Event managers don’t just have to run the room these days. It’s becoming vital for events to own the online space and integrate digital conversations, data and reactions into the proceedings and follow-up. That's why digital integration for live events is important nowadays.
Small business and NFPs can find it difficult to match the impact that large organisations can generate with custom-built solutions, but there are lots of free tools available that can assist the event manager online.
Here's a roundup of some of the most useful and cost-efficient...
As if we didn’t have enough to do already, event managers don’t just have to run the room these days. It’s becoming vital for events to own the online space and integrate digital conversations, data and reactions into the proceedings and follow-up.
Distributed conversations are now expected at any successful conference, lecture or convention, and the level of engagement beyond the room is rapidly emerging as a benchmark of performance.
However, many events are run on a shoestring, and small business and NFPs can find it difficult to match the impact that large organisations can generate with custom-built tools. Platforms are making it increasingly difficult to access and broadcast data without the need for developer middle-men, but there are lots of tools still available that can assist the event manager online.
(Bear with me as we run over the registration platforms available – skip ahead to social media aggregation and livestreaming if you're a seasoned EventBrite user.)
Gathering registrations online can be a huge timesaver. Gone are the days (thank god) of lengthy email chains and back-and-forward exchanges of confirmation, multi-sheet excel waiting lists and fraught mail merges.
Many online event tools offer fully-integrated solutions from sending the invites to printing the guest list. The most fully-featured of these is EventBrite, a San Fransisco-based platform that will allow you enormous flexibility in how your event is run.
The best part of EventBrite is that if your event is free, then EventBrite is free. The event management back-end will allow you to manage capacity, cancellations, wait-listing and mass communications with ease. The interface is also able to provide powerful metrics on the drivers bringing traffic to your event page, participant survey tools and audience demographics that can assist you in the lead up to and after your event.
If your event is paid, EventBrite charges 2.5% of the ticket cost, plus a fee of 99c per ticket. There’s also another 3% on top as a credit card fee, and you can choose to have your participants pay, or subtract these charges from your takings.
If you are looking for a cheaper if slightly less flashy solution, the Australian-based platform TryBooking is aimed at community and NFP groups. Again, if your event is free then it’s free to use.
If you’re collecting payment, TryBooking charges 30c per ticket plus another 2.1% +50c credit card fee – so, cheaper than EventBrite. As another bonus, if your organisation is a charity working in the fields of medical research, poverty or relief aid that is endorsed to receive tax concessions (aka TCC), then TryBooking will donate all fees collected back to you.
Social Media Aggregation
Wall-sized twitter feeds, lasers forming impressionist images of attendees, instagram videos playing on screens made of smoke. It’s all too much really. Here are some cheap or free tools to use at your event to collect and visualise social media data.
Visible Tweets is a browser-based app that will automatically curate and display tweets under a certain hashtag or topic in a clean, dynamic interface that’s easy to adapt for full-screen use on a screen or projector. Keep in mind though – you have no control over exactly what gets displayed, so profanity or inappropriate content may find its way onto your live feed.
LiveTweetApp is an online platform that provides more control over what appears on your timeline. The app allows you to enter a search, then select up to 30 tweets at a time that you want to appear, while rejecting others. There is a free version that provides limited customisability for your twitter display.
Custom logos, sponsor logos and background images require a paid upgrade “pack” that gives you advanced features for 72 hours.
Eventstagr.am is an online instagram aggregation platform. The bronze “free” option will allow you to aggregate up to 500 photos over a week-long timespan for display over six hours. The display is designed for fullscreen including the photo, username and profile picture of contributors, and automatically generated instructions for viewers.
Google+ Hangouts on Air now allow you to livestream for free using a Google Account connected to a YouTube account. This tool works very well for static, single camera images and has add-ons for screen sharing, Q&As and comments, as well as automatically saving your livestream. It requires some finnicking to connect your accounts and verify them, but if you’re a Google+ fan, you will find its social integration easy to use.
Livestream.com offers a free account level that offers browser-based, uncustomised streaming through their own website. Viewers need to create a free livestream account to view your event, but they offer a great free tool for effectively utilising any camera(s) you can connect to your computer.
Ustream offers a similar service to Livestream, though its free account level is supported by ads that will cut into your stream.
Go Over the Top
What if you’ve been blessed with an event budget that Zeus himself would envy? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of crazy stuff for you to spend on.
Nametags a bore? Lanyards causing narcolepsy? Jazz your ID solutions up with OLED video nametags and never look someone in the eye again!
Instaprint will rent you four small printers that automatically pull photos from tag streams in instagram and print them in real time at your event.
LiveU offers a backpack that will allow you to stream video from anywhere in the world you can get wifi or 3G coverage.
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