DARREN EDWARDS – INVISAGE EVENT TECHNOLOGY BLOG

Conference, Exhibition and Business Event Technology: Social Media, Event Apps®, Email Marketing, Cloud Solutions, Hybrid and Virtual Events.

DARREN EDWARDS – INVISAGE EVENT TECHNOLOGY BLOG - Conference, Exhibition and Business Event Technology: Social Media, Event Apps®, Email Marketing, Cloud Solutions, Hybrid and Virtual Events.

How Secure is your Event App?

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The mobile world is continuing its rapid transformation and we are fast becoming reliant on our mobile devices for almost everything we do. Technology has rapidly become a part of our daily lives and social transformation has created a groundswell that we simply can no longer ignore. Due to the need to enhance the live participant experience, the value of mobile devices for events has increased immensely.

By 2016, it’s expected that there will be more than 10 billion mobile, internet ready, devices in use globally. This is astounding given it exceeds the earth’s total population. As you would expect mobile application security will need to grow tremendously in order to match the demand from consumers and ever evolving threats to mobile security.

In recent years the event industry has raised questions concerning security within mobile apps based on an article concerning security breaches by a leading app developer “Security researchers decided to take a look at the app to see just how secure it was. In a short amount of time, they identified a total of six flaws.” The article notes two issues that are really concerning:

“The most severe of them can be exploited for man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. An attacker could inject a phishing page into the login sequence to trick users into handing over their credentials.”1 And, “The information in the app is retrieved from an SQLite database file that’s downloaded to the smartphone. This file contains the information of every user who has signed up for the Conference app, including full name, company and title.”

Yes, these are very concerning breaches. This has prompted event managers to ask the question “How secure is our app and what does our event app developer do to prevent something like this from happening to us”? I am pleased that this has awoken the event industry. We have been preaching protection of customers’ data and user privacy since the beginning! Not that long ago, a US state sued an airline for not publishing a privacy policy inside their app because of the information they were collecting:

The suit was later dismissed but it prompted extremely important dialog relating to user data. We all need to be concerned about what information is being collected and how it is being used inside of the mobile apps we use daily.

First, let me say that NO ONE’s mobile app is ever going to be completely 100% secure! If the FBI, CIA, Bitcoin banks, credit card companies, Target, and other highly secure websites/domains can be hacked, no matter what we do we will not stop them completely. If a hacker wants to break in, they will have ample time to do so and they will figure out how to breach a mobile app. There is a fine line here because if we make the app too secure, it creates a barrier to entry and usage. The added complexity can also significantly increase app support requests when users can’t get access into the app. This can cause low download numbers, lack of usage, drop in sponsorships, and the wonderful experience you were expecting to get out of your mobile app – goes away!

Only serious event app developers make it their job to educate their clients about mobile app security. They work on ways to make sure sensitive information is not accessible via the app or if it is really sensitive they keep it out of the app but still provide access in other ways. They also teach customers about having a privacy policy that details what information is collected to help protect them and their clients. DIY app vendors don’t provide this type of service and there is no one there to protect customers from uploading information that can be compromised. Leading app developers with implement features that require users to opt-in and ways to protect user and customer data. They use encryption techniques to secure data so that attackers can’t trick users with man-in-the-middle attacks into handing over their information. For obvious reasons I will not go into detail regarding these techniques but as President or Core-Apps, Jesse Snipper said to me, “every effort is made to keep customer data secure when that is requested but as with all security, it makes access harder — most clients opt away from security and instead choose to limit what they put in the app to publicly available information.”

For more information regarding how to secure your app with and without multiple levels of security, contact your event app developer or feel free to contact me for a secure referral.

About the author: Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards is the founder of Invisage Creative Services in Australia. With more than 22 years’ of experience in the meetings and events industry, Darren continues to explore and develop creative design and innovative technology products to the benefit of the global event industry.
Contact: info@invisage.net 

About Invisage Creative Services | www.invisage.net   
Invisage Creative Services has been providing creative and technology products to the meetings and business events industry since 1993.  Their vision is to connect people and to perfect the event experience by delivering creative, engaging, and collaborative technology solutions for meetings, conventions and tradeshows around the world. Core products include mobile event apps, collaborative technologies, virtual and hybrid events, email marketing, cloud based solutions, website development and graphic design.

Why have a mobile Event App?

This is a question that I use to get when we first started in 2009 when everyone was still using paper maps and programs. Since that time, however, I do not get this question often enough.

Just producing a mobile app does not mean it will be successful. Sadly, some organizers buy an app just to have one or they got it for free (ok, don’t get me started on a free app – you’ve heard the old saying “you get what you paid for”).

Then the responsibility of getting content into the app gets added onto some staff member’s already full plate and consequently it shows in the app. As Mr. Wonderful (aka Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank) would say… “STOP THE MADNESS!”

It is not hard to have a successful mobile app. Really, all you need are three (3) things:

• An app that is user friendly
• Content that is relevant
• Promotion of the app

Each of these items are very important and have many parts to them. Having an app that is user friendly requires an app that anyone can pick up and use without any training. It must engage the audience with relevant content.

They should want to continue using it not only during the event but pre and post event as well! Promoting your app so that users know about it is just common sense but you’d be surprised the number of events we see that produce an app and never really promote it.

These three things take planning. First, know the demographic for your event. Find out through some simple polling what you audience uses for mobile phones, tablets, and how they would like to get their content.

Over 70 percent of adults use some social networking on their mobile device. So, you want to choose a social platform that will return an ROI for your event.

Event-based social platforms return little to no ROI so ask about social networking platforms they would like to use during the event and also what they use on a regular basis. It is important to know what they will use during the event vs what they use on a regular basis because during the event their activity will be different from what they use regularly. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule.

Next, plan out the content you wish to present to the audience. Besides what is typically found in a program guide and standard in most apps, this can encompass many features.

Features like audience response, session check-in, video, sponsorships and iBeacon to name a few. All are a part of presenting content to the audience.

You should also plan out your content for more than just the event dates. Plan this to be for the whole year until next year’s event. YOU have an audience – take advantage of using the app to communicate with them!

Promotion of the app is more than just putting up a link. Let the audience know what the app contains. Let them know that you plan to use the app year round.

Highlight some of the cool features or new features in emails and your website. Provide your app’s link and a button for all of the event’s partners to put on their websites.

Promotion has to start early and continue during the event as well as after. During the event, put signs in registration. Did you know that about 60% of your total downloads will come two days before the event starts and then through the event??

Downloads are great, but usage is king!! Keep in mind, one million people could download the app but if only 100 people use it then it is worthless. No one sees the content, sponsorships and most likely they will delete the app from their phone. So follow these steps above and look for the usage to grow!!

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The holy grail – a year round mobile app!!

Ok, ok, having a year round mobile app may not be the holy grail to some – but to us app makers it is music to our ears! Why? Because, it gets our app out there and then it is being used all year long. It’s like writing a song and hearing it on the radio!. But no, this blog is not all about us, it’s about you and why it is important to think of your mobile app being used year round.

First, you work so hard building an audience for your mobile app. Typically, the event drives the app’s initial download. You plan the content for the event, keep it updated, and schedule promotions for the app all the way up to the event. So why stop there?? By planning your content to be updated year round you keep your audience engaged. And this is a great way to communicate with that audience you built. Start by making a content playbook with a year-long calendar – one that does not stop at the event. Pre event content can be about speakers, who’s attending, goals for this year, what to look forward to at this year’s event. Maybe even have a few focuses on certain exhibitors (Sponsorship alert!!) leading up to the event. Then, after the event is over, add some content about highlights from the event. Use a survey to gauge audience feedback. Talk about leadership’s goals for the up coming year. And before you know it – it is time to begin talking about the upcoming event again.

People always carry their phones with them so don’t waste an opportunity to use your mobile app as a vehicle to communicate with the audience you built. Make sure you choose a mobile app that is not going to stop working after the event is over. It only takes a little common sense to know that if the front screen of the app is all about content that is happening at the event with pictures, etc. then the app is done when the event is done. We find that less then 15% of the audience that downloaded the event app deletes it from their phone after the event is over. Also, keep promoting the app year round. Don’t take it off you website and emails. As a matter of fact, add little notes like “Check out the article on Leaderships goals for next year’s event on our mobile app” and then have the link right there for the app.

If your organization’s goal is to grow your brand, build your audience, and make the audience aware of your initiatives, then there is no better way than mobile. So, plan just a little more then what you did for the event’s initial content and follow some of these ideas above and you will have the holy grail of a year long mobile app and add another vehicle to help meet your goals.

Guest Author: Jay Tokosch, CEO, Core-Apps

Engage your Audience – Turn on your mobile Device

In our business I am often asked or required (mostly just enjoy doing it) to review and assess new and innovative products that will add value too and enhance business events. With so many new tech products emerging daily it is difficult for anyone to know what or where to implement these new tools.

One has to be extremely careful while riding this tech wave not to get caught up in the flood of technology. It is important not to deploy new technology just to innovate as often a simple ‘show of hands’ is quicker and more accurate than a sophisticated voting system. (Not to say these systems don’t have their place but polling is only useful if you actually use the data; and most people don’t). This article is not about polling though so I won’t get off topic.

In selecting what technology tools to deploy at your events I am a firm believer that all new and existing products must be reviewed and assessed to comply with the following selection criteria: (You may have your own but this one works for our business and that of our clients).

• Add benefit to our clients, their events and all event stakeholders

• Be profitable to the event (this can be directly or via sponsorship and advertising revenue)

• Easy to comprehend and use

• Easy to promote

• Easy to sell

• Easy to deliver

• Carry minimal risk

• Require minimal technical support

• Be Innovative

• Not replace existing products and services unless they add value and make ‘Life Easier’ for all

For anyone who has managed a meeting or provided a presentation to a group, mobile tech distraction is an increasingly common challenge that needs to be managed during a live meeting: ringing, texting, email checking, “tweeting”, “angry-birding”…how to keep your attendees engaged and focused among all these distractions?

The use of mobile phones, tablets and laptops at events has become so prevalent that event planners need to find effective solutions to incorporate them into daily practices and, moreover, turn them into engaging and learning tools.

Pre Event Marketing and Engagement Tools

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Video

Internet video is widely used in society, is growing rapidly and has great opportunities for use in the events industry. Videos can engage viewers, can increase retention of content, are accessible via many devices, and can be easily shared via social media channels. The use of videos can improve your search engine rankings and video email marketing has fully trackable and higher click-through rates compared to traditional marketing methods. The costs to produce and distribute video from point of inception to delivery have reduced dramatically.

As events are visual, the visual nature video is a natural alternative to help market and extend the reach of events. Videos can be used before, during and after the event to convey the message and to improve attendance at future events.

Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute: 60
Number of videos viewed on YouTube everyday: 4 billion
Number of unique visits to YouTube every month: 800 million
Total number of hours of video watched on YouTube each month: 3 billion
Total number of views YouTube had in 2011: 1 trillion
Email Marketing

This is certainly not new media but in my mind it still represents the most powerful engagement tool for marketing your events. When used properly of course. To date, no other marketing tool proves to be as effective as a well planned and executed email marketing campaign to boost attendee registrations and recognise sponsors. Email is a powerful way of interacting with clients, potential delegates, sponsors and exhibitors; generating interest in your event.

Social Networks

Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Foursquare, Flickr. All of these can be used to listen to, share with and engage your audience when marketing your events. You just have to be prepared to listen and not heavily moderate your conversations.

Native Apps

Having a conference app that is native to the iPad takes advantage of the faster syncing capability, the enhanced graphics and the larger screen size. Going native also allows the ability to seamlessly use other applications, such as email, calendar, camera, alerts etc., as part of the event app.

A good native event app will provide features that support and enhance the event experience for all stakeholders including attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, local venues, restaurants, accommodation providers and of course the event manager. Native Event apps are rapidly becoming the tool of choice and can deliver content and engage your audience well beyond the walls of the event.

Audience polling

Audience polling devices are a great way of stimulating attendee interaction and finding out what they are thinking. However, traditional keypads can be beyond the budget for many events (from $3-12/person/day). Event App based polling/survey systems, are rapidly evolving and very soon will be the polling system of choice for all events.

Surveys

Traditional surveys methods are problematic. Paper surveys are inefficient in tallying and end in landfills. Web surveys often are captured days after the event when impressions are cold often resulting a low response rate. Alternatively, mobile event app survey tools are low-cost, low in environmental impact, efficient in data collection and capture the data while the impressions are fresh.

Lead retrieval

There are a few apps in the market that offer lead retrieval for exhibitors such as DUB – Mobile Business Card Networking and iLeads but this requires deploying additional apps at your event. Quality event apps will incorporate lead retrieval systems either through QR code scanning or NFC (Near Field Communication).

The rapid development and deployment of technology in our social and event lives has presented many opportunities to us as individuals and as event organisations. It is important for us all that we learn to change and adapt to NEW technology quickly in order to make technology our slave and not our master.

Don’t be afraid to exploit technology through well planned event campaigns and you will be delighted with the results. Event Technology can and does add true value to the planning, marketing and participation phases of your events.

What an exciting future we have ahead.

About the author: Darren Edwards

Darren Edwards is the founder of Invisage Creative Services in Australia. With more than 20 years’ experience and knowledge in the meetings and events industry, Darren continues to drive innovation and creativity in events and the way they are delivered and received.

Contact: info@invisage.net

About Invisage Creative Services | www.invisage.net

Invisage Creative Services has been providing creative and technology products to the meetings and business events industry since 1993. Their vision is to connect people and to perfect the event experience by delivering creative, engaging, and collaborative technology solutions for meetings, conventions and tradeshows around the world. Core products include mobile event apps, collaborative technologies, virtual and hybrid events, email marketing, cloud based solutions, website development and graphic design.

Learn More about Core-Apps in the Event App Bible

Check out the Event App Bible to see how the competition stacks up against the industry-leader CoreApps.

The Event App Bible is the largest research to date about the mobile event app ecosystem. Clear all your doubts and confusion about Mobile Apps for events.

Learn more about the free Event App Bible or directly download the PDF.

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