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Social media advocate takes the lead at New Zealand events industry conference

Social media advocate takes the lead at New Zealand events industry conference
August 19, 2014

The potential for social media to engage event audiences in a ways that extend beyond the immediate event experience by building anticipation and excitement was a key message to emerge from the keynote session at the recent Eventing the Future conference.

Speaking at Eventing the Future 2014, the annual New Zealand events industry conference, keynote speaker Tom Spano (pictured below) explained the pre event, on site and post event life cycle of events.

The American social media guru shared his well-honed advice and expertise on how to engage event audiences in a way that extends well beyond the immediate event experience by building the buzz and excitement.

Spano talked about the pre event, on site and post event life cycle of events, stating “I believe in breaking down the four walls where the event exists so the event audience is much bigger than the attendees.

“There are so many applications and new technologies to engage sponsors, attendees, speakers and supporters ... mobile apps really are the future.”

“The event industry is America is very technophobic. That is why I am such an evangelist for the platforms, applications and software that can extend the experience of audiences. “There is a new group of younger event planners ready to dive in and create better attendee experiences. Better social media integration can transform the event industry.”

Described by the event organisers as “a walking, talking, texting, tweeting, twittering social media expert”, Spano shared his knowledge of the coolest and hippest apps on offer as well as those in development phase.

Commenting on the impact of Spano’s address, Eventing the Future 2014 executive Ady Shannon stated that when he delivered his address “delegates sat bolt upright in their seats and grabbed their mobile phones to tweet about the moment!’

“Social media is the way of the events industry future and Spano is leading the pack on the evolving journey.”

Shannon added “if delegates at the recent conference adopt even a smidgeon of the apps he mentioned, audiences should expect to see some major changes in the event industry in the future.

“From the familiar to new-fangled, Spano knows a lot about apps; Loopd – enables information to be transferred via a handshake, CrowdMics – transforms a smartphone into a microphone, Word lens – translates any text into any language, 3-D projections, virtual imagery, Vine, Instagram, Hootsuite, Prezi, LinkedIn ... (Spano) is familiar with apps designed to manage every aspect of work, life and leisure.

Spano has been morphing event management and social media for most of his career and is now Head of Sales and Marketing for Goombal. The start-up company is an innovative, integrated cloud and mobile event management platform poised to change the approach to event management by linking all aspects of planning, implementation, audience engagement, marketing, budgeting, delivery and reporting in a single streamlined application.

Until March this year, he was Head of Event Marketing for Twitter, prior to which he spent several years at Yahoo! where he was part of the globe-trotting events team tasked with promoting the Yahoo! brand and spearheading the growth of their social media.

Spano recalls “budgets were tight (so) we pushed the envelope for creativity (and) achieved a lot of play off social media”.

Spano believes the events industry needs to embrace social media for the improvement of event delivery, adding “the events industry is made up of many older women who are very good at planning events but younger attendees have an awareness of social media apps and want to engage in new and unique ways.

“The next group of planners is ready to create those experiences but a lack of knowledge and a reluctance to change (by their superiors) is holding them back. By tapping into the new technology that exists, planners can extend the life time for events and the audience experience.”

The self-titled ‘Silicon Valley adventurer’ was born before the launch of the internet and smartphone but a long held desire to ‘share his message’, meant he was excited immediately by the potential for social media.

“Back then a lot of people didn’t understand the power of social media platforms. They thought it was a fad. I got it instantly. I immediately saw the value in communicating and connecting. People who know me would say I was just waiting for Facebook to arrive.”

For Spano, creativity goes hand in hand with connectivity. He admits he spends a good part of his waking hours keeping up with the latest in technology, tweeting (an average six hours per day), updating his Facebook (10,000 followers, 5,000 friends) and sending Instagrams.

He concludes “new technologies and apps can link events together. There are so many ways to engage sponsors, speakers, attendees by releasing messages and engaging audiences. Mobile apps are a conduit to every person. Twitter is the number one most powerful platform you can use.”

Held in Christchurch on 6th and 7th August, Eventing the Future 2014, New Zealand’s premier conference for the event industry and the official conference of the New Zealand Association of Event Professionals (NZAEP), attracted more than 200 delegates.

Tom Spano joined a number of other inspiring and talented international and national industry presenters.

Tom Spano’s Top Twitter tips:

1. Be authentic – talk about what you know about

2. Be accountable – if you screw up, accept the criticism, learn and move forward

3. Listen to your customers / audience – be aware of what is going on

4. Learn from mistakes – it’s okay to screw up. Once!

5. Take risks – people love it when you try something new. Go back to #2 if it fails

6. Don’t blame the platform – you get what you pay for. Be willing to follow through and do it right. You do more damage by engaging poorly than not at all.

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