the Lounge, and for Twitter conversations – separate widget. There must be a way to integrate the two so two separate conversations aren’t happening around the same show.

Dennis Shiao, Director of Product Marketing, INXPO (@dshiao): “This level of integration is the deepest and involves the virtual event platform making calls to the social network’s API. The benefits are twofold: it creates a more seamless user experience for attendees (as they remain within the virtual environnment) and, it allows the platform to capture and track per-attendee activity with social networks.”

Francis Bacon, Director, More Conference: “The focus for us is creating an online space in which delegates can interact with each other, but sometimes delegates want to use Twitter to keep their followers (who are usualyl non-delegates) informed about the event they are attending.”

- Can the Twitter stream be viewed throughout the whole environment, such as during presentations?

- Can people have their comments in a group discussion automatically post to Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook?

- Will a hashtag automatically be appended to the status updates?

- What type of insight can I get from the social conversations?

4. Social Media Analytics: I highlighted some key points in my previous post regarding measurements and analytics, so I will highlight some key points related to social conversations. 

Joerg Rathenberg: “Dedicated Social media reports summarize social media activity by attendee and let you drill down to the content of the individual messages.”

- Can you provide overview reporting regarding the social activity by attendees on various social networks?

- Can you provide insight into the key conversations and trends from the conference?

- Can you pinpoint individuals or influencers I should follow up with based on their social activity?

5. Level of Social Media Integration: While all platforms state they have social media integration, the “integration” may just be a link to an outside page or full integration. As Dennis highlighted in his response on Focus, there are three types of integration:

“A) Barebones, “non integrated”: Users click on hyperlinks and are then taken outside of the virtual event platform to a URL hosted by the social network…

“B) Social media widgets, “somewhat integrated”: Widgets are lightweight pieces of code that can be inserted into a virtual event platform to invoke social features – the code references operations hosted by the social network service…

“C) Full integration via Application Programming Interfaces (API): see above. ”

- Ask the platform provider what level of integration they are providing?

- How easily is it to “turn” on the features – click a check box or custom development required?

- Are these base features (included in the platform) or an additional cost?

Other Posts in the Series

1. Virtual Event Vendor Checklist Part 1: Event Support & Experience

2. Virtual Event Vendor Checklist Part 2: Planning Tools

3. Virtual Event Vendor Checklist Part 3: Engagement & Experience

4. Virtual Event vendor Checklist Part 4: Metrics and Analysis

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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