Events have been hit hard. The perfect storm of the down economy, the stigma of business meeting travel, and the advance of technology have led to a sudden change in the events industry. Less expensive unconferences and virtual conferences are booming. Virtual components are being added to in-person conferences to help reach those who cannot travel.
Thanks to many great online tools, it is possible to collaborate and contribute in meaningful ways without attending in-person. There are higher-end tools like The Social Collective, Pathable, and Crowdvine that have a nice feature set, but also an accompanying price tag. Twitter is free and can be used without those tools, but takes some organizing:
- A blog post about a study of how Twitter is being used at conferences
- A paper: comprehensive academic view of Twitter use for conferences
- A great post from Travolution Summit 2009 about their Twitter use experience)
If you want to provide a virtual audience with content richer than Twitter’s 140 character information nuggets, there are new products emerging. They not only harness the power of Twitter, but also combine a video/audio feed so that everyone can discuss the same content from wherever they are. Your virtual audience will have a much stronger “feel” for your conference content.
twebevent.com is one such product. It allows you to present your brand as the host, stream the live or recorded video, and combine it with a Twitter Chat using whatever Hashtag you prefer…..all for FREE. twebevent is a new start-up so you may encounter some blips, but if you use the customer feedback (blue button on the right edge of their page), you can give your opinions for product direction.
twebevent provides the :mashup” environment, but a host still need to find a way to video capture and stream. Companies like Speaker Interactive can help with those logistics. Products like ustream.tv and livestream.com can handle the live streaming. Qik will even live stream from your phone. YouTube and Vimeo are two good options for uploading recorded video. In any of those cases, just copy the embed code to a twebevent and it will appear for your audience.
If you prefer to keep things really simple, avoid the complexities of video and just open up a phone bridge through providers like talkshoe or blogcastradio and connect the audio stream embed into the twebevent.
If anyone has any questions or comments, I am happy to connect. If you want to read more, check out the lessons learned from the first twebevent live trial or try my previous blog posts re: “Future Conferences” part 1 and part 2.