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Digital Tools

Events: Getting the word out

We are moving to a world where organisations are looking to engage rather than simply broadcast to their communities (customers, members, stakeholders etc).

Online media is making it increasingly easy for organisations to publicise and manage  these. I put together  a deck recently looking at some of the more prominent solutions as well as an emerging platform. This doesn’t propose to provide a comprehensive list but it does showcase some of the more prominent solutions and business models.

Meetup and Facebook provide social networks with added on meeting functionality, facilitating the process of recruiting participants. The flip side to the coin is that these options  are also keen to keep providers locked in making movement to other platforms more difficult.

Meetup differs from the majority of other providers in charging users a monthly subscription regardless of whether events take place.

An interesting alternative to this approach is Microco.sm forum platforim which provides event functionality and data portability but doesn’t come with the inbuilt  audience of say Facebook or Meetup.

Eventbrite is the most widely recognised of the online ticketing providers and it has looked to capitalise on its popularity by providing event organisers with an additional channel to publicise their events through its website and mobile apps.

Eventbrite doesn’t charge for free events, making it easier for event providers to start small then  graduate to paid events. I’ve also profiled eventbee but among the other more well known providers which I haven’t covered are guestlistRegOnline and eventsbot.

All the options with the exception of Event Espresso are hosted applications, minimising users technical needs but also arguably reducing the options for customisation. Event Espresso requires users to licence the software rather than charging users on the basis of ticket purchases made.

A new entrant into the field is Attending.io, from London based startup Makeshift that’s looking to provide a stripped back user friendly alternative for organisers of free events. Attending.io does away with QR codes, entry manager apps and APIs, instead providing an uncluttered device agnostic  platform which allowd you to quickly get your word out.

Slideshare presentation below gives you a run through of each of the mentioned platforms.

Feel free to provide your own commentary on these and other alternatives in the comments section.

The featured image is by Russian artist Morik in Perm, Russia and was found on Graffuturism.

 

Categories
Digital Tools

The Forum is Dead, Long Live the Forum!

We get a lot of coverage of ‘the next big thing’ in the media, creating a  hype cycle which all too often leads to the trough of disillusionment as consumers find services that don’t fulfill consumers’ expectations or they simply move on to the next service to to be championed.

This is particularly apparent in the social media sector where we have seen many services emerge and decline. Among the winners and losers are Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and more recently, the emergence of mobile centred channels such as Tinder, Snapchat, Instagram and WeChat.

Predating what we now generally know as social media where bulletin boards which evolved into what we now know as internet forums. These typically provided an open environment based around particular interests with conversational threads which discussions can coalesce around.

The growth of social media has taken much of the media’s attention away from internet forums with the possible exception of Reddit which is something of a special case. But forums continue to play an important role in crowdsourcing expertise, particular in more specialised areas where knowledge is evolving and/or far from formalised.

The typically open and searchable nature of the content makes it easy for the novice user to see if content is available and post a query should the answer not be available (albeit at the risk of being flamed). Wikipedia plays a similar role in capturing and ultimately formalising information and Quora (and arguably Twitter) offers a Q&A platform. What these mediums arguably don’t have is a passionate community of interest that can be readily reached by the uninitiated.

Online forums have also provided an important bridge between the virtual and physical, as online communities move into real world spaces.  I can remember clearly the trepidation of going to my first LFGSS forum gathering with the inevitable ‘what’s your forum name?’ heard many times.

But forums also have considerable utility for organisations as well as communities of interest. Research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University published in the Journal of Marketing Research pointed to the value of online forums including those run by the brands themselves as Pratik Dholakiya comments:

In other words, it would be extremely foolish to assume that the traditional media coverage was more important than the community activity. In reality, sales were being primarily driven by community activity, reflecting what we learned in the first study above. Just as importantly, blog and traditional media coverage were being driven, in part, by community activity.

This study also brings with it an important insight: these discussions were taking place on forums, and most of the discussion was taking place on Kiva’s own forum.

Research from one forum does not make for a sound statistical forum and Kiva’s audience will have some different characteristics to the typical Western organisation. But unlike Facebook and Twitter, communities and brands have the opportunity to own their own channel for a relatively nominal sum, avoiding  the social media toll collectors.

A New Forum

Given the  opportunity that online forums provide, it has been exciting to see the launch of Microco.sm. The London-based startup aims to bring the forum forward into a more contemporary social media age with a cleaner interface , adaptive web design, built in events functionality and exportable data.

Microco.sm is not simply resting on its laurels, with a pricing strategy that sees it undercutting the market incumbents whilst offering an enviable feature set.

Microcosm Compare & Pricing

You can get a feel for the platform on the Islington Cycle Club’s forum which was the first client to launch and if you want a more hands on experience, Microco.sm are enabling consumers and organisations to launch their own forum for a month for free. For those of you still hungry for more information about Microco.sm, I’d recommend checking out the ShedCast interview with founder David Kitchen.

The featured image is Fish by Evgeniy Dikson