Last week I spent a few days with a number of other bloggers at Orange Business Services at their Orange Business Live event. From my perspective, bringing a team of outside bloggers into a key customer event was a brave and bold move by them – and a very forward looking one. Brave, because most large corporates are still focused on trying to “control the message” to allow free access to their customers and staff. They want a few trusted journalists and tight control by their PR team. The reality is that control is over. Customers are already talking freely about your product or service. The imperative is to engage with those conversations.

On the last day of the event, I was talking with James Moffat (of Organic Development) and Glenn Le Santo. Rather than let the conversation float away, I caught it on video, and it’s been heavily retweeted and viewed:

And there in is my proof why you want Social Media at your event. Without the blogging team you might not have heard of the event, or seen that talk. Here’s my top 5 reasons to add social media to your event:

  • It extends the reach of your event. People who couldn’t make it physically, can still see it.
  • It extends the duration of your event. Why create all that great content to only last a day. Get it on-line. Let it last.
  • Create conversations. Get feedback. People pay tens of thousands for focus groups. Find out what people think for a fraction of that cost.
  • Have expert voices translate your message. All businesses speak in their own corporate speak. Bloggers from your customer base can translate your speak into customer-speak.
  • Being direct. Unpolished. And credible. Yes, you can create a polished corporate video, but a 2 minute live on-camera interview pushed to YouTube is significantly more credible.

There’s plenty more. The fact is that having a social media team at your event is a very cost effective way to multiply the value of your event. Orange Business Services is one of those leading the way. Many others will follow.