How does a virtual and social technology strategist fit into an IT networking company?
Well, in my case I fit in with the Cisco Sales and Partner Engagements and Recognition (SPER) team because I specialize in digital engagements for events.

SPER is responsible for our annual sales force event called the Global Sales Experience (GSX) as well as a number of partner events including our annual global Partner Summit and Virtual Partner Summit (VPS).

These are both complex events and pulling them off requires a strong bench when it comes to leveraging the right technology to create an infrastructure that will transform the audience from passive to active participants.

I have had the pleasure to work on the Global Cisco Live Virtual event and currently work on our GSX and VPS events because my niche is using technology to enhance or at times create an opportunity to effectively inspire and communicate with a large globally distributed audience.

Where do events fit into the overall Cisco offering? Are they about brand awareness, or monetization, or both?
Cisco utilizes events of all sizes and types across the entire marketing and communication landscape, both internally and externally. From product launch webcasts, to our global annual user conferences called Cisco Live, to our presence at events like CES, to GSX, we leverage physical, virtual, or hybrid events to engage our audiences.

While many of our customer events are primed to go after brand awareness, GSX is a sales conference so it is about motivation for, communication to, and celebration of Cisco’s sales force. Most importantly, I believe all our events strive to increase loyalty in their own way.

Cisco is a global brand. How do you tailor your content and events for different countries, languages and cultures?

GSX is a great example of really recognizing the power of our event format and of turning lemons into lemonade, so to speak. GSX is a two-day event that takes place live in three waves, one for each geographic region, in 105+ locations and 400+ conference rooms around the globe.

The three-wave approach puts a global stamp on the format and experience and establishes a geographic influence in the content and creative presented during each wave.

Cisco is a brand that lots of people know, but that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to sexy content. How do you go about telling Cisco’s story in a compelling way that differentiates you from your competitors?
With GSX we leverage digital engagements to help tell our stories in interesting and meaningful ways. For example for the FY12 event we created the GSX Cloud Story. This experience provided an overview of the power of the cloud and Cisco’s unique positioning in the market in regards to this technology.

This was a highly, but not overly stylized production that leveraged visuals and audibles to tell a compelling yet concise story. There was also a host of supplementary short format content that dived further into specific markets and segments.

These were shot in a frank interview style and featured Cisco executives answering questions in a transparent and purposefully non-scripted manner. Both GSX and VPS also believe in enabling two-way dialogue with their audiences so executive chats are popular.

When we combine that two-way dialogue with real time peer-to-peer conversation, moderated text-based Q&A and polling, we find opportunities to let the audience tell part of the story, which I think is sexy.

We also believe the audience should drive the content forward whenever possible and we leverage a variety of tactics, including polls, to enable the audiences to choose, for example, the vertical they wish to hear a case study at the end of a session.

Because our geographically-dispersed audience will have different topics that they want more granular details on, the core presentation will morph each time it’s presented.

Dannette Veale will be speaking at the 2012 Custom Content Conference, which takes place March 21-23 in Washington D.C. Sparksheet readers are entitled  to the member rate discount by registering with promo code “sparkDC”