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There have been a number of important technology stories over this past month that are of particular interest to our industry – from the growing popularity of intelligent chatbots to the launch of Facebook’s own version of ‘Snapchat Stories’.  We also saw one of the first major data security incidents in our industry to date – once again raising the issue of whether we’re all doing enough to keep valuable attendee information from getting into the wrong hands.

Have a look at what you may have missed:

BizBash: SXSW’s New Chatbot Answered More Than 56,000 Questions from Attendees

Chatbots are officially here.  This month, South by Southwest used its own chatbot known as ‘Abby’ to provide attendees with automated concierge-style assistance on demand. More than 16,000 app users submitted 56,000 unique questions to the bot over the first 7 days of the conferences and festivals, with questions including things like ‘What time is Joe Biden speaking?’ to ‘What hip-hop artists are playing on Wednesday?’ and ‘Where can I find tacos?’.

Chatbots like Abby are one of the newest options for planners looking for easy, instant and personalised communication with event attendees. And it’s pretty simple to use – all attendees have to do is submit questions via text or voice command to receive an instant response.  In this particular case, the bot was programmed using the entire event database, which included information on more than 6,000 sessions and 600 venues, as well as input from SXSW’s help desk staff regarding the most common questions they receive. The chatbot made good use of emojis too – for example, whenever an attendee texted the rainbow emoji, they would get a list of sessions focusing on diversity.   The taco emoji would produce a list of taco restaurants and so on.  All in all, definitely an interesting case study on how chatbots are evolving in our industry.  Read more here.

Forbes: 10 Powerful Apps to Help You Manage Email Like a Boss

Email is such a big part of an event planner’s life. We use it for communication, marketing, researching, negotiating – the list is endless really.  Email, however, can also get very distracting and destructive.  Luckily, technology today is designed to help you adopt effective management habits and process email faster with smart filtering, artificial intelligence and automation.

This article from Forbes puts together a great list of 10 powerful apps that can help you stay on top of your emails – and most of them are free.  Some of the apps have features that understand which of your emails are the most important and pops them on the top of the list.  Some have a bigger focus on data security by offering end-to-end encryption, while others have things like reminders and automatic attachments.  Have a look at the full list here and see if there’s something that suits you.

Adweek: Facebook Messenger’s Answer to Snapchat Stories is Officially Here

If Facebook users are important for your events, then this could be of interest to you. Messenger Day, Facebook Messenger’s answer to Snapchat Stories, was officially rolled out this month to iOS and Android users worldwide. The feature allows users to curate photos and videos in a single destination and choose who to share their Messenger Day creations with – and like Snapchat, everything disappears after 24 hours.

So how can we apply Messenger Day to event marketing?  Much like Snapchat, you can use it to create a series of images or videos showing the progress of the preparation for your event, or aspects of an event that your attendees will not want to miss, or even ads for your event. You can use it to document all the big things at your event – from your keynotes speakers to the amazing cocktails you’re be serving at the networking party.  Have a look at the article from Adweek here, which gives you a simple step-by-step guide on how to get started.

Event MB: Coachella Website Data Breach – What Eventprofs Can Do to Mitigate Risk

This month, reports came out of user data from Coachella’s website being offered for sale on the dark web, with hackers having gained access to names, email address, phone numbers and birthdates. According to this article from Event MB, the breach does highlight the constant threat faced by any organisation holding user data on the web, which technically speaking, makes almost every event website a potential target. Statistically speaking however, for most events, it’s still unlikely to be a problem. A word of warning though, it seems the bigger your event, the more likely the risk. Hackers are also seeking financial gain, so the more data you have, the more valuable it is for them.

The article looks into the kind of measures event planners can take to prevent breaches from happening -including investing in good security software, password encryptions and detaching data from any financial data. It also tells you what to do if a breach does happen.  Eventsforce conducted its own data security study last year, which exposed a number of important vulnerability areas that event planners should be paying greater attention to – from email communications and managing event system passwords to where and how you should be storing your event data. Have a look at their infographic outlining six preventative tactics that greatly improve security around your event data:

Infographic: 6 Easy Ways of Keeping Your Event Data Safe.

TechCrunch: Twitter Launches New Tool for Live Video Streaming

Twitter is throwing the doors open to anyone that wants to stream their content (or event) on Twitter in order to raise brand awareness or boost its audience, without having to first negotiate with Twitter for the rights to live stream to the network. Essentially, Twitter’s new Producer API is an answer to Facebooks’ own Live API, which is today offered to news organisations, brands, celebrities and other developers as a means of live streaming video to Facebook on mobile and web.  Twitter’s entry could have some appeal for event planners in the live events business, because Twitter’s brand is associated with breaking news and other real-time content – more so than Facebook and other social networks. For those interested in early access to the Producer API, you can sign up for the private beta here.

The Exhibitor:  How to Master Post Show Videos

Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.  So, if you have video content, use it.  It is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for promoting your events.  It’s also a good way of engaging with attendees after an event (See: 8 Ways of Engaging with Attendees AFTER an event). But how do you produce good video content and where do you start?

This is a good advisory piece from The Exhibitor which outlines all the steps you need to think about when planning video content around your event, with tips on what to shoot, durations, who should do it, soundtrack and distribution.  For other ideas on how you can use videos around your events, have a look here.


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