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Plancast vs. Lanyrd: A Comparison

February 17, 2011   |   AUTHOR: Julius Solaris   |   POSTED IN: event technology

Plancast and Lanyrd are the most significant pieces of innovation introduced recently to the event technology scene.






What makes a technology successful is adoption. MySpace existed before Facebook, but the numbers made the difference. Upcoming existed before Plancast or Lanyrd but they weren’t able to seize an evident opportunity (and that is happening quite often recently at Yahoo). Plancast and Lanyrd have now the numbers and they are making a difference.

Twitter played a major role in driving their adoption. I have always maintained that Twitter is event driven (it became popular during an event in fact) and it comes with no surprises that the two services who integrate exquisitely with Twitter leveraged on the power of the chirp.

Well cutting the story short if you are an event planner and your audience is an early adopter you need to be on these two services. If you plan weddings you maybe want to skip to this article instead.

I believe in fact you need to be on both. Provided you have enough time to understand and manage both.


Right Julius I hear you, but what is the difference between the two?

Someone asked the same question on Quora. Lanyrd replied but as you may tell from the answer, there is one substantial difference, the rest is very similar, or is it?


Conference vs Events

Lanyrd themselves differentiated their service in terms of focus. Lanyrd is for conferences, Plancast is for all types of events.

I believe this is holds true, although I am sure Lanyrd will become a tool for more event types. I cannot really see the benefit of focussing only on one kind of events.

Winner: Plancast. Narrow focus is not justifiable in this case, although Lanyrd has been around for less and I do understand that when starting up you need to ficus.


User Sign-Up

When you join Lanyrd you sign up through your Twitter profile. The services immediately tells you what conferences your contacts on Twitter are attending. A simple as that.

On Plancast you can sign up with Facebook or Twitter. It fetches your contacts from both and you can select/deselect who to follow. You are then prompted to follow ‘suggested users’ and to subscribe to your favourite topics (or categories as they call them).

Winner: Plancast. The service is definitely more mature and comprehensive. With the latest round of funding Lanyrd received, it is reasonable to expect more in the near future.


Location

On Lanyrd ou can search filtering by location. On Plancast you can set your location, as precise as your postcode.

Winner: Plancast. Accuracy and ease of use.


Adding a Conference/Event

Plancast asks for a basic What, When and Where with optional addition of location and website link. This is somewhat superficial and lacks of important information that may help in understanding the nature of the event.

Lanyrd on the other hand has a much better approach to adding a conference. You can first search for existing conferences to avoid duplicates. You can then go ahead and post your own. Important to note how you can post a conference as a speaker, attendee or event organizer. You can amazingly add a twitter hashtag and twitter account for the conference. This alone makes us, who were talking about the use of hashtags for events as mainstream in 2007, visonaries as opposed to psycho-geeks.

Winner: Lanyrd. Amazing and fantastically well thought


Conference Page

As you would imagine from the section above the different approach to adding an event is reflected in the output product.

If on Lanyrd you can immediately tell the grand organization of information, this is obviously not the case for Plancast where the page is somewhat left to itself.

In terms of interaction with the page there is a substantial difference in the way the two services handle attendance. Plancat allows users to ‘count them in’ and adds the somewhat 1999 feature of sharing the event to your friends. On the other hand Lanyrd empowers the user, making them able to register as attendees or to simply ‘track’ an event. Tracking can be compared to following a person on Twitter instead of connecting with them on Linkedin. A bit more light-hearted and definitely opens the doors to virtual attendance. Juicy

Winner: Lanyrd. Why? Read above.


Apps

Apps? Really? Are we talking Apps already. Yes we are and app do make a difference.

Again think about Twitter and how the apps ecosystem drove growth. Well enter VIPLi.st.

Well I told you how VIPs are not who you expect them to be anymore. Plancast was lucky enough to share desk with the guys from awe.sm who created vipli.st a great service that helps you track how your event spread and who are the real VIPs, conncetors, the influencers, the nodes – however you want to call them.

More details here:

Lanyrd, well. It’s too early for them and I guess they have a smaller office.

Winner: Plancast


In Conclusion

Plancast currently features a more thorough service, but Lanyrd has the greatest potential. In terms of social impact, Plancast is definitely a winner as it integrates Facebook and apparently you can’t do without Facebook nowadays.


What service should you choose?

Why are you trying to make me angry? :-) You shouldn’t choose between the two. You should be on both. Provided you have the time to take care of your pages


Further actions

Make sure to invite your attendees and speakers to join on both and to publish your hashtag and Twitter account. You can check the Plancast and Lanyrd pages for Widgets and Buttons, but you’ll be sad to discover these are mostly addressed to attendees. Ideally after reading this post they will develop buttons for event organizers, but I don’t want to give away too much as I am expecting them to surprise us. Exciting!

  • http://simonwillison.net/ Simon Willison

    Thanks for writing this up. We (Lanyrd) are still a very young service (we don’t even have an office, we’re still working out of our living room), and we know we still have a great deal of work to do.

    We’re not just interested in conferences – we also care about user groups, meetups, workshops and any other event where people get together to share their knowledge. We don’t plan to handle things like private birthday parties or concerts though.

    One problem we’ve had is coming up with a good term to describe this – “conferences” is too narrow, “events” is too broad and “knowledge-sharing events” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue!

    We have plenty of improvements in the pipeline, and hopefully some of those will help address some of your points above. We’re always interested in feedback from event organisers on what we’re doing right and wrong and what problems we could help solve – email us any time at support at lanyrd dot com.

  • http://www.meetjulius.com Julius Solaris

    Thanks Simon. I am happy I kept the right perspective on you. What you’ve done with Lanyrd is remarkable and I am sincerely happy for your finding.

    Let us know one you introduce new features as we will be happy to listen!

  • http://twitter.com/Triqle Event Intelligence

    Great postJulius!!
    So the take-aways I get out of this for the further development of “What’s On?” (http://triqle.eu ):

    - single-sign-on with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Open ID (is already on our development schedule!)
    - TWITTER, TWITTER, TWITTER; so beyond “1999-ish sharing” and visualising the Twitter back-channel, also the ability to re-tweet and respond from within “What’s On?”
    - add postal code of the venue(s), so users can search on location in a later stage
    - see if we can post the event from our system on both Lanyrd and Plancast with one simple click
    - investigate a VIPLI.st intergration?

    Any other tips you would recommend Julius?

    Cheers! Gerrit

  • http://www.meetjulius.com Julius Solaris

    Quite right Gerrit.

    I would drop OpenID – nobody cares anymore.

    Agreed on Twitter.

    Geo is primetime at the moment.

    Integration with Plancast or Lanyrd would be grand for you guys.

    Not sure integrating with Vipli.st is necessary but could be cool depending on how your devs play with the API

    Exciting, let me know how it goes

    Julius

  • Sylvia

    I don’t use either although I have tried Plancast in the past and found it helpful but bland.

    I’d never heard of Lanyard. I looked at it but honestly, it’s very slim and doesn’t that many conferences and only for tech. For those in tech, I’m sure it’s interesting but plenty of other business sectors have conferences too and I’d dare say collectively they outnumber tech conferences.

    I’ve been using ConferenceHound (http://www.conferencehound.com) to find conferences for clients and at times follow along the conference as I like you can see the materials posted by conference attendees. Rather like the tracking and following you mention above. I’ve been using that the last few months and find it has a large number of conferences (they say 40,000??) and I like that I can find a conference by date and location which is great because I can look for a conference in a place I want to visit or can do double-duty business while there.

    Great article – just would like to see more players included and thought you’d like to know.

  • http://www.meetjulius.com Julius Solaris

    Fair Point Sylvia. Conferencehound is a good addition, although the non-blandness make it very cluttery and confusing. I did appreciate though the Lnkedin/Twitter sign up.I do admit I am a bit biased towards tech conferences but the tools (as well as the event models) that were born around tech conferences changed the industry forever.I am looking at innovation and advance in tech. Right now I feel that the services I mentioned feel more innovative to me, although I’ll keep an eye on CH and make sure to include them in future posts, if applicable.Thanks for your comment

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the nice words Sylvia, we certainly appreciate your support! Enjoyed reading your post Julius.

    Tech conferences are certainly important (and near and dear to my own heart), and it is an area we intend on servicing well at Conference Hound. As Sylvia alluded to, we definitely make an effort to ensure we have meaningful coverage across multiple industries. While our mission is to be attendee-focused, it’s equally important for us to understand the different needs of the conference organizers and to add value where we can.

    We take your feedback on our current alpha site to heart Julius, and know we are actively iterating towards a much improved beta version.

    What really excites me is the fact that there is now increased attention in this space versus a year ago, and to your article’s point, lots of new innovation. The tools and offerings will only get better, which will ultimately benefit attendees, organizers, speakers, and others across the entire value chain.

    Jay Hung
    CTO, Conference Hound

  • http://www.meetjulius.com Julius Solaris

    Jay and Sylvia

    I feel I somewhat missed out here.

    I’ll make sure we cover CH as soon as possible as there is definitely something going on I missed.

    Jay, I’ll be in touch soon

  • http://simonwillison.net/ Simon Willison

    Hi Sylvia,

    Lanyrd listings are entirely added by our community, so the current emphasis on technology conferences is due to our site’s early adopters coming mainly from that community. As new communities find out about us we’re seeing plenty of other topics start to be represented on the site – here are some neat examples:

    http://lanyrd.com/topics/genealogy/
    http://lanyrd.com/topics/criminology/
    http://lanyrd.com/topics/food-blogging/

    You may have missed Lanyrd’s conference coverage feature, which wasn’t highlighted in the article above. Lanyrd aims to be useful after the event, as well as for conference discovery. Here’s a recent event that has added slides, video, audio clips and write-ups from around the Web:

    http://lanyrd.com/2011/heartandsole/

    Thanks for checking out Lanyrd – we hope to become more useful for you as the site expands.

    Simon