the case study

overview…what is fog computing?

Fog computing is the technology helping to advance a smarter world – smarter cities, smarter factories, smarter homes and smarter devices. Fog is a key enabler of Internet of Things (IoT) deployments and is considered a requirement for the wide-scale adoption of industry 4.0 initiatives such as autonomous vehicles, commercialized drones and specialized robots.

The OpenFog Consortium is a member-driven organization launched in 2015 by Arm, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Princeton University. The primary goal of the organization focuses on developing open and interoperable standards for fog computing. OpenFog released its reference architecture for fog computing in February 2017. IEEE adopted the OpenFog Reference Architecture as an official standard in the summer of 2018.

Fog World Congress 2017 was OpenFog’s first global conference dedicated entirely to fog computing. The event was produced by OpenFog and IEEE to educate on fog computing, showcase how the technology is being used, and to feature the work and members of the OpenFog Consortium. The conference took place in Santa Clara in October 2017.

I was hired by OpenFog to implement a content, messaging and proactive social media strategy for branding and positioning the organization as a leader in fog computing initiatives and to drive the proactive digital strategies and tactics for populating Fog World Congress 2017.

driving the fog computing conversation…a few challenges

Only a small part of the tech community had heard of fog computing in early 2017. An equally small number of industry analysts, journalists and social media influencers knew that fog technologies existed when I started positioning the consortium and Fog World Congress 2017 last fall.

I first learned about a few of the benefits of fog computing when I attended an IoT tech event in Manhattan last winter. This is when Cisco’s Maciej Kranz gave a presentation based on his book on IoT and introduced OpenFog as an organization helping to drive standards in the fog space.

I covered that event in my #IoT in #NYC, an open standards approach post. It is safe to say that almost all of the people – approximately 150 and including many tech experts – in the room that evening did not know anything about fog computing.

The first challenge I faced when I started with OpenFog was how to raise the awareness of fog computing, including where fog fits in the fast-moving industry 4.0 space.

The next challenge was a time crunch. I started with OpenFog about six weeks prior to Fog World Congress 2017. Registration numbers for the event were low when I joined the OpenFog marketing team.

Challenge three came from a competing event. A well established and highly visible cloud and IoT event was taking place a few blocks away, at the same time as Fog World Congress 2017.

The fourth challenge focused on beefing up the existing OpenFog social media channels. These feeds needed a content, messaging and strategic makeover in order to increase the number of quality followers and to build a community that would attend – and help promote – Fog World Congress 2017.

key strategies and tactics…a focus on education and branded content

My number one strategy was to focus all content and messaging on educating the developer, enterprise, tech and influencer communities on fog computing. I transformed the OpenFog Twitter feed into a destination that would immediately allow followers and viewers to understand what fog is and where fog plays in digital transformation initiatives.

Strategy two focused on continuously showcasing OpenFog and fog computing through branded content in order to position OpenFog as the consortium organizations should join to advance fog computing, and Fog World Congress 2017 as the event to attend to learn about fog from industry experts.

My content strategy focused largely on communicating OpenFog and Fog World Congress differentiators and key messages through a steady stream of branded social media posts that were designed to drive buzz around fog computing and generate excitement for Fog World Congress 2017.

Hashtags were an important part of my content strategy and were developed to tie fog computing, OpenFog and Fog World Congress 2017 to industry and digital trends on relevant social media feeds.

Key messages were developed based largely on differentiators and leadership points and were regularly communicated graphically in a bold, simple, and easy to read content style. Every piece of branded content was designed to communicate key messages.

A digital ad strategy complemented social media and content marketing activities. I developed Google AdWord, LinkedIn and Twitter ad campaigns to reinforce message placement and visibility strategies. These ads were updated frequently throughout the FWC promotional cycle to keep content fresh and key messages front and center.

some of the results…incredible analytics and standing room only keynotes

The number of quality followers on the OpenFog Twitter account nearly doubled soon after proactive positioning programs began. I defined quality followers as those who may join the OpenFog Consortium as a member, those who may help spread the word about OpenFog and those who may either attend or promote Fog World Congress 2017. Quality followers matter.

Interactions on the OpenFog Twitter feed jumped significantly almost immediately after implementing proactive activities, with an ever growing number of likes and shares occurring on a daily basis.

Some of the tech industry’s top social media influencers and top tier tech publications were featured regularly on the OpenFog Twitter page after mentioning OpenFog, Fog World Congress 2017 and fog computing on their own feeds.

Twitter quickly became the number one referral site to the OpenFog website and the Fog World Congress 2017 home and registration pages. Registration numbers shot up dramatically after two weeks of aggressive social media outreach featuring a wide range of branded OpenFog and Fog World Congress 2017 content.

Analytics went through the roof. Twitter page views skyrocketed from a few hundred views a week to several thousand weekly views during the content promotional cycles leading up to Fog World Congress 2017.

Weekly tweet impressions regularly increased by several thousand percent, with monthly Twitter impressions peaking at over two million during my time managing OpenFog social media channels.

Registration numbers continued to jump dramatically in the weeks leading up to Fog World Congress 2017 as I shifted into a content mode that targeted Silicon Valley and as the competing cloud event appeared to struggle to keep up on the messaging and social media front.

There were approximately 50 people registered for Fog World Congress 2017 when I began content development and marketing for the conference. That number grew to just over 400 in the days leading up to the event. The final number was 404 registered attendees.

The keynote sessions (pictured above) were packed, often with standing room only.

content page…a focus on key messages and differentiators

Take a spin through the portfolio page for a look at some of the content and messaging I developed for OpenFog and Fog World Conference 2017.

I remain a fan of many of the content styles I used in this extremely proactive program including the bold and simple messages that stand out in social media feeds.

Much of the content was shared extensively by a wide range of influencers and communities.

an important reference…

Such an honor to have this reference from Lynne Canavan.

Lynne was the executive director of the OpenFog Consortium when I met her at a New York City tech event early last year. Shortly after we met, I took on community building, social media and messaging for several OpenFog initiatives.

“I had the privilege and pleasure to work with Russ over the past year at the OpenFog Consortium, where Russ quickly became a highly-valued member of our marketing team. Russ was responsible for more than doubling our number of relevant and highly engaged community members across Twitter and LinkedIn in a very short period of time. Through his efforts, the organization became a global leader in the emerging industry conversation on fog computing. Our content was credible, relevant and was thoughtfully / cleverly packaged to gain attention and to keep our messages in front of the right audiences. I’ve been blown away, week after week, at what he delivers. He is quick thinking, creative, fun to work with – plus he executes flawlessly. Quite simply, Russ is the best at community building and social media.”

The image below includes pictures I took at Fog World Congress 2017. Lynne Canavan is pictured on the top row, all the way on the right. Lynne was welcoming hundreds of attendees to the conference when I took this picture.


summary…key messages, differentiators and some fun

I had some incredible content to promote when I partnered with OpenFog and while working with the Fog World Congress 2017 marketing team.

The conference featured well-known sponsors, great spokespersons and some extremely interesting topics spanning the digital transformation and fog and edge computing industries.

But a great agenda doesn’t always mean an event will be successful, especially if high attendance numbers are part of the success criteria.

The tech event industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. This is due – in part – to the success of Meetups and Meetup-like events. It’s also due to the numerous very specialized niche and vertical-specific events the tech industry has seen pop up over the last several years.

Of course, every event has its own unique goals and objectives. But if high attendance numbers are part of the plan, event marketers need to communicate compelling messages and solid differentiators to generate interest among target audiences.

I’ve found that answering the question “why should I attend this event?” is almost always a good starting point for creating messaging and content. A great deal of the branded content and messages I developed for Fog World Congress 2017 were designed to help answer this question.

A lot of the content was also designed to put a little pressure on target audiences by positioning Fog World Congress 2017 as a not-to-miss event, and much of the content was created to be fun to read and consume. I’ve learned that ongoing visibility and social media campaigns are most successful when a healthy dose of fun is part of my outreach strategy.

Speaking of fun, I had a great time working with the OpenFog team to position Fog World Congress 2017. It was a privilege to develop the content and messages that helped drive the success of this very unique and timely event.

continuing the conversation…connect with me

I’m currently based in New York City and blog regularly on content development, tech, market research and strategic communications here.

Follow me on Twitter for my take on some of the most important issues in technology and where I often showcase new tools and trends for content creators. – Russ DeVeau

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