May 23, 2012

How to deal with Official Bloggers for conferences

So you organize a conference and you do your best to get as much media coverage as possible. Have you considered Official Bloggers as well? And if yes, do you know how to find them and how to deal with them? This post will give you a few tips & tricks on this, gathered from several occasions when I have been an Official Blogger (and a good example with pictures below).

What are Official Bloggers?

An Official Blogger is a person that is invited to a conference by the organizers in order to publish posts on her/his personal or professional website/ blog related to the conference content. The articles may be published during the conference (live blogging) or afterwards.

Why do you need Official Bloggers?

Even if you are a conference at its first edition or at its 10th edition, Official Bloggers will help you spread the word in new regions or niches or certain tribes. So if you want to expand internationally,  you need bloggers that are popular in their countries and write in their national language. If you target a specific group of people to attend your event, you need bloggers that write on that niche or have a great network among your target group. Even if they might bring immediate results, I would suggest however to have long term communication goals - Official Bloggers prove to be quite useful for conferences that have multiple editions and that grow each year. The number of Official Bloggers you should have also depends on your objectives and the size of the conference you run.

Why would Official Bloggers come to your event?

Some bloggers are quite frequent Official Bloggers at many conferences. They simply love it and/ or find it useful for themselves as well. Some haven't been Official Bloggers at conferences before, but that should not be a barrier for you. They will come if the topic of the conference is in their interest or the content they can create from your conference fits their readers profile.

How to find Official Bloggers?

First of all, define your objectives: where do you want your conference to be known? Which geographical areas, which niches, which tribes? Then you mainly have 3 options (and I recommend to use them all in parallel): use google to find blogs that fit your criteria, read them and contact the ones you like; contact people you already know to make you recommendations of bloggers that fit your criteria; have open applications for Official Bloggers on your platform.

What benefits should you offer to your Official Bloggers?

- free entrance to the conference
- free and good internet connection during the conference (eventually a dedicated area)
- facilitated access to speakers (eventually schedule some meetings for them during the conference)
- an Official Bloggers "angel" (a person they know they can contact for any requirements)
- a Curator (someone hired by you, in charge of communication, that follows blog posts by Official Bloggers and can republish them on the official website)

Nice to have:
- facilitated networking between Official Bloggers (Facebook groups, official list with contacts, pre-parties for them etc)
- accommodation (if you can get a good deal or a partnership with some accommodation providers, would be great)

What should you expect from your Official Bloggers?

I have never seen organizers imposing anything to Official Bloggers. And my advice is: do not impose anything. No minimum number of posts, no time of posting, no length of posting etc. Do not worry about their commitment and professionalism (that, if you chose them well in the first place). Because the conference content is in their own interest, as well as in yours.

Below a few highlights from Next Conference 2012 (Berlin, 8th-9th May) where I have been Official Blogger:

- Before the conference, Official Bloggers were in touch with each other through a very vibrant Facebook Group: "The Next Bloggers". Closer to the event, a contact list was put in place and emails started to flow on different arrangements. This is how me and Guilhem found out our flights land in the same time and how I got a great welcoming at Berlin airport.

- Our first destination was a party dedicated to all the Official Bloggers, organized the night before the event at the office of one of the partners, on a Berlin roof top. Our "angel", Lea, welcomed us and took care of everything. Great for networking, meeting new people or catching up with known ones.  Free bar and chillout music helped as well to create a great atmosphere. 
- Next destination of the night: a great apartment just for Official Bloggers, offered by one of the partners of the event: Airbnb. The representative of airbnb was really nice and provided us with lots of goodies. Being 5 of us from different countries in the same apartment helped again strengthen some bonds. 

- During the two days of the conference, we (Official Bloggers) spread at different tracks, being able to create a huge buzz with tweets and live blogging. Lots of interviews with speakers took place as well (scheduled or adhoc). We were meeting during breaks in the dedicated area, writing or exchanging opinions.

- In the main room of the conference there was also a dedicated area for Official Bloggers: tables, plugs and cable connection (as backup to wireless) - everything a blogger could need during the speeches. Quite an international presence there :)

And don't forget to check The official blogger happiness list for conferences, written by Henriette,  a fellow Official Blogger from Next Conference.

May 21, 2012

Facebook first users were in Ivy League. Where can you start from in Europe?

Ok, so you (tech business) have a target group of users/ consumers. But what is the first pool of people you address to and where do you find them?

A smart first step of Facebook was to address certain tribes of intelligent early adopters, connected between themselves. Mark Zuckerberg started inside Harvard, then expanding to other top universities from Ivy League, then to high-schools and so on. That led to a natural unbeatable growth, incomparable to advertising in vain to everyone (which seems to be facebook target group today).

Another social network, mycube, based in Singapore, created an insanely attractive internship programme before they launched. This way, they got the attention of many bright students all over the world that were trying to secure their place in the programme. It offered the company a great entrance to top universities all over the world and their first users there. Seems quite smart to invest money in attractive internships and to create buzz through the interns, rather than paying for advertisements.

And there are many more examples... do you plan to make your first move?
If you are a tech startup interested in a great first pool of users, students from top universities in Europe, interconnected...then I would like to introduce you to my network: JADE - European Confederation of Junior Enterprises. What can be more of a golden mine for you than a network of early adopters from top 200 universities all over Europe, that are connected among themselves as well and that can use your product for personal or professional use (as they run their Junior Enterprises)? Our first partner in this sense: Podio

Tell us about you and let's find the best partnership opportunities. Contact me or go on the contact page of JADE website. 

May 15, 2012

Time machine - Next Conference, departure from Berlin

2000 founders, investors, marketing and media experts, designers and developers from 28 countries have met last week at Next Conference at Station-Berlin to takeoff on an amazing journey into the future that is already here, but not evenly distributed yet. 

Parallel tracks covered different topics, from how fashion is going digital, to the internet of things and to launch of new tech startups, all connected into one main topic: Post-Digital (how technologies change our life). Are we actually into a Post-Digital era? My conclusion was: not yet (common, for example most were still exchanging paper business cards there), but we are rapidly heading towards it - so if you are an entrepreneur or marketeer: be prepared and think forward!

And here are some take-outs from Next trip into the future that might help you:

- There is still huge business potential for tech startups because there are plenty of things we do in a "traditional" and not digital way. But entrepreneurs should not be driven by technologies, or marketeers by how to persuade people - they should all be driven by usability and solving real problems (sounds simple, but most fail here). Also, keep in mind that even if technologies are here already (and there were many showcased at Next), people have to be ready for them as well. 

- We are getting closer and closer to web 3.0. Having access and being exposed to a huge amount of data, people do not want to search for things anymore. They are willing to feed Big Brother with their personal data and history, so that they get in return systems that can anticipate their needs and give them what they need without even asking/ searching. To put it simple: they want pro-active systems, not reactive. So you might mind that if you are planning to build a new tech business. 

- Corporates become more pro-active with the startup scene as well. If they usually just keep an eye on it in order to buy and incorporate them, now they are giving more support to the startupers. Example: Deutsche Telekom launched at Next Conference an incubator - hubraum, in order to support startups from the beginning. To be incubated by them, you have to have a strong team and proven expertise on the idea you want to pursue, but not an existing product or even business plan yet. 

- The word "control" will not exist anymore in business or marketing language. Consumers are more and more empowered. So you can launch, but then  you should just listen and support them, do not try to control anymore. Which opens opportunities to the Research industry, if they adapt their tools and methodologies.

- Berlin is definitely developing into Europe's new "Silicon Valley". I do remember this trend starting last year at Next Conference, followed by TechCrunch encouraging it even more. There are more and more entrepreneurs here, very well connected, with great facilities and with plenty of media promoting Berlin as the entrepreneurial city. But as long as Berlin's entrepreneurs still go to US to find investors or move there when they grow,  means that it is still much more space for improvement. What I like is that is really up to us to make Berlin a strong entrepreneurial city or not here, in Europe. 

Was great being there and meeting so many remarkable and inspiring people. Now let's see what we will all do today with the inspiration we got from this time travel into the future.

(More details on the content on blog, curated by Adam Tinworth)
(A few more blog posts related to the conference will follow from my side as well - I have plenty of materials :) 

May 14, 2012

Junior Entrepreneurs turned Entrepreneurs [case 1]

There is still a debate if entrepreneurship can be taught or not.

Before giving opinions, I suggest to look at the facts. In my past few years I was a member of JADE - European Confederation of Junior Enterprises - a network that utilizes the concept of learning by doing to develop entrepreneurial mindsets among students. 

Lately, I am bumping more and more often into colleagues from these years that after the Junior Enterprise experience started their own businesses. 

So I decided to spot and highlight them, showcasing how this network can foster entrepreneurship. 

My first showcase: - a startup of two former Junior Entrepreneurs, members of icons, an Austrian Junior Enterprise. I have met them at Next Conference in Berlin last week - they were one of the 10 finalist pitches. They were telling me how they became co-founders after working together in the Junior Enterprise (so this is a great way of testing potential co-founders before starting your business) and how Austrian and German Junior Enterprises help them now spread. So let's wish them success or, even better, let's help them grow.

In the video below you can see what they are doing and especially, how the Junior Enterprise experience and the network helped them get where they are today.

More showcases to be posted here on my blog soon.