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Kicking off Product Review Week with CrowdVine

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I had the privilege of speaking recently with Tony Stubblebine, founder and CEO of CrowdVine.

I had run across CrowdVine at a recent conference and wanted to know more.  Essentially, CrowdVine is a social media platform that can be set up for a given conference or event.  Tony established the company in 2007 with the notion that at conferences there is a built-in desire to network and meet other attendees.  Think of a combination of Facebook and LinkedIn but geared around the few days of an event- that’s the standard use of CrowdVine.  The first step for an individual is setting up a profile.  A conference attendee can let others know information about themselves and their organization; they can link their conference profile on CrowdVine to blogs and web sites and even other social media profiles such as Twitter.  The real power of CrowdVine, I believe, can be found in two features: 1).  the ability to start discussions.  This could revolve around almost any topic pertaining to the conference.  Presumably, there are many others who would share this interest as they’ve also made a commitment to participate in this event. and 2). the ability to find others you know or want to meet at the conference.  Perhaps, these are friends you have at the workplace or those you’ve met at previous conferences.  Or, maybe you’ve read an attendee’s profile and realize that this is someone you want to meet.  You have a few options: you can leave a public note on their profile (similar to posting to a friend’s wall on Facebook), you can send a private message (think along the lines of a Twitter direct message), you can indicate that they are a friend (sound like Facebook yet?), and/or you can select that you want to meet them.  With this last option, the individual will receive an email from the event stating that you would like to meet them at (name of conference).  I assume that these can be customized by the conference organizers, but the one that I saw was followed by “Consider it a compliment!” Basically, the recipient of the email can suggest a meeting time to be added to your conference schedules.

He’s found that 30% to 70% of conference attendees will sign up for CrowdVine.  CrowdVine is free for attendees.  CrowdVine operates under the guiding principle that you can’t launch an empty social network and has what they call a “recipe” for successfully using CrowdVine at a conference.  One, the organization should invite staff and speakers to join in on CrowdVine before the event.  These “early adopters” will have a sense of responsibility for the conference and will be instrumental in having others join and participate.  Two, the use of CrowdVine should be announced to registrants in advance via email.  It should be worded as clearly as possible regarding the purposes and expectations for this platform.  Certainly, news and details of its use can be included elsewhere (newsletters, flyers, etc.), but the email is key.

Because every installation of CrowdVine is public, many are seeing that it works and are then recommending it for other conferences.  Social media has not replaced face-to-face meetings.  Tony Stubblebine sees CrowdVine as a way to leverage the power of social media in the context of adding value to meetings by giving people opportunities to network.

I found the platform to be very intuitive.  If you have a working knowledge of Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn, you would see that it’s very easy to use.  I had my profile set up, linked to my Twitter account, and started searching for contacts all in a matter of minutes.  I’ll certainly look for or ask about CrowdVine at the next conference I attend.

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