Long live mobile phones at meetings and events!

The war on keeping smartphones out of events has been well and truly lost. We’ve entered the age of the second-screen experience and with that event designers and presenters alike will be scrambling to adapt and leverage this in 2015.

The second-screen experience is where a smartphone or tablet provides enhanced interactive content experience to an individual while viewing or interacting, often as a group, within the live in-person ‘traditional’ event content. For example, attendees could be watching a presentation on stage while providing commentrary on a device to their – and the event’s – social media channels or perhaps accessing supplementary presentation material.

Smart event designers will be able to wield this technology in such a manner as to create high-value and individually personalised experiences within an eventscape in flux.

What appeals with second-screen experiences is not just the realisation of genuine social-media interaction and real time reporting/commentary, but through the use of real time geolocation interaction and recognition via Bluetooth and iBeacon technologies – powerful engagement stratergies can be developed and extended on.

Graffiti walls

Unlike other event engagement strategies, the use of this ‘smartphone’ powered technology can be employed not only within a closed invitational ecosystem – but can be equally as impactful when artfully deployed within the public space. With this scalability of scope, this technology can not only dial up personal and collective user experiences but can also deliver a huge treasure chest of real-time event intelligence wealth with every exchange, movement, and interaction between guest and the event space becoming trackable. For the event designer and commissioning hosts – this translates into potentially greater individual targeting and the ability to deliver enhanced personal customisation within the event space that will produce a considerably more powerful and meaningful in-person experience.

This online in-person trend driven by social media and the now ubiquitous nature  of the smartphone has and will continue to drive greater integrated marketing thinking and event campaign approaches. In a practical sense it will reveal itself not only within well considered event programmes and environment design – but also in experiential devices such as digital graffiti walls, better thought out and more authentic live social commentrary feeds, and smart co-operative co-creations through live digital platforms. Exciting times.

Authentically 'human'

Ultimately, the thinking behind the success of these creation-via-engagement devices strategies is to strategically and creatively combine the physical, the social and technology. Easier said than done. But very possible.

We think that for this online in-person approach to work really well, it is mission critical that strong attractive content is generated on a regular and timely basis and that this content not only be informative, but must be authentically ‘human’. It must possess and demonstrate personality. It must entertain as well as inform. It must be curious and meaningful. It must provide the ‘sugar’ to users and hosts alike.

The smartphone has been lost. Now the battle of the second-screen experience has begun. Be prepared. Be commited to creating something amazing and cool as the online and in-person experiences converge through strategic creativity. Learn to love the second-screen.

Darren Kerr is a founding partner at FACTOR168 Creative Events Company

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