This is a guest post by a friend and colleague Sally Hadidi. Sally Organises and runs import.io’s world famous and much envied Events, like the the Data Summit, and Big Data debates, and this is her take on real-time analytics for the events space. – Dan

There is only one thing I care about when running an event: interacting with the audience. Events are a nerve-wracking, exciting overflow of emotions. You spend ages planning for one single day in the hopes that it doesn’t epically go to shit. At this point you have all the speaker’s content down, catering will be booked in the appropriate time slot, wine will be ordered to maximize merriment and the agenda will be planned down to a tee. You’ll no doubt be buzzing around with final prep, or fixing any issues, so here are the best ways to gather some bombdiggity real-time data to ensure make the most of this emotional and epic saga.

Social: Follow the hashtag

For me, only two social medias actually matter during a live event: Twitter and instagram. People have often asked me how important I think Facebook engagement is during an event and while it might be excellent for pushing ticket sales, finding speakers, and getting views on promo blog posts I mentally refer to it as ‘SuckBook’ for engaging real-time conversations and garnering likes and shares.

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Twitter-gram (as I like to refer to them) is the bees knees for opinionated minds, keen to get in the hashtag and make their point loud and clear. Take NBC’s Peter Pan Live. Even though the production was labeled boring, out-of-date and a general disaster, #PeterPanLive trended across Twitter with witty one liners clogging up the feeds.

Now, I’m not trying to encourage people to put on an event in the hopes that it’s so terrible it might actually garner some hype. However, 73% of people surveyed by Microsoft stated that engaging on Twitter or instagram during an event made them less likely to become distracted. Why? Because they need to pay attention to the content in order to actively engage in the conversation. So even something as terrible as the dialogue in Peter Pan can be requoted thousands of times in a matter of seconds.

My main tips and tricks to make the most of your hashtag:

  1. Pretty basic stuff, but make sure to come up with a catchy, short and sweet hashtag that doesn’t require a thesaurus and spell-check . . . or else people aint gonna tweet it!
  2. Run a competition where the hashtag is heavily involved. If people can win prizes they will tweet!
  3. Don’t be put off if any feedback is negative, but reply to people quickly to ensure the matter is in hand and you appreciate the feedback.
  4. Use Tweet Archivist to track Twitter conversation before, during and after your event giving you the essential analytics about hashtags and tweets.

Audience Feedback: My Favourite apps

I’m obsessed with audience feedback. It’s slightly sadomasochistic. Even when I am rushing around and speaking to people on the phone also love exploring any new apps or tools on the market that might pump up the volume and make feedback even easier to use. Here are my 2 hot pick apps of the moment.

Yapp: Create a mobile app in minutes

Fellow data lover and Yapp community manager, Katelyn Trela, offered to build out an app for my last import.io user onference, the Data Summit, in London. All I had to do was send along the event details, timetables, speakers and, bom-diggity, in a couple of hours I had a fully functioning app that all of my attendees could use to tweet, share pictures, answer questions and send feedback – all in real-time.

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‘Quick, easy, cheap and effective’ spring to mind whenever I recommend this little gem. It took no time to build, with virtually zero maintenance. I could watch live poll results, actively engage in the conversation, and hold live competitions.

Yapp rocks a freemium model, so expect the free template to be extremely basic. I should also note that the app is a little tricky to download. Yapp creates mobile apps WITHIN their own app. This means everyone has to download Yapp before they can download your event app. Bit of pain, but honestly, we had a 40% download rate the day we sent the email with download instructions and, by the end of the day, 80% of the attendees had downloaded and used it. I’m calling success on this bad boy.

Bing Pulse: Microsoft’s polling service

‘Turn Distraction into Action.’ – That is the sexy tagline of tech giants, Microsoft’s, new Big Pulse that was finally released to the public on Friday 5th December. Although I have never used Big Pulse at my events, a few of my friends working over at large companies have highly recommended it.

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Pulse’s real-time voting, polling, and social media integration is SUPER easy to integrate into your event website and any other broadcasting channels. Any feedback I have heard includes how easy it is for your audience to use on on any device, so you’re bound to get max adoption.

The feature that gets me super pumped about Pulse is when the audience members start voting, they’re encouraged to share personal information which is a goldmine for any event organiser. You can start to use data to better understand how gender, age or job title impacts feedback, allowing you to better develop future content and pick appropriate speakers.

It’s also awesome if your event includes debates of panels, since pulse makes it easy for you to ask your audience if they agree / disagree. So, thanks Microsoft. This tool is number 1 on my list of tool to use at my next Data Summit in spring 2015.

Tips for getting awesome live analytics

  • Follow and Analyze the Hashtag: Make sure I can spell it and don’t make it boring!
  • Hold competitions to get people talking across socials.
  • Look for new technology that provides stronger data and is super easy for the audience to absentmindedly use.
  • Look for feedback in every part of the event, not just the overall experience.
  • And even though it might make you cry, negative feedback is useful feedback!

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