The killer app for marketing B2B events is nothing less than a mobile app.
Attendees are already using mobile apps to network digitally at conferences and trade shows so why not make mobile part of your digital marketing strategy at B2B events and transform your events into connected communities, that drive business outcomes?
Mobile B2B Event Strategy
With a such a qualified audience posting status updates during user conferences, corporate road shows, customer advisory boards, partner conferences and trade shows, there is probably no easier way to find and connect with your industry as there is during live B2B events.
B2B event marketing is a great opportunity for brands to build long term, meaningful relationships and conduct B2B lead generation campaigns in a target rich environment.
With the help of event hashtags on Twitter, the vibrant social media back channel at most B2B events makes prospects and social influencers particularly easy to identify.
Mobile savvy sales and marketing pros are extending the reach of their experiential marketing mix via mobile apps at product launches, user conferences and other B2B events.
So powerful is the prospect of mobile social networking at B2B events that a number of conference organizers have already taken a stab at building their own, branded mobile apps.
So far, the results have been mixed. Because just like any other social media channel, those that go the distance prevail.
That means using technology to add value to the stream, whether it’s through content marketing, community management or automation, requires follow through.
You’ve got to conference attendees something of value, be it ease-of-use, networking with a targeted community or the ability to engage in a niche back and forth without spamming your friends and family.
Mobile Apps at Conferences
B2B event marketers can use mobile apps to help attendees get more out of a trade show or conference.
They can also give organizers a way to generate anticipation and excitement before during and after B2B events.
For an app to get used at a B2B event, it’s got to provide more than just the program schedule, speaker bios and basic event info.
Today’s most successful B2B event mobile apps enable interactions, both in popular social media, and via partitioned, semi-exclusive spaces.
But what exactly does that mean?
And what specifically does it take to succeed and delivery a truly useful B2B social media mobile app?
Here’s my B2B event mobile app requirements punch list:
- Social Lead Gen Filter – Perhaps the single, biggest benefit a mobile app can offer event attendees is the chance to see if anyone they know is registered to be there. Social sync gives us a way to see if any of our Linkedin connections, Twitter followers or Facebook friends are planning on attending. Working with Janrain (recently acquired by Akamai) the mobile app at SXSW allows attendees to cross-reference their social networks with registered attendees to see if any of their social network connections will be attending.
- Make Personal Account Posting Optional – It’s helpful to have the option to publish to Twitter or Linkedin from a branded, mobile app, but don’t force the user to do so. Attendees and delegates may want to use your B2B events mobile app to have a segmented conversation with other industry contacts without carpet bombing their friends and family with too much business chatter. Not that they would need to keep those conversations private, but they should be able to decide, on a post per post basis, what they want on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook, and which social posts they like segmented to people at the event.
- Build Long Term Relationships – It may be tougher to get people to download and invest their time in a mobile app for a single event. From a B2B social media marketing standpoint, the whole idea of the app is to generate excitement for the event before it happens, and extend that excitement after it’s finished. If you continue to use the app to distribute useful and timely information, mobile app marketing at B2B events is a long term play. You’ve got an unique opportunity to nurture your attendees after your event doors have closed. Cisco Events used Double Dutch to build a useful app for extending the reach of B2B events via digital.
- Location Based Social Networking – B2B mobile apps can also be used to invite attendees to “check-in” on their mobile device at keynotes, workshops, seminars and panels. This can be a great way to drive traffic to exhibitors or sessions or assign continuing education credits by displaying unique QR codes at the beginning and end of each session. Or encourage attendees to check-in at exhibitors booths by building a QR code reader into your app and offering incentives to attendees for check-ins.
- Auto Generate Official Event Hashtag – For those attendees who choose to publish their shares from your mobile app to their Twitter stream, make sure you give them the option to include the conference hashtag in their tweet. If it’s an internal company training event, use different QR Codes on the last slide of every presentation deck and use incentives, like leaderboard listings and other event privileges, to attendees who collect the most QR codes.
- Syndicate the Photo Opp – In the old days, trade show exhibitors would book a celebrity to come by their booth at B2B events for photo opps. Today it would by silly to do something like that without integrating social to extend the reach via the web. Make sure your app offers a way for people to share photos and video among conference attendees and easily publish them to Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Witht his type of functionality, my cardinal rule is ease of use drives adoption. Mobile app functionality needs to stupid simple, or it won’t get used.
- Include Notifications – Don’t force attendees to open the app and search for new activity. Offer standard notification options and make darn sure you include badge notifications.
- Build in Social Networking Filters – The value of syncing your Linkedin account with your Twitter account is not so much the ability to syndicate tweets to Linkedin, but rather to search the tweets of other Linkedin users by industry, geography, company and time frame. If your app can pull in and display all the social networking activity of other attendees at B2B events, that’s useful, even after the event is over, because it serves as a filter to bring social networking activity of a particular community into focus.
- Offer Keyword and Influencer Search – B2B decision makers in different parts of a company have different priorities. Give users the ability to isolate the discussions they’re most interested in by keyword or phrase. Include the ability to filter by Instagram and Twitter followers, so attendees can see who the online influencers are and how they drive engagement.
The Cisco Events app that I mentioned earlier offer many of these features.
But if I had one piece of criticism for the Cisco App, it would be that at the time of this writing, the Cisco app offered social sync for Facebook and Twitter, but not Linkedin, which is, in my opinion, the most important network at B2B events for marketers.
Based on my briefing with Double Dutch, this is something they’ll be adding soon soon. In fact, some time has transpired since we spoke, so it may be running.
If you’d like to hear my briefing with Double Dutch, I released it as a podcast at On the Record…Online.
And if you want more B2B digital marketing advise, check out my book Social Marketing to the Business Customer.
It’s a deep dive into every aspect of B2B lead generation, from winning buy-in from disengaged managers and clients to B2B search optimization and landing pages to setting up and managing an opportunity pipeline.
I hope you find my B2B events mobile app features requirements list helpful. What features did I miss and what B2B mobile apps do you think are most effective.