Tag Archives: business

Does Facebook work for B2B events? Best practices and case studies

When you see the bare figures of Facebook usage, it is pretty tempting for an event organizer to jump on that bandwagon and try to get your share of those 800.000.000+ ladies and gentlemen hanging out on the largest social network almost every day.

In fact, a lot of event marketers are experimenting with Facebook. Sure, in the B2C arena, that is an obvious choice, but does it work for B2B as well?

What should be considered when you think about marketing your B2B event on Facebook? As with all other online marketing channels and social platforms, it does make sense to start your journey with a thorough keyword analysis.

  1. Write down the 10-15 most important keywords and tags that best describe your event.
  2. Run them through the Google keywords tool to see if they are really the ones that your customers search for. Adjust the list if necessary.
  3. Search Facebook for Groups, Pages or Events that correspond to your tags. Listen to what is shared and discussed there by becoming a member of those groups and liking the pages.

After a little while, you will get a feel for to what extent your target groups are active on Facebook or not. Only then you should decide if and on what scale you want to include Facebook in your event marketing.

Now, let’s assume your analysis is positive for Facebook: What are the options?

Facebook Page

This should be your homebase on Facebook. Groups do not give you the same scope of possibilities, e.g. you can’t use Facebook apps with Groups. You will have to decide if you create a Page just for your event, or a page for your company/association, or maybe for a cluster of events that address the same target groups.

I’d recommend a page for an event only when it is at least an annual conference or trade show with a certain size. Otherwise it’ll be difficult to constantly animate the page and keep it interesting for your users.

If you are an association, you may want to prefer to have one page for your organisation rather than individual pages for your events.

Some tips for pages

  • Create an easy-to-remember and communicate Vanity URL for your page, e.g. Facebook.com/newspaperworld. Once you created your page, you can determine the vanity URL at facebook.com/username
  • The maximum size for your profile logo is 180 pixels wide by 540 pixels high. Quite a lot of space that you can use to promote your event.
  • Create a Welcome or Landing Page, ideally a different one for fans and non-fans. See the example of Facebook.com/newspaperworld for what I mean. A welcome page can be rather easily created with apps that are available from appbistro.com. Find a good explanation on how to create a landing page here.
  • There are a zillion apps for Facebook pages out there that allow you to animate your Facebook presence and entertain your audience. Things like polls, surveys, contests, promotions, Youtube channel integration. Also, you can get a developer to create custom apps for you, but take a look at Appbistro first, you might find there already what you are looking for and a lot more…
  • It is a good idea to think about an editorial plan for your Facebook page. This plan should not only consist of content updates, but also include ideas on what activities, apps, event picture uploads or animations you want to roll out.
  • Add the “Like”-Button to your website to promote your page on your other online presences.
  • Make sure your keywords/tags appear on your info tab and as often as possible in your wall posts.

Facebook Event

Once you’ve created your Facebook page, you can create an event, with your page as the event owner. And obviously, you can start inviting people to that event, so that they’ll see your event and all updates on their timeline.

There are even apps that allows you to sell tickets for your event directly: Eventbrite and ThunderTix.

Facebook advertising

Facebook advertising allows for very targeted communications, because you can select your audiences very thoroughly according to interests. Facebook offers basically two sorts of advertisement, the Facebook ad and the sponsored messages. Find out more about the options.

Best practice examples

These are quite some events and organizers that implement Facebook in their marketing – It’s really worth taking a look at those and see them as a good source of inspiration on what can be done, what works and which content might be appropriate for Facebook.

Click on the images to get to their Facebook presence.


Die Herausforderungen ähneln sich: 1. Treffen privater und unabhängiger Messeveranstalter in Mannheim, 20. Juli 2011

Private Messeveranstalter gibt es in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz in großer Zahl – aber anders als die großen “Dickschiffe” hatten diese Veranstalter bisher kaum Möglichkeiten, sich zu vernetzen und voneinander zu lernen. Sicher, es gibt Verbände, aber die sind entweder von den klassischen Messeplätzen dominiert oder sie umfassen auch andere Bereiche, so dass die Interessen der Veranstalter selbst nicht immer im Fokus stehen.

Für Initiator Alexander Petsch von Spring Messe Management war dies Grund genug, zum ersten Treffen privater und unabhängiger Messeveranstalter am 20. Juli in Mannheim einzuladen – und dieser Einladung sind rund 50 Inhaber, Marketing- und Vertriebsleiter von Messegesellschaften gefolgt. Die Teilnehmer des Treffens im Rosengarten Mannheim repräsentierten die beeindruckende Zahl von ca. 25.000 Ausstellern pro Jahr!

Das halbtägige Treffen in Mannheim hatte das klare Ziel, das Networking der Veranstalter untereinander zu ermöglichen und den Austausch über aktuelle Themen zu fördern. Denn auch wenn die Messethemen sehr unterschiedlich sind (von Jungdesignern über Immobilien bis hin zu Energieeffizienz), so sind doch die aktuellen Herausforderungen recht ähnlich.

(Fotos: Oksana Bezsmolna)

Nach einer Begrüßung durch Alexander Petsch und den Geschäftsführer des Rosengartens Michel Maugé erlebten die Teilnehmer eine beeindruckende Keynote des “Zeitmanagement-Gurus” Prof. Dr. Lothar Seiwert: Simplify your Time – Einfach Zeit haben.

Nach diesem Impulsreferat wurde die Diskussion im World Café Format fortgeführt. Dabei konnten sich die Teilnehmer vorab für verschiedene Round Table Diskussionen anmelden, die in drei Runden durchgeführt wurden.

  • Klonen von Veranstaltungen
  • Trends und Entwicklungen in der Veranstaltungsbranche
  • Entwicklung von Gemeinschaftsständen
  • Zusammenarbeit mit Messegeländen
  • Life Cycle einer Messe
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter und Co. für Messeveranstalter

Ich selbst hatte das Vergnügen, den Round Table “Social Media” zu moderieren. Es wurde deutlich, dass viele Veranstalter Nachholbedarf bei diesem Thema haben, unabhängig davon, ob sie bereits Social Media einsetzen oder gerade erst darüber nachdenken. Oftmals fehlt ein klares Konzept und ein Plan, welche Ressourcen man wie einsetzen möchte und welche Plattformen am besten geeignet sind. Einig waren sich jedoch die Teilnehmer, dass sich alle Veranstalter mit diesem Thema auseinandersetzen müssen – wie intensiv und wie schnell, hängt natürlich von der Branche und deren Affinität zu Social Media ab.

Nach den drei Runden präsentierten die Round Table Moderatoren die Ergebnisse der Diskussionen, und beim anschließenden Networking Dinner (mit toller musikalischer Begleitung durch Musiker der Popakademie Mannheim) wurden die Diskussionen noch vertieft.

Auf XING existiert die Gruppe Unabhängige Messeveranstalter D.A.CH – Independent fair & exhibition organizers (DACH region), die als Diskussionsplattform über das Treffen hinaus dient.

Google+: Wie wichtig ist das neue Social Network für Eventveranstalter?

Click here for English version

So wie Ihr wahrscheinlich auch habe ich in der letzten Zeit eine Reihe von Einladungen zu Google+ erhalten, also wollte ich das einmal ausprobieren und habe einen Account angelegt. Viele von uns haben ja bereits mindestens einen Google Account für irgendeinen Service. Jedenfalls war das Profil schnell erstellt, und dann habe ich mit den Funktionen von Google+ herumgespielt.

Schon nach kurzer Zeit wurde mir bewusst, welch ein Potenzial diese neue Plattform hat. Für uns als Event-, Konferenz- und Messemacher gibt es sofort 2 Dinge, die sich als Nutzen aufdrängen:

  • Das Circles Feature ist dafür geeignet, Freunde/Follower in verschiedene Kategorien einzuteilen. Daraufhin kann man Inhalte nur mit den relevanten “Circles” teilen und die anderen nicht mit irrelevanten Inhalten nerven. Das ist eine großartige Funktion, bei der man schnell das Potenzial erkennt.  Man könnte z.B. verschiedene Circles für verschiedene Konferenz- oder Messethemen anlegen. Leute in diese Circles zu bekommen und damit seine Verbreitung zu steigern ist vergleichbar mit Twitter. Man bekommt eine Benachrichtigung sobald einen jemand in einen Circle aufgenommen hat (man weiss aber nicht, was das für ein Circle ist), und kann dann entscheiden, ob man sie/ihn seinerseits in einen Circle aufnimmt.
  • Hangouts: Ich habe bereits Einsatzmöglichkeiten dieser Hangouts für Pressekonferenzen, Konzerte, Trainings gesehen… Es gibt eine ganze Menge weitere Möglichkeiten, wie man Hangouts einsetzen kann, z.B. für Aussteller-Briefings, Interviews/Webinars mit Konferenz-Sprechern etc.etc. Das ist wirklich ein großartiges Feature, das direkt in das Social Network eingebaut ist.

Wie bei Facebook und Twitter wird es nicht lange dauern, bis wir Apps sehen werden, die Google+ in verschiedenste Anwendungsgebiete integrieren.

Alles in allem glaube ich nicht, dass wir Facebook, Twitter, XING oder LinkedIn kurzfristig aufgeben sollten. Aber ich bin sicher dass Google+ sehr ernst zu nehmen ist und wir auf dieser Plattform aktiv sein sollten, zumal kurz- und mittelfristig eine Menge Aufmerksamkeit auf Google+ gelenkt werden wird.

Schaut Euch dieses lustige Video an, falls Ihr noch gar keine Vorstellung von Google+ habt:

Aktuelle Informationen über Google+ und Einsatzgebiete findet Ihr unter dem Twitter hashtag #googleplus.

Hier findet Ihr eine weitere interessante Einschätzung zum Potenzial von Google+.

Oh, und lasst es mich wissen, falls Ihr eine Einladung zu Google+ braucht! 🙂

Hier ist ein Link zu einer Mindmap, welche die wesentlichen Funktionen von Google+ darstellt:

http://www.mindmeister.com/maps/public_map_shell/103602816/google-plus-an-overview?width=600&height=400&zoom=0

Developing new markets, new audiences, new approaches: A recent presentation

The newspaper industry is in a period of transition. No stone has been left unturned, hence the worldwide industry body for this sector needs to change, too. At the recent Association Congress in London  I gave a presentation about the challenges that WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers currently faces and what we do to develop new markets, new audiences and new approaches for our events.

The session was recorded using a technology that combines slides with the speaker commentary, and as soon as this is online, I’ll update this post accordingly. I guess without the explanation, the slides are not so useful.

The Association Congress in London proved to be very helpful for an Association Manager like me. It gives you a lot of inspiration where the non-profit industry is heading, what are new trends, and it allows you to network and benchmark a lot with peers. Obviously, social media was one of the hottest topics there, and consequently there was quite a lot going on on Twitter around the Congress.

I also liked the way that technology was used to facilitate networking among the delegates. Damian Hutt, the Congress Director, implemented a networking device provided by the supplier SpotMe, which had a bunch of features to get in touch with other attending  peers. See the video below for more information about their devices. The only problem with this technology really is that you have to carry yet another device – on top of your mobile phone or tablet if you use such a device… And of course you have to learn how to use it, which is not necessarily self-explanatory.

The session where I was speaking was professionally facilitated by William Thomson – and he particularly put an emphasis on audience interaction. As a result, the session was really a conversation rather than just speaking to a crowd – the delegates obviously appreciated this format!

Next year, the Association Congress will take place at ACC Liverpool, 15-16 July 2012.

10 Tips: How to Attract Conference and Exhibition Sponsors

Well, if only this was an easy to answer question…

One thing is for sure: Getting sponsorship for conferences and trade shows has become a lot more difficult, with so many options that potential sponsors have, and so many organizers competing for sponsorship.

Very broadly speaking, there is a basic dilemma for event organizers and sponsors. When looking for sponsorship, the ORGANIZERS typically want

  • Money
  • As  easy as possible
  • Standardized
  • Apart from that: To be left alone by the sponsors when it comes to the event programming (speakers, sessions etc.)

The SPONSOR, on the other hand, typically asks for

  • Exclusivity
  • A say as regards content (speaking opps, featured topics, case studies)
  • Individual offers
  • Preferred treatment throughout the whole event

During my time in a sponsoring and PR agency, working for brands like Volkswagen and Deutsche Post, I have learned how important those points really are for sponsors. As a potential sponsor, you immediately put aside those requests where you feel that you get a copy-and-paste template and where the organizers have not thought one second about your branding and positioning requirements.content marketing for events

Okay then, what would be some recommendations how to approach potential sponsors? Some food for thought, in the sense of a checklist of things to bear in mind:

  1. When you present a sponsoring proposal to a potential candidate, ALWAYS put their logo on the pdf or ppt! And make sure you use the correct and current one.
  2. Describe the target audience of your event – but not on a generic level, but particularly to what extent it overlaps with the sponsor’s target groups.
  3. Check on their website if your potential sponsor supports other events, and of what nature those are. What can you learn from that? Is there a particular person, decision maker or department behind those sponsorships?
  4. What can you find out about the brand positioning and brand values of your target sponsor? What bit of that ties in with your event positioning? Try to create a storyline that combines your event objectives with your sponsor’s objectives.
  5. Be creative. Develop out-of-the box offers to differentiate from your competitors. Of course, that also implies some research about what your competitors are actually offering.
  6. Be inspired by what other organizers (beyond the horizon of your own industry) have offered. Take a look at the sponsoring offers of events like SXSW, Mobile World Congress, CES, and in particular the TED Conferences. For our World Newspaper Week in Vienna, October 2011, we have created a comprehensive scope of promotional opportunities.
  7. Create some low-budget options for newcomers to your industry. We offer a simple branding sponsorship at our conferences, which is a kind of premium participation fee. A sponsor gets an entrance ticket, their logo on the website, on site, and their brochure in the delegate bags. Nothing fancy, but a good money maker.
  8. Involving sponsors in the program: Well… Why don’t you rather offer the opportunity to let a customer of theirs do the talking? That is much more credible and has a higher impact for the sponsor, too.
  9. Be flexible. You should have a clearly formulated offer when you approach a candidate, but be flexible enough to tailor it to their demands.
  10. Post-Event: Send a Thank-you-letter after the event along with a documentation (pics, facts and figures etc.).

Here you’ll find some more useful resources about how to attract sponsorship:

Why don’t you share your success stories here?

Virtual events: 2 recent case studies, totally different concepts

I have recently come across two totally different approaches to virtual trade shows – but both of them work in their respective contexts quite well.

On the one hand side I met Dr. Ajay Kakar, Secretary of the International Academy of Periodontology, based in Mumbai. Ajay has set up a virtual trade show that targets the Indian market for dentistry products. He organizes real-life trade shows, but his exhibitors urged him to provide them with additional target groups, not always the same people. Hence, he developed the concept of a virtual trade show in addition to the others.

The challenge was to reach out to the rural areas in India, and you cannot do that with a technology that is too sophisticated – you just don’t have the bandwidth you need for such endeavours. So he came up with a simple, yet fully functional concept for a virtual show and conference. The event will take place 1-3 July 2011. Click on the image to get access to their website.

On the other hand, you have quite elaborate requirements when you talk about virtual events for big corporations like SAP, BASF, Microsoft and the like. These companies want to have their branding all over the place, and their presentation standards are quite high. I have seen the solutions that the Germany-based company UBIVENT provide for them, and I have met their Managing Director Dr. Michael Geisser. They have started out with virtual events purely for big corporations, now they expand into the conference and trade show sector as well. Very impressive solution, as you will be able to see in the video below (in German language, though).

Having seen the BASF virtual job fair for students and pupils, I believe that the potential for virtual trade shows in this sector is immense. The young audience are used to network via online channels, they don’t have the money to travel, but they have time to attend virtual shows like these. I guess we’ll see more of this soon.

Review: ICCA Association Experts Seminar, Frankfurt, 21-23 May 2011

Last weekend, I had the pleasure to attend the ICCA Association Experts Seminar in Frankfurt. I had been to an ICCA event before, so I knew that not only are those events brilliantly organized, but they also deliver great value for an event organizer and association executive.

It is ICCA’s intention to intensify the dialogue between association meeting planners and convention bureaus and other suppliers. Such a seminar is beneficial for both sides, because it helps to improve the understanding for the needs of each party. On top of that, ICCA manage to deliver great content about trends in the meeting industry, and we even tried some quite interesting interactive meeting and event techniques (e.g. a fishbowl discussion) which are a source of inspiration of our own meeting planning.

The meeting in Frankfurt was very professionally facilitated by Gary Grimmer from Melbourne. Nikki Walker with MCI gave a presentation about the art and science of new media for association communities, a topic that most of associations are struggling with quite a bit currently. One of the take-aways was her suggestion to encourage multilingual comments on Facebook, because with Google translate, those comments can be of value and understandable for other users.

Next on the agenda was Dr. Ajay Kakar from India. This gentleman is not only the Secretary of the International Academy of Periodontology, he is also a dentist, a Cobalt programmer, a designer of his own virtual trade show tailored to the Indian market (!), an extremely nice person and a magician, too, as we could experience over the dinner 😉

We had a very good time together, and it was very interesting to share his experience about virtual events that really work. When setting the event up, he found the biggest problem was to get the exhibitors to deliver the right content in the right format. That should not be underestimated when planning a virtual or hybrid event. The main reason for him to test a virtual show at all was that his exhibitors were actually demanding it. They were pushing him to limit the number of real-life events to a reasonable amount, while at the same time offering the opportunity to reach out to an audience also in remote places in India. Ultimately, he had to take into account the limited bandwidth in rural India, and develop a system that was not too flashy and would work in those places, too. What he presented was a straight-forward, easy-to-use and easy-to-setup tool that serves the purposes in his market ideally. I’ll be curious to follow the success of this venture!

The second day featured a presentation by Elling Hamso, European Event ROI Institute. He presented the Event ROI pyramid, which is based on the concept that an event can only be successful, financially or otherwise, if it actually motivates the participants to DO something differently after the event, to apply what they’ve learned and to change behavior. Elling suggested some ways to measure this impact that are easy to implement, really. I am sure I’ll go through my event and trade show surveys to modify them accordingly! I particularly liked the stylish way how Elling sent everyone of us an email after the event with 10 recommendations how we could maximize the networking and learning experience from the seminar.

The afternoon of the second day was dedicated to interactive sessions about what meeting planners require from destinations, and what destination suppliers really want from planners to improve cooperation.

For the third day, a self-propelled session was planned, so the late afternoon on Sunday was used to prepare this. Elling came up with the great idea to create a fishbowl session, and a suitable topic for this was quickly identified: What do events have to look and feel like in the future in order to attract “Gen Y”, a totally networked and tech-savvy generation? It was great to be part of this experience, not only because it delivered great results, but also because it proved once more that these kind of interactive, un-conference-style events really work. Click on the video below to see Bruce Redor from Gary’s team explain how it works.

All in all, this weekend was a wonderful experience that I had the pleasure to share with a bunch of nice, professional and very dedicated people from the worldwide ICCA community -I look forward to taking part again in 2012! Thanks to ICCA for facilitating this exchange.