Social Media

Inside a ‘Social Tech Cabana’

Event technology is good at recording logistical data. Now it’s evolving to capture the nuances of relationship building.


The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity brings together more than 15,000 advertising executives from more than 100 countries. In addition to red-carpet awards ceremonies, the eight-day program — held annually at the Cannes Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in southern France in June — includes workshops, speakers, hosted networking events, entertainment, and parties.

It’s hard enough for sponsors to stand out in that kind of nonstop environment, but how do they also keep their own interactions with customers and potential customers from being a blur of half-remembered conversations and notes scribbled on the backs of business cards? For Crimson Hexagon, an international consulting company that helps companies interpret social-media data, the solution at Cannes Lions 2015 was an event-technology platform called Attend.

Along with social-tech companies Hootsuite and Tickr, Crimson Hexagon created a “Social Tech Cabana” just outside the Palais where they entertained customers with social-tech case studies, accompanied by a Bloody Mary hangover-cure happy hour every morning. The Attend platform allowed Crimson Hexagon to create registration lists that gave their staff real-time information — and push notifications — when individual attendees checked in to the cabana.

“It’s less about knowing who is in the room than making sure the right people get together,” said Eric Bisceglia, vice president of product and marketing for Attend, which is based in Boston. The software, which can be integrated with Salesforce customer relationship management software, also can deliver pertinent attendee information such as previous interactions to sales and marketing staff, “like the dossiers that a lot of companies prepare for staff.”

“ was fundamental to us at Cannes Lions last year,” said Liliana Osorio, a U.K.-based marketing manager for Crimson Hexagon. “We booked meetings in advance of the event, and, given the volume of meetings, we needed a tool that, at any one time, we could turn to, to know how many of the booked meetings had happened and how many we had to chase.”

Being able to log notes for each meeting also “meant that all the follow-ups could be done with confidence by our sales team after the event,” Osorio said. “We value in-person events in our marketing strategy, and Attend allows us to make the most of our investment.”

Event technology mostly has been about logistical functions like registration and ticket sales, “and that’s still part of the story,” Bisceglia said. “But you’ve done all this work to get people there. You need a way to capture the intelligence about the whole on-site experience and measure the efficacy of your event in a more granular way.”

Beyond Text — and Humans

Donnelly published key takeaways from the company’s participation at Cannes Lions 2015. They include:

We have infinitely more data available than there are humans to interpret. The fusion of humans and machines is essential.

 Text-based data is only one part of the story. Images and video are here to stay, and finding a way to detect valuable brand interactions that go beyond the written message is crucial if we are to properly understand our digital footprint.

 User-generated content is not new, but it’s becoming more and more prevalent. Brands can look to influence conversations and discussions, but they are far less able to control the brand message these days.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.