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January 13, 2014

QuickMobile Predictions: Event Apps and Social Media in 2014

Last week, event technology company QuickMobile released a white paper that looks into the future the mobile event app industry. The paper, “Seven Predictions for the Mobile Event App Industry in 2014,” shares the company's forecast on how the industry will advance into the next stage of market acceptance, moving from early adopters to early majority, as apps become commonplace at events around the world. 

We looked at the first prediction with last week's story The Future of Event Apps: Availability, Accessibility and Security. Here is the second prediction with insights from  QuickMobile founder and CEO Patrick Payne.

Prediction #2: Social – in the Right Context – Is More Important Than Ever

In 2014, mobile event apps will embrace social networking by offering what is needed, not what is trendy.

The fundamental sociological needs that sustain interest in live events - to gather in groups, to socialize and to share - will be satisfied even more through mobile apps that can deliver an elegant and effective solution, and meaningful engagement and collaboration opportunities. Where traditional events underwhelm in areas such as networking, spontaneous meetings, content creation and sharing, mobile events will succeed in new and exciting ways.

“Social networking is a very important subject these days,” Payne told IMR. Significantly for event app developers like Quickmobile (and for the people who use these apps), Payne said that programs like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks are increasingly integrated and utilized in apps. These networks help attendees and planners alike “get down to the nuances of what is happening at the event.” 

Three Types of Social
Social is a great deal more than Facebook and Twitter zeitgeist. While these immensely successful social platforms have earned their much respected and rightful place, they assume lesser relevance in many types of events and meetings, particularly those of an internal or private nature. 

There is a subtle yet essential distinction in what ‘social’ means in these types of events. “At a garden show, it's just people tweeting, and everyone, including the organizers, are very happy for the coverage,” Payne explained. But for attendees of internal corporate events, the motivation and desired outcome of networking are more about the organization –strategic planning, education, team building, product launches, training, motivation, etc. – than they are about the individual or sharing with the public. If confidential or proprietary information is present, then discussions and sharing must be closely guarded, and kept within the ‘walls’ of the event and its sponsoring organization. In these environments, social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn present real and present threats to confidentiality, with potentially grave consequences from leaks, accidental or deliberate. As an example, a company could see serious damage if photos or blueprints for a  new product were made public on an employee’s personal Twitter feed or Facebook page. 

Still, Payne said, the need for confidentiality is not the same as desiring social silence. “They may not want to share everything with the public, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to have a voice. They just don’t want it all in the sphere.” 

Collaboration--even for internal events--is essential, so having the right tools in the mobile event app to deliver this function is imperative. The challenge for event organizers is to find the right platform for their needs. There are three types of networking platforms: Social, Business Social (“where people want to buy or sell or maybe get membership for an association or organization—This has a business component that is very important and distinct from general public,” as Payne described it), and Enterprise Social (which Payne said is more of a “closed system,” but can be powerful to bring context to the organization). Event organizers have to learn (and appreciate) the difference between these three types, and must embrace the approach that best suits their particular event. The following chart lists the most popular social networking platforms by type.

Deloitte predicts that by the end of 2013, 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies “will have partially or fully implemented an enterprise social network” Yet the real key to their success will hinge on user engagement, not just deployment. There is still ample room for growth in how users truly engage with and through these platforms. As they gain traction and become increasingly enmeshed in users’ day-to-day activities, it will be difficult to imagine a mobile event app that doesn’t include them. 

Read last week's analysis of apps here, and stay tuned in the coming week for more event app predictions! Download all seven predictions here.

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About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox





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