Amid five days of frantic social media activity across London during Social Media Week, the combined Be2Awards and @ConstrucTALKs event on Wednesday 9 February was always going to be my highlight (I was the event organiser after all!). Despite some palpitations the week before when registrations for the event were still on the low side, it all turned out well.
Around 70 people crammed into the conference suite in the lower ground floor of the Building Centre, and there was a great online buzz about the event (for example, the #be2awards hashtag was cited 713 times during the day!), which combined the announcement of 16 award winners and six great speakers on architecture, engineering, construction, property, business, social media and communication.
Raise awareness – start earlier next time
As I’ve said previously, I think we achieved our initial objective of crowd-sourcing examples of good B2B practice in the use of various different social media and online technologies across the built environment (including blogs, Twitter, use of Facebook, LinkedIn and other community platforms, plus various industry-specific applications). OK, I was disappointed that the construction PR and marketing crowd didn’t capitalise upon the opportunities this time around, but I am sure the next edition will grab even more attention – especially if we build on this year’s event and start marketing the next edition earlier. There were some encouraging signs. Even after online nominations closed, I was still getting requests from people to be included in the shortlists and I’ve spoken to a few more who want to put themselves, their business, organisation or application forward for an award next year.
Keep it open (and stress the social)
We wanted the Be2Awards programme to be as open and transparent as possible – aiming for that sense of authenticity that should underpin all social media interaction – and I think we largely achieved it. Having monitored the online voting patterns, and ensured that there was no concerted effort to ‘fix’ the online voting (we checked IP addresses, timing of votes, etc), we believe all of the award winners earned their votes by mobilising their supporters, friends, fans and followers and getting them to vote, and we published the voting figures the day after the Awards event.
In my opinion, there were some very worthy winners and some very creditable runners-up performances in our polls (over 7,000 votes were cast overall). Almost every category was decided by literally hundreds of people voting for their favourite – no convenient decisions in private by a small number of judges here – and the delight of many of the winners was perhaps a reflection of this. (However, as I’ve written elsewhere, I do wonder if online voting isn’t vulnerable to strong email campaigns that promote a company to users of its products or services, regardless of the real social sentiment towards the various contenders in that category – something I’ll be thinking about before embarking on the next edition.)
Make it more international
Despite its international origins, Be2camp has been largely UK-focused in its activities (we have yet to run a live event outside the UK, for instance), but it has achieved a wide audience. The Be2Awards website attracted visitors from 85 countries/territories during the five weeks of the competition, and people from 35 countries looked at the website and its various feeds on the day of the announcements and @ConstrucTALKs. However, the Be2Awards shortlists only featured a handful of candidates outside the UK – from Ireland, the US, Belgium, Finland and Australia – and only one award went overseas: to Australia’s NearMap. However, two sponsors were Europe-based: HP in Europe operates from Spain while TCS Digital World is Brussels-based. Let’s make the next programme more cosmopolitan, drawing in a wider range of examples from different markets.
As with any event, there are things that I wish we’d done slightly better. We had some web problems (a website outage and some slow page loading, also issues with the SMW-nominated Amiando booking system); there were some video-streaming issues and occasional audio glitches (we didn’t get our TwitterWall up either); some of the actual Awards presentations could have been slightly better stage-managed; and we ran out of coffee cups during one of the refreshment breaks.
As well as resolving some of these practical issues, one thing we will do better next time will be earlier website announcements regarding the Awards winners. But what else should we improve or incorporate? In the same way, that we crowd-sourced nominations and votes, I’d be interested to crowd-source ideas for the next Be2Awards programme. If you went to the event, or followed proceedings online, live or not, what would you like us to have been done differently? What could we have added? What would make this event better for you next time?
PS: Best AEC use of Twitter
Apart from footnotes to two blog posts, I did no lobbying of my followers on Twitter, and I was flattered to discover that I managed to gather 20% of the poll for Best AEC user of Twitter, narrowly beating the nearest of my nine very worthy rivals in this category. Many thanks to everyone who voted for me – and I will wear my badge with pride.
[Credit: Most photos on this page by Graeme Hutchison of HutchisonHaines.co.uk. Thanks, Graeme!]