If you really want to measure your social media return on investment in real estate, sooner or later you’re going to have to go out and meet people. Live events (like tweetups, social media breakfast, and conferences like Real Estate Connect) are where your social media "friends" can turn into real friends, clients and business partners.
There are some tech tools and toys that can help you get the most out of live events. And live events are a perfect place to try using new tools efficiently. Why? Because live events generate a lot of chatter and social interaction. With all the different conversations, ideas and people flowing around, you’ll quickly learn which tools and techniques fit your style of communication best. More data can definitely make for better testing.
Here’s the tech I’ll be using at Real Estate Connect in New York City this week:
My favorite digital note software is Evernote. Evernote is basically your giant file-cabinet in the sky. It has three main components that I use all the time: a Firefox plugin for grabbing and storing Web pages; a desktop application that you can stuff with all kinds of files, including text documents, images, PDFs and anything else you can think of; and a mobile application that you can use to store a variety of items and access them while on the go.
Once you have things in Evernote, the software stores it all in the "cloud" (aka a remote server that you can access from anywhere you can access the Web) and makes it searchable. Evernote even reads text in images and photographs and makes that text searchable. Yeah. Those photos of business cards you take with your iPhone: searchable.
I could write a whole column about how great Evernote is, but I’ll stick to how I use it for events. First up, I put whatever schedule exists for the conference into Evernote. For this I use either the Web grabber from the schedule page or if there is a PDF I use that (I set my computer to automatically load any PDF I download from the Web into Evernote).
Then I set that PDF to be a "favorite" in my mobile version of Evernote. I do this in case I’m going to be at a venue that has spotty Internet access. Anything set as a "favorite" will be stored locally on my mobile device.
This way, I’ve kept the whole conference schedule easily accessible from anywhere. Sure, I’ve got my preferred sessions in my calendar and all that. But once I’m onsite I may want to change my mind based on things I hear from real people, and having immediate access to the full schedule makes this easier for me. Plus, I often misplace my printed schedule.
Using Evernote this way helps me stay present at the conference, to interact with real live people as much as possible, and adjust the sessions I attend based on in-the-moment information. …CONTINUED
Summizer is an oldie-but-goodie iPhone app. It is a Twitter application that monitors search phrases. It isn’t a full-featured Twitter client, with lists and direct messages and all sorts of other mumbo jumbo — all it does is monitor a search for a particular term.
Summizer loads fast and the stripped-down functionality helps you focus on a single thing: listening to what people are saying about something. This is really useful at a live event — especially one with multiple simultaneous tracks.
When I’m at a conference I set Summizer to monitor the specific hashtag, or identifying Twitter name, for the show. This way I can take a quick pulse on what is happening. Sure I could use a full-featured Twitter app, but then I’d be tempted to reply to people and start conversations and all that. I’d rather be starting conversations with real people in the real world when I’m at an event.
So Summizer is good for getting the pulse, figuring out what’s going on, and who said what at the sessions I can’t attend. It’s also pretty good for finding out where the parties are.
Sure it’s a silly mobile game. But when I’m at an event, I want to know where to find my friends. If my friends are using Foursquare, then chances are good I’ll know where they are.
Ignore all the "mayor" stuff (unless you’re ultra-competitive, like me) and just use Foursquare to check in and figure out where people are. If you feel all alone on Foursquare, then "friend me up."
Another great use for Foursquare — that has nothing to do with the badges and mayors and coolest-kid syndrome — is to answer the following question: What is there to do near here? You see, people leave tips about their favorite places in Foursquare, and these tips will be visible to you based on your location. So you can open up the mobile version of Foursquare and click the "Nearby" button and find which places are nearby and read people’s recommendations about them.
So there you have it: the three digital tools I’ll be using the most during the Connect conference this week. If you have any other great tech tools that you use for live events, let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about them.
Gahlord Dewald is the president and janitor of Thoughtfaucet, a strategic creative services company in Burlington, Vt. He’s a frequent speaker on applying analytics and data to creative marketing endeavors.
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