Tech Conference Picks for 2014

Posted by: in Analytics, Marketing Insights, Technology on January 28, 2014

By Gabriel Heywood, Alex Stein, James Wade and Kursten Mitchell

With CES 2014 in the rear view mirror, many technology industry marketers can breathe a little sigh of relief before jumping to the next big event. (We’re getting pretty excited about SXSW Interactive.) With a myriad technology industry conferences in 2014, and about as many opinions regarding the “must-attend” events for the year, we thought we’d add our perspective. If you’re attending an event to promote your company, the “best” event for your brand depends on multiple factors like target audience, business goals and budget. But when you place your bets on the best conferences for your brand, data is the best way to tilt the odds in your favor. With that in mind, here’s our view of the top tech events for 2014 based on historical buzz and what drives buzz at those events.

Top Tech Conferences
We started with a preliminary list of 50 gleaned from “top tech conferences” lists (there are many), as well as historical attendance as estimated by the conference promoters. We then conducted an analysis of the Twitter conversation for each of the conferences, tracking usage of conference hashtags and handles during a period +/-4 days around each conference.

We found the most buzzed about tech conferences cover a mix of topics ranging from gaming (E3) to emerging tech (CES, Mobile World Congress), from  business innovation (SXSW, Dreamforce, IBM Connect) to education (ISTE), as well as IT education and training (Oracle Open World, Cisco Live).Chart: Most Buzzed About Tech Conferences

With an average conversation volume of just over 24,000 among our original set of 50, the buzz at the top ten conferences is notable. As a point of comparison, the Big Data World Congress (ranked 50th), conversation volume only reached 340. Something to consider as you work to extend your presence beyond the conference floor .

What Everybody’s Talking About
Ever wonder what captures peoples’ attention most at tech conferences? Beyond the conference name itself, the most often referenced keywords from across all the events we reviewed include:

  • Conference features (booth, keynote, session, party, presentation, demo)
  • General tech topics (mobile, cloud, social, data, app)
  • Brands (Intel, Oracle, Sony, Microsoft)
  • Products (ps4, xbox, salesforce)
  • Location (Vegas, Moscone, Austin)

18% of conference-related tweets share links, with YouTube and Instagram the top linked sites, while TechCrunch and CNet were top sources of mainstream tech conference coverage.

As a brand representative, consider this data as you determine how your company will participate at events. For example, will throwing a party be worth the investment? Are you prepared to use mainstream conference and topic hashtags to promote your involvement? Have you developed image and video content to increase sharability? Has your PR team to pre-set meetings with the influencers and outlets that consistently rank high as sources for conference news?

Leading the Conversation
As you might imagine, tech companies, organizations and professionals post most frequently regarding tech conferences.  However music, entertainment and celebrity handles have the dominant voice on Twitter, and play a crucial role in promoting tech conferences and sponsors. Depending on your target audience and your goals related to reach and engagement, either type of influencer may be of value when promoting your conference participation.

Of all Twitter handles using relevant hashtags across conferences, the most-followed handles tend to be music/entertainment oriented (7 of top 10). On average:

  • They have over 1,000 times the followers of the handles that tweet the most about tech conferences
  • Their tweets each get  ten times more retweets than the tech handles

The handles with the most tweets are more niche and tech-specific (9 of top 10). On average:

  • They each post nearly 600 more relevant tweets than the most-followed handles
  • 9/10 are exclusively tech-oriented handles, compared to 2/10 most-followed handles

The takeaway: If general awareness is your goal (and your budget permits), work with a celebrity. If relevance is what you’re after, focus on driving coverage among industry insiders.

Given the budget required to participate in conferences, most brands hope to augment in-conference networking and lead generation objectives by extending visibility outside a conference, too. Using analytics to prescreen the events on your shortlist will help you make smarter marketing investments by identifying the conferences, participation options, content and influencer outreach avenues that help you best meet your goals.

By: Kursten Mitchell

A seasoned marketing and communications leader, Kursten brings over 15 years experience to successfully collaborating with clients to design results-driven programs that support awareness, engagement, sales and lead generation goals.

Find me on: Twitter
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