Recently, I attended the 2011 EventCamp National Conference in Chicago. The event brought together a small group of event marketing/planning professionals who are interested in learning ways to integrate technology and new media into their meetings, conferences and special events. In addition to the physical attendees, a large group of people attended a virtual platform that we hosted, participating in live Twitter Chat and watching real-time feeds of the on-site presentations.
Session: “Hybrid Events: Choose Your Own Adventure”
During Erica St. Angel’s (@EricaStAngel) session, “Hybrid Events: Choose Your Own Adventure”, Liz King (@lizkingevents) tweeted, “Interesting – when doing a hybrid event, how do you account for people who are low tech?” She then added to that, “what do you do for no-tech participants?”
Those of us immersed in social media, virtual events and webcasting are often lulled into a belief that “everybody’s doing it”, but that’s simply not the case. In recent Pew Institute surveys, it was shown that that of Americans online, only 8% use Twitter, although 73% of adults over 18 have Facebook accounts; in 2009, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration reported that 36% of Americans did not have home based internet access. That leaves a significant portion of the population not hearing our tweets, seeing our status updates, getting our emails or visiting our websites. So what do we do?
As the early adopters, leaders and champions of virtual events, webcasts and business, it is our responsibility to educate, in order to create excitement and buzz around what virtual has to offer.
Here are five tips for turning “no-tech” into “tech-please”:
- Build Trust – It is critical that the client knows you have their best interests in mind at every point. Remember, for them, everything is riding on this event and they need you to not only teach them the value of the technology but provide security that it’s not going to damage their credibility.
- Educate, Don’t Sell – You’ll need to teach your client not only what the technology is, but what it can do and why it matters to them. The key is to make it personable and relate it to their business needs. Provide examples, testimonials and referrals to people who’ve had successes with virtual events/webcasts.
- Start Small – Invite your client to be an attendee of a virtual event/webcast first. Have them attend with you on the phone or by your side, so they can ask questions without feeling frustrated or lost. Then ease them in with only a small portion of their event being online, such as one or two webcasts, rather than a full hybrid event.
- Don’t Use Technology for Technology’s Sake – The key, especially in the early stages, is to keep things simple, focused and easy to navigate as this will help your client champion the experience when discussing with their colleagues, clients and friends.
- Continue the Conversation – Once the event is over, don’t pack up and move on. Your client is going to need help harvesting the online data, understanding the information and putting it to use. Understanding the feedback will help them see the value in virtual.
The goal is to make believers out of those who haven’t adopted the technology yet. They aren’t just going to take you at your word. It’s going to take hard work, a lot of teaching and, more importantly, patience and time. Even the most staunch technology avoiders will relent if you put in the effort, follow the guidelines and are able to create relevant, measurable success.
If you’d like to view the on-demand archives from Event Camp National Conference, we invite you to register for our virtual environment, vBIZ:
About the Author
Jenn Gibson has been with INXPO for over five years, which has allowed her to be an active participant in growing awareness around virtual events, webcasting and shifts in technology. She has held many positions within INXPO, including Associate Producer, Event Director and Webcasting Department Manager; currently, she is a Sales Engineer, where her primary duties are working with new clients to understand their goals and match them with the appropriate solution for their event. Her primary focus over the course of her career has been in webcasting, working with the leading providers in the industry as well as assisting in the development and enhancement of INXPO’s webcasting product, XPOCAST. Follow her on Twitter @JennLGibson.