In Shared Strategies - we hear two fireside chats. The first discussion is around Shared Journeys: How might data enable us to connect, personalize and measure hybrid experiences? We'll hear from Allie Magyar of Hubb, Megan Henshall of Google, Neal Thomas of AWS and Justin Boone of Opus Agency.
In this first episode we also hear group introductions from the full Futures Forum. These are often omitted from the podcast, but for our regular listeners we thought it might help to put voices to names. If you wish to skip ahead to the chat itself, you'll find that at the 10 minute mark.
The next episode will be posted on Monday and will include the group response to this initial fireside chat as well as the second Fireside Chat on Shared Communications: How do we engage attendees and build awareness BEFORE the event? with Rachel Stefan of Snoball, Kim Gishler of CEMA, Mary Healy of Opus Agency and Sara Smith of Microsoft.
Thanks to all of our participants, which included also Megan Schofield of Google, Lauren Telchin Katz of NASA, Julie Lynch of Lynchpin Consulting and Sarah Bondar of The Charles Group.
Welcome to futures , forum, mind sharing ideas and innovations and best practices. This episode is about shared strategies for this conversation. We gathered industry experts from hub , Amazon web services, Microsoft, Google , SEMA , Opus agency, snowball, religion , Penn consulting, NASA, and the Charles group. They were talking about share strategies .Speaker 2:
I'm not going to have a couple of fireside chat groups, which I'm going to kind of meet curated a little bit on the fly here because of that , all I'm saying , we're going to set it up so that we just kind of let the small group talk amongst themselves and we'll listen in with a cup of tea or coffee, or what have a beverage we choose , uh , as that conversation unfolds. And then I think what we'll do is open it up to questions and responses from the group. And I'd identified , uh, a couple of folks that I was going to turn to first. So obviously, as you're hearing the conversation, if you have thoughts and questions, go ahead, put them in the chapter, a note them in some way. Um, but for the first grade , I'm going to turn over to Julie for the first question. So Julie , you're on the spot and the second you agree about 10 to Sarah for the first question there. Well , why don't we take a minute before we launch in to do introductions? I think , uh, I think this roster of folks requires that today we've got some new for new faces, as I said, as well as some folks that we haven't seen for a couple of weeks. So I'm going to start with Rachel, if you want to say hi and introduce yourself to everybody. Yes , sure. I'm the richest fund founder of the snowball event or to influencer marketing. I got for you from Montreal. Um, I've been in industry for the last 20 years , uh , in this, on the side of not the planning, but the marketing of the event. Then helping spread the word and promoting conferences and events around the world. And that's part of my parents agency that I had as an image marketing agency, as well as the startup technology that powers the influencer marketing aspects of marketing , right. To have you here today is we're talking a lot about that pre event communication and that second chat cam , you want to say, hi, hello everyone. I'm Kimberly give sir , I'm the president and CEO of SEMA , which is corporate event marketing association. I've been doing that for about 10 years and past live with HPE and all those other fun gaming companies as well. So we just finished our digital event, which Naomi and Julian , Allie sweated through with us. So we survived. I think I'm still exhausted. So Sarah , you're not alone. I think it was harder than anything we've ever done before. So glad to be here. This is I think my third one. So looking forward to hanging out Meghan with an H I believe that's me. Hello, I'm Megan with an H a Megan Scofield . I work at Google. Um, I'm a creative director and design team lead. So I'm on the design side, but my team , um , maintains and design spaces for Google to run events for our sales org and a bunch of other internal and external folks. So that's, that's me. And then Megan Henshall , um , I also work at Google and Megan with an age I'm just shocked that we haven't crossed paths yet. Um , but I am on the ruse global events team as the account manager. So my role is basically to plug into the various PAs , understand how event start business and then report to the operational teams so that we can support across the organization. Really happy to be here. Nice to meet you all. Thank you, ladies Lauren. Hello ? Hello . Hi everyone. I'm Lauren [inaudible] . I'm the head of exhibits and artifacts for NASA and I am based at agency headquarters in Washington, DC, and I do museum exhibits, but also when we say exhibits, meaning exhibits at large scale events and conferences, and I am a frequent collaborator with Naomi who happy to be here in theater . Yay. Good to see. How's your vacation learn ? You took a little long enough, but I'm grateful to have had one. Thank you. But welcome back. Just simpler .Speaker 3:
Hello. So I am a group creative director and strategist over at Opus agency and experiential marketing agency based on a Portland. And I actually live in LA and yeah, just navigating the fun little world that we're in new hair , as we think about what experiences look like today.Speaker 2:
Awesome. Thank you, Justin, for coming. I'm going to say hello to Mary who's representing set on the Opus team. Yes . Hi everyone. This is my second or third, I believe. Um, but my first one was season two, so I'm a VP of strategy at Opus as well. Uh, Justin's one of my favorites colleagues were in the same group , um, and I'm focused more on the insights and analytics piece and he's a little bit more on the creative strategy. Awesome. It's great to have you guys here today and talking about the strategic side to both kind of journeys at the event and messaging before the event. Um , Sarah, the formal introduction, I said, guys , I'm Sarah Smith. I work at Microsoft research. I've been at Microsoft research for 17 years now. Um, and events virtual is a whole new world for us. We just had our virtual event a couple weeks ago. Um , and it was nearly successful and I'm getting ready to do some more. She says with tongue in cheek as a certain kind of yay , isn't there . So Julie, you want to say hello ? Hello everybody. Uh , Julian Lynch, I run a consulting firm called Lynch pin consulting and experiences. Then I just started back in late 2019 and I used to be an SAP and HP and all sorts of fun things in the tech space. Um , and as Kim said, we just had the glorious wild ride of doing a digital program for event marketers. Um, and it's always fun planning a program for people that are in this business. And , uh , we had a , I think a very successful event, but I have to say and agree with Kim it's more work than the actual physical events that we tend to go do with all the different details and nipping and tucking that you have to do around the digital program. So , but it was a lot of fun and it was a great experience. So yeah . Thank you for having me. Oh, it's great to have you here. And if that answer kind of what this many layered onion, but you keep peeling back and discovering another element that needs to be addressed. That's fun , Sarah I'm so bummed . And with the Charles group, I have been working in events about 14 years, not so many years on digital events though. There , there probably almost as new to us as everyone else. So I'm excited to be in this group, like learning and sharing as we all go on . Great. Thank you. Thanks for being here today. And Neil know , I think I missed, missed you out from the rest.Speaker 4:
Hi, I'm Neil Thompson. Uh I've um, actually , uh, got a , uh , an email , uh , last week that it was my 30th anniversary of starting my first position in the events industry. So I'm from an old friend who has since retired, but she remembered. And so, yeah, so 30 years kind of makes me feel really old. Um, but , uh, you know, it's uh, so yeah, so right now I'm with , uh , AWS , uh, I'm the senior manager of event technology , uh , working on a field in sales events, all of our largeSpeaker 2:
Internal events that we do . That's great to have you here . And Allie, are you , uh , are you with us? I know that you've got your video turned off. You want to say hello to this . It's only because I'm shoving lunch and I face up to my computer. Hi everyone. I'm Allie Mager I'm founder and CEO of hub. So we provide virtual event platforms and event management tools, but I've been in the meetings and events industry on the planner side and now on the technology side for not quite as long as Neil . So almost though 20 years, I'm so excited to be here today. Our world is definitely, look, it looks a lot different than what it did a year ago. Certainly the certainly the us , but it's a , it's a joy for me personally, to be able to navigate this changing world with all of you and to hear from everybody across the industry and just reflect and share what we're learning and share those best practices with one another, because it is a journey of discovery, isn't it? So here's what I'm going to suggest within a jump into Fs , a fireside chat, as it were no requirements this time, Megan and Justin around kind of interpretive dances for fires or any of that kind of business, did a great job. It's going to be slightly more chill approach this time . I like it . I didn't prepare my interpretive dance. I'm glad to hear. I don't need to revamp from last time you did such a great job. So the first group and Megan handful , you're going to have to take a look at the untethered. I chat from Meghan, just to, so that you understand exactly what was going on. That be the first group is going to be talking about data as strategies for how journeys and using data can enable us to connect personalize and measure those hybrid experiences. So the folks I have down for that conversation group are Allie Macchia . So hopefully you got some Meghan Henshaw with Google mail, Thomas of AWS and Justin boon . And then for the rest of us, we'll turn off our screens and mute. While we listen to this conversation, I'm looking at you guys 10 minutes before I pop him and start kind of just stipulating and in your zoom window, that time is rapping to kick off that conversation. Yes. And Naomi, sorry. I am on satellite internet today. And so my , uh, my connection isn't that great. Can you restate what we're talking about again, you had talking about shared journeys. How might data enable us to connect personalize and measure hybrid experiences? So a big topic. I think I look at this and say, where is our world currently going? I mean, I turn on the TV on the weekend. And all of a sudden I get to spend all weekend bingeing Netflix, because it knows me. It knows what I like, what type of content I like. And , and same thing. I spend way too much money on Amazon because it also knows what to put in front of me so that I just hit a button and like, Oh, I bought a bunch of stuff last night I showed up this morning. I'm like, okay, this is so easy. But I think part of that is really thinking about our data enabled future in terms of how we are knowing our audience better, whether that's pre through understanding , um, all of our marketing automation software, how are people consuming content? What are, what are the touch points that they actually engage with and then getting them all the way through the event and then really starting to learn, what content do they touch? How long do they stay in specific sessions? What tracks do they have a preference for? Who are they searching for in the community? You know, one of the things that I love about virtual events is the fact that it's a data goldmine and in person that was super expensive. Like I still remember doing a Microsoft envision show and we wanted to put the beacons on everyone's badge and registration. People were like, I'm taking this crap off my badge. Like, I don't need big brother here. Like no one wanted anyone to know that they were sleeping in or your heart. And that's an instant, first thing that they go to versus in a virtual event, it's just natural to track people's activities. So I think our opportunity is look at innovation right now and look at how our world is changing. Absolutely has a ton of opportunity as it pertains to data. Yeah, I think , um, Allie and I have actually had a couple of conversations about this slightly , but , um, where we're looking at new ways to get data we're at, I don't know if this is across the board, but at Google , um, traditional feedback mechanisms are sort of falling flat with digital audiences. So like surveys, no, one's filling those out. Right. Um, so we're uh, sorry, my toppers, he drank his water too fast. Apologies. Um, so we're looking at some wearable technology that tracks neuroscience, like how can we sort of get some of this data , um, and nontraditional ways moving forward, and then how do we, how can we compare and contrast data for fully, fully digital , um, with hybrid data, once we moved back into physical spaces and have more of a hybrid approach, but super fascinating to see how engagement scores will differ, moving from fully remote into hybrid, and then back to live , um, the behavioral science there is just fascinating to me, but excited about that.Speaker 4:
Yeah, for me, it's, it's, it's interesting what, what we're seeing. I let a lot of the projects that collected the onsite data and , um, the , uh, worked with a lot of different technologies, including facial recognition to connect, you know, to, to track kind of facial expressions and emotion and so forth. And I think the thing that's most interesting , uh, around with virtual , uh, as well as some of the technologies that have come out for physical events is that now what we have is we have the ability to not only do what did I say about myself, but measure more of my behaviors, right. So I can measure how engaged I was with the presentation based on, you know, was I second screening, right? Or was I really kind of paying attention? How many questions did I ask? How much Q and a, how many people did I meet and interact with? Um, you know, in a, in a physical environment, knowing how many , how much networking you did, right? Because that's the big thing we always find is that people say, Oh, the number one reason I come to this event or love this event is the networking. Well, it's really hard to measure the networking, right? Cause you don't, it's not something you can readily measure, but networking within a virtual event becomes I think a lot, much more measurable and much easier to understand. The one thing I will say that we're refining a little bit of a challenge on what the virtual data, we get so much so fast. It's hard to make sense of it in real time where we're not as able to be as use it to produce knowledge quickly. Um , a lot of the virtual environment platforms that we've been using and looking at , um, they're there while they do some clever things with the data around modifying maybe, Oh, you should meet this person. Or you should go to this set session because people that are like you did that, you know, they're doing some of that, but really understanding is your message. Resonating, are people really engaged , um , in, in sort of a real time way is not something that we've seen a lot of functionality , um, with those providers around that.Speaker 2:
Yeah. You bring up an interesting point, Neil, about the data overload. And if it doesn't help us to create a better experience or to be able to make an informed decision about how to engage with someone afterwards, it's almost like, you know, it's , it's like looking at the reports of 9 million different things and then trying to say, okay, what do I do with this? And then you just are so overwhelmed because there's so much versus thinking about, I keep going back to the recommendations that come, like, how do we use that data real time to be able to make recommendations to people not only, you know, static data, like what did we get during registration, but actually saying, okay, this is what they said and reg , but here's what they're doing in the event. So I'm going to surface that new content or new people to connect with because they might've said they were interested in AI, but I actually see that they're participating in searching way more on self driving cars. So I'm in a service that more self driving cars. And so that data can be such an important part of the experience as we get more real time.Speaker 4:
Yeah. One of the things that we're doing is we're looking for our large event in , um, in the, in the early spring is doing recommendation engine for people that you should interact with. And then you can also kind of favorite people. And when you go into a session, it actually, the system shows you who of those people are there and you can actually create spontaneous watch parties. And so you can watch the session, kind of have your own sort of, kind of comments and engagement around it while you're watching that content together. And we feel that that'sSpeaker 3:
Going to be something kind of interesting to keep people engaged so that they're kind of bumping into different people as they're going to break out and actually experiencing that, that sort of a shared experience, which will be so much more engaging than just kind of watching a , a , a prerecorded presentation with Q and a , a lot of what we're talking about is the , the technical opportunities with data, right? And the , what I always find that we do as marketers is jumped to that end point where we're collecting data to inform impact and effectiveness, or, you know, in some of these instances that you're talking about here, we are talking about the real time in the events itself to enhance the experience, to connect people with the right content, to connect people with each other that's valuable. But I always think it's important to look at how data actually is an incredibly valuable tool in terms of developing the content, developing the experience as a whole data is this wonderful storytelling tool that we have at our disposal. And more and more and more, we're getting very comfortable with leveraging data, to tell our stories, to tell more rich experiences, to leverage that data in real time, to make that experience that much more compelling, that much more unique and personalized for each individual that is attending whatever, engaging in this experience in whatever capacity that might be. And I'm almost more curious from shifting the conversation a little bit in that regards. I'm curious what tools we have that we're already starting to use to do some of that, to streamline some of that, to make it a little bit easier, because it's , it's one thing to take a statistic and develop great content out of it, which, you know, we certainly can, but it's another thing to how, how do we now use this world that we're living in to make that something real time and the way that we can bring that to life in a much richer, more compelling manner?Speaker 2:
Yeah. One of the things that I've seen, Justin, that's been interesting from a data collection standpoint is crowdsourced anything, right? Um, and so if we look at one of the things that we've thought about is can we allow attendees to say, great, here is the curated agenda and all the speakers that are here for this curated agenda, but I have a topic that's really important, or I want to do a little spin on this topic. And so being able to create brainstorm sessions, or really it's birds of a feather attending to attending , or you can call it whatever you want. But if it's topic based discussions that is crowdsource , because I feel like that gives us so much powerful information because it's hard to adapt live. Right. So, okay. We see that, you know , attendees want this, like trying to find a speaker for that same day as super tough, but if we can lean into the co-creation with the experts that are attendees to say, Hey, what do you guys want to talk about? Would you be willing to lead a peer to peer discussion about this topic? All of a sudden we can take that real time data. We can promote sessions or repeat sessions we can build on top of it and also utilize the people that are there attending to be able to , um , have those topics and that discussion that's obviously relevant. And so some of that I think can be by incorporating attendees into the experience and having them cocreate versus having it as a I'm the event organizer. I say, what goes, I put all of this in here and really giving a more fluid motion to events. Yeah. So we implemented very early on in working from home, a learning and development path at Google around digital experience. It was obvious early on that people were looking for support in that way. And we created as we went based on feedback, right? Like we're doing a digital events, one Oh one session from there based on your feedback, we'll design the next session deploy pretty quickly. Right. But we don't want to build things out that aren't going to be ultimately what's most valuable to you and the data that has come out of that, I think we invited a hundred people initially and over 6,500 Googlers have either participated in that live or consume the on demand content. And I think it's because they felt heard and they felt like they were actually contributing to what was being built. Um, so I could not agree more. I think cocreation is so critical and digital experiences and that unintended data that we've gotten has actually helped us drive and design offers , um, across our global footprint. So super invaluable.Speaker 3:
Yeah, no, I love the whole co-create creation aspect. And I think what it helps to solve is we help audiences understanding, understand the value of the data that they're providing and the value of the data that we're getting from them. And so now we're solving for a lot of those challenges that you talked about at the very beginning, but why is this on my badge? And I don't want you tracking me in this way. I don't want you tracking every movement you're making. I don't want, you know, you, you feel a constraint. You're , you're more hesitant to supply the information. If you don't know the purpose in which it's being used or the value that you are directly getting out of that, right. That's the argument we always make when it comes to this type of stuff. And so I think when we spin it to this place of co-creation now you're showing that direct value that you're getting from contributing in that way. And so you're going to have your audiences being more inclined to lean in and share a lot more data with you. So I think it , it it's that creative solve that helps us with the problem in the first place.Speaker 2:
And the other thing is, I feel like when you can show someone that you're reacting in a way that makes them feel valued or heard, they feel so much more aligned. It's almost like, Oh, they did this special thing for me. I want to come back to this event. I want to learn here because they feel like they're seen , even if it's 10,000 people, that's the hardest thing for event marketers, right? How do we allow a single person to be seen in a group of 10,000 and the data and the cocreation really helps us to be able to listen, hear and react to that individual. Yeah, well guys, that was, that was a great conversation. I had to get a stat at the , uh, everybody gets so excited and I see everybody's energy pickup. Isn't the moment Allie said, co-creation, you know, it's this exciting possibility for everybody?Speaker 1:
Well, that's all we have time for in today's episode. But in the next episode, we will hear the group continue this discussion about shared journeys and shift to discuss also how strategies for pre event sharing can help to build engagement.