Last month (August 2022) we had our 1st EVER (after covid) in-person event and it’s time to talk about how it all happened. This blog post is going to talk about our original plan, what we were able to deliver, and what worked well vs. what needs improvement.
After 2 years of virtual events, our goal was to finally have an in-person event. Whenever this is going to be a 300+ attendees event or small event, we were anxious to just have an in-person event. While running virtual events was better than having no events, we missed the energy exchange that frequently happens during an in-person event.
While we were originally targeting our regular event month, we had to give up on June 2022 due to venue unavailability. We were ecstatic to hear that August is available and booked Loyola Marymount University for August 13.
Running a PASS-free in-person event
Since this was our first in-person after PASS’s demise, we had to bring new tools to replicate and enhance our event experience. Unfortunately, sqlsaturday.com in its current form only provides us with the event listing. Luckily, our 2 past virtual events allowed us to master additional tools.
Tools used during this event:
Attendee registration – Eventbrite.com (+ Organizer mobile app to check-in)
Sponsor registration – custom-built Microsoft Form to enable sponsor sign-up, listing all available sponsorship tiers on the datadriventechnologies.org website, and PayPal invoicing to collect fees
Event/session feedback – custom-built Microsoft Form with QR code
Event raffle – custom-built Microsoft Form with QR code
Volunteer registration – custom-built Microsoft Form with QR code
Email marketing – Sender.net
Social Media marketing – buffer.com
14 speakers and 15 sessions (3 rooms x 5 sessions)
78 attendees with 209 registered attendees
6 paid sponsors (4 sponsor’s tables)
What worked great
Using EventBrite Organizer phone app check-in option provided us with real-time exact attendance numbers (no need to count attendee bags)
Having Social Media Booth generated plenty of visual content for our Instagram account
Running raffle without any paper and relying solely on electronic data collected by Microsoft Forms
Inclusion of raffle gift cards for each paid sponsorship
Indulging our speakers with both t-shirts and Yeti mugs
Communicating via 5 attendee email campaigns using Sender.net
Communicating with 3 speaker email campaigns using Sender.net
Creating session PPT template
Buying enough food and beverages for breakfast and lunch
Allocating 30-minute long breaks between sessions
Things to improve
Choose an event date with no local conflicts (choosing August 13 for event data was a strategic mistake as we ended up competing with DataConLA which happened on the same day and affected our attendance)
Create a printer-friendly Sessionize schedule (apparently, attendees preferred a printed schedule instead of a Sessionize PWA app)
Offer 2 Eventbrite types tickets (bring your own lunch and paid lunch) and collapsing paid into free few weeks before August 13 introduced complexity and confusion
We are reaching out to all people that enjoyed SQL Saturday in LA 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2021 events to let you know that the 2022 event is quickly approaching. Only 30+ days remain until the Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event on Saturday, August 13.
We appreciate you taking the time to consider sponsoring 2022 Data.SQL.Saturday in LA. We have assembled a few sponsorship plans that you can select from. Donations for this event will be used to cover the costs of running the event and the LA Data Platform SQL User Group meetings. If we have any surplus, it will go into sponsoring future events. The event is put on by Data Driven Technologies, Inc. a local 501.c.3 non-profit, and its volunteers.
The Data.SQL.Saturday is a single-day conference that offers data professionals the opportunity to improve their skills and learn about new products while networking with others in their field and connecting with other members of the local Database community and our sponsors.
This event is put together by a group of dedicated Los Angeles database community volunteers, local database user groups, and volunteer speakers from Los Angeles, California, other US States, and across the globe.
When the event was held in person, it used to bring in 300+ attendees. In 2020 we moved to a virtual event for the first time and had 700+ registrations from all around the world, with 400+ attending the event. In 2022, we anticipate 200+ attendees.
Cost of Sponsorship
This year, sponsorship ranges from Swag Only at $0 to Platinum at $2,000.00, depending on the package you select:
Sponsor Logo and URL on the event website and
Sponsor Logo and URL included in email campaigns
Sponsors Logo included in session slides
Sponsor Logo included in YouTube videos
Social Media posts Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram
x $50 GC included
x $75 GC included
x $100 GC included
x $125 GC included
Collect Raffle Leads*
Email sent on behalf of a sponsor
Sponsor table (comes with canopy, table, 2 chairs, and electricity) (based on availability, first come first serve)
Product-focused sponsor session (based on availability, first come first serve)
Sponsor a room (name a room) (based on availability, first come first serve)
Short video advertising embedded in a recorded session (if the room is recorded)
Caffeine and pastries
Speaker Appreciation dinner
12 months of LA Data Platform User Group sponsorship
To sponsor please follow this link to fill out the sponsorship form: https://forms.office.com/r/4VWxbgTBrQ. An invoice will be emailed to you (generated by PayPal) and can be paid by check or credit card. All fees must be paid in advance.
Any cancellation that is caused by us will result in a full refund. It’s really that simple – no event, no expenses, no need for sponsorship money.
Raffle registration is used to opt-in attendee information with our sponsors. Remember the raffle prize is your key to success and the better the prize the more leads you will collect. Attendees must be present to win.
We will manage the raffle and collect, clean up and de-dup the data for you and send you the leads after the event. We will let you know who the winners of the raffle are, and you can send them the prize. At the same time, we strongly recommend we take over prize disbursement as well, to be a one-stop-shop for an entire raffle lifecycle. Please let us know if you would like to handle the raffle prize on your own.
Digital content is the king. Record, run video editing software, upload to a resource like YouTube or Rumble, and it will stay there forever. There are many benefits in recording and sharing knowledge via video: it can improve the speaker’s ability to deliver material, anybody can see it again and again. This blog post is going to cover a number of easy-to-follow steps to do video editing using TechSmith Camtasia.
Let’s talk about video editing. Making video content is usually split into 2 phases – pre-production (recording) and post-production (perfecting). While recording video is fairly obvious and mostly involves hitting the red record button, perfecting video is usually a time-consuming and scary process. Let’s make it easy. The following steps and screenshots will help you to get up to speed in creating video content as quickly as possible.
Add media artifacts
Start with downloading the mp4 from MS Teams. Now proceed with opening Camtasia and add a thumbnail, downloaded video, and intro (see Fig #1).
Add media artifacts to a track
Drag and drop media artifacts from the Media Bin into Track1 in the following order intro, thumbnail, and then video (Fig #2). Make sure that all 3 are stacked up one after the other, meaning that there is no space between them.
Edit the video to lose anything that is not important
Left double-click on the video, drag the red time tracker, and then choose Cut (Fig #3).
Apply noise reduction audio effect to remove any undesired noise from the recorded video by Clicking Audio Effects, choosing Noise Removal, and dragging and dropping it to the video.
Make sure your video is perfect
Left double-click on the intro to bring back the triangle-shaped time tracker to the beginning, and hit the play button (Fig #5) to watch the entire video to make sure it’s all perfect.
Make it a video file (mp4)
Choose Share from a menu item above, and then click on Local File (see Fig #6). Depending on your machine, dimension, and format as well as the TechSmith version, this step might take between 30-90 minutes.
Create a YouTube account with a channel, upload your mp4 file, and let everyone know that it’s ready for public consumption (Fig #7). Don’t forget to make it public.
Syndicate your content
While YouTube drives most of the viewers to channel, others platforms like Rumble are becoming more and more popular. Why not push your content to other platforms?
While you might think it’s not worth the time due to an effort that involves re-uploading your content, in reality, most YouTube competitors have a syncing capability built-in. Make your content available on YouTube, create an account in a competing platform, give that platform permission to access YouTube, and walla, your YouTube content will become available on the other platform as well.
This blog post is made possible by two great products Snag-It and Camtasia by the TechSmith Corporation.
There is plenty of free and paid content available online already and yet tomorrow we will see even more content available. That begs the inevitable question – why bother with recording and sharing on YouTube/Rumble? The main reason is, it’s a one-time investment that continues to pay off forever. This blog post is going to dive into how to minimize the overhead of the post-production process, i.e. the most time-consuming part of making content.
Where do you find the content? How to record? How to do post-production and how to make it visible to the public?
That being said, the most important question is how do manage the overhead – how to make content consistently and efficiently?
Let’s talk about solutions.
Your User Group meetings and SQL Saturday event have speakers and sessions. All it takes is to ask permission to record. Most if not all speakers would love to be recorded as it promotes them and their content.
If you are running virtual meetings using Zoom/Teams, you already have that capability built-in. Just hit the record button once your presenter gives you the green light and hit the record button once again to stop recording. Don’t forget to download that recorded video once it’s ready.
You don’t need to be a professional Editor-in-Chief to edit video. If you have never done that before, you just need patience, tons of patience. While initially, you are not going to enjoy the steep learning curve with all new techniques and vocabulary that you might not be familiar with, on your second and third video, it will get really easy, copy-and-paste easy.
Thinking in economic terms, what is an opportunity cost here? Once you become familiar with software like TechSmith Camtasia, it will take you somewhere between 30-60 minutes to produce each video.
Once you are done with perfecting the video (removing noise, making cuts on both ends of the video, and adding intro), you are ready to make it an mp4 movie file. Once you have that file, feel free to upload your newly minted content to YouTube where it will stay there forever. It will stay forever to promote the content, speaker, and event.
Just to give you an idea of what LA Data Platform and SQL Saturday in Los Angeles video stats are looking like.
It’s been over 2 months now after our second virtual event and it’s time to talk about how it all happened. This LinkedIn article is going to talk about our original plan, the demise of PASS and replacement tools, some 2021 stats, and what worked well.
Our goal was to “rinse and repeat” our first 2020 virtual event:
300-400 remote attendees
30 speakers/sessions (5 rooms x 6 session)
Rely on our battle-proven experience from 2020 event to deliver the 2021 event
Use PASS/SQL Saturday infrastructure
Running a PASS-free virtual event
Back in 2020, we had to adjust from in-person to delivering a virtual event. To deliver our 1st virtual event, we were using GoToWebinar software licenses (provided by PASS) to deliver virtual event as well as sqlsaturday.com to market event for attendees, speakers, and sponsors. As early as November 2020, we started to see the likelihood of PASS eventual demise. Needless to say, we started to explore alternatives. Luckily, as a non-profit we already had most of the tools. We had enough available licenses for MS Teams via Microsoft for Non-profit program as well as our own WordPress web site.
Here are the tools that we used to replace tools previously provided by PASS:
Event delivery platform – replaced 5 x GoToWebinar licenses that we were provided by PASS in 2020 with 5 x MS Teams licenses (we created 5 new generic users in our Office tenant with proper licensing)
Attendee registration – replaced sqlsaturday.com event page with Eventbrite
Sponsor registration – replaced sqlsaturday.com sponsor web page with a combination of blog post on datadriventechnologies.org web site to list all available sponsorship tiers, Microsoft Form to enable sponsor sign up, and PayPal invoicing to collect fees (we are working on automating it with Power Automate)
Speaker registration/schedule/session management – replaced sqlsaturday.com schedule section with sessionize.com
Event listing – initially replaced sqlsaturday.com with datasaturdays.com that was eventually replaced with a new sqlsaturday.com (fully owned now by SQL Saturday Incorporated)
Event/session feedback – replaced sqlsaturday.com feedback section with a custom Microsoft Form + QR code
Event raffle – replaced sqlsaturday.com SpeedPASS with a custom Microsoft Form + QR code and Microsoft Office Excel
Volunteer registration – replaced sqlsaturday.com volunteer section with a custom Microsoft Form
Email marketing – replaced sqlsaturday.com message system (it was quite awful to begin with) with Sender.net Email Marketing Platform
Evaluated different MS Teams offering – Meeting, Webinar, and Live Event
Ran a Virtual raffle via Microsoft Forms + QR code (less than 200 attendees signed up for that) – we will definitely use it once we go back to an in-person event
Administered prize distribution after the event – we had 5 e-gift cards to deliver as well as 5-10 hard-paper books and other swag to USPS
Speaker gifts – still working on it
Scheduled reminders for all the speakers about exact timing of their sessions
Kept constant communication vie email with speakers to prevent no-show
Utilized a free-tier (all the features with a 15,000 emails a month limit) Sender.net Email Marketing Platform to send 8 email campaigns (welcome, raffle, schedule, to attend or not to attend, how to connect, message from sponsor, thank you for attending, recorded session)
Created and utilized a WhatsApp Messenger group for a internal communication between team members
Provided double opt-in for speaker content recording – we asked before and after recording (all the speakers agreed to be recorded)
Each host sent an email to all his/her room speakers to introduce himself/herself as well as to share an event playbook that included all the nitty-gritty details
Setup a 5-pages long PPT template to present event information by each host before each session (additionally, we used MS Teams Power Point Live feature to allow attendees to navigate to sessions/sponsors using hyperlinks)
The Communication Team at the Data Driven Technologies is using the following freemium services to keep LA Data Platform User Group and SQL Saturday in Los Angeles relevant on social media. We choose those tools primarily due to their price and ease of use.
To send all our email campaigns, we use a combination of Moosend MailerLite and Sender.
MailerLite.com is a freemium service (completely free under 1000 email contacts with less than 12,000 emails a month) to schedule and compose email newsletters. We use it to communicate with Los Angeles Data Platform User Group members. It’s more important for us to constantly engage our core User Group members, so we stay under 1,000 subscribers while sending as much volume of emails as possible. We send over 10+ scheduled email campaigns every month which translates into close to less than 12,000 emails monthly, so with MailerLite we can achieve email volume for free. Sender.net is a freemium service (free with 15,000 emails monthly limit) to schedule and compose email newsletters. We use it to communicate with 1.5K+ SQL Saturday in Los Angeles members. We send about 5-6 scheduled email campaigns for 3-4 months prior to an event in June and 2-3 campaigns after the event, so we want a limitless contact list while we can compromise on a total monthly volume of emails.
To manage social media posts, we use a combination of Buffer (free with 3 social media channels and 10 scheduled posts) and Planoly (free with 2 social media channels and photos only). Buffer.com is a freemium service to schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more while Planoly.com is a freemium service to schedule posts to Instagram and Pinterest. We have 2 separate accounts (one for LA Data Platform User Group and one for SQL Saturday in Los Angeles) to separate 2 activities.
Another great freemium service (a free account is more than enough) that we are using is Linktree.com. Linktree.com manages all our digital touchpoints in one single place as well as collects views/clicks statistics. We keep all the essential links for both LA Data Platform User Group and SQL Saturday in Los Angeles members and use 2 separate accounts for each.
Many sponsors are asking us for the audience numbers to make decisions, so we need an easy way to communicate those trends and numbers. This is where we found a handy Databox.com freemium service (free with 3 social media sources limit). Databox.com makes dashboards to highlight different social media KPIs. We have one account for each: LA Data Platform and SQL Saturday in LA.
Tweetdeck.twitter.com is a completely free solution (TweetDeck is owned by Twitter) to manage and organize multiple Twitter accounts. We occasionally use it to like, retweet, mention, and participate in interesting topics from @LASQLBootCamp, @LADataPlatform, and @SQLSatLA Twitter accounts.
mxtoolbox.com is a freemium monitoring service for your MX records to check on your email deliverability. We use it to check on our LA Data Platform and SQL Sat LA email campaigns.
https://uptimerobot.com is a freemium monitoring service for your HTTPS, website. We use it to check on our web site up-time.