There's a Meeting Planner App for That

Mobile apps to help solve six major challenges for planners

APP Illustration

Just two years ago, a meeting, event, or exhibition that offered attendees a dedicated app to download onto a smartphone or tablet was considered ahead of the curve in adopting mobile technology. Now these apps are quickly becoming mainstream, and the time is rapidly approaching when an event lacking one will seem behind the times.

Not surprisingly, companies in the technology industry have been among the pioneers in adopting meetings apps, including Jive, a Palo Alto, CA-based software firm that makes internal and customer-facing social collaboration software for businesses. It has offered a mobile app at its annual customer conference, JiveWorld, since 2011. Last year, Jive turned to QuickMobile to create the app for the show's 1,800 attendees.

"From my perspective as someone who is responsible for the event, mobile is such an effective way to engage your guests," says Sydney Sloan, Jive's senior director of customer experience. "[Attendees] always have their phone right on them, so they're accessing their agenda, and they're able to network with other people in the app. It just makes the overall experience more modern, more engaging, and it keeps folks tied to the messages and the activities that we're hoping they take advantage of while at the show."

While the proliferation of smartphones and social media has allowed for the popularity of meetings apps, it has also stuck planners between the expectations of attendees who want to have all the information they need in the palm of their hands, and the companies holding those meetings -- which expect to be able to leverage the available technology and resulting big data to elevate the return on investment of their events.

Under such circumstances, today's meetings professionals not only have to be great program managers and venue experts, they also are becoming digital marketers, technology designers, and data analysts. While a host of apps exist to help in these tasks, the array of choices can be confusing. "Planners have so many app tools at their disposal to drive increased engagement," says Alejandro Contreras, director, global platforms and strategy, meetings and events, at American Express. "How do they decipher what are the right apps, and how do they drive higher value to meeting owners and be successful?"

What follows is a look at six major challenges that need to be tackled when planning a meeting, along with a list of established apps that can help manage them.


1. EVENT COMMUNICATION AND ORGANIZATION
One of the biggest imperatives at any event, for planners and attendees alike, is to know what's going on, when it's going on, and where it's going on. Printed guides, whether for the attendee or the planner, are the traditional solution.

And yet: "Mobile event-guide apps are way more detailed than a paper guide could ever be," meetings industry technology consultant Corbin Ball says. "They can also be interactive, and they can be updated instead of becoming out-of-date as soon as they've been printed. They can provide group alerts or alerts to individuals or groups, which you could never do before, aside from putting up a sign."

And those alerts can be pushed out, so anyone who has signed up for a session can get a pop-up notice of a room change, for example, says Alon Alroy, co-founder and CMO of Bizzabo, a New York City-based firm that provides a networking platform for event organizers and attendees. "It makes the entire event communications easier, particularly managing crises and last-minute changes."

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Personalized, mobile agenda; live updates

Check In Easy: For the planner, a simple and effective check-in app

CrowdCompass: Personalized, mobile agenda; interactive event maps; live updates; 24-hour tech support, 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. on weekends

DoubleDutch: Personalized, mobile agenda; live updates; interactive event maps

Eventbase: Focused on high-end events; ability to share location via GPS geolocation; multiple languages available; personalized, mobile agenda; live updates; schedule sharing

EventMobi: Security for private events; personalized, mobile agenda; live updates; schedule sharing

EventPilot by ATIV: Full-featured event app targeting medical and scientific conferences; personalized, mobile agenda; live updates

Lumi Show: Personalized, mobile agenda; live updates

QuickMobile: Personalized, mobile agenda; live updates

Topi: Full-featured event app; universal language conversion; personalized, mobile agenda; live updates

6. CREATE SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Apps can also help you create new revenue streams, says Bizzabo's Alroy. "There are all kinds of opportunities for sponsors, from sponsoring posts on the [social media wall] to the splash screen that attendees see when they open the app," he says. "Smart event organizers are creating revenue streams that pay for the app or generate profit."

Bizzabo was able to turn every break announcement into another opportunity to recognize sponsors with pre-scripted reminder messages, Cloud Factory's Egroff says. "It was just keeping people on top of the schedule, and people found that really helpful," she adds. "It was saying, the [networking] break is upstairs, thanks to Microsoft. Go check it out, and by the way, Microsoft has a contest on, so stop by their booth [later]."

DECA strongly encouraged its ICDC sponsors to tweet using the event's hashtags, which let it moderate those tweets and project them up onto the Tint social wall. But the event organizers also encouraged the audience to tweet out thanks to its financial supporters. "When we had sponsored awards on stage, we could say, 'Retweet to thank @Marriott for this award,' and that tweet would appear right away on the screen," Scudder says. "So we relied on user-generated posts and because of Tint's instant updating, we were able to get spur-of-the-moment messages out there that benefitted us as well as a lot of our great sponsors."  

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Sponsor listings with social links; splash screen; promotional offers space available

CrowdCompass: Multiple-event platform allows sponsorships/branding across events; multiple sponsorship channels built in

DoubleDutch: Multiple-event platform allows sponsorships/branding across events; branded splash screens; sponsor directory; sponsored badges; send promoted posts to segmented user groups

Eventbase: Extensive sponsorship placement, including full-screen commercials; multiple event platform

EventMobi: Unlimited branding and customization

EventPilot by ATIV: Display timed ads on home screen; display sponsors above exhibitors

Lumi: Sponsorship placement

QuickMobile: Multiple-event platform allows sponsorships/branding across events; track attendee activity by time/feature; branding slots throughout app

Tint: Pre-schedule sponsored messages in the social wall flow


Questions or comments? Email [email protected]

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Successful Meetings.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION
Another thing at which apps excel is helping planners encourage, aggregate, and oversee social media at their events. Many apps integrate social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, allowing attendees to post to their accounts without leaving the event app, Ball says. "You can greatly impact the footprint of an event for publicity, or for greater impact, or for future reference -- and all those social media postings can be tracked," he adds.

But apps do more than just make it easier to tweet and see tweets. CrowdCompass lets attendees share notes they took during sessions and can pull information directly from atendees' LinkedIn accounts to autofill their conference profiles.

Cloud Factory used Bizzabo's polling capability -- a common feature in meetings apps -- during its pitch sessions, in which 18 startups were given five-minute pitches in front of U.S. and Canadian venture capital firms. The entire event audience voted in real time to grade the pitches, giving both the firms and the startups valuable feedback, says Bizzabo user Jenn Egroff, marketing manager for Boast Capital and an organizer of 2014 Cloud Factory, a show for entrepreneurs and investors in the cloud computing industry held in Banff, Alberta, Canada, this April.

Another increasingly common feature of meetings apps is the social wall -- a tool that consolidates attendees' social media posts and rotates them across a big screen for all attendees to see. There are various tools that allow planners to moderate the posts.

Tint is an app company that specializes in social walls, which can be projected on anything from a ballroom screen to a stadium scoreboard. DECA, a 60-year-old nonprofit that prepares high school students to become leaders and entrepreneurs in a variety of business fields, used Tint during its 2014 International Career Development Conference (ICDC). The conference brought together more than 16,000 high school students from around the world at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The organization pulled in more than 14,500 tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos with its hashtag, and posted them on the 70-foot scoreboard while the attendees were in session.

"Because they're high school kids, they're so active on social media, we were really looking for a way to bring everything that they were talking about to us," says Janelle Scudder, communications manager of DECA. "Everyone in the arena could see the tweets and photos they were talking about -- right away, up on that giant screen. The reaction from the kids was awesome. They loved getting on the screen."

DECA also used Tint's ability to integrate messages into the feed at planned intervals to regularly acknowledge sponsors and ask for specific tweets. In order to recognize the high school teachers/advisers who work with DECA, a speaker asked attendees to use a specific hashtag for tweets or photos thanking their advisers, Scudder says. "So just as we were thanking the advisers, all these tweets and photos appeared on the screens with kids thanking their advisers, giving them shout-outs, sharing photos." Another Tint feature is gathering social media posted within a specific geographic area, from a room, to a stadium, to a neighborhood.

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Offers in-app messaging and LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook integration

CrowdCompass: Social wall; share session notes with others; share text and photos to Event Compass activity feed; photo scavenger-hunt-based game built in; social media integration

DoubleDutch: Link app profiles to users' social media accounts to post from a central hub; social media integration

EventMobi: Strong social features including in-app social media integration; private chat

Eventbase: In-app game; on-mobile media wall with embedded video

EventPilot by ATIV: Twitter integration; customizable links to an organization's internal social media sites

Lumi: Social media integration; live message board; photo sharing

QuickMobile: Choose which social media platforms to connect to; content sharing includes notes, photos, chat

Tint: Full-featured social wall specialist; links to 10 social media channels

Topi: Strong social media integration


4. ENGAGE ATTENDEES
"With a great mobile app, attendees are more engaged with your event and are more likely to interact with your content and with other attendees," says Bizzabo's Alroy. "That will enhance the event experience."

Meetings apps have plenty of tools to facilitate this, ranging from simple attendee lists, to profiles that allow attendees to look for others with similar interests and connect with them.

One of the key features of CrowdCompass is what Long calls smart content technology, which means "the more you interact with your app, the more the app is going to be personally tailored to you," he says. "It's going to give you content that's personalized to you. If you check in at a session, the documents from that session, posts from people who commented on that session, and pictures from that session are going to come to your newsfeed."

One big advantage that apps possess is that they give the host organization the potential to begin engaging attendees before the event starts and continue the conversation after it. "The ability to extend your community and extend conversations that drive people to want to come back to your meeting next year is very valuable," says Tahira Endean, QuickMobile's manager of event marketing. "Even though we go to meetings to learn and to interact and to network, one of the things we're actually not that good at is networking it is something that still isn't 100 percent comfortable for most people. What the app allows [attendees] to do, if you put it out ahead of time, is see who else is going to be there -- 'Who do I know' or 'Who are the people I've been reading about on social media?' -- so they can reach out ahead of time and not start that conversation cold."

For JiveWorld, Sloan says people who downloaded the app after registration could sign up for sessions, which helped the organizers see which sessions were likely to be popular, and even asked for feedback about other session topics they would like to see on the agenda.

But the big prize is building a community that continues to flourish after the event. Historically, it's hard to keep people engaged after a show ends, says Ball. But apps, and particularly multi-event apps, have the potential to change that, he says.

"For associations, it's a natural," Ball adds. "It's partly about the event, but it's as much about keeping in contact with association members. All of the major app companies are now building multi-event apps -- you download it once, then for each meeting, attendees don't have to download a new app and planners don't have to build a new app. All the attendee needs to do is open that app and it'll automatically update for the most current event. That extends the interactivity, you can send notifications, and it's part of the whole digital dialog that you should be having with your members or attendees that regularly come to your event."

Sloan says some of the challenges in JiveWorld's game continued for several weeks after the event, until the final awards were given out.

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Connect with other users ahead of show; multi-event app to stay connected year-round; suggests other events for users based on profile; live surveys and polling

CrowdCompass: Multi-event app to stay connected year-round; live surveys and polling

Crowd Mics: An app that turns any iOS or Android-native phone into a live microphone for audience interaction

DoubleDutch: Multi-event app to stay connected year-round; live surveys and polling that incentivizes attendees; communication directly based on interest tags in profiles

Eventbase: Augmented reality (overlay information on camera view); multi-event app to stay connected year-round; iBeacon indoor tracking

EventMobi: GPS-based geolocation; live surveys and polling

EventPilot by ATIV: iBeacon technology for indoor location tracking; GPS-based geolocation allows messaging based on attendees location; live surveys and polling

MeetingPulse: Strong live polling/survey app with lead-tracking; incentives to participate; real-time audience emotional feedback

Lumi Show: Strong polling and survey capabilities

Lumi Join: Real-time messaging and polling app; live or moderated discussions

QuickMobile: Multi-event app to stay connected year-round; gamification tools; live surveys and polling

Social Q&A: Polling app allows audience to vote on questions members want answered

Topi: Create geofences around venues and other areas and communicate with those inside; interest groups; private chat with maps, audio, and photos


3. GATHER ROI
The main reasons anyone goes to meetings, conventions, and other events are for education and to meet people -- notably potential customers, partners, and suppliers. Apps that make it easier for people to connect also make it far easier for the planners and meeting owners to show that their events are succeeding in doing this.

"The app gives you so much data in real time about what people are doing and how they're interacting with each other and what they're consuming at your event," says Jeff Epstein, director of product and channel marketing for QuickMobile. "Suddenly we have the ability to walk into the CIO or CFO's office and say, 'Here's the activity that we generated at our event; here's the uptick in brand stickiness that we achieved.' [Our attendees] spent four hours cumulatively in the app."

At JiveWorld 2013, QuickMobile's goals revolved around social media, as well as the conference's satisfaction rating. So Jive and QuickMobile had gamification specialist Bunchball create an in-app game that ran throughout the conference, asking attendees to do things like daily challenges that involved taking and tweeting out a series of 10 photos, with the possibility of winning an iPad mini.

Sloan says the game running on the JiveWorld app helped increase the number of tweets made during the conference by 50 percent over the previous year, and the number of photos shared by 108 percent. Another goal was to spur adoption of a new version of its social collaboration software, Sloan notes, adding, "At the end of the conference, we asked, 'How likely are you to upgrade?' The answer was twice what our goal was. We have upgraded more than double the [customers that we did] on the previous version."

One of the key things at which meetings apps excel is gathering analytics, says Ball. "Every touch is trackable, and so you can find out in real time what the buzz is, what courses people are going to, what speakers they like, what exhibitors they liked, who are the influencers and the key connectors in the group, how long they're interacting with the app, how many times, and at what time of the day."

Kevin Long, vice president of marketing and operations for CrowdCompass, adds, "We have more than 30 different metrics, from high-level things like how many downloads and log-ins were there all the way down to what session did the most people check into."

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Includes lead-tracking system; usage analytics

CrowdCompass: More than 30 usage metrics available

DoubleDutch: Provides post-event engagement report with metrics; paperless event savings calculator; usage analytics

Eventbase: Usage analytics

EventMobi: Usage analytics

EventPilot by ATIV: Usage analytics

Lumi Show: Usage analytics

QuickMobile: Attendee activity metrics; usage analytics; click-through performance data


2. CREATE A SCHEDULE
According to forthcoming research that American Express Meetings & Events, scheduling is the feature most desired in meetings apps by both planners and attendees, according to Contreras.

When asked to rate desirable meetings-app features, 88 percent of planners and 79 percent of attendees surveyed cited access to the event schedule as their top choice. The second was real-time schedule updates (82 percent of planners and 69 percent of attendees) and third was a personal event schedule, (73 percent of planners and 69 percent of attendees).

"Enable attendees to manage their schedule, to be able to go into an app and select the session they're going to participate in, have that stuff make its way to their own calendar -- that is very important," says Reggie Henry, CIO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Center for Association Leadership.

Ball agrees, adding that another important feature is "appointment-making capability, so that attendees can message within the app and make appointments, or the meeting planner can set up appointments between attendees and sponsors in a hosted-buyer setting."

Apps like QuickMobile, Cvent's CrowdCompass, and DoubleDutch make it possible for planners to connect buyers and sellers at appointment-style trade shows and also make it easy for attendees to make their own appointments with other attendees. "Increasingly, your phone and your tablet device are your main source of information anyway, and all those appointment calendar functions can be built into that app," Ball says. "Capabilities for lead exchange -- and making it a two-way lead exchange rather than the traditional model from the attendee to the exhibitor -- means anybody can exchange contact information electronically wherever they are, not just in the exhibit hall."

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Personalized mobile schedules

CrowdCompass: Smart content learns each attendee's interests and feeds information accordingly

DoubleDutch: Personalized mobile schedules

EventMobi: Personalized mobile schedules

EventPilot by ATIV: Personalized mobile schedules

QuickMobile: Personalized mobile schedules; synchs to personal calendar and contact lists

Lumi Show: Personalized mobile schedules; searchable attendee list

Topi: Personalized mobile schedules; search attendees for similar interests


2. CREATE A SCHEDULE
According to forthcoming research that American Express Meetings & Events, scheduling is the feature most desired in meetings apps by both planners and attendees, according to Contreras.

When asked to rate desirable meetings-app features, 88 percent of planners and 79 percent of attendees surveyed cited access to the event schedule as their top choice. The second was real-time schedule updates (82 percent of planners and 69 percent of attendees) and third was a personal event schedule, (73 percent of planners and 69 percent of attendees).

"Enable attendees to manage their schedule, to be able to go into an app and select the session they're going to participate in, have that stuff make its way to their own calendar -- that is very important," says Reggie Henry, CIO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Center for Association Leadership.

Ball agrees, adding that another important feature is "appointment-making capability, so that attendees can message within the app and make appointments, or the meeting planner can set up appointments between attendees and sponsors in a hosted-buyer setting."

Apps like QuickMobile, Cvent's CrowdCompass, and DoubleDutch make it possible for planners to connect buyers and sellers at appointment-style trade shows and also make it easy for attendees to make their own appointments with other attendees. "Increasingly, your phone and your tablet device are your main source of information anyway, and all those appointment calendar functions can be built into that app," Ball says. "Capabilities for lead exchange -- and making it a two-way lead exchange rather than the traditional model from the attendee to the exhibitor -- means anybody can exchange contact information electronically wherever they are, not just in the exhibit hall."

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Personalized mobile schedules

CrowdCompass: Smart content learns each attendee's interests and feeds information accordingly

DoubleDutch: Personalized mobile schedules

EventMobi: Personalized mobile schedules

EventPilot by ATIV: Personalized mobile schedules

QuickMobile: Personalized mobile schedules; synchs to personal calendar and contact lists

Lumi Show: Personalized mobile schedules; searchable attendee list

Topi: Personalized mobile schedules; search attendees for similar interests


3. GATHER ROI
The main reasons anyone goes to meetings, conventions, and other events are for education and to meet people -- notably potential customers, partners, and suppliers. Apps that make it easier for people to connect also make it far easier for the planners and meeting owners to show that their events are succeeding in doing this.

"The app gives you so much data in real time about what people are doing and how they're interacting with each other and what they're consuming at your event," says Jeff Epstein, director of product and channel marketing for QuickMobile. "Suddenly we have the ability to walk into the CIO or CFO's office and say, 'Here's the activity that we generated at our event; here's the uptick in brand stickiness that we achieved.' [Our attendees] spent four hours cumulatively in the app."

At JiveWorld 2013, QuickMobile's goals revolved around social media, as well as the conference's satisfaction rating. So Jive and QuickMobile had gamification specialist Bunchball create an in-app game that ran throughout the conference, asking attendees to do things like daily challenges that involved taking and tweeting out a series of 10 photos, with the possibility of winning an iPad mini.

Sloan says the game running on the JiveWorld app helped increase the number of tweets made during the conference by 50 percent over the previous year, and the number of photos shared by 108 percent. Another goal was to spur adoption of a new version of its social collaboration software, Sloan notes, adding, "At the end of the conference, we asked, 'How likely are you to upgrade?' The answer was twice what our goal was. We have upgraded more than double the [customers that we did] on the previous version."

One of the key things at which meetings apps excel is gathering analytics, says Ball. "Every touch is trackable, and so you can find out in real time what the buzz is, what courses people are going to, what speakers they like, what exhibitors they liked, who are the influencers and the key connectors in the group, how long they're interacting with the app, how many times, and at what time of the day."

Kevin Long, vice president of marketing and operations for CrowdCompass, adds, "We have more than 30 different metrics, from high-level things like how many downloads and log-ins were there all the way down to what session did the most people check into."

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Includes lead-tracking system; usage analytics

CrowdCompass: More than 30 usage metrics available

DoubleDutch: Provides post-event engagement report with metrics; paperless event savings calculator; usage analytics

Eventbase: Usage analytics

EventMobi: Usage analytics

EventPilot by ATIV: Usage analytics

Lumi Show: Usage analytics

QuickMobile: Attendee activity metrics; usage analytics; click-through performance data


4. ENGAGE ATTENDEES
"With a great mobile app, attendees are more engaged with your event and are more likely to interact with your content and with other attendees," says Bizzabo's Alroy. "That will enhance the event experience."

Meetings apps have plenty of tools to facilitate this, ranging from simple attendee lists, to profiles that allow attendees to look for others with similar interests and connect with them.

One of the key features of CrowdCompass is what Long calls smart content technology, which means "the more you interact with your app, the more the app is going to be personally tailored to you," he says. "It's going to give you content that's personalized to you. If you check in at a session, the documents from that session, posts from people who commented on that session, and pictures from that session are going to come to your newsfeed."

One big advantage that apps possess is that they give the host organization the potential to begin engaging attendees before the event starts and continue the conversation after it. "The ability to extend your community and extend conversations that drive people to want to come back to your meeting next year is very valuable," says Tahira Endean, QuickMobile's manager of event marketing. "Even though we go to meetings to learn and to interact and to network, one of the things we're actually not that good at is networking it is something that still isn't 100 percent comfortable for most people. What the app allows [attendees] to do, if you put it out ahead of time, is see who else is going to be there -- 'Who do I know' or 'Who are the people I've been reading about on social media?' -- so they can reach out ahead of time and not start that conversation cold."

For JiveWorld, Sloan says people who downloaded the app after registration could sign up for sessions, which helped the organizers see which sessions were likely to be popular, and even asked for feedback about other session topics they would like to see on the agenda.

But the big prize is building a community that continues to flourish after the event. Historically, it's hard to keep people engaged after a show ends, says Ball. But apps, and particularly multi-event apps, have the potential to change that, he says.

"For associations, it's a natural," Ball adds. "It's partly about the event, but it's as much about keeping in contact with association members. All of the major app companies are now building multi-event apps -- you download it once, then for each meeting, attendees don't have to download a new app and planners don't have to build a new app. All the attendee needs to do is open that app and it'll automatically update for the most current event. That extends the interactivity, you can send notifications, and it's part of the whole digital dialog that you should be having with your members or attendees that regularly come to your event."

Sloan says some of the challenges in JiveWorld's game continued for several weeks after the event, until the final awards were given out.

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Connect with other users ahead of show; multi-event app to stay connected year-round; suggests other events for users based on profile; live surveys and polling

CrowdCompass: Multi-event app to stay connected year-round; live surveys and polling

Crowd Mics: An app that turns any iOS or Android-native phone into a live microphone for audience interaction

DoubleDutch: Multi-event app to stay connected year-round; live surveys and polling that incentivizes attendees; communication directly based on interest tags in profiles

Eventbase: Augmented reality (overlay information on camera view); multi-event app to stay connected year-round; iBeacon indoor tracking

EventMobi: GPS-based geolocation; live surveys and polling

EventPilot by ATIV: iBeacon technology for indoor location tracking; GPS-based geolocation allows messaging based on attendees location; live surveys and polling

MeetingPulse: Strong live polling/survey app with lead-tracking; incentives to participate; real-time audience emotional feedback

Lumi Show: Strong polling and survey capabilities

Lumi Join: Real-time messaging and polling app; live or moderated discussions

QuickMobile: Multi-event app to stay connected year-round; gamification tools; live surveys and polling

Social Q&A: Polling app allows audience to vote on questions members want answered

Topi: Create geofences around venues and other areas and communicate with those inside; interest groups; private chat with maps, audio, and photos


5. SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION
Another thing at which apps excel is helping planners encourage, aggregate, and oversee social media at their events. Many apps integrate social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, allowing attendees to post to their accounts without leaving the event app, Ball says. "You can greatly impact the footprint of an event for publicity, or for greater impact, or for future reference -- and all those social media postings can be tracked," he adds.

But apps do more than just make it easier to tweet and see tweets. CrowdCompass lets attendees share notes they took during sessions and can pull information directly from atendees' LinkedIn accounts to autofill their conference profiles.

Cloud Factory used Bizzabo's polling capability -- a common feature in meetings apps -- during its pitch sessions, in which 18 startups were given five-minute pitches in front of U.S. and Canadian venture capital firms. The entire event audience voted in real time to grade the pitches, giving both the firms and the startups valuable feedback, says Bizzabo user Jenn Egroff, marketing manager for Boast Capital and an organizer of 2014 Cloud Factory, a show for entrepreneurs and investors in the cloud computing industry held in Banff, Alberta, Canada, this April.

Another increasingly common feature of meetings apps is the social wall -- a tool that consolidates attendees' social media posts and rotates them across a big screen for all attendees to see. There are various tools that allow planners to moderate the posts.

Tint is an app company that specializes in social walls, which can be projected on anything from a ballroom screen to a stadium scoreboard. DECA, a 60-year-old nonprofit that prepares high school students to become leaders and entrepreneurs in a variety of business fields, used Tint during its 2014 International Career Development Conference (ICDC). The conference brought together more than 16,000 high school students from around the world at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The organization pulled in more than 14,500 tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos with its hashtag, and posted them on the 70-foot scoreboard while the attendees were in session.

"Because they're high school kids, they're so active on social media, we were really looking for a way to bring everything that they were talking about to us," says Janelle Scudder, communications manager of DECA. "Everyone in the arena could see the tweets and photos they were talking about -- right away, up on that giant screen. The reaction from the kids was awesome. They loved getting on the screen."

DECA also used Tint's ability to integrate messages into the feed at planned intervals to regularly acknowledge sponsors and ask for specific tweets. In order to recognize the high school teachers/advisers who work with DECA, a speaker asked attendees to use a specific hashtag for tweets or photos thanking their advisers, Scudder says. "So just as we were thanking the advisers, all these tweets and photos appeared on the screens with kids thanking their advisers, giving them shout-outs, sharing photos." Another Tint feature is gathering social media posted within a specific geographic area, from a room, to a stadium, to a neighborhood.

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Offers in-app messaging and LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook integration

CrowdCompass: Social wall; share session notes with others; share text and photos to Event Compass activity feed; photo scavenger-hunt-based game built in; social media integration

DoubleDutch: Link app profiles to users' social media accounts to post from a central hub; social media integration

EventMobi: Strong social features including in-app social media integration; private chat

Eventbase: In-app game; on-mobile media wall with embedded video

EventPilot by ATIV: Twitter integration; customizable links to an organization's internal social media sites

Lumi: Social media integration; live message board; photo sharing

QuickMobile: Choose which social media platforms to connect to; content sharing includes notes, photos, chat

Tint: Full-featured social wall specialist; links to 10 social media channels

Topi: Strong social media integration


6. CREATE SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Apps can also help you create new revenue streams, says Bizzabo's Alroy. "There are all kinds of opportunities for sponsors, from sponsoring posts on the [social media wall] to the splash screen that attendees see when they open the app," he says. "Smart event organizers are creating revenue streams that pay for the app or generate profit."

Bizzabo was able to turn every break announcement into another opportunity to recognize sponsors with pre-scripted reminder messages, Cloud Factory's Egroff says. "It was just keeping people on top of the schedule, and people found that really helpful," she adds. "It was saying, the [networking] break is upstairs, thanks to Microsoft. Go check it out, and by the way, Microsoft has a contest on, so stop by their booth [later]."

DECA strongly encouraged its ICDC sponsors to tweet using the event's hashtags, which let it moderate those tweets and project them up onto the Tint social wall. But the event organizers also encouraged the audience to tweet out thanks to its financial supporters. "When we had sponsored awards on stage, we could say, 'Retweet to thank @Marriott for this award,' and that tweet would appear right away on the screen," Scudder says. "So we relied on user-generated posts and because of Tint's instant updating, we were able to get spur-of-the-moment messages out there that benefitted us as well as a lot of our great sponsors."  

Apps that do that:
Bizzabo: Sponsor listings with social links; splash screen; promotional offers space available

CrowdCompass: Multiple-event platform allows sponsorships/branding across events; multiple sponsorship channels built in

DoubleDutch: Multiple-event platform allows sponsorships/branding across events; branded splash screens; sponsor directory; sponsored badges; send promoted posts to segmented user groups

Eventbase: Extensive sponsorship placement, including full-screen commercials; multiple event platform

EventMobi: Unlimited branding and customization

EventPilot by ATIV: Display timed ads on home screen; display sponsors above exhibitors

Lumi: Sponsorship placement

QuickMobile: Multiple-event platform allows sponsorships/branding across events; track attendee activity by time/feature; branding slots throughout app

Tint: Pre-schedule sponsored messages in the social wall flow


Questions or comments? Email [email protected]

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Successful Meetings.