A lot of folks want to speak of the future of media and advertising these days. In fact, I recently wrote an article for Media Magazine and MediaPost's Future of Media Conference titled, "The Future of Media is Not About the Future of Media at All." While writing the article, it got me thinking: what about the future of something as standard as an event, a conference or a symposium?

Inc.+500

Recently, my company attended the Inc. 500 conference, an annual conference hosted by Inc. Magazine to highlight and award some of the fastest growing and most dynamic businesses and entrepreneurial leaders in the country. Disclosure: my company, Levelwing, was named the 481st fastest growing private company in America on the Inc. 500 2011 list.

At the conference, it was clear thatInc. wanted attendees to offer their thoughts about the conference digitally, via Twitter. In fact, it was hard to move about the conference without seeing the hashtag #INC500 somewhere in the building.

Now, if you have ever been part of putting together a conference or even a booth at a conference, you know it can completely occupy your time and energy – it will consume you. A ton of effort goes into managing a conference or booth sponsorship. So at the Inc. 500 conference, we decided to measure the conversation taking place via the hashtag #INC500 and put some context behind that conversation as a way to measure the value of the event and what attendees learned, liked and disliked.

Some interesting conversation was had via the #INC500 hashtag: Messages and themes that resonated with entrepreneurs included Giving Back, Being Happy, Having Faith, Investing in People and Being Vulnerable. Additionally, one theme strongly noted (perhaps as a message to Washington DC politicians) that companies on the Inc. 500 added 300,000 jobs in 2011 while the Fortune 500 cut 80,000.

Levelwing created a mini-analysis / infographic document on the conference #INC500 hashtag themes and conversation. Download the full analysis document: #INC500 Assessment.

Key takeaway: Measurement via Twitter hashtags, QR codes (also extremely prevalent at the Inc. 500 conference) and other digital tools are presenting businesses that create and manage events, as well as the companies that host and sponsor them, a new way to measure the value of the event and the content most valuable to attendees. Analysis of the resulting themes will help to clarify value and assist direction of future events.

Steve Parker, Jr. is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Levelwing, a digital advertising agency that provides data-driven marketing solutions. Steve can be reached at sparker@levelwing.com.

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