Web Strategy: Overlaying Social Media for your Corporate Events

What happens in real life echoes online
For those that are Corporate Event Managers or Integrated Marketing professionals this post is intended as a resource for your 2007 planning.

Social Media will be an overlay to many of your corporate communications, both internally and externally by year’s end. This was my prediction in my recent podcast with colleague Jennifer Jones.

In the past few months, I’ve noticed a trending in Fortune 500 companies integrating Bloggers, Podcasters, Viral Video at events. In early 2006, there was fear and caution from the this unknown medium, but I see it taking hold now.

Here’s how smart corporations are benefiting from Social Media

Here’s a few examples of how corporations can benefit from embracing social media and those that have voices about your market.


Example 1: Bloggers and Corporations meet in real life

Some companies have figured out that executives and product teams at a corporation can greatly benefit from meeting with passion bloggers in a particular industry. I helped to coordinate the Hitachi Data Systems meeting with the CEO and the Web 2.0 crowd (of course most are bloggers), Microsoft invited me to their IE7 launch with their product team, last week, Michael Dell hosted a roundtable, and colleague Robert Scoble was invited to have lunch with Bill Gates.

If you do this correctly, not only will you benefit from word of mouth from your influencer community, but you’ll also be able to listen to those that matter to build better products and services.

Examples 2: Interactive Media extends with Social Media
Wherever you’re deploying interactive events, booths, or online interaction, consider extending it to social media.

Intel, A Podtech client, had one of the most innovative booths at CES. They had a green screen where conference attendees could get on stage, and dance to music. The video was recorded and then edited by Adobe software to simulate the ‘Multiply’ dance campaign that we all know. The videos were then shared on popular video site YouTube. You can see the nearly 200 videos created by this event on YouTube. What a great example of using interactive media, and then sharing it socially to extend across the internet.

Update: Here’s a great example of this medium being shared on social sites, Michael Johnson, a PodTech colleague shows us his moves.

Example 3: Sponsor and Interact Blogger Lounges and Events

Many companies have been sponsoring Blogger Lounges, which may involve a third party Social media company that has connections with the blogging community. Often the sponsorship includes branding opportunities, product demos, and the opportunity for engineers or executives to interact with the consumers that have a voice and influence others.

I recently was able to experience this first hand at the Blog Business Summit’s Blogger Party event sponsored by Monster, Broadclip, OQO, and PR Web.

Of course, my own company PodTech also threw BlogHaus, which was sponsored by Seagate, Microsoft and AMD and others. Seagate’s own CEO was able to interface with media creators, and one attendee called him…completely accessible and anything but what you’d expect out of guy who runs a company of the scale of Seagate…” That’s powerful.

Challenges
Evangelizing the benefit of doing this may be a challenge within the organization, awareness varies from company to company and industry to industry. It’s likely there’s a customer advocate within your company that will lead the evangelical charge. Having been through this I know what that’s like, you’ve got my support.

You’ll also need to be very transparent in how you do this, don’t ever for a moment be covert in participating in this. It’s also recommended you ask Bloggers before sending them products. Trust is hard to build, but can leave quickly.

Of course, there is going to be collisions as not all traditional media and analysts are embracing that the people they’ve been writing for are now part of the same media room. In the end, there’s enough room for everyone, it will integrate over time.

Next Steps

1) Does your company already have a blogger relations group? Identify who this group is and loop them in.

2) Forward this post to your Events Manager and Integrated Marketing team, ask them how they are integrating Social media with events, and encourage them to listen in to the conversation that’s happening about their marketplace.

3) Be sure to listen to what’s being said about your company by using tools like Technorati, Google Blog search and add feeds to your feedreader. Start to listen and then reach out to bloggers, podcasters, vloggers in your industry.

4) Have a discussion internally to figure out which of the above strategies would be great for your next event, plan, implement and measure. Invite those that influence to engage in your events, give them full access as you would other press, media or analysts, treat them with respect.

5) Try to do this before your competitors do.

In summary, you can get more mileage from your corporate events by including those that are already publishing and relevant to your audience. Involve them, include them and make them part of your event.

I really hope this was helpful please leave a comment or questions if you’ve any additional suggestions, I look to be your resource.