This month’s round up of top tech stories has a big focus on social media. From some of the new ways businesses are using social networks to engage with audiences to new features from both Facebook and LinkedIn that promise to boost your event marketing activities.  We also take a look at the recent Marriott data breach and what it means for our industry when it comes to the safety of attendee data – along with some great applications of VR, AR and hologram technology.

Have a look at the top event tech stories you don’t want to miss:

AdWeek: 5 Social Media Trends Taking Hold in 2019

If you want to get more out of social media around your events, then pay attention.  Social media management platform, Hootsuite, has just released its annual report outlining 5 social trends it sees for 2019 and there’s lots of interesting takeaways.  Growing concerns around privacy, for example, have led people to use more private channels like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – creating unique opportunities for businesses to develop 1:1 relationships with customers, particularly as those customers increasingly prefer messaging for interactions like support.  We can already see this trend in our industry with chatbots and their unique ability to personalise communication with attendees.

Read: Chatbots or event apps?  Which will you choose to improve attendee engagement?

Another trend is video.  Videos like that posted via SnapChat and Facebook Stories have proved to engage followers in more compelling ‘story living’ versus traditional ‘story telling’ – which opens the doors for events to share more human stories that are both important and interesting to their audiences. The slowdown in organic reach in 2018 has also prompted brands to dive deeper into paid social to get their messages across. While e-commerce is emerging directly into social channels (ex. buying event tickets) to complete the last mile of the buyer’s online journey.  Read more.

MeetingsNet: What Marriott’s Data Breach Means for Your Attendees

If you’ve held a meeting or event at a Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis or other hotel brand under the former Starwood umbrella in the last four years, your attendees – and you – might be the victims of a serious data breach.  Marriott says the hackers stole information that include names, phone numbers, emails, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender and arrival and departure information of 327 million people.  For millions of others, credit card numbers and their expiration dates may have been revealed.

Security breaches are very common these days, though few have been quite on this scale -especially in our industry. The potential blowback on Marriott is also still unfolding. Will it have to pay hefty fines for violating the new EU GDPR? The hotel group hasn’t said anything but the article quotes a GDPR expert saying it is likely. Either way, it is a good reminder why protecting attendee data is so important in the post-GDPR world we live in today. Events collect a LOT of personal information through registration forms, apps, surveys and so on – and protecting this data should be a top priority.  However, research has found a number of event planning activities that could easily cause a serious data breach. It is therefore incredibly important that organisers understand exactly what they should or shouldn’t to minimise these risks. Read more.

Read: How Events Can Prepare for a Data Breach

Event MB: Extended Reality for Events – The Next Frontier in Event Tech

The combination of virtual reality (think: putting on a visor and touching things in a virtual world) and augmented reality (think: pointing your phone at something that becomes animated) has opened up all sorts of new opportunities for the events industry to deliver some truly immersive experiences for attendees. But it’s hard getting it right. Many of us have been to trade shows and seen multiple VR-driven activations with lines of attendees waiting to take their turn that weaken the overall experience. The same thrill-diminishing sensation happens when forced to pull out a smartphone, download an app and point it at areas of the event to get AR working. It’s not worth it if it’s too much work for the busy attendee.

This article from EventMB highlights some excellent applications of extended reality that get the desired experience-driven effect.  One of these is the Lightform, cited as probably one of the most revolutionary pieces of hardware for events. A bit of projection-mapping-meets-AR, it’s very similar to what ARwall is doing in terms of the result but with a hardware-first approach. It’s not only good for reviving dull venues but also for audience engagement. Imagine live recording at events in the form of an illustrator recording all discussions on a visually captivating board. Another example is Interactive Light – where you can get your attendees to do things like play air hockey with nothing more than a table and a projector. Read more.

Forbes: Facebook Rolls Out Group Stories Globally

After an initial debut last year, Facebook has now rolled out Group Stories globally. The feature allows Group members to contribute to a collaborative story and it will allow users to respond to other people’s contributions with a variety of emoji as they watch. As a Group administrator for your event’s Facebook Group, you can also approve or delete member stories before they get shared with the community.

It’s worth noting that Facebook is housing Stories in prime real estate; right at the top of its mobile app.  Users can either click on, scroll through or breeze past them, but they can’t make them go away.  In other words, Stories are free advertising in one of the most viewed placed on the most accessed app in the world. If you’re looking for a different way to boost your event marketing campaigns, Facebook Stories has a lot to offer without breaking the budget. The Collaborative Stories feature, for example, allows you to gather Stories from many people at once and group them under your event’s brand umbrella. You can manage the images and reject those that don’t fit your strategy – giving you control over the messaging while promoting organic, user-generated content.   Read more.

BBC: Hologram Lecturers to Teach Students at Imperial College London

This story is definitely an interesting development in the use of holograms across meetings and events. For the first time in the world, business students at Imperial College London are set to be offered lectures led by ‘holographic professors’. The holograms are able to engage with students in real-time, responding to reactions and taking questions via camera link as if they were in the same room. Picture this same scenario at a conference.  The technology will not only cut travel and accommodation costs, but it will also open up all sorts of new opportunities in sourcing speakers for events.  Have a look at how it works here.

VentureBeat: LinkedIn Starts Testing Events Tool

LinkedIn is officially getting into the events business. The professional networking announced last month that it’s starting to test a new events tool with a select group of users in San Francisco and New York City with plans to roll out it out globally in the next few months. The feature will look very similar to how events are displayed on Facebook — so you can see who else is attending, invite other people and chat with other users in the event page feed.

As an event planner, here are some of the things you can look forward to with LinkedIn Events:

Create an event: Whether on desktop or mobile, event organisers can create an event and provide all of the details for it – a description, date and time, a unique hashtag so people can follow along.

Promote your event: Hosts can invite their connections and share the event with their network or on other channels to encourage other people to join. Attendees can also invite people in their network that might be interested.

Manage your event: Organisers can easily track attendees and invitees, post updates, and edit the details if the time or location changes.

Have conversations with fellow attendees: All event attendees will be able to chat with each other in the event page feed before, during, and after the event to share their excitement, meet one another, share videos and photos from the event, and continue strengthening their relationships.

See who else is going: Attendees can take a look at the guest list and use our search filters to see who else is going, what industry they work in, and more.

And this is just the beginning. In the future, LinkedIn will allow organisers to promote private events, whilst allowing attendees to discover other relevant events they may be interested to attend. Read more.


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