One such example of a smart business is Noah Wolf Photography. Recognizing a massive shift in the way we all communicate with one another (hint, hint…social media), Minneapolis-based Noah Wolf also identified that many people were using DIY avatar photos for their business and personal accounts. The cost of hiring a photographer to create a teeny profile pic can be prohibitive, so Noah came up with the idea of holding AVATAR sessions. The idea is reminiscent of the uber-popular Boudoir sessions concept, in which the photographer books a venue and offers photoshoot time slots at a reasonable price to eager brides-to-be. At a cost of $79, you can have:
Visit Noah Wolf’s blog to find out about his future Avatar Sessions. Great idea, Noah!
Toronto, now you too can book an avatar session too: Sugartree Photography booking for April 26, 2010
Welcome to Week 1 of READY2SPARK’s ‘Social Media Starter Kit’. As a brand strategist and a sales & marketing consultant, it’s my responsibility to ensure that my clients are making the right decisions for their business and standing apart from the crowd. This series will be dedicated to getting smart about social media.
But first let me tell you a short story…
A number of years ago I was working on a brand design project for a line of weight loss products. To better understand the industry, I flew out to Ohio, where a weight loss conference was taking place. While in town I decided to fit in a few trips to local Walmart stores so I could see how customers shopped the category. Pretending to be engrossed by the various bottles of weight loss elixirs, I lurked the aisle to see who was buying and what products caught their attention. One extremely overweight couple, carts overflowing with chips, pop and other packaged goods (made from ingredients I can’t pronounce), made their way down the aisle. They stopped in front of the diet pills and proceeded to debate which one to put in their cart. Aaah, the quest for the silver bullet. Forget about the proven solution (good diet + exercise). It’s human nature to try and find the quickest route to our end destination.
So, why did I tell this story?
Because we see the same problem in Social Media. There are a tonne of companies who believe that the silver bullet answer to creating thousands of friends, followers and prospects is to have a Facebook page, Twitter account or blog. Like magic, potential-customers will flock to these sites to listen to Company XYZ pontificate about how great they are. “We just launched our new blog!”, “We just won an award!”, “We just signed a new client!”, blah, blah, blah. Listen to what we’ve done, look at what we’ve seen, oh enough about us…what do you think about us? Here’s the problem with this silver bullet theory: People are time starved and information overloaded. If they feel that you’re wasting their time by providing information that’s not relevant or meaningful to them, they’ll say good-bye. And that, my friends, is the beauty of social media. Unlike TV ads, magazine ads and radio ads, they’re not forced to listen to your message. If they don’t like what they hear they’ll dismiss you without a second thought. Add to this challenge that unlike traditional media, ‘He who has the deepest pockets’ doesn’t win. After all, social media is free. This means that you have more competition than ever before. To cut through the clutter, simply participating isn’t enough…you have to be clever.
So for now, I’ll leave you with these thoughts & welcome your feedback. If there are any topics you’d like to hear about, please contact me and let me know.
Until next week!
More and more our event attendees are using their smart phones to document and share their experiences in real time – Tweeting updates on entertainment, Facebooking pictures, checking in to the venue using foursquare. But, *gasp*, sometimes all of this activities can drain our cell phone batteries. This can mean missed opportunities for event organizers.
Powerkiss has created a new product that converts any piece of furniture into a wireless charger. Yes, that means by simply laying their phone on a table, attendees can be juicing up their batteries. And for those of you who plan conferences, I’ve been told that this technology will be applied to charging up other devices like laptops very soon.
There are 2 components: the heart (or the wireless charging transmitter) and the kiss (or the wireless charging receiver). The kiss is plugged into the device and the heart is attached to the furniture. When the device is laid in close proximity to the furniture it charges.
Powerkiss hopes that soon cell phone manufacturers will be making their devices with wireless recharging capabilities which will eliminate the need for the kiss component.
If you’d like more information, click here to download an information sheet.
Thank you to Springwise for sharing this business idea.
A lot of people ask me, “What’s the deal with tweetups?”. First, let’s define what one is. A tweetup is basically a scheduled meetup between Twitter friends. Tweetups allow you to take the relationships you’ve built online and extend them in person. The beauty with tweetups, which is hard to describe to someone who doesn’t use social media, is that all of the awkward “um, hi, errr…I’m Lara” is replaced with “Oh my Gosh!!! You look nothing like your picture! How are your daughters? You mentioned they’re moving to California for University, right?…”. They’re fun, they’re unpretentious, they’re meaningful.
The Queen of tweetups (aka Debra Roth of PinkInc) planned this one at The Event Solutions / Catersource 2010 Conference. We met at Bally’s Indigo Lounge before the big Anthology party later that night. It saw a mix of girly drinks (yes, even the men had a few pink, fruity concoctions), a lot of smart phone comparisons and a tonne of business card trading. A perfect combination.
Next time you attend an event, follow the event’s hashtag on Twitter and you too may just be lucky enough to find yourself at a tweetup!
Social media is often the subject of ‘shiny object syndrome’. People gravitate to its newness, its promises of success and its buzz. Problem is most of these people don’t get the results they’re looking for. A recent study by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland reports that social media adoption by U.S. small businesses doubled from 12% in 2008 to 24% in 2009. However, over one-quarter (26%) of users say it has fallen short of expectations. One-half (50%) of small business users say it has used up more time than expected. Some 17% say it has resulted in allowing people to criticize their business. All of these challenges can be addressed by having a strategy. A strategy ensures you know what you’re looking to achieve, who you’re looking to speak to and where and how they spend their time online, what potential risks are and how you can mitigate them.
The word ‘media‘ is misleading as it’s associated with instruments of mass advertising (i.e. television, newspapers, magazines), considered marketing channels. In fact, social media touches virtually every department of an organization. People use social media to talk about what they love, hate, desire, what they’re experiencing, reading, watching (etc). Customers interact with your business on many different levels – they call in and speak with your receptionist, they receive invoices from your accounting department, they interact with your installation crew, and so on. None of these fall under marketing. Yet, these may be the very things your customers talk about when they mention your business online. From IT to CEO to PR, everyone in the organization needs to be ready for social media.
Alright, if you screamed in delight at the thought of moving your advertising budget over to social media and saving your business tens of thousands, think again. Yes, it can cost nothing to be successful in social media. Heck, Blendtec went viral with an initial investment of $50. But time + resources = money (and you need both to be successful).
In order for social media to be successful in an organization, it has to be readily embraced by the organization’s leaders. Social media is a mindset, it’s a cultural shift…it’s more than just an activity. Ensure executives not only know what social media is, but what it needs to be successful, that it’s a long-term initiative, that it requires investment of time and resources and that it will likely require their contribution.
Go directly to jail. If you’re looking for a new tool to provide updates about your company, social media is not for you. Unlike ‘traditional’ forms of media – television, newspaper, magazine, radio, billboard, etc – which interrupt consumers, social media is opt-in. People choose whether or not to connect with you. That means that the only way you can reach a consumer is to offer something of value that they want to hear. The moment you continually spam people with you-centric information is the moment people stop listening. Social media harkens a new age of communications. One that requires…gasp…dialogue.
This is a controversial point. There are an overwhelming number of companies that still ban their employees from using Facebook and other sites at work. Their fears – that employees will waste away the day playing with their friends and that, while representing work, they will say something inappropriate about work. Organizations need to clearly outline social media policies. Just like you have policies for dress code, ethics and interactions with other employees, social media requires guidelines and expectations. Another consideration is training. Many successful company incorporate social media in their employee training processes. Setting a tone of trust with a framework is necessary to encourage positive social media interactions.
Social media is one of the best ways to gather customer insights. By participating, you’re inviting feedback – positive, negative and everything in between. This is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to understand why their customers buy from them, why prospective customers don’t and what problems and solutions sets your business apart from the crowd. Why flounder this opportunity by not preparing your business to listen to and implement changes from feedback? I encourage companies to go back to point #2 and involve all facets of the organization in social media preparedness. Feedback should be collected and reviewed with an open mind. Two companies who are the gold standard in feedback implementation are Starbucks and Comcast.
On March 8, 2010 event planners from around the world will descend on Las Vagas for the 2010 Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow. The event will start with a bang…on the evening of the 8th, the Mandarin Oriental Ballroom will roll out the red carpet for the 2010 Spotlight/CATIE Awards (in association with ICA and Event Solutions Magazine). Yes, Vegas has seen its share of Trekkies, Adult Film Stars and Gadget Geeks, but they’ve never seen the likes of this bunch.
With my smartphone and my social media applications, yours truly will be reporting from the awards celebration along with Alan Smithson of Star Productions Inc, Brent Prockert of All Seasons Catering and the fabulous Ruth Moyte of Red Dandelion Creative (one of my blog sponsors – yay!). I’m very excited seeing as Ryan Hanson of Beevents (who will be producing the event), Event Solutions and many of the event sponsors have readily embraced social media and will be introducing some amazing social ideas leading up to the event and on the evening of the awards.
Over the next week and a half, the 2010 Spotlight/CATIE Awards will be asking its attendees to help shape their event using social media. In their first of three question to all of you, they ask: Which centrepiece would you like to see grace the dinner tables of this 60s themed event? Cast your vote here!
If you haven’t already, make sure you follow the conference twitter hashtag: #ESCS10. You’ll hear event stakeholders leak cool information about the event, attendees build relationships with one another and social media reporters weighing in on their event experiences.
I’ll be delivering 3 sessions at the conference & I hope to see you there. Please introduce yourself – I always love to meet my social media friends in the flesh!
MONDAY • MARCH 8 10:30am – Noon . State of the Industry: Where We are Now and Where We’re Headed
Moderator: Laura Schwartz, Principal, White House Strategies, Chicago, IL
Panelists: Branden Chapman of The Recording Academy, Steve Kemble of Steve Kemble Event Design, Lara McCulloch-Carter of READY2SPARK, Kevin Dana of CORT and Craig Bullock of TBA Global
From the A.I.G. effect to blacklisted destinations to the Great recession, the events industry has faced many significant challenges in the past year that have changed it forever. this March, join your peers and a panel of industry leaders to discuss all that we have faced as an industry and the way ahead. Leaders from diverse sectors of the event world will present their vision for the future of the industry; the top-line trends you need to be aware of; and how our industry will look one, five and 10 years from now. Whether you’re an independent, association, corporate, or nonprofit planner or a supplier, this must-attend session will give you the big picture you need to strategize your business or career for today and tomorrow. Stay tuned to learn more about the top event industry voices who will convene for this one-of-a-kind featured session!
MONDAY • MARCH 8 3:00pm – 4:15pm . Business Development: How to Turn Customers into Evangelists
Attracting and retaining customers is the age-old challenge for all business owners. In this session, explore how to find new customers, and more importantly, how to keep the ones you already have. In this ever-changing and significantly more sophisticated business environment, your relationships with your clients is vitally important to your company’s survival. You will leave with an accomplishable “to do list” for meeting your clients’ needs and having them shout from the roof tops about how great you are!
TUESDAY • MARCH 9 9:00am – 10:15am . Socialize With a Purpose: Building a Social Media Strategy For Success
Social media offers an excellent tool for business owners and marketers to expand their communities and their brand recognition – but just because it’s free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strategy behind it. The key to success is a clearly thought-out plan. This session will give you the tools you need to craft an effective strategy to achieve measurable results for your company.
Click here to access the conference program & event information.
I speak at a variety of amazing conferences around the world on the topic of Social Media. And although these conferences have recognized the need to educate their attendees on the topic of web 2.0, some have been slow to leverage social media for their own event. I wanted to pull together this eBook to help stimulate ideas for ‘old conferences’ to think in a new way.
I will stress, however, that before moving forward with any of these tactics, a few things need to take place:
1. Make sure you have an event worth talking about. If you garden you know that making sure you have great soil before planting is key. The same is true about have a great product or service before marketing it.
2. Make sure you’re organization is ready for social media. Culture clash is one of the most common reasons for social media upstart failure. Understanding the fundamental shifts in culture needed to make social media work is critical before starting.
3. Make sure you know what you’re looking to achieve and how you plan to measure success. Social media without a strategy is a lot like pots and pans in the hands of a baby. You can spend countless hours playing. If you take the same pots and pans and give them to a chef, they can create an amazing dish. Same tools – two totally different outcomes. Knowing how to use the tools, what you’re looking to do with them and how to course correct if you’re off track is imperative.
I hope that I’ve provided some good thought starters. I know I’ve only scratched the surface, so I welcome you to weigh in with any additional ideas on this post. How have you used social media to meet your conference objectives?
If you missed our last free ebook “Social Media in Events 2010“, feel free to download.