Social Anticipation: Using the Intention Web for Experience Marketing

Jeremiah Owyang coined the term “Intention Web” to describe social media which captures and promotes users’ future plans. Where the asynchronous web is about the then, the real-time web is about the now, Intention Web properties are about the later.

Event and experiential marketers seem to have been focused on using social media as a sort of historical record of their activities, posting content, including transcripts, photos, videos, Powerpoint presentations etc. after the fact.

Otherwise, the community has begun to embrace the now, talking about what’s happening on Twitter, Facebook and the like, by promoting and encouraging attendees to share their personal experiences real-time during speaking sessions, concerts and brand experiences of all types. By attracting and leveraging as many followers as possible marketers are able to broadcast updates and engage audiences well beyond the physical experience.

But what about the future? Aside from simply listing an event on Facebook, Linkedin or your favorite social network, what are you doing to build excitiment, drive anticipation, generate audience and foster community before your event takes place?

There are a few Intention-based social networks that specialize in driving this anticipation. Here they are, along with some ideas for how to best use them in your event marketing program.

Dopplr: “Dopplr is a service for smart international travelers. Dopplr members share personal and business travel plans privately with their networks, and exchange tips on places to stay, eat and explore in cities around the world. Dopplr presents this collective intelligence – the travel patterns, tips and advice of the world’s most frequent travellers – as a Social Atlas. You can use Dopplr on a personal computer and a mobile phone.” Setting up a profile is easy. Then you can build your network easily by inviting friends from: Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Outlook, or type in your own email addresses. Travel plans need to be fairly specific, and the carbon footprint section is interesting. While Dopplr is not about events, its a great resource for travel planning for a specific city with restaurants, hotels and activities explored in each location. Look for more mobile integration for Dopplr with their iphone App and recent acquisition by Nokia.

Meetup: “The world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.” This group-centric site makes it really easy to find groups and their activities in locations where you are or are traveling to. You basically have two options: Find a Meetup Group or Start a Meetup Group. Finding a group is easy. Just type in a few keywords, and the site will serve up all the groups in your area that meet on the topics you’re interested in. Once you select a group, you’ll be brought to their page where you can sign up for “meetups” post pictures, and participate in the group forums. You can also share group activities with Facebook and Twitter. To create a group is also simple, but there is a nominal cost ($12 – $19 per month depending on length of commitment) to keep the group listed. Once you’ve created a group you can invite folks to join, promote your group r meetups through the site or other channels or simply wait for them to come to you via keyword search.

Plancast: “Plancast is the easiest way for you to share your plans with friends and discover what others are doing in the future.” This lightweight application allows users to keep tabs on what people are doing in real life. Simply create a profile (name, picture, location, bio) and you’re on your way. From there you can post What you’re planning, When it occurs and where it happens. You can subscribe to other users, or they can subscribe to you, this way plans are shared. Plancast seamlessly integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz, so your plans can be posted across your social networks, and subscribers (think friends, followers, etc) can be invited to join you on Plancast. Once you post your plan, others can plan on attending or participating. Plancast is an easy way to organize nights out, tweetups or major events. It’s all about the subscribers, so build your network and use Plancast to get together.

Tripit: “TripIt turns chaos into order by making it easy for anyone to: Organize trip details into one master online itinerary — even if arrangements are booked at multiple travel sites, Automatically include maps, directions and weather in their master itinerary, Have the option to book restaurants, theatre tickets, activities and more right from within the online itinerary, Safely access travel plans online, share them, check-in for flights, or print an itinerary.” The interesting thing about Tripit is the ability to share your plans with others. Like Dopplr, this functionality can help users organize formal or informal meet-ups in cities where they are traveling to. You can add friends through email address books (e.g., aol, gmail, hotmail, live, msn & yahoo), my entering individual email addresses, or through Linkedin. Tripit also has a host of applications to try out from iGoogle integration to groups which let’s you track the itineraries and locations of people within groups you assign. Check out the interactive map that plots where people are traveling to. Tripit Pro also has some interesting functionality including tracking your frequent flyer program points and getting travel alerts. No other service does a better job integrating with social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google, etc. Its a great tool to organize not only your own itineraries, but those of your entire team.

Upcoming: “Upcoming is a community for discovering and sharing events. It can help you find stuff to do, discover what your friends are doing, or let you keep private events online for your own reference.” You’ll need a Yahoo ID to join Upcoming, as it is a Yahoo property. Once you’re in you can create a basic profile. Adding friends is a bit more challenging, you need to know their names or do a search for existing members. Alternatively you an invite users via email. Finding events is as simple as entering a subject (keyword) and location, and upcoming will seve up all upcoming events in your area. Adding an event is also quite simple. Other features include integration with music sites like Ping.fm, Pandora and iTunes to add concerts. Additionally, you can join groups to subscribe to their forums and events, or check out places to get information on all the happenings in your favorite locales. The only interaction with other social sites on Upcoming seems to be the ability to share events on Facebook. Upcoming seems to be more about posting and finding events than driving community or building personal profiles for interaction.

In conclusion, these are just some of the Intention Web sites you’ll find out there. Facebook and Linkedin already have some pretty robust event applications. And sites like Socializr, Baseloop are more geared toward smaller, friendly get-togethers. Deciding which application(s) to use is largely dependent on what you’re trying to accomplish. For managing travel to other cities with groups of folks or across your communities, consider Tripit. For connecting with your communities on the social web and sharing plans, Plancast is the way to go. For promoting your community look to Meetup. How are you using the Intention Web to build anticipation and coordinate your plans?

9 Anti-Social Behaviors: Oscar’s Guide to Social Networking at Events

With so many best practices being shared across the interweb, I thought it important to give an enlightened point of view. A new way of looking at things. A way to almost completely guarantee failure in your social media efforts.

There are some who believe that integrating social media into your events and experiences is critical to being relevant in today’s connected society. To this I say, Bah! Who needs it?

Here are nine anti-social behaviors that will ensure your events and experiences die cold and alone.

1. Don’t Listen or Observe. Who really cares what others have to say anyway? It’s often uninteresting and usually downright boring. Understanding what your audience has to say is overrated at best. They’re all selfish, and most of them talk about themselves, adding no value to the community at all. What’s that? they’re talking about you or your event? It doesn’t matter what they have to say anyway. What can you learn about the perspective, thoughts, ideas and opinions of others? It’s your event. If they knew any better than you about the subject matter, they’d create their own event. After all, you’re the expert.

2. Participate in Only One Social Network. I’ve been a big fan of my early 90′s bulletin board service since it launched. I’m now the only person left and I love the solitude. You may have heard there are other networks out there like AOL, but that would mean more people reading your posts and trying to interact with you. Once you find a good social network for your event, stick with it. There are some who would tell you to “fish where the fish are” but its not about others. Its about where you want to talk about your event. Who has the time to participate in multiple social channels anyway?

3. Don’t Share. Got some great pictures of the skydivers you hired to promote your event? Did you take a video of an amazing keynote presentation? These are highly-personal things and are not intended to be shared. Go out and purchase a fire-proof vault to lock these assets up in for you to cherish year-after-year. No one is interested in reliving the memories of your experience or seeing what’s happening at your event. Keep them to yourself. If you should come across something that’s relevant or interesting to your audience that may have been authored by someone else, do not share it.

4. Use the Default Picture. There is no reason for anyone to see what you look like, or see a logo for your event. The O_o that comes with Tweeter, or the shaded blue silhouette avatar that’s the default on iSpace or FacePage is perfectly fine. If you absolutely must have a picture, make sure its obscured or misrepresents you in someway. If you don’t have photo-editing software, try contorting your face so you hide your chin with you hands of stretch out your neck by turning to the side. and never, ever look directly at the camera. This will ensure others on social networks will not recognize you at your event or on the street. This is a great strategy for retaining anonimity.

5. Always Talk About Yourself. The best way to alienate others and ensure you don’t get any followers or friends is to talk about yourself. All. The. Time. Again, its not about others. Its about your event. What you have to say is way more important that what others have to say. Be especially careful not to fall into the trap of talking about others at your event, e.g., keynote speakers, exhibitors, discussion leaders or attendees. Also, there may be other events or things going on in your industry that have similar or complementary subject matter. Ignore them. Do not cross-promote. Do not mention them. Do not ask them to mention your event.

6. Try to Be Someone Else. Adopt someone else’s personality whereever possible. Or better yet, make up a personality and change it up every so often to keep your audience guessing. Mixing your tone and voice for each and every touchpoint will confuse your audiences and ensure your brand intent is kept secret. No one will know who you are, what you’re about or what you represent.

7. Keep the Community Closed. “The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.” Treat your event the same way. You may find that others want to talk to each other about your event. They may even want to share thoughts, photos, videos, literature, etc. Do everything possible to discourage this. Do not set up proprietary or participate in third-party social networks. Make sure any materials you create for your events are hard copy only, or better yet, print content on large signs located in uncomfortable locations to make it difficult for attendees to capture and share it with others. If you discover your content being shared on other social networks, do your best to shut it down. Send form letters threatening legal action to anyone posting anything about your event.

8. Do Not Engage. Audiences and communities are sneaky. They will do everything possible to start a conversation with you. Be careful here. They may ask baited questions, comment on your event or even complement the event. Do not under any cicrcumstances fall for these ploys. Its important to ignore all requests for engagement or interaction of any kind. The best way to be a part of the conversation is to not participate at all.

9. Collect all Cameras, Computers and Mobile Devices at the Door. What better way to discourage social interaction than removing the tools used for interaction from attendees? Its also a good idea to simply collect these devices in large bins without any organizational system whatsoever. When audiences arrive at your event. Prohibit any electronic device from entering the exhibit hall or any speaking sessions. If attendees insist on taking notes, distribute small chalkboards with small pieces of chalk. Require all boards to be erased and returned before the event ends.

Sarcasm is often difficult to express in writing. In all seriousness, I recommend you do exactly the opposite of the above. I hope you’ve enjoyed this view of anti-social behaviors. If you have other anti-social behaviors you’d like to add, please comment below!

The Art of Experiential Marketing

Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” The same holds true for any experiential or event marketing program. If you want to breed success, it is critical you create and work within a strategy.

Strategy means many things to many people. For some, its about the activities that are engineered for the audience to participate in. For others, its bringing the brand to life online. For others still, its about the right events or digital activities to participate in. I submit it’s all of these things and more.

Creating or adopting a strategic framework for the needs of your experience or program is a good place to start. From there, taking time to think about how you will approach each component lays the foundation for success. Here are some tips for creating a strategic framework that will help you rally the troops and march onward toward victory.

1. Clearly articulate and prioritize all objectives. What are you trying to accomplish with the event / experience / program? If you accomplish only one thing, what must it be? Because there are many lieutenants in the work we do, there are also many opinions on what the objectives should be. Try to foster agreement on as few objectives as possible. Honing the list down to no more than 1-3 objectives will ensure your squad focuses on the right things.

2. Think about measurement first. Now that you’ve established your objectives, it’s important to understand if, when and how you’ve accomplished them. Create a measurement strategy that reports on how these objectives are being met. no more, no less. Make sure all officers and troops alike are in agreement on success imperative and the measurement plan before the event / experience / program is launched.

3. Know how your battle contributes to the war effort. Always understand the input and outputs of what you’re doing. What other programs might influence your work? What contribution does your event make to the campaign? Understanding will also help ensure your are focused on the most important things.

4. Take time to get to know the target. Think beyond the demographics and psychographics of audiences. What are their interests? What are their triggers and inhibitors? What emotional and rational needs do they have that your brand can fulfill? This will lay the foundation for relevent experiences and build meaningful relationships.

5. Play to your strengths. Know thyself. Stay on brand and execute those tactics which are most likely to succeed. Apply the 80 / 20 rule for experimental activities and focus on tried and true methods first. Also know your weaknesses and be prepared to overcom them.

6. Survey the battlefield. What else is happening in the marketplace? What are your competitors up to? What socio-economic factors, marketing trends, business challenges, online and offline influencers need to be considered? Knowing the environment in which you are operating can help determine the types of activities executed at right time and place to maximize success.

7. Draft a comprehensive plan of attack. How will you attract an audience? What experiences will motivate them to act on your objectives? How are you representing your brand? What’s the sales strategy? What about follow-up? Promotions? Ensure there are sub strategies to your overarching strategy.

8. Develop contingencies for defeat and victory. Flexibility is key. Know what you will do if all or part of your program begins to fail before the event / experience / program is executed. Alternatively, know what you will do if the work is wildly successful. Sometimes an inability to support success can be more damaging than an outright failure. Make sure you have immediate, quick-strike plans in place as well as intermediate and longer-term ideas in your arsenal.

9. Remember measurement. Measure and diagnose your event / experience / program. Understand success, the degrees to whiich you were successful, and the reasons behind success or failure. Consider what successful tactics can be replicated elsewhere or improved apon. What were the reasons for failure? How can this be prevented next time? Create a plan for continuous improvement so each battle is won with fewer casualties.

Sun Tzu also wrote, “The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.” By creating a strategy and calculating the outcomes before you launch your plan, you’ll be able to mitigate failure and drive overwhelming success.