Saturday, December 4, 2010

Live Social Media Support for Conferences and Trade shows - Top 5 things you need to know.

Recently LileStyle Productions provided live social media support for the popular Celebrate Your Life conference in Phoenix Arizona. The conference boasts a large attendance of 2000 people and provides breakout sessions over a 4 day period with Spiritual authors from around the world. We made the suggestion to the creators of this conference, Mishka Productions, to have a video booth set up that would work in conjunction with the social media team. This booth was set up in the main area of the conference and was used to capture testimonials from some of the attendees while also providing a place for our team to work.

We also suggested that we go into the breakout sessions and take pictures and video that could be uploaded to the social media sites. Mishka already had a professional photographer who was taking photos, but the social media team photos were uploaded instantly to the social media sites while the photographer's photos took a little bit more time to prepare and were being sold to attendees as well as used for future promotional reasons. So it made sense to have the social media team taking pictures with our individual cameras.

Photo provided by our friend, Sean Kapera at

We took a team of five people and came back with lots of information about what worked, and what didn't. Here are the top 5 things we learned from this experience.

  1. Having a five person team was crucial.

    Our challenge was to make sure we had enough time for 2-3 teammates to get into and out of the many different breakout sessions and when the high traffic occurred between sessions, to get back to the booth to help out with the flow.

    At high traffic times between sessions, we needed three people to help make things flow smoothly. We had one teammate catching people as they went by to tell them about the booth and see if they would stop for a testimonial. This is crucial because not many people just stopped on their own so we needed to engage them and ask them to participate.

    We had another person help get the release forms signed and would also be responsible for writing down the timecode from the video camera so we could find that person's testimonial easily when we needed to.

    Another person would obviously be needed to run the camera and help the participant to speak into the microphone properly.

    This left two teammates to upload pictures and videos to the social media sites before having to run off again when new sessions started.

    We had one of our teammates help with the responsibility of running errands and bringing lunch to the rest of the team during the conference. This is where we could have used an extra teammate!

  2. Keeping footage and photos organized throughout the event was essential.

    Shooting video for three days straight can become quite messy if not done right. Release forms are mandatory for the video testimonials and it was essential that we get each participant's name and Email address so that we could send them a link to the video that would be created. We had to listen to the testimonials and make notes as to where the participant is from, which Author they went to see, and any other interesting notes such as whether the participant was emotional or visiting for the first time.

    Using as many details as possible can be really helpful for editing the video clips later. We created a spreadsheet to track all of our testimonials and even included the social media links for where the testimonials were added so that we could find them quickly.

    It also became necessary to constantly upload pictures and video from our individual cameras from the breakout sessions. Having a central hard drive for this, organizing these into sessions and actually re-naming each file so that it was easy to discern which session the images were from is something that I would like to implement in the future.

    Here is our senior writer, Susan Stocking, and Technical Director Mike Lile working at the social media booth.
  3. Power source and internet access may be challenging.

    This may sound like a no-brainer but it can still be a challenge once you are actually on location and needing to provide an internet source and a power connection for five people. We came prepared with a power strip and a 50' extension cord but these details can be easily forgotten by even the most well-intentioned professional.

    Most five-star hotels charge for internet access for each IP connection, and that access might not even reach the area where your conference is located. In our case, we were staying at a five-star resort and while our paid internet connection worked great in our private rooms, we could not access it from the conference area in another part of the hotel.

    We had to find the Mishka coordinators and work with them to make arrangements to use a wifi connection that they provided to us in the conference area. Our technical director, Mike Lile, had already prepared a method for sharing one internet connection between the five of us. He did this by using a wireless 802.11n USB adapter and a software application called Connectify. We would have been completely dead in the water if we didn't have Mike's expertise to get us on track, however using our smart-phones with 3G/4G access would also be possible, although it would have been extremely limiting.

    From left to right: Garth Stocking, Susan Stocking, Mike Lile, Angie Lile and Gwenda Fleming.

  4. Having coordinated uniforms made it easy to be identified.

    We'll admit, LileStyle isn't the kind of company that buys into the uniform mentality in the work place. We'd prefer to work in our pajamas! But for the purpose of this conference, we chose to make ourselves more visible to provide a level of professionalism to the attendees that they are expecting.

    Doing this allowed the participants to relax and trust us to capture their testimonial on video. It also made it very easy to stop people in the hallways and coming out of conferences. Our uniform included an all-access badge into the breakout sessions which identified us to the staff so that they would allow us in and to take pictures.

  5. Providing attendees a prompting card made for great testimonials.

    Video production is definitely an art and one that usually takes many people to do in a professional way. Not only do you have to think ahead about what you are going to do with your footage and organize it well, you have to consider the participants who will be giving you a little piece of their mind for you to share with all the world. Most people are pretty nervous about the camera and lights. Then you add in the fact that many people are standing around watching them speak. Its no wonder their eyes glaze over in fear when they are finally asked to “go ahead” and speak.

    We found it useful to have a prompting card taped to the camera's tripod. This had blanket statements that they could use while filling in the blanks with their own information. One example of a blanket statement is, “I really enjoy Celebrate Your Life because _______”. Here is a video clip that shows how effective this can be on camera:

In closing there are lots of small tiny things that can really make all the difference in how the social media booth goes. One of these things is keeping things positive. Making sure that everyone is happy and okay as the day wears on is essential. This conference ran from 8am until 8pm and it required constant movement and attention. Making sure the staff has some adequate downtime will help alleviate the tension and make for more positive interactions and therefor will impact the quality of your footage and social media content.

If you have questions or comments about this article or anything related to social media or video production, please do email us at

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