Where Dreamforce 2013 Missed the Mark with its Social Efforts

Dreamforce DataHive Hub
Dreamforce Social Media Command Center

Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual end-user event and the largest cloud tradeshow in the world, recently concluded in mid-November. It has become a zoo of a show with over 135,000 registered attendees, which makes it a challenge for Dreamforce to create more personalized experiences for each person on site. This challenge is increased by the fact that the demand for Salesforce-based education is greater than the number of sessions offered, especially with technical topics where expert users are seeking more knowledge and MVP-level tips.

In this regard, Dreamforce had the opportunity to take advantage of both its massive social media audience and robust social media monitoring capabilities to help out attendees, but failed to do so. This was not due to either Salesforce’s or Dreamforce’s inability to support social media, but was based on a poor event-based social media strategy. Based on DataHive Consulting’s experience, here’s what happened and what should have happened.

As an active Twitter user, I closely followed the #df13 and related Dreamforce hashtags on Twitter. In some respects, Salesforce was very successful in its social media approach. Their own social media recap shows over 200,000 #DF13 mentions in November including 136,000 social mentions reviewed through their Command Center during Dreamforce and 96% of social traffic coming through Twitter. Salesforce asked attendees to provide a Twitter account, if available, during the registration process, which undoubtedly increased the amount of Twitter traffic at Dreamforce. But here’s how Salesforce could have maximized the value of this information.

1) Focus on integrating Twitter and Chatter. Although Salesforce set up dedicated Chatter channels for Dreamforce, it did not focus on Twitter users. Salesforce should have synchronized Chatter and Twitter activity to a greater extent so that the outside world could share in more of the Chatter discussions pre-show.

2) Reach out to Twitter users beforehand. A week before the show, either the Salesforce or Dreamforce account should have started sending tweets reminding users to follow both Salesforce and Dreamforce for the optimal and most up-to-date experience based on the Twitter account info available. Every attendee should be following both accounts.

3) Create value by syncing Twitter with session attendance. There could be an additional opt-in asking if you want Dreamforce to help you connect with birds-of-a-feather. Based on that, Dreamforce could have been giving out shoutouts such as: “Looks like @Adam @Bobby @Chris are becoming sales portal customization masters!” This serves a dual purpose of engaging the Dreamforce attendees and potentially introducing them to each other.

Dreamforce could take this a step further by introducing those who had been waitlisted from a session to those who had actually attended. Imagine using a social network to help people become more social!

4) Take the next step and create birds-of-a-feather meeting opportunities through lists and session analysis. Ideally, Salesforce could have crunched the session attendance numbers every day and done an analysis to see who is similar to each other. Based on this, Dreamforce could either provide specific introductions of people who should know each other and are not connected on Twitter, or to support group meetings of people who should be following and speaking to each other. Use Twitter (with Chatter) as a first step to support real-life interactions between people who don’t know each other yet. Set up a room and a time for like-minded peers to meet each other, and help the process along with social media.

5) Increase the use of DM. Direct Messaging is our generation’s Batphone, yet it gets underused or poorly used by vendors. There are a lot of automated DMs that ask people to simply follow another website or to say thanks. Those are the new automated emails that nobody likes. It would be much more productive to pick a small percentage of users each day (perhaps a randomized 1% of a 20,000 person Twitter population) and ask for feedback either as Dreamforce or the Dreamforce help account that also existed. “On a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best), how is Dreamforce? How can we make it better? DM or email us!” That way, Dreamforce could get the pulse of the show as it happens and optimize the use of the social help desk and monitoring capabilities that already exist. Going forward, events could even include pictures in these direct messages to provide additional context

6) Add challenges, trivia, and contests to Twitter. Twitter can enhance live events by providing ancillary related challenges. Engage users, especially during their down time or breaks, in a way that is educational and perhaps allows them to win a prize based on actual skill or knowledge. I’m just making this up, but a question like “Which partner allows Salesforce to integrate video conferencing with Chatter?” might be a nice add-on for a sponsorship or socially-enabled branding opportunity, as well.

Fundamentally, the key challenge was that Dreamforce missed an opportunity to translate the quantity of its social traffic into social engagement. Engagement requires 2-way conversations, real-time feedback, and the ability to reach out to key influencers and customers. Being the platform is not enough; social community managers need to be a proactive point of contact.

These are just a few of the ways that DataHive Consulting would have approached Dreamforce’s social media strategy differently; we also have advice around Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Storify as well. If you would like to learn how to enhance your event’s social media efficacy or hire DataHive Consulting to help with your social media approach, please email us at connect@datahiveconsulting.com and we would be glad to schedule a complimentary call to scope out your requirements.

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