A great example of ROI using the Social Web

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We’re getting familiar with the mantra about the need for efficiency and cost savings in the public sector. We also hear about the difficulty in measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) for use of Social Media. Well, here is evidence of both; how an online conference ‘attended’ (in a virtual sense) by over 1000 delegates over 5 days, saved around £280,000 when compared to running a standard (real) conference.

But apart from the cost savings identified here, we shouldn’t forget that the other key differentiator with an online conference is the almost instant access to a considerable volume of knowledge assets, e.g. the forum conversations, blog posts, uploaded documents and presentations, etc. – all available as a permanent digital reference of the event.

Surely some lessons here for anyone thinking of running a conference? Maybe this will be the benchmark for future online events – it certainly demonstrates what can be done with a bit of organisation, and the ‘glue’ provided by the social web!

36 presenters over 5 days, that sounds like a big event.DSCF2023

Well it was the Local by Social Online Conference ran from the 3 to the 9th of November…  And this has been our most ambitious online conference to date, not only in time but the amount of presenters and participants to the online conference.

One thing to point out is that we encourage participation.  It’s not like a face to face event where you are an attendee.  And going back to the 1% rule or the “90-9-1″ version of this rule.  This states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing.

The online conference did a good job.   With 242 out of the 1123 participants, making a contribution. Totalling 21%

And a total of 1123 contributions over the 5 days.

I’m not going to forget the Lurkers out there.  Because between you and the contributors you viewed 27,360

That’s the equivalent of reading the original War and Peace 22 times

Also the average time spent in the online conference was 14m 20s per day.

When it comes to unique visitors by day we averaged at 427

  • Wednesday 518
  • Thursday 455
  • Friday 341
  • Monday 415
  • Tuesday 406

That would have had to be a large conference venue to hold that many people.  More than what we could hold at the Local Government Improvement and Development with our maximum of 60 people.

When it comes to travelling to the Online Conference, you probably only had to go to work. Or if your like Ingrid, and mentioned in her blog in her Jim Jams

But what if you did have to travel?  Well looking at the Map. I picked the 141 locations that people visited from in the UK.  All the way from Stornoway in the North to Truro in the South.  Belfast in the West and Norwich in the East.

As a rough estimate the travel distance to Layden House EC1m 5LG if you just calculated it for the 141 locations on a once only return travel it would have been 52008 miles.  That’s twice round the World and would have left a Carbon Footprint of 4.55 tonnes of CO2

Twitter was used quiet a bit over the conference with 457 tweets that used the Twitter hash tag for the Local By Social Online Conference #LBYS

And if you’re interested, if this was run as a 5 day Face to Face Conference the cost could have been around £293,000 not only to host it but to get to the venue.  This does not include other cost e.g. time away from the office etc.

Estimated cost comparison with a face to face Conference

Five Day Face to Face Conference (estimated costs)

  • Delegates = 400
  • Venue Hire = £2,000 x 5 = £10000
  • Audio – Video for venue = £2,250 x 5 = £11,250
  • Marketing Materials = £800
  • Advertisement = £1,500
  • Delegate Rate @£65 per person = £26,000 x 5 = £130,000
  • Conference Team Accommodation = £600 x 5 = £3000
  • Conference Team Travel = £400
  • Speakers Travel = £200 x 5 =£ 1000
  • Conference Team (11 days @ £500 per day) = £5,500
  • (Includes before, during and after)
  • Speakers time (average 2 speakers) = £2,000 x 5 = £10000
  • Couriers = £300
  • Delegate Accommodation (est. £40 per person) = £16,000 x 5 = £80,000
  • Delegate travel (est. £50 per person) = £20,000 x 2 = £40,000
  • Total Cost = £293,70

5 Day online Conference (estimated costs)

  • Delegates = £100
  • Venue Hire = £0
  • Audio – Video = £250
  • Marketing Materials = £250
  • Advertisement = £250
  • Delegate Rate = £0
  • Event Team Accommodation = £0
  • Event Team Travel = £0
  • Speakers Travel = £0
  • Conference Team (15 days @ £500 per day) = £7,500
  • (Includes before, during and after)
  • Speakers time (average of 8 speakers) = £4,000
  • Couriers = £100
  • Delegate Accommodation = £0
  • Delegate travel = £0
  • Total Cost = £12,350

Maybe with these types of events and with the Knowledge Hub coming along next year.  We will still be able to share and transfer our experience and knowledge virtually with the restraints on the budgets across the sector.

Read more at communitiesknowledge.wordpress.com

About Post Author

Stephen Dale

I’m a life-long learner with an insatiable curiosity about life. I love travel, good food, and good company. I’m happy to share what I know with others….even the interesting stuff! My outlook on life is pretty well captured in this quote from a book about the legend of King Arthur: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King So much to learn, so little time!
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