4 Things Marketers Can Learn from the IBM Events App

February 23, 2016

When it comes to satisfying the demands of tech-savvy event attendees, creating memorable and compelling experiences can be tough for marketers — especially when everyone wielding a smartphone expects seamless integration between their physical and virtual worlds.

Over the last few days, we’ve been at IBM InterConnect 2016 — one of tech’s most impressive events for mobile, cloud, and IT — exploring how industry innovators are harnessing the power of technology to connect both individuals and ideas. But without a convenient, real-time reference point at our fingertips, navigating IBM InterConnect’s 1500+ sessions and professional development workshops whilst surrounded by 20,000 technology enthusiasts would certainly be a challenge.

Which is why we’re particularly excited about this year’s IBM Events app (iOS, Android) and sought to learn more about the technology setting InterConnect 2016’s mobile strategy up for success.

To paint the picture, the IBM Events app, built by Eventbase and powered by IBM Softlayer truly is the digital crux of IBM InterConnect 2016. Within minutes of watching a keynote or wandering around the EXPO, you’re guaranteed to notice fellow attendees using the app to navigate the conference, check schedules, and consume, share, or search for content within its next-generation interface. This is an impressive feat, given that app adoption is so heavily dependent on a positive user experience. In the words of IBM’s own digital strategist, Ted Conroy, “it doesn’t matter how hard you work on or promote a product, if people don’t want to use it, they won’t.”

So what attributes really make the IBM Events app both popular and effective? And what takeaways will tech marketers find most relevant to their own event strategies? Our chat with Conroy and his team showcased three standout features that will help strengthen any events program, generate buzz, and build user-base advocacy.

1. Connectivity: Make it quick and easy

The IBM Events app is designed to make setup and connecting quick and easy, thanks to LinkedIn’s profile API integration. Almost immediately, users can sign in using a clean, simple log-on interface and activate social sharing, messaging, and network building. This significantly reduces upfront work, allowing app users to seamlessly, and repeatedly, locate and engage with the people and content that matter most.

2. Foster, and facilitate, relationships

Events are immensely valuable because they provide endless opportunities to network, collaborate, and converse. But no one wants to end their week with a long to-do list, handful of business cards, and a dreadful case of #FOMO. Thankfully, IBM’s digital strategy team built in two powerful app features to help keep users continuously engaged, informed, and connected.

First up is the Activity Stream, which enables attendees to post within dedicated InterConnect 2016 groups and send personal messages to new contacts, exhibitors, and fellow colleagues. This places users in the front row of conversations and communities that matter most to their areas of expertise. Given that it’s also at their fingertips, we think it’s the best seat in the house!

Even more powerful is the “Around Me” feature, which uses iBeacons to show attendees others who are nearby with similar professional interests. Conroy highlights the potential: This effectively “turns a room full of strangers into a pool of peers, colleagues, and potential contacts. We’re thrilled to help facilitate unique connections or conversations that wouldn’t have [otherwise] been made.”

3. Deliver on form and function

While a healthy event marketing strategy focuses on driving engagement and building advocacy, sometimes it’s worth it to go the extra mile and truly delight your attendees. And from what we’ve seen, IBM’s heavy investment into the details of user experience consideration has really helped set their event app apart. These are some final features we love.

  • Offline Capabilities: Spotty WiFi? An unexpected “dead zone”? The IBM Events app includes offline functionality so maps and schedules are stored natively on your device.
  • Advanced Schedule Building: This feature helps users plan out their daily agenda in advance.
  • RFID Technology: Feeds information about sessions to you throughout the event, making it possible for IBM to deliver surveys and collect live feedback.
  • Live Streaming and On-Demand Content: The app provides access to all content produced through the event, including live streaming of sessions, social media streams, on-demand session content, speaker information, and so much more.

4. Help your audience have fun!

Everyone loves free prizes and a bit of good competition. This year, IBM has an awesome InterConnect BUCK$ game sponsored by LinkedIn to help encourage interaction and collaboration throughout the week. This is a great way to liven up the mood and get people excited as new winners are announced each night.

Eager to learn more and follow our interviews and insights at IBM InterConnect 2016? Tune into IBMGO.com and visit our blog for coverage of our exciting week in Las Vegas.


Interested in powering your next event with the LinkedIn API? Read on for more information.