Building community

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Network World Events and Executive Forum's DEMO 07 took place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, a three-day stint that saw the debut of 70 new technologies—and represented only a slice of the company's actual interaction with the DEMO audience.

DEMO organizers have built an online community of bloggers—a group made up of attendees, organizers and an editor—that has extended the reach of the show floor.

"It's an audience tool that lives throughout the year," said Neal Silverman, exec VP at Network World Events. "We're seeing our attendance increase at the event, and I do see that as a result of staying in touch with the DEMO community on a regular basis. It creates an interactive platform."

That platform allows media companies to explore the marketplace, generate new leads and new revenue, promote aspects of the show and reach people who cannot make the event, said Kevin Gulley, president of FuelDog Inc., a company that provides technology consulting.

"You become an event company that just opened up your marketplace for 365 days a year," he said. "It's a big, glaring opportunity."

For example hosts miniblogs for attendees to discuss product launches, as well as DEMOLetter, a blog written throughout the year by the show's organizer as she weighs the merit of candidates applying to take part in the three-day event.

"DEMOLetter was just a newsletter like everyone else has," Silverman said. "As people changed the way they want to communicate, we've changed."

But only a handful of b-to-b media companies are making that change, Gulley said, a fact he attributed to an almost industrywide struggle to adapt to an online environment.

Companies that want to see the future role blogging could play in extending events and building community should visit another Network World site, said Don Marti, the editor of

"The Linux audience is a few steps ahead of other audiences," Marti said, pointing to the site's aggregator, which compiles relevant entries from the independent blogs of LinuxWorld Conference and Expo speakers, LinuxWorld staff, freelancers and software authors.

Marti, who works with LinuxWorld show producers at IDG World Expo to determine exhibitors at the show, said the Web site and events feed each other visitors as well as content, with the Web site indicating areas of interest to readers and the event providing content that can be shared online.

"The push is to create as many kinds of content as possible," Marti said.

The tech-savvy audience delivers about 24,000 unique visits to the Web site each month, attracted by relevant content from respected voices that lack any veneer, Marti said.

"Marketing-speak is very much a relic of the 20th century," he said.

The most popular media on his site—text and video—are also in demand at the lower-tech DEMO site, Silverman said.

The site targets investors who could back the high-tech ventures exposed through the event.

"The blogging community is so important," Silverman said. "The startup community, they recognize that as an important vehicle to communicate their message."

Free blogging platforms make the cost of setup minimal, Marti said, and the technology requires little in-house support; he recommends circumventing the usual channels in favor of a one-person operation.

"The successful blogs come from someone within a company," he said.

That person likely has expert knowledge already, he said.

"The most popular blogs are now transforming into little media companies," Gulley said. "The conference manager should be doing this and becoming the industry guru."

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