November 2010

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It seems awfully odd that every year I win those two tickets Beirut Restaurants giveaway via twitter to the Lebanese Food & Wine Festival , and well I am not much of a wine person, so once again one lucky reader will get those two tickets since the lovely guys at Beirut Restaurants agreed to let me pass them on.

The event is taking place between 9-12 December and fully comprises of eating and wine degustations.

So , all you need to do is, check if you like the program of the event and your calendar is free and then comment on the post below and one lucky winner will be announced on Friday Morning.

And do not forget to follow Beirut Restaurants on twitter and facebook, to check their restaurant reviews and keep participating in tehir giveaways.

UPDATE: The Winner is Ghassan , Thank you all for participating & better luck next time.

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Lately I am going to so many events , most are tech or social media related, but … well… a lot of the time… the digital me feels at unease and disappointed, unable to share the event with the world or growing a grudge against the organizers, so I decided to write this simple guide declaring openly to all event organizers that anything less would be a disappointment, and ,well if they do the things I mentioned, they will make the online community more involved in their events and expand their reach and visibility. Don’t they all want that?

Ah well, as my main objective is self centered I mainly focused in things that need to be going during and after the event. (Plus most of them score well on before event stuff after I corner them with my questions in emails) .

1. # – Have a HASHTAG!

This is an out most basic, but then again most event organizers forget to make it short enough, announce it publicly more than once and most importantly forget to register it at a hashtag repository like twubs or  wthashtag,  so most of the time I am livetweeting from an event my followers start asking me “what is this and that #xyz … any links…  ?”

2. Official LiveTweeting

That brings us naturally to livetweeting. I have already talked about the importance of livetweeting here but i just wanted to emphasize that event organizers need to keep on livetweeting from the official event account to update people at the event on what is happening, remind who the speakers are and what their handles are, tell them where the live feeds are (doesn’t hurt to do all that in parallel on linked in and facebook as well) … AND if you are an event sponsor, especially at an event centered around social media, especially if your produce is focused around social media, big thumbs down to you if you are not tweeting about the event and not quoting your guest speaker. Yes @zawya I am talking about you and your zero tweets at MediaMeForum and your replying only two days later to my tweets. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Answer & Engage Tweets

For starters, there is no fun for a hashtag without a livescreen. At MediaMEForm the guys did a great job of livetweeting what was happening, BUT [yes it is a big but] they completely dismissed the twitter community. The twitter Screen was live only during the panels and it was put in a place where no speaker can see what we were talking about, and even the moderator did not address any questions from the tweets, nor did their official twitter channel. Unlike ArabNET, where there were ginormous screens dedicated to tweets and speakers paying full attention to what was happening with one speaker undressing to get a wave of tweets. Still , I think the impact will be even more augmented if you have a dedicated moderator to pick at least two questions from the twittersphere for each panel/speaker and ask them at the event. Honestly speaking, the questions are more pungent, very well formulated and more daring and provoking more mindful discussions, isn’t that what you want? Aren’t your events targeted at identifying the trends of the future?

4. Live Ustream

I was on the peak of bliss drinking my Pepsi, eating popcorn in my PJs watching the pitches at Yallastartup weekend day 1 and working on the other laptop in parallel… but then, lo and behold once the pitches ended and we started getting some cool behind the curtains views of the audience, their feedback and interactions, seeing familiar faces….. THEN the stream turned off and a vigilant message told me that the stream will only resume after one day to show the final pitches and that all in between will not be documented… I felt that that was plain mean… YallaStartup weekend is a sort of non-commercial example.

So all of you event organizers will be saying :”why should we put the stuff live for free, when people pay to attend?”

And I’ll tell you. one has nothing to do with the other.

Most of us attend the events for the networking and has nothing to do with the panels and the speakers, who by the way we realize travel from one event to the other with similar presentations, who most of the time blog a lot and more in depth about the subject, or write whole books on the matter… So you putting up a live stream doesn not diminish your financial gain, which BTW you have reaped in full from teh event sponsors and paying attendees. So you may as well give the sponsor’s their money’s worth and help promote their brands and spread their messages and you event’s messages (while your at it) to even more people. People, who by the way are highly targeted individuals, who simply could not catch a flight, or whose bosses came to the event but left them at the office, or teh bosses who sent employees there and want to make sure that they sent them to an interesting event… People who would love to come to the event next year. People who would tweet about the event and talk and talk about it…

It was so amazing to watch the few panels I have missed (due to my weird trip schedule) at Media ME Forum on their UStream account and the quality of the videos/voice/ the nice music they put when nothing was happening – really professional! And ArabNet, they really understood that if they just empower the social media addicts, their event will be promoted across the roof and that’s what happened.

4.PHOTOS

We live in the now and like to see photos now, and share them and comment on them – ALL NOW! So do not make us wait two days for your flickr or facebook gallery upload. You can set up something extremely simple on site, like that photo booth Arabnet had (could not find link), that immediately sent all photos to their flickr account. Also make sure if you have something like that up & running, promote it well before and during the event.

You have a lot of room to be creative here and there are more wonderful ideas out there to engage people in crowdsourced photography at your event.

5. Icing on the Cake – Netvibes

So you do all of the stuff I mentioned above and integrate all of them into one awesome netvibes page that people courting your event could easily follow.  This is one of the more magical tools out there and one I really, really adore to look at when it comes to events I am not at and ones I am at (if they have one that is). For instance check the cool netvibes page SpotOnPR does annually for Gitex and while you are at it, check Spot On PR’s Netvibe’s page. Don’t you see how that will help your event to become more sharable and viral?

6. Social booklets

You lovely event organizers always give us those nice and creative booklets with all the info about the speakers, but why oh why don’t you mention the speakers’/moderators’ twitter handles, websites, blogs next to their names, so we can connect to them, address our questions to them, or just plain stalk them? and while you’re at it, dedicate a page at the beginning providing us with the event hashtag, livestream, netvibes page… et all

7. PLUGSSSSS

I always email event organizers about plugs, they always feel so happy when i tell them i am planning to bring my laptop to livetweet and welcome the thought and assure me WIFI and electricity plugs are available, but up till now, none of them have delivered on that. Do you expect our battery lives to be infinite? Do you expect us to have spare batteries for our iPhones? We want to enjoy the event all of its durations while checking on work email and tweeting or life-blogging YOUR event. Plain and simple, there should be a dedicated plug at least for every four attendees… Not that I mind making eyes to the camera guy to co-share his plug and carrying around at all times a multi-plug adapter, or stealing power for my mobile from a fellow attendees dying laptop…

8. GOOD WIFI

This probably should’ve been at the top of the list, but I consider it a basic and only as I reread the whole thing I decided to highlight it, just in case….

9.Screen & Screen Brightness

Also a little after thought: try to have several screens at the event and make sure that their brightness is optimal, so we are able to take good cellphone pics no matter how far from the stage we are without stealing your speaker’s valuable “top secrets”.

After Event Tips

  • Encourage us to send feedback
  • Send us all the lovely links for the photos, social pages, videos, slides … post event stats, news clippings about the event
  • It is also lovely to receive some post event answers to questions that were asked during teh forum but did not have enough time to be answered properly or the material/numbers was not at hand.
  • Send us an industry newsletter (yeah i do not mind up being automatically signed up for that)
  • Ask us what do we want to see at your next event
  • Continue Tweeting, Updating the Facebook/linked in page of the event and engaging all who were at the event

Next month, I am planning on attending the 1st Arab Social Media Forum, which the organizers are promising to be a wholesomely dedicated event to all social media aspects… so…. Guys, I am really hoping on seeing all that stuff there [wink, wink]!

Have I left anything out? What is it that you found missing at the last event you have attended?

*Update 1: Forgot to tell you how at Microsoft Open Door Event this year there were special giveaways prepared for tweeters. Small giveaway, but nonetheless, it was pretty sweet.

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Creative Commons License

Women in Technology (Lebanon) have invited me to speak at their Networking and Sustainability Conference  about Social Media/Marketing & Networking in October. The objective was to show the organization members simple and accessible ways to use social media to raise awareness about their NGOs or small businesses without going into complexities. The approach I used was to show these women that are mostly from an older generation that the new technology follows the same rules as the normal socializing that women are so well equipped to do. At the end I listed a few campaigns that relied on social change for fund raising or awareness raising. I had to present in Arabic, so the slides do not say much, except carrying you around a retro, black and white movie theme that was supposed to calm down those ladies, and show them that social media is nothing new and it just simplifies communication. To get the ladies relaxed and less averse to technology I started by telling them that men, who are typically perceived as tech savvy also had their fears, like washing machines, irons, vacuum cleaners… as well as focusing on the strengths women have that make them social drivers. Seconds later they were chuckling and demanding SMEX Beirut for more social media training.

It was an honor to present along with SMEX Beirut , The Amazing Maya Zankoul, The Ostensibly talented Tony Yammine, and the Charismatic Ayman Itani.
It was also extremely touching when after a presentation a girl from the audience gave me a phone accessory which she made herself. She said that she is currently working on her blog, well you can check some of the stuff she is into here .
You can check photos from the panel here.
About WIT Lebanon Networking and Sustainability Conference (NSC).

The NSC in Lebanon brought together over 130 people including representatives from WIT sponsors MEPI and Microsoft, WIT staff, local dignitaries, in-country stakeholders, WIT participants, Professional Development Leaders, and representatives from WIT Partner Organizations. The event was hosted under the patronage of Minister of the Interior Ziad Baroud.
The primary objectives of the Networking and Sustainability Conferences were to create a more cohesive network of local Partners Organizations and in-country teams and strengthen WIT’s Professional Development Networks.

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Geekfest Beirut Poster I always assume that all the people I know are geeks by default and are already counting down the second to the event, If you still aren’t in the know, make an impromptu change to tonight’s plans because you’ll be missing out on a lot.
Check it out & See you there.

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****Update: Fares is the winner and will receive The Phoenicians book via Antoine Online. Thank you All for playing and better luck next time.

So far Antoine Online have their heart in the proper place. They are renewing their online shopping site and have signed multiple agreements with international retailers like Amazon to ensure you are really able to get ANY book you want.

The website is being released this week at the Salon du Livre in Beta with testers being invited to help iron everything out. So you can log on to check it here

and help out, or just relax and wait for my full review once I make my first purchase.

BUT FOR NOW:

Tell me which book you would like to get and why and one of my lucky readers will get his dream book through Antoine Online*.


Disclaimer: Antoine Online have asked me to review their site  – True. And yet my objectivity shall not be tainted in terms of what I write.
*International Readers welcome

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Our Diva Naeema Zareef has turned the members of the Lebanese Creative Commons at ICT Qatar Digitally  Open Conference and at the Creative Commons official Lebanon Launch ( you can check my review of the event over at GiGaLB). And well, i have been deeply touched by the fact that I have been included and also had to add a mental note to have more full body photos of self online so people can  choose from them whilst digitally immortalizing me.
ALSO check post on Creative Commons blog.
View more presentations from Naeema Zarif.

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