Realtime Content, Social Media and Analytics for Launches, Events and Conferences

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How Real-Time Content and Social Media Re-Invented the DEMO Conference and Launched Startup America Partnership

In this blog post I want to share some details for how my team reinvented the world’s leading launch event DEMO Conference using realtime content production, social media, live press feeds and analytics. Back in 2010 I joined the IDG DEMO Conference team to build a new layer of technology and processes to reinvent the world’s leading launch event. When I joined DEMO did not have an in-house social media team, photography team or back stage “war room” with analytics dashboards to support the production.

Digital Ecosystems must constantly adapt and proliferate not purely gain market advantage, but to survive against a constantly changing, volatile international marketplace full of ruthless competitors. People in organizations also need to continuously monitor fast moving trends, adapt to change, implement new technologies and execute like Formula One Race Team pit crews or the race to win will be lost.

DEMO Conference History

The DEMO conference is a series of technology-focused business conferences in which pre-selected companies and entrepreneurs launch new products and services. Produced by IDG, DEMO seeks to identify and promote new technology with the potential to solve big problems with careful selection and coaching.

The $1 million Award goes to TourWrist

“Products launched at DEMO include: Salesforce.com, TiVo, VMware, Evernote, E*Trade, WebEx and Fusion-io. DEMO Conferences are held under the names DEMO Enterprise, DEMO Africa, DEMO China, DEMO Brazil, DEMO Asia (Vietnam), DEMO Europe (Russia), DEMO Tour, and DEMO Fall. In 1990, Stewart Alsop II realized he was more intrigued by the one-on-one demonstrations of coming technologies conducted in hallways and hotel rooms during the off hours during technology conferences. This prompted Alsop to found the first DEMO Conference in 1991.

The conference draws media attention for its emerging technologies. At the DEMOSpring 2010 Conference, media attendees included Business Week, CBS, Forbes, LA Times, Popular Science, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. Entrepreneurs launching their products and services often cite publicity as a reason for choosing to pitch at DEMO. Additional conference attendees include venture capitalists, angels and other investors, corporate development officers, and entrepreneurs. 

DEMO Conferences also feature prominent entrepreneurs and technology professionals as speakers and panelists at each event. Previous speakers include [10] Twitter cofounder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, SAP CEO Bill McDermott, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Hewlett-Packard CTO Phil McKinney, and Google Enterprise President Dave Girouard.” – Wikipedia 

Building the New Real-Time Content, Social Media and Technology Ecosystem

The game plan introduced realtime content, social media, digital signage, Social TV Studio lounges and analytics technology to support launching 70+ new technology products and services every six months to 800 of the world’s press and venture capitalists.

IDG charged each company $18,000.00 to pitch 6-minutes on stage, have a booth, coaching, networking and meals.

Technology CEOs, Venture Capitalists and Press at DEMO

We Scoured the World for New Technology Innovations via DEMO Innovation Tours

Each year Neal Silverman and our team hosted Demo Innovation Tour events around the globe to connect with the world’s leading entrepreneurs, screen them and invite the top companies to launch new products and services at DEMO Conference. I spearheaded events in Seattle, Los Angeles, SXSW and other events.

Each event was designed as a filter to surface and hand-select companies to present at DEMO. All products were required to be emerging from stealth-mode and must never exposed by the press. The grand prize for each event was the chance to win $1Million in IDG media exposure. The cost was justified to fund a state-of-the-art launch production team and additional exposure across IDG’s global network of technology trade publications. DEMO was closed down a year after I left the production, the big launch events had run their course.

Searching the World for the Best New Technology Companies at the DEMO Innovation Tour in Seattle – Photography by Tim Reha

The Event Production Team

Multiple production teams, technical producers and public relations teams set up for two days to get ready for showtime. This was a large-scale, million dollar live production with a huge risk profile as anything can go wrong and will go wrong at events.

Crews and staff set up the pavilion and general session auditorium for DEMO Spring 2012, the Launchpad for Emerging Technologies, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California


Crews and staff set up the pavilion and general session auditorium for DEMO Spring 2012

Each Company was Coached to have their Press, Social Media  and Content ready for show time!

Behind the scenes our “DEMO Coach” Nathan Goldman took the stage to provide education how to present on stage, build slide decks and all of the small details that will kill a presentation. Presenting high-tech innovations is not easy. The nature of bleeding-edge technology is to fail right when the world is watching.  Nathan worked his magic to help executive remain calm on stage even when disasters happened.

Launch Training and Coaching to Capture a Tidal Wave of Social Media Buzz and Press at DEMO

Live demos require a special talent to work the audience, keep the cadence of the presentation on track to guide the audience through technical details in simplified communication. Storytelling is critical for launches and the art of the pitch is to blow the audiences minds away at the right time after laying down the back-story.

Deploying new ideas at DEMO to catalyze sonic boom of Social Media Buzz at DEMO

My job was to take the stage and provide social media and content coaching for the 75+ presenters. Since each company paid a heavy $18k to IDG, I wanted to give them the cutting edge gold-standard treatment. It is tough to know a lot of depth but I had to keep things relatively simple.

Two weeks before the event I sent out run sheets with homework assignments and checklists for each presenting company and their PR teams. Social Media was very new to most of these companies at the time so they needed hand-holding to get their affairs in order. First I would outline the media machine that was running behind the scenes at DEMO. Then assignments were sent out to teams to get them ready to become a node on our “social media railgun”. Here are a few pro-tip examples. I could go way deeper but we had limited time.

  • Capture all branded social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flicker and other sites. Your brand will be poached and held for ransom when the world of competitors and cyber criminals view your launch. This saved over 100 companies a lot of cash and grief.
  • Search engine optimized all of your websites and social media channels so they rank and are discoverable by the press, investors, partners and M&A deal makers
  • Pre-build out blog posts and we will feed you photos to embellish your posts so they are rich and tell a good story
  • Have your press releases ready. I had created a deal with Marketwire to provide a free press package for each company and hand designed each press release with proper metadata for SEO indexing
  •  Pre-develop social media posts for before, during and after the event. I provided a spreadsheet with examples, @names and hashtags to structure all posts and add them into the social stream.  Events move fast and you do not have anytime to waste. Teams were also instructed to have remote operations working in concert with their on location teams to save money
  • Have customized business cards with your booth number printed out, website, blog, social media channel @names and hashtags

The Event Industry’s First Real-Time Social Media Dashboard with Analytics

I came up with the idea of  a live social media dashboard to solve a few problems. First, I noticed that the press did not have a clearing house and live stream of photographs to go along with their news stories and blog posts covering launches. Since my company had the rights to the photos we could provide them to all of the press. At these types of events 800 press could not afford to each have their own photographer. Thus, we streamlined the process for the leading technology press to write their stories quickly and embellish articles with rich professional photographs.

Tim Reha presents the industry’s first real-time live stream and social media dashboard to the world’s technology press and DEMO companies

I created an A-team of photographers, photo editors who had sports shooting backgrounds. Next I understood how search engine optimization (SEO) worked using photography metadata to index photos. Each presenter and company had a pre-written customized metadata set ready to be added by our live photo editor. The pre-production work enabled us to work extremely fast with detailed accurate metadata.

Real-Time Photo Editing with SEO Metadata and Analytics

We also employed the latest in Canon photography over wireless streaming so our team could eliminate the need to dump camera SD cards. We would have both options on hand since the wireless technology for photo streaming was new and would often fail. Since we controlled the photo stream, we had the power to embed analytics into each individual photo. Our analytics identified photo views and where the photos were placed on news coverage the second they were published.

Real-Time Content Team at DEMO Conference – Photo by Tim Reha

The “Social + Media” dashboard featured live streaming video, social media buzz and photography enriched with search engine optimized metadata, personalized for each presenting company.

TourWrist Launches

The key game changer here was how we developed the system to stream photos to the reporters that they could rapidly embed into their news stories and blog posts.

800 of the world’s leading technology press and trade media at DEMO


Behind the Scenes at DEMO Spring 2011

A team of social media experts generated buzz for each presenting company. We tapped into our social media analytics to monitor when the press broke their news stories and then rapidly re-syndicated the story links and photos to Twitter, Facebook and other channels. A week before the event I created a second by second spreadsheet with pre-written social media posts for each company, speaker and sponsor with encoded links to websites, @names and #hashtags. This boosted our speed to post times down to seconds.

World’s Technology Press Jockeying to Break News First – The first to publish wins the most traffic driving ad revenues for the media

Integration of Social Media into Digital Signage, Dashboards, Schedules, Banners and Print Media

Next I “socialized” the entire event by providing instructions to the IDG team on how system worked. All event signage and programs had the event hashtags and @DEMO social media accounts listed.  We also took over the Santa Clara Convention Center’s digital signage system to reinforce social media messages and beamed our real-time social media dashboard though out the conference center. We created an integrated fabric of digital signage from the freeway to inside the Santa Clara Convention Center. This strategy generate more buzz by messaging guests how to use social media hashtags, @names and a custom dashboard that monitored the event with the latest in realtime analytics.

Social Media integration at events is now an industry event standard. I had to educate and fight battles to get complete integration. Every six months we would blow away the previous event’s numbers across content and social media analytics. This scaled from a typical tweet getting a few hundred hits to 20k hits and beyond.

Team huddle to take over the Santa Clara Convention Center’s Signage System at DEMO Conference


Startup America Partnership Launch – Digital Signage at Santa Clara Convention Center

Backstage we deployed a “war room” with full analytics dashboards to track news and press coverage as it unfolded in realtime

After six minutes on stage, presenters were ushered backstage to a customized realtime digital launch war room complete with live social media analytics, press news buzz as it unfolded, social media sentiment analytics and a cold beer to cool off the stress.

I coordinated sponsorships in-trade to use expensive social media and public relations news analytics packages from Marketwire Sysomos.  Next, I cut a deal with Infocus to have two of their  new 55″ touch screen giant collaboration tablet computers to provide our launch companies with state-of-the-art realtime analytics to measure press hits, social media analytics, blog post comment sentiment and an array of other analytics.

Social Media and Press Analytics

The magic happened when everything came together and the first presenter hit the state. Within a minute we had a stream of photographs and social media posts populating the dashboard. At the end of six minutes the really fast press writer’s stories would hit the internet. In concert, we had our partner Marketwire launch a press release for each company. By the time a company was off stage we had social media analytics, press hits, photography views, shares, likes, and deep social media sentiment analytics racing across two huge 55″ touch screen computers. This created quite a spectacle. It was awesome to see the full digital ecosystem working at scale and everyone loved it.

The social media war room technology provided the DEMO presenting companies with a huge advantage to re-syndicate the news coverage on their websites and quickly interact with audiences on blog comments, critical to answer key questions and block negative comments with smart answers.

Startup America Partnership, a Whitehouse Initiative at DEMO Conference

Neal Silverman Senior Vice President and General Manager of IDG Enterprise’s DEMO called with the big news that we would be launching Startup America Partnership at DEMO. Our guests for the launch were AOL’s c0-founder Mr. Steve Case and Priceline’s CTO Scott Case who were spearheading the initiative signed into action by President Barak Obama. No stress at all 🙂 .

“Startup America” is a White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. This coordinated public/private effort brings the country’s most innovative entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations, and other leaders with a wide range of federal agencies to increase the prevalence and success of America’s entrepreneurs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will commit $2 billion as a match to private sector investment over the next five years in promising high-growth companies. SBA-guaranteed bonds will match private capital raised by these privately-owned and managed investment funds.

"Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country. And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs." —PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, JANUARY 31, 2011

Mega Startup Weekend

The project featured a two part production. First we created a weekend long hackathon in partnership with Startup Weekend and Microsoft. We called the project “Mega Startup Weekend”. The winners of  this event would be featured at DEMO Conference with the winning pitches featured on stage. Next we developed the Startup America Lounge in a room adjacent to the main huge conference room that incorporated a live video studio, photography studio, social media team, press room, custom social media dashboards with live event data and analytics.

Mega Startup Weekend

Building the Startup America Lounge

After getting news we went to work to plan how to manage both the DEMO main stage launches and the new special Startup America Lounge. A decade before this event I had created the Venture All Stars events that united the NW startup ecosystem. This experience hosting events at Seahawks Stadium, Mariners Stadium and Chateau Ste Michelle served as a good model to support the hugely important White House initiative.  

Startup America Team

Startup America Social Lounge at DEMO Fall 2011

Steve Case, CEO, Startup America Partnership with Reid Hoffman, Chairman, LinkedIn

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Behind the scenes with MEGA Startup Weekend winners of the Health Track: Cristian Liu (@cristianliu) and Rachel Kalmar, Co-Founders of Live Home Free (@LiveHomeFree). Photos by Richard Brown Photography

Naithan Jones (@naithanjones), Program Manager at Kauffman Fasttrac and Katie Petersen (@laughingkatie), Program Manager of Kauffman Foundation. Photos by Richard Brown Photography

Startup America Lounge Details

The project was sponsored by Microsoft, American Express, Intuit and Dell. I made sure  that these brand sponsors were provided with a comprehensive content and social media promotion package with analytics. Few sponsors at this time had received a full digital package with analytics and special inclusion of their digital marketing teams. We set the gold-standard for sponsorship deliverables for events.

  • Integrated branding and digital signage with live social media dashboards located at high-traffic areas in the conference center
  • Live video interview studio sponsored by NewTek
  • Photographer backdrop and roaming team to capture the main interview studio and lounge area
  • Live photo editors creating high-value streams of content for the press, media, sponsors and companies
  • Real-Time Social Media Team posting video interviews, photos and other content
  • Private Press Room used for exclusive interviews
  • Full Stack Digital Marketing Analytics for all content, social media and press
  • Relaxation and networking area
  • Full bar

Startup America at TieCon the World’s Largest Entrepreneurship Conference

But wait, there is more… Startup America’s Steve Case was invited as the keynote speaker for TieCon in Silicon Valley. In three weeks from start to finish I pitched to create a Startup America Lounge at TiEcon after tracking down Scott Case at SXSW to convince him that the opportunity would be a hit.

Steve Case, Chairman of Revolution LLC and The Case Foundation is the Keynote Speaker of TIEcon 2011. He will be opening up the conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Keynote Speaker, Marissa Mayer, wraps up the TiEcon 2011 event at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Marissa Mayer is VP of Product Management at Google leading the Google in innovative products, technologies and online management tools.

Ram Singh, CEO of Afiniate and Tim Reha, Creator of the Startup America Lounge

Startup America Social Lounge at Tiecon 2011 where social, photos and video interviews all come together.

Live at SXSW on the NewTek Stage

When the opportunities happen, often they hit all at once. My partner always said “sleep when you die!”.  SXSW is a huge technology event and this year Twitter was all of the rage and social media was going super nova. I was in the right place at the right time and used the opportunity to create exposure for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, races, sexes and from around the world. 

NewTek was a great partner and the global leader for live streaming video servers. They created a high profile stage at SXSW and were generous to provide a valuable interview time slots for our production to tie in Startup America and DEMO interviews on their stage.

Live on the Show Floor at SXSW hosted by NewTek

NewTek Live Interview Studio at SXSW

Next Up – Taking Wearables to the #1 Category at the International CES, the World’s Largest Consumer Tech Trade Show

The next big project was to take on the world’s largest consumer technology trade show and build a new show called Digital Health LIVE at CES. I build a full stack realtime digital marketing ecosystem, live interview studios, staffed the content production team and deployed the analytics engine. The “wearables” and digital health category was just emerging at this time. With the help of a great team we took CES by storm and put the rocket fuel to propel the digital health and wearables category to #1 at CES the first year of our contract. The International CES is massive trade show and volatile, fast paced environment to test new ideas and break things. Once again, our realtime content, social media team and analytics engine was deployed to out perform and dominate the buzz at CES.

Creating a Spectacle of Buzz on the CES Show Floor

Mastering “One Take Live Interviews” with zero post production

I am a bit crazy and also served as the Digital Health LIVE show host and produced “one-take” live interviews with the world’s leaders in wearables and digital health technology. Our approach to zero post production interviews enabled us to crank out a massive amount of content. Jill Gilbert from Living in Digital Times was the master mind producer of this part of CES and had the magical ability to pull in all of the top players in the business. Our job was to work with Jill to provide soup-to-nuts integrated digital strategy, setup new social media accounts and build the content streams for the event. The time-frame from start to finish was brutal since sponsors to fund the studio always came in around December 1st. The event was one month away with holidays killing a week right before the big show hosted in the beginning of January. Budgets were always super tight and we had to go into this with small skeleton production teams, hire local UNLV interns for support and come up with creative hacks to work in these harsh conditions. 

Live interviews at the Digital Health LIVE Stage Sponsored by WebMD

UNLV Intern Team in Studio at CES

Robots on the Runway

The producers had a cool idea to develop a new fashion show called Robots on the Runway and needed some help. I called my friend in Silicon Valley, Andra Kay, a leader in robotics, to advise and pull in robotics companies to be featured at this innovative production at CES.

Robots on the Runway at the Hard Rock Cafe at CES

Social Media Pull Quote Cards

At previous events we had developed a way to super-charge buzz for interviews by developing a new format called the “Pull Quote” social media card. We pre-generated the graphics for each speaker and then used our real-time photography system to rapidly capture images to place on our graphics. A live social media team then listened to interviews as they unfolded on stage and “pulled quotes” from the speakers to be highlighted on the graphic cards.

We then created social media posts with speaker and company @names, #hashtags and codified links to track analytics for click-throughs from the graphics to our speakers websites and our channels. This model enhanced social media posts viral spread by 10X and we would hit up to 60,000+ impressions per Tweet. The effect was like having a home run hitter crush the ball out of the park each time speaker was on stage. The model also developed the personal brand image of our guest speakers and provided them with content to sent to their social media channels.  I developed a whole range of realtime social media strategies, hacks and tricks of the trade that can help you with your business. 

Twitter Stats at CES

Taking CES by Storm and Ranking Wearables #1 Category at CES

CES2014 by Numbers – Wearables #1

Tim Reha is a strategists, event producer, show host, full stack digital marketing and content developer with extensive technology business development experience. Connect:  Email | LinkedIn | Twitter

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