The early promise of Second Life is now becoming reality. Even if it’s virtual. There is an inherent irony in the growth of virtual events as well as social media - and it has significant implications for marketers. Over the last several years virtual environment and social media communities and networks have grown exponentially. During this same time, so has live media. From concerts, to sporting events to movies as well as events closer to home for B2B marketers; business conferences, trade shows and events, grew in attendance at the same time. Yes certainly the global recession of the last year created a cyclical blip in live media attendance but there is no question that the extraordinary growth in virtual event and social media networks hasn’t negatively affected live media. In fact, the reality is just the opposite. We think there is a very natural reason why.
As the original social media, live media has been the beneficiary of virtual events and social media networks. Business decision makers have always been drawn to environments where they can learn from trusted experts, engage with potential vendors and suppliers and discuss what they know with their peers. In the case of business technology decision makers, they have also been early adopters of new technology and comfortable in integrating various content assets together-on and offline- to best serve their information needs. As a result it’s not surprising to see the natural connection between active engagement in a virtual event or social media network, result in attending a live event.
As the producer of 15 major industry conferences and trade shows, 20 virtual trade shows, over 450 webcasts, with an overall reach of 30 million unique visitors this year at TechWeb, we have an interesting vantage point on the intersection between virtual and live media. The “reality” is virtual events and social media have had and continue to have a positive impact on attendance and engagement at our live events. We have created virtual events as extensions to many of our live events, including Interop, Black Hat, Voicecon and the InformationWeek 500 Conference. In each case we have registered thousands of new, high demographic technology decision makers, who have now have experienced the quality of our content and brands. A large percentage followed their participation at a virtual event with attendance at one of our live events. We have also registered 10’s of thousands of technology decision makers via our groups on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. This has allowed us to introduce them to our brands and services, gather input and perspective about issues and challenges that steer our content, products and services and gather community input ahead of our events.
So what does this mean for technology marketers? How does the intersection between virtual and live media affect you? It’s not an either or decision in your marketing. It’s a where and how decision. In other words technology decision makers aren’t deciding on either a live event or a virtual one. They are doing both and increasingly in an integrated and complimentary fashion. As a marketer you need to keep pace with your customer, by taking advantage of this new intersection and being the beneficiary of the impact of virtual events and social networks on live media in your marketing results and performance as well.