This article originally appeared in the March 2010 edition on the Marketing GPS Newsletter.
Amid dire warnings of yet another East Coast snowfall—this one dubbed both “Snowpocalypse” and “Snowmageddon”—Tom McClintock and I prepared last month to co-present sessions at the 2010 Technology Conference & Expo (aka “Tech10”) of the American Society of Association Executives, being held in Washington, DC. Tom had already flown to Washington, and I had just started driving north from Virginia, when we got word (from concerned co-workers monitoring Twitter) that ASAE had made the difficult decision to cancel the conference due to the imminent snowfall that was already causing flight and train cancellations throughout the region.
Back home just a few hours later, I began tracking developments with the #Tech10 Twitter hashtag. Unwilling to be conquered by mother nature, a number of techies already at DC’s Renaissance Hotel were rapidly advancing the idea of holding an “unConference” that could include stranded attendees in DC and an online audience of those whose travel plans had been disrupted. I called Tom to let him know his trip might not be in vain, and using Twitter he quickly found and joined an in-progress meeting at the Renaissance.
UnTech10 is Born
What unfolded over the next few days was amazing. Within 30 hours, representatives of several event-technology providers set up UnTech10, “The unofficial alternative to the canceled Tech10,” complete with website, logo, Twitter hashtag (#UnTech10, of course), free online registration, streaming audio/video and social networking. Organizers scheduled one full day of live conference events at the Renaissance, followed by a second day of webinar presentations, as well as several networking socials for the onsite crowd.
Tom joined the organizing committee, helping bring everything together by contacting and signing up former Tech10 presenters to give live presentations on Thursday or webinars on Friday. Working with co-presenters Jim Kelly (Syscom Services) and Rob Krebs (American Chemistry Council)—both of whom made the difficult trek through 18 inches or more of fresh snow to downtown DC—Tom managed to help combine their two Tech10 sessions on Website analytics and social-media reputation management into one hybrid session for UnTech10.
Back at my desk, I exchanged emails with UnTech10 volunteers to reschedule my own presentation (designed with co-presenters Larry Himelfarb and Jessica Ek of the American Nurses Association as a tutorial on using search marketing and social media to promote website campaigns) as one of the Friday webinars. Working with other NSI staff, PowerPoint presentations and other supporting materials were re-written and uploaded to SlideShare, and information and document links for both sessions were added to the UnTech10 Website.
A National Audience Joins In
Meanwhile, keeping an eye on the #UnTech10 Twitter stream, I was able to watch—together with a nationwide audience—a play-by-play account of the conference coming together. As competing firms worked together on UnTech10, technical and logistical details that usually took weeks to iron out were resolved in hours, and hotel staff pitched in with gusto to make this event a success. A constant stream of tweets provided encouragement and congratulations to both organizers and participants. To top it off, NSI tweeted the availability of UnTech10 souvenir tee shirts, which we designed on-the-fly via CafePress.
When all was said and done, UnTech10 had become a testament to the power of the latest social-media and event-presentation technologies, as well as a powerful demonstration of the “social” aspect of social media. The canceled Tech10 conference had offered technology in the background, and traditional live conference meetings (with the emphasis on the presenters) limited to a paying audience at a physical location. UnTech10, however, placed conferencing technologies front-and-center, welcoming a nationwide audience of some 425 “attendees” into the presentations via Twitter and the website’s own networking features (all, I should add, with no registration fees).
Will the Conference Landscape be Permanantly Changed?
Along with many others, Tom and I learned a lot about the variety of new possibilities for conferencing, distance learning, and community-building. We also met a new group of professionals on the cutting-edge of conference-organization and -presentation. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how industry event-planning further develops as a result of the unique UnTech10 “snowcial-media” experience.
Note: If you’d like to read more about UnTech10, SocialFish’s Maddie Grant has assembled a thorough list of blog posts and tweets.
NSI at UnTech10
Benchmarking Your Online Impact: From Stats to Reputation Management Jim Kelly, Rob Krebs, Tom McClintock Slideshow; Handout; Video
Preparing for a Pandemic: Raising Campaign Online Visibility Larry Himelfarb, Jessica Ek, Don Baker Slideshow; Handout
Michael is responsible for client SEO work, reporting, FB ads, and web hosting. Prior to joining NSI Partners, Michael received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management Information Systems from Liberty University, and worked at the school’s Network Operations Center. Michael resides in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife, Megan. His hobbies include gaming, watching Atlanta Falcons football, and reading.
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A digital marketing company with almost two decades of experience, NSI Partners helps clients achieve robust results in search marketing, social media, and other digital marketing spaces.