Posts Tagged ‘Conference’

A quick update to get caught up…

2 October, 2008

I’ve had some sort of virus for the last couple of weeks… I gave in and slept for a couple of days earlier this week and seem to be a bit better (yay!). I’ve got a few things to blog about so I’ll try and get caught up over the next day or so.

Our conference community.

Adoption has been reasonable, we’re still just over a week away from the conference and we have around 80 members. I’m pretty happy with that, it is not huge but it is a good start. The problem is there is not a lot of interaction going on, a lot of people have poked their heads in but are not really saying anything. We’ve got several presenters who are going to run groups and try to kick off some discussions in there, unfortunately due to ‘the virus’ we’re a little behind in getting them all set up. Hopefully it won’t have too much of an impact. I’ll be watching with interest over the next couple of weeks as we get into the conference.

A step into the unknown…

19 September, 2008

A little while a go I hit the publish button on the Conference social network we have been working on for the last 6 months. Exciting yet scary stuff!

To be honest I have no idea how this is going to pan out. We’ve got a pretty good promotional plan, we have  engagement with the conference program and we have several presenters lined up to participate in the network. Still I wonder if it will work. Our audience is pretty conservative mostly accounting and finance types, I get the feeling that will mean they will come in and have a look but probably won’t participate very much. Our corporate blogs are a classic example, while the traffic on this blog is approximately 10% of the average traffic of our two main corporate blogs, I average a comment about every second or third post, where our corporate blogs average a comment  about every 5 – 6 posts.

I would put that down to the fact that most of the comments here tend to come from people who I either know or have interacted with via their own blogs or twitter, but I think there may also be something in the demographic, most of the people who read this at least have an interest in social media. That would seem to make them more likely to fill the ‘critic’ role, than an accountant or finance manager that is in their mid 30’s to mid 50’s (the bulk of our customer base).

It will be very interesting indeed to see if they embrace the concept. I’ll keep posting regularly about how it is going and what we are learning.

AAAARRRHHHH!!!!!!!! – My bookcase is floating!

16 May, 2008

I was lucky enough to attend a 1 day training session, exploring Second Life on Monday. I am totally bewildered when it comes to second life, I really don’t get it. Nonetheless the opportunity came up to go to the session run by Kathryn Greenhill from Murdoch uni in Perth. I like Kathryn’s blog and the idea of spending a day out of the office learning to play a computer game was pretty appealing, so I went in ready to be convinced of Second Life’s value to the modern organisation.

It’s fair to say I still don’t get it. That is no slight on Kathryn’s session, it was great! She gave us loads of time to play and explore, and I had lots fun learning to fly and to make the bookcase I built, float and spin above the ground.

The thing I can’t work out is, what benefits SL can offer to knowledge workers? I can see the value in manual training such as occupational health and safety hazard assessment but sitting watching an animated person like me talk to another animated person just doesn’t seem to be that much better than a phone call, video conference or webinar.

Below I have listed my “Challenges that must be overcome to make SL (or similar) revolutionary”

  • I found it quite difficult to navigate around, this concerns me as I would rate myself as very computer literate, this was also observed by Joe Sanchez’ Amazing Race students.
  • We found it to be pretty unreliable. During the day I had to restart the second life app around 8 times. Kathryn was able to tweak the settings a little to make it use less bandwidth and thus run a little more reliably, but I had a similar experience on my Mac at home, so I worry about non technical users with hardware that is not cutting edge.
  • Big chunky computers are required and you need to download and install an application. Once we can run this in a browser it will open up access to a much broader audience.
  • Getting in to SL takes ages! You need to register, create your avatar, customise your avatar… it’s pretty fiddly.
  • If using it internally, we could create a group of ‘stock avatars’, but if conducting a meeting or training session in SL we’ll need a cheat sheet to work out who is who! (Avatar names appear in SL – not real ones).
  • We need to decide why virtual worlds are substantially better than other communication options. They take more effort so they need to provide value for that effort.

All of that said we are going to continue with our plans to experiment with SL at an upcoming conference. I really do support  this. Kathryn made the point that Virtual Worlds are not yet a mature technology (demonstrated by the number of times the app crashed during the day). There is a lot of evolving to occur before the broader population is ready to communicate  regularly via this medium.

That is why it is worth continuing to experiment, these tools will get easier to use and become more stable, so we might as well learn about them now. The question is will our customer base embrace this? We are throwing a lot of stuff at them this year blogs, wikis and  social networks, will this be overload?

If I build it will they come?

30 April, 2008

Over the last couple of days Tony Karrer has posted some interesting musings on the lack of engagement in conference social networks he has encountered. This got my attention as one of my major deliverables for the year is to create a social network for an upcoming conference!

He talks about the 90 / 9 / 1% rule which states of 100 potential users:

  • 90 will lurk (read with no active participation)
  • 9 will participate in a limited fashion (maybe rate or comment periodically)
  • 1 will regularly post content

The bottom line being:

To get 10 active content contributors, you need an audience of size 1,000.

He makes the picture even more depressing by reminding us that a large proportion of those 1000 potential users are unlikely to ever even register for the social networking system!

So how do I manage to create an active community? Firstly I have numbers on my side we have over 10,000 individual delegates attending the various local versions of the conference, so by the maths described above I’m looking at around 100 creators…that’s not a bad starting point (and to be honest I’d be pretty happy if we manage that), but really we want to get that 1% a little higher.

I think (perhaps hope is a better word) we can, if we can interlink the social network with the conference program and the exhibitions in the trades hall.

So what am I proposing? 4 words:

  • Promotion
  • Education
  • Integration
  • Support

The ‘extended’ features, need to be promoted from the first item of marketing collateral to the last. A consistent message articulating a clear value proposition must be heard be everyone who registers for a session.

We need to educate our delegates on how to make use of the tools, I’m thinking captivate presentations on demand and perhaps even live webinars and demonstrations at the conference.

We’ve got tightly integrate the social network into the program. Presenters will be encouraged to post follow up discussion, resources or further reading online at the conclusion of sessions (within a couple of hours – that means we need good infrastructure on site). Several sessions should to be ‘optimised’ around feedback obtained from delegates via the social network prior to the event (and this needs to be promoted in the marketing material). We should also organize networking events to allow online social networkers to meet f2f.

Finally we must support delegates so that they feel comfortable to contribute, if we leave them to their own devices, we’re going to be disappointed. Community mentors need to be identified to welcome new members, answer questions and explain the lay of the land.

That’s my list, the big questions are, can all of these initiatives be pulled off? If they can, will they make any difference? Finally do a bunch of finance people really want to network online? They say they do but theory is very different to practice.

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