“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Yogi Berra

Hi. My name is Larry. Welcome to Larry’s Conference. 2019!

I’m having a hard time resolving conference apps. I understand why they exist. You are hosting a conference, and you can provide an easy way for attendees to check the schedule, connect with one another and share information. I get it. That’s all well and good. But what happens after the conference is over? Should we still be using the app, or should we be sustaining our relationships and continuing to share information in other platforms?

I think conference apps should do…less. I think their functionality should be limited to conference schedules, conference center floor plans, and learning session registration. When the conference is over, we should have no further need to use the app.

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn provide us with the opportunity to create connections. Conference organizers should connect all conference attendees in Twitter, for instance, using a common hashtag (as they already do) and then we can all keep in touch once the conference is over.

Conference resources should be shared in an enterprise social network or shared drive space. Why do we need to go back to an app that serves no other purpose, now that the conference is over, other than provide links to files.

Or, even better, provide a space where connections can be sustained and content can be found. Be it Slack, Yammer, Facebook for Work, or any one of a number of similar platforms, when conference attendees are able to continue the conference experience long after the conference is over, they stay connected to your organization, they stay connected to one another, and they are more likely to attend the next time you host a conference.

I know…easy for me to say. I have never hosted a conference. What qualifies me to make any kind of judgement on how you do your job? Good point, but just for a moment, let’s pretend I am hosting Larry’s Conference, and we are beginning to plan for 2019. You are planning to attend…because I said so.

First, I populate my conference app with all the schedules, maps and registration info. Then, I go into my enterprise social network (ESN) that my people already use, and I start to promote the conference. I use the hashtag #19LarryConference. I help people find roommates. I share resources so we can start the learning even before the first airplane is boarded. I start to plan evenings out. Everything has the topic #19LarryConference.

During the conference people are taking selfies, and posting them our ESN. They attach the hashtag #19LarryConference. People are sharing nuggets of wisdom they learn in sessions on Twitter. They attach the hashtag #19LarryConference. People are following each other online. They send instant messages. They go out to eat. They use the conference app so they know where the next learning session is, and what time it starts, but that is all the app is used for.

People are still in the same online places, but now they are home. They are still following one another on Twitter, they are still collaborating in their ESN. They had a great time at #19LarryConference, but there is nothing left in the app for them to check. Everything is still in the platforms they were using before, during and after the conference.

Just because #19LarryConference is over, there is no reason the relationships need to come to an end, that the sharing needs to be finished, or that there can be no more learning.

Just because it is over, it ain’t over. Let’s continue the learning, let’s continue the community.

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