Lanyrd: Twitter Meets LinkedIn Meets IMDB for the Conference Circuit
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find out what happened at the ones you missed. “Conferences are a quite inefficient way of sharing information,” Downe argues. “The speakers spends hours or weeks preparing and they give their presentation, if they’re lucky, to a couple of hundred people in the room. Afterward, maybe there’s a video on YouTube or slides on Slideshare, but often the conference websites go offline within a year after the event.”
So “there is all of this knowledge being shared that’s just vanishing into the ether,” as Willison puts it. That’s why he and Downe also conceived Lanyrd as an archive: a permanent storehouse of conference materials, such as speakers’ PowerPoint decks or session videos shared by the organizers. “If you can collect videos and writeups and slides and al of that, over time, that builds into a really valuable thing,” says Willison.
So not only could Lanyrd evolve into a one-stop site for planning your conference activities, but it could become the default place where people check back for seminal talks and papers—a combination library, scrapbook, and newsreel.
At the moment, Lanyrd is totally free for conference organizers, speakers, and attendees. But Downe and Willison say there are some obvious things they could do to start bringing in revenue. One would be paid upgrades for conference organizers, giving them access to fine-grained traffic and audience data that could be used for marketing analytics. (If a bunch of Lanyrd users say all at once that they’re attending your conference, for example, you might like to know where they came from and how they found out about the event.) Beyond that, there’s a multibillion-dollar ecosystem around event travel, starting with airline, hotel, and restaurant reservations. Since Lanyrd has a very good picture of who’s going to which conferences and when, it’s a fish-in-a-barrel scenario for purveyors of targeted ads.
But as Lanyrd gets new features, including money-making ones, Willison says he and Downe will try to stick close to their original vision of enhancing the event-going experience for professionals—and, ultimately, helping people be happier in their regular jobs. “There are moments where you flip from just doing your job to being really passionate about advancing in your career, and a lot of those moments happen at events,” says Willison. “People say ‘I thought I was just the nerd in the corner and now I’m meeting all of these other people.'” If Lanyrd can facilitate more of these moments, and become a sort of living repository of them, then Downe and Willison’s working honeymoon will have paid off.
The Lanyrd Leaderboard
The top 20 Lanyard users as of May 12, 2011, by number of events spoken at:
[Data courtesy of Lanyrd]