Meet Community stars at Microsoft Business Applications Summit

One of the primary reasons people go to conferences is to meet the presenters.

At the Microsoft Business Applications Summit (MBAS), we have an entire “Ask the Experts” experience to make this easy.

We have created a community lounge and will be scheduling a subset of those community stars for you to interact with. Here are some highlights of the community members and topics you will find at this year’s MBAS.


Starting and Running a World Class PowerApps User Group by Keith Whatling

In addition to being a PowerApps MVP and one of the earliest/best PowerApps developers, Keith Whatling also started one of the first (and just recently recognized as one of the best) PowerApps user groups on the planet. Keith will be discussing the tactics that helped him in his community journey.

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Keith Whatling is an experienced analyst with a demonstrated history of award-winning innovation in transportation. “I have a wealth of experience from digital content creation and data analysis to Microsoft’s Power Platform, using PowerApps and Flow to drive digital transformation. I can hold my own with Python, VBA and have some C# experience.”


Collaboratively Organizing One of the Largest Power BI Groups by Prathy Kamasani

Prathy Kamasani helps organize one of the largest Power BI user groups in the world and in this session she will share with the community how she manages this process and continues growing their membership.

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Prathy Kamasani is a Microsoft Valuable Professional (MVP) working as an independent MSBI contractor based in London. She specializes in Power BI, SSIS, SSAS and SSRS. Prathy is active in the Microsoft Data community as a speaker, volunteer, and organizes the London Power BI User Group.


Running the Largest Power BI Community Site in the World by Mike Carlo

In addition to co-managing one of the most successful US Power BI user groups, Power BI MVPs Mike Carlo and Seth Bauer also manage to find time to host the largest Power BI community site in the world. Wondering how? Then this session is for you!

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Mike is a user group leader and frequent conference speaker that is Passionate about data, analytics and helping people learn same has developed a website knowledge repository for all things PowerBI, (www.PowerBI.Tips). This site is uniquely set up for people to read and learn about data modeling and visualizations within Power BI with over 60 kudos to date!


How to Leverage the Microsoft Communities Platform and Grow to a Super Community by Seth Bauer

In addition to co-managing one of the most successful US Power BI user groups, Power BI MVPs Seth Bauer and Mike Carlo also manage to find time to host the largest Power BI community site in the world. Additionally, Seth Bauer finds the time to answer many of the Power Service questions in the community forums. Find out how he gets his information.


About Seth Bauer

I am a Director of Business Intelligence at Syndigo. I’m a Microsoft Data Platform MVP (Power BI). I’ve been working with the Microsoft stack for over 10 yrs, but my major focus area now is Power BI, and sharing what I’ve learned with the User Community. I am a Microsoft Certified Professional, a co-leader of this Microsoft Power BI User Group, and a PUG Board of Advisors member. I enjoy working with clients across the Midwest implementing BI / Power BI solutions.

How to use Microsoft Forums to Learn DAX by Phil Seamark

Author, conference organizer, User Group leader, MVP Alumni, and now Microsoft employee, Phil Seamark is recognized as one of the foremost DAX experts. He recently confided in a community gathering that most of what he learned in DAX was through his participation in community forums. In this informal get together, discuss with Phil his techniques for leveraging community forums into his incredible resume of experiences.

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Philip Seamark is an author, Microsoft Data Platform MVP employee of the Power BI CAT Team, and an experienced database and business intelligence (BI) professional with a deep knowledge of the Microsoft B.I. stack along with extensive knowledge of data warehouse (DW) methodologies and enterprise data modelling. He has 25+ years experience in this field and is an active member of Power BI community. He is a Super User with 1,945 answers and 590 kudos on the community website


The Value of Joining the Dynamics Online Community by Fawad Khan

Strategy and operations leader with 15+ years of experience managing businesses from $10-20M and leading global IT teams of 100+. “I have helped deliver over $5M in cost savings in Service Delivery along with a 5% improvement in Customer/Partner Experience.” Fawad is a Digital and Cloud Computing strategist in today’s world of AI, Machine Learning, IoT and Hybrid Computing.

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The Magic Around Delivering an Amazing Presentation by Mico Yuk

Based on requests and feedback on her story-telling presentation, Mico has agreed to share with the community her best practices on delivering an amazing presentation.

Mico Yuk (@micoyuk) is the founder of BI Brainz (the leader in enterprise visual storytelling) and the BI Dashboard Formula (BIDF) methodology. She has trained thousands globally on how to use the power of data visualization strategically to enhance the decision-making process. In the last nine years, her company has worked with Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble, Honda, Kimberly-Clark, Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle, Qatargas, Ericsson, and FedEx. She has also authored Data Visualization for Dummies (Wiley 2014).


The Art of Creating a Microsoft Flow Presentation by Kent Weare

Kent Weare is an experienced leader who possesses strong technical skills. Passionate about architecture with a specialty in integration, he is recognized by Microsoft as an Integration MVP.

Kent, a graduate of the University of Regina, has 10+ years of IT experience. This experience includes working on projects for Provincial and Federal Governments, a multi-national bank in the United States, Health Care projects in Eastern and Western Canada and he is currently employed by a large Electricity Distribution company in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Kent started working with BizTalk in 2004 and has experience with BizTalk Server 2004/2006/2006 R2/2009/2010.


How to Use Community to Make the World a Better Place by Shannon Lindsey

Shannon Lindsay of the Informatics Team at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) runs the Power BI User Group (PUG) community in Washington, DC. Her associate, Stephanie Bruno, runs the PUG in Pittsburgh, PA. They also run an internal PUG at EGPAF in which they invite all countries to meet (via conference calls) to share resources and ideas and collaborate on projects.

In this session, Lindsay will share her story of how “Community has been the key to our success in relation to the implementation of Power BI (among other technologies) here at EGPAF. In fact, it is because of our relationships with the community that these trainings happened at all! Stephanie heard about the Microsoft MySkills4Afrika program a few years ago from a volunteer at the Data Insights conference in Seattle.”

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Shannon Lindsey is a data and analytics professional specializing in collection, management, and use of targeted data for program improvement and strategic decision making, solving problems for non-profit and government.


What It Takes to Be a PowerApps Flow MVP by Anton Robbins

Discuss with Anton his journey and experiences in becoming a Microsoft PowerApps MVP.

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Anton Robbins is the CTO of Seisay IT Solutions, a PowerApps and Flow MVP, PowerApps Champion, DC PowerApps User Group Leader and slayer of bow ties. That he has a passion for the Microsoft Power Platform (Flow, Power BI, and PowerApps) communities is an understatement. “It takes a community to elevate technical brethren.” When he is not speaking at an event, he is usually volunteering or organizing events. He has been, in the past and currently is, a speaker at Microsoft conferences and local User Groups. In his spare time, which he rarely has, he likes to roller skate.

Becoming a Community Super User by Gilbert Quevauvilliers

While there are roughly 500 Business Applications MVPs including Power BI, Dynamics, PowerApps, and Flow, there are fewer than 50 community super users who answer the unanswerable questions in the Microsoft forums. Gilbert Quevauvilliers will share his process for getting this knowledge and how to best use the Microsoft forums.

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“Currently, I’m working as a Power BI & Data Analytics Consultant. I have over 10+ years’ experience working with data of any size and any source. By leveraging my skills, I am able to provide insights into customers’ data quickly and efficiently. And this has enabled my customers to gain a better understanding of their business. Which relates to better sales, or significant cost savings.

“I was recently awarded a Microsoft MVP award for Power BI. Power BI, in my opinion, is the logical choice for creating insights, being cost-effective and providing dashboards and reports on Web, Mobile, or in Apps out of the box.

“I have proven competencies in the implementation of data analytic solutions from the ground up, which included developing data warehouses, SSAS Cubes and, most recently, Power BI solutions for customers in various business sectors.

“I have worked within teams, managed teams, as well as worked alone on various successful data analytics projects.

“I have focused on providing Power BI Solutions to customers since the inception of Power BI in July 2015.”


Demystifying the MVP Process by Julie Yack

In addition to running a Dynamics User Group conference, Julie Yack is one of the most distinguished of the Dynamic MVPs. In this informal get together, Julie will be happy to field any questions about the MVP program and nomination process.

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Julie Yack is a Colorado-based Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVP serving clients across the globe, providing training, implementation, analysis and insight for companies wanting to take their service to the next level. Julie’s blog, addresses pertinent topics of the day, ranging from Dynamics CRM to technology in education to travel to voting rights.


Lounge Hosts

This all-star community will be joined by the entire Microsoft community team with members like Charles Sterling, Jon Levesque, Brian Dang, and Purvin Patel.

Jon Levesque

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Jon Levesque is an entrepreneur and strategist with an expertise in brand engagement, community building and creating winning evangelism strategies. He is a Senior Program Manager on the Microsoft Flow product team focusing on helping Flow evangelize the product and how to use it, helping customers understand the platform and its benefits.

Jon’s background has ranged from project management to customer experience, to support and marketing. He has over 12 years in the industry and has helped lead community and engagement efforts in the low code/no code space since its inception. He has worked with large brands like Microsoft & HTC and smaller, local brands like Forterra NW Inc, as well as musical artists like Jethro Tull & DJ Nano.

As a speaker and educator, Jon has created the first Microsoft Flow EdX Course, The official Guided Learning material for Microsoft Flow and Ehang Drones and also created a series of YouTube videos guiding users on how to transform business process digitally using Microsoft Flow.

Brian Dang

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Brian Dang now a program manager on the PowerApps team is helping shape the product to make it easier to use and adopt the world of citizen developers. Formerly a third and fourth grade teacher, Brian Dang (known as Mr. Dang by his students) used PowerApps to create several education apps for teaching, managing his classroom, and gamifying the learning experience. In this in-depth interview, Brian shares his experience meeting Bill Gates, how he got started with PowerApps, how students and teachers are using apps in the classroom, and his vision for PowerApps in the education space. Teachers and students are very excited about using apps in the learning process. Not only do the kids get engaged in the subjects they are learning, but they also explore the technology and authoring tools used to create the custom apps, like the spelling and banking apps. His fourth graders even collaborated in teams to create their own apps, such as one with a Harry Potter theme. Since recording this video, Brian has joined the PowerApps team to execute his vision of bringing PowerApps into the classroom and enabling teachers, students and administrators to “not settle for the apps they have, but create the apps they want.”

May 2019 updates for Microsoft PowerApps

For people that can not wait here is a mid-month roll up for all the new features we have shipped in PowerApps for the month of May.  Please note when the month is over i will publish this on the product blog:

Also To see what was new in April for PowerApps be sure and check out:

April 2019 updates for Microsoft PowerApps

Import Canvas app components from cloud apps

Components just go better!  With this update, you can share components using cloud apps.

Provisioning and administration is getting easier

Now you have a single place to manage and visualize the  storage of your organization. Check your organization storage capacity here. Read more here.


Owner, Customer, and Regarding for canvas apps

Common Data Service polymorphic lookups are now available from canvas apps.  You can now:

  • Access, set, and filter on the Owner field of any record.
  • Access and set the Company Name field (a Customer data type) of the Contacts entity.
  • Access and set the Regarding field of activity entities such as Faxes, Phone Calls, Email Messages, etc.
  • Access the list of all Activities for a record.
  • Access the list of Notes for a record.


On-premises data gateway May 2019 update is now available

The On-premises gateway now features monitoring gateway usage and performance. Traditionally, for monitoring performance, gateway admins have had to depend on manually monitoring performance counters through the Windows Performance Monitor tool. This feature is an out of the box feature which includes additional logging regarding queries and system counters along with a Gateway Performance PBI template file to visualize these. This would insights into gateway usage and allow troubleshooting slow performing queries.

PowerApps Canvas App Accessibility Guidelines


This white paper is for the enterprise application developer (maker) responsible for designing, building, testing, deploying, and maintaining PowerApps in a corporate or government environment. This white paper is a collaborative effort of the Microsoft PowerApps team, Microsoft IT, and industry professionals. Adherence to the guidelines and standards in this document will assist developers in making their PowerApps canvas apps accessible to all app users.


Performance enhancements to the PowerApps portal

we have built and are deploying a new UI framework that significantly reduces the number of calls and download size of PowerApps.


Add new fields while creating your canvas app

While creating apps using the Common Data Service, makers select an entity as the data source and bind it with data controls. This allows them to add fields in the selected data source to a gallery, data table, or form. This is good for fields that are already present in the data source. However, if there is a need to add an additional field, the maker would need to save the app, switch to the entity designer to add the additional field before returning back to the app. This results in unnecessary deviation from their original goal of making an app.

Adding new field in Entity Designer 

Extend the power of WYSIWYG Model based form authoring to quick create and quick view forms

The new form designer now supports authoring quick create and quick view formsAll the beneficial features of the new form designer such as WYSIWYG preview, enhanced fields pane, quick-access property pane, tree view and more now extend to quick create and quick view form authoring to help enable a rich and productive experience.

Quick create form as it appears to end-users


Announcing general availability of Model based Apps Solution Checker

To deliver on complex business requirements, model-driven app makers often can end up with highly advanced solutions that customize and extend the Common Data Service platform. With advanced implementations comes an increased risk where performance, stability, and reliability issues become introduced, which can negatively impact the user experience. Identifying and understanding how to resolve these issues can be complicated and time consuming. With the solution checker feature, you can perform a rich static analysis check on your solutions against a set of best practice rules and quickly identify these problematic patterns. After the check completes, you receive a detailed report that lists the issues identified, the components and code affected, and links to documentation that describes how to resolve each issue.

Install solution checker 


Please note this is a work in progress and I will continue adding new features through out the month.

Also To see what was new in April for PowerApps be sure and check out:

April 2019 updates for Microsoft PowerApps



Sharing PowerApps at scale made easy

Last week on the April PowerApps community call one of the viewers indicated the process to share their PowerApps application with ~600 users wasn’t as fast as they wanted.

In digging into what they were doing it turns out they were trying to add 600 people directly is the application sharing dialog (Note: PowerApps only supports adding 200 identities at a time).  In addition to being slow this a security anti-pattern as typically you don’t grant people to resources; you grant security groups access to resources and add people to the security groups.

Luckily sharing at scale with PowerApps can be simple!

Here are the steps to make your PowerApps sharing experience a lot easier -and more secure.

Step 1. Create an Active Directory security Group.

You can either do this with PowerShell using the New-ADGroup or manually.   Since you don’t tend to create a lot of security groups; including the manual steps below.   Note while this is done through the Azure portal an Azure subscription is NOT required!

1. Navigate to and select the Azure Active Directory Blade.


 2. Select Groups


3. Supply the security group details…and possibly add members.  Likely you will find it easier to add your members with PowerShell as it is something you will find yourself doing all the time….particularly after people find out how fun it is to use PowerApps!


Step 2. Share your PowerApp with a security group.

Sharing with a security group is just like sharing with a user…i.e. type in the name of the security group created in step 1. and select the access permissions those users should receive.


3. (Optional) Add members via PowerShell

While you can add security group members directly in the Azure portal, I find it much easier to actually keep track of my members in a dedicated file like CSV – and add them via PowerShell command: Add-ADGroupMember with an example here: 

Using Add-Adgroupmember and CSV Files

Controlling the Power BI filter context from within PowerApps

Was looking at the PowerApps Docs on how to control the Power BI Filter context from inside of PowerApps and noticed a couple of issues…Like the references to our internal MSIT servers and angle braces in the syntax…and decided a tutorial might be helpful to help people get started.

This tutorial is using the Dashboard in a day sample data that can be found here:     To make it easier i am starting with the finished version of the report

Step 1. Open the Dashboard in a Day finished report

In login and select Get Data > Files and navigate to where you downloaded and extracted the Dashboard in a Day samples.  In this example i am using a workspace called “Difinity”;  as the intent is to share this PowerApps application, you would not want do this from “My Workspace”


getfiles2 Step 2.  Pin a visual from the Power BI report to a Dashboard

As the PowerApps Power BI control only supports visuals in Dashboards, we need to pin one of the visuals to a dashboard, in this case I am creating a new one called “PATutorial”.


Step 3.  Create a Canvas based PowerApp


Step 4. Insert a Power BI Control

From the insert ribbon choose controls and scroll to the Power BI Tile


Step 5. Setup the Power BI Control


Step 6.  Add some buttons to set the filter context

On the Insert ribbon select controls and add a couple (~three) buttons.  Change their Text to that of the manufacturers in the Dash board in a day sample i.e. VanArsdel, Natura and Prium.


Step 7.  Create and set a variable to used as our filter context

In the OnSelect of each button set a variable to the manufacture name.  In this example we are hard coding the values rather than using the Button1.Text property to make it easier to include the needed single quotes around the manufacturer name.



Step 8. Set the TileURL property of the Power BI Control

Select the Power BI control and scroll to the TileURL property then add the section in purple below.  If your buttons don’t work there is a good chance you have added an extra space in the URL and the filter is being ignored.

&$filter=Manufacturer/Name eq ” & MyManufacture


Congrats you have now created a PowerApp that is hosting a Power BI Tile!


Some notes with this example:

If you are looking at the Power BI documentation note there are differences!

  1. myvar should start with “&” instead of “?” (because there are other URL params ahead of it)
  2. “filter” should be “$filter” (unlike in Power BI directly)

The Tile URL may look something like the following:” & myvar


and your Button OnSelect would have something like the following:

Set(myvar,”&$filter=Store/Territory eq ‘NC'”)




Building a Pilot House for a Pursuit 2350

While finishing the 28th Tiara rebuild, the fuel tank in my “fishing” boat failed putting it out of commission.  In addition to the failed fuel tank I had cracked the acrylic make shift windscreen i heat formed to to fit the frame, the side canvas has failed and the in-deck live well needed to be removed as it would flood, served no useful purpose and added a lot of weight to the boat.  Here is the progress on the Pilot house…with goal to replace the worn out canvas, replace the cracked/make shift acrylic wind screen and radically improve visibility(The original windshield’s top frame was literally right at line of sight).

Here is the current windshield and cracked acrylic top.


Here is the stock side window (Canvas already tossed) 20181222_122505

Step 1.

The first step was to get out some large pieces of card board and trace out the panels



Based on the card board cut outs i would need a sheet of 6mm hydrotek and two sheets of 3/4″ marine plywood, two gallons of West Systems of Epoxy and some fiberglass cloth…In this picture I also have some honeycomb and a coosa panel…not in the image is the 4 tubes of automotive windshield adhesive that will hold in the the acrylic panels.


Despite cracking the last acrylic wind screen i went back to acrylic…the reasons being:

  1. Acrylic is actually optically clearer than glass (Also what the new mega yachts are using)
  2. No 3 week wait time/ TAP plastic was open when i wanted to do the work
  3.  In terms of strength: The acrylic panel i broke had no frame, was quite thin and still put up with an amazing amount of abuse ( to break it i had smash through a wave and smash into it with my head…and even then it only cracked where i had drilled holes through it to mount it…these new panels are twice as thick!)
  4. Cost was a push…The scratch resistant acrylic and tempered safety glass was actually the same cost.
  5.   I didn’t go with Polycarbonate as it discolor, will yellow in sunlight, salt will scratch it and it flexes so much as to make it very difficult to seal.

Step 2.

Second step was to cut the 6mm to fit around the acrylic panels and the 3/4″ playwood ~3/4″ of an inch smaller than the panels to create a pocket…like a car.  Then laminating the 6mm and the 3/4 plywood and covering it all with Epoxy and cloth.   So while I may have started with a lot of plywood most of that wood is still in my garage!


The side windows i mounted the panels in before installing and only removed the protective film from the areas i was putting adhesive.


As of today I am about 80% finished glassing it all in and waiting for the epoxy to cure.

I will be running AFI 1.5 wiper motors I will be using with 21″ blades and 20″ pantograph wiper arms.

So my rough costs so far are:

  • Plywood $250
  • Epoxy  $200
  • Acrylic panels and cutting $600 (only fronts are scratch resistant)
  • Windshield adhesive $50
  • Fiberglass Cloth …already had
  • Fumed Silica $30
  • Wiper motors $250
  • Wiper Arms $120
  • White 5200 to seal the top to the sides (Bottom is epoxied on) $30
  • Washer Pump $10

So around $1500



Charles Sterling Biography

Charles Sterling (Chuck) came to Microsoft from being a marine biologist working for United States National Marine Fisheries doing marine mammal research on the Bering Sea. He started out at Microsoft supporting Excel and moved through a couple of support teams to being an escalation engineer for Microsoft SQL Server. Taking his love for customers (and diving), Chuck moved to Australia as a product manager and developer evangelist for the .NET Framework. In 2008 he moved back to Redmond as the Visual Studio team as a program manager and recently moved to the Power BI team to continue his community passion and looking after the Power BI influencers and MVPs.

In his off time Chuck likes to do this own Mythbusters/Roadkill type projects with such as:

To see Charles-Sterling’s 25 years at Microsoft check out his resume

Latest sessions I have been delivering:

An all demo view of Microsoft’s new Power platform

While you are probably already familiar with Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow; you may not know that Microsoft is bringing these tools together into a unified brand called: the Microsoft Power platform.  In this session Microsoft Senior Program Manager, Charles Sterling will give an all demo introduction to these products AND how you can use these products together with other offerings such as their new database engine called Common Data Service for Apps and Microsoft Forms to create very sophisticated “no code/low code” solutions for Business Analysts and  citizen developers.

If we are going to do this in a two part series:

Part 1. Introduction to PowerApps

Build apps in hours—not months—that easily connect to data, use Excel-like expressions to add logic, and run on the web, iOS, and Android devices.  In this session we will walk through how to get started with PowerApps and quickly build applications that solve business problems quickly and do not a development background using a point-and-click approach to app design and Excel-like expressions. Publish your app to the web, iOS, Android, and Windows 10. It’s that easy.  This session will also cover Microsoft Flow, a powerful workflow automation that integrates directly into your apps with a no-code approach that connects to hundreds of popular apps and services.  Data is at the core of every app. We make it easy to get your data into your apps with more than 200 connectors for many popular cloud services and even your on-premises data.

Part 2. Introduction to Power BI

In this session, Charles Sterling will introduce Power BI, a suite of business analytics tools that takes your data and delivers insights throughout your organization. Connect to hundreds of data sources, simplify data prep, and drive ad hoc analysis. Produce beautiful reports, then publish them for your organization to consume on the web and across mobile devices. Everyone can create personalized dashboards with a unique, 360-degree view of their business. And scale across the enterprise, with governance and security built-in.  Demos to include creating reports, access data from the web PowerApps integration and putting it all together with purpose built Dashboards…all built with every day computer skills.

What is new and exciting in Power BI

With weekly and monthly releases, there are a lot of fantastic new features to explore in Power BI. In this session, we will review what’s been released lately, including the new collaboration features in the cloud-based service, the new authoring and modeling features of Power BI Desktop, new Power BI resources, and finally what’s new for developers leveraging the Power BI platform.

Data Visualization best practices with Power BI Desktop

By the end of this course with Charles Sterling, you gain a better understanding of the best practices and components that influence communicating data visually. Specifically gain familiarity with Power BI report layouts and structure the agile process to creating Power BI data visualizations. Understand the art behind visualizations, implications behind choosing the right charts, the impact of color, shape and size, and finally the use of Power BI custom visuals.

Story Telling with Power BI Desktop

Join Power BI World Tour favorite Senior Program Manager, Charles Sterling as he delves into the data storytelling components of Power BI. By the end of this sessions, you will gain a better understanding of how to communicate data more effectively through storytelling. This all demo session will focus on Power BI Desktop in action (Bookmarks, Q&A, Explain the Increase, Drill Through, Page Report Tooltips) to help you  to tell stories with your data and help users navigate your reports.

Power BI Administration & Governance

Microsoft Power BI administration is the management of a Power BI tenant, including the configuration of tenant settings, usage monitoring, and provisioning of licenses, and other organizational resources. The job is to make business users productive and ensure security and compliance with laws and regulations. This session covers the typical admin tasks and tools, such as Power BI admin portal and Office 365 admin center, and how to automate them by using administrative APIs and PowerShell cmdlets.

Power BI Hands-On Administrator in a Day

Need to come up to speed fast on the administration for Power BI? Then this all day course is for you!

In this Hands on Session, Charles Sterling, is going to walk through the Microsoft Power BI administration and the management of a Power BI tenant, including the configuration of tenant settings, usage monitoring, and provisioning of licenses, and other organizational resources. The job is to make business users productive and ensure security and compliance with laws and regulations. This session covers the typical admin tasks and tools, such as Power BI admin portal and Office 365 admin center, and how to automate them by using administrative APIs and PowerShell cmdlets.  Specific Hands  labs around  using capacities in Power BI, safely sharing Power BI assets and finally using the Power BI audit log to optimize your Power BI Usage.

Community Advocacy and Conference Swag?

I work on a community team and most of my team mates seem infatuated with giving out swag/chachkies.

…And i don’t get it….

Let’s start out with what SWAG and Community are both good for:

  1. Swag > Driving a brand/marketing message.
  2. Community > Creating a connection

If you are in a marketing role releasing a new offering, giving out Swag makes perfect sense. After the event/interaction, those chachkies can potentially remind a would be consumer to investigate the offering.

With community you are cultivating a connection and advocacy…if you have to buy this advocacy with trinkets it is likely going to be short lived and very unlikely to drive any community commitment curve gains.

An Interesting (and accidental) experiment by a team i have interacted with at a large (20K attendees) industry conference was they hosted a booth and gave out chachkies AND had a drawing for a laptop.

Half that team focused on just that interaction…giving out trinkets, answering questions and signing people up to the website.  The other half of the team printed out little fliers and put them on the seats of their presentations where they instructed people how to solve common business problems…With the free samples listed on the fliers.

As you can guess from my introduction the team members that just gave out Swag saw no appreciable climb in their community contribution/growth.  The team members that gave out the fliers pointing out (FREE) samples saw a 300% increase during that conference.


Do shirts have a place in community?


In looking at the community commitment curve it seems this is an effort best focused at the top and people that want to fly your brands colors while they are presenting etc.

Will it make them work harder? …Unlikely but there is a good chance it may make their interactions more effective or help them start conversations.


For people that have seen me present may note the seeming inconsistency that i love tossing out stuff during my presentations….

Worth pointing out, I am just as likely to toss out candy bars as Tshirts AND the effort often involves some sort gamification…meaning i keep track of who gets the most candy bars etc and will introduce myself to this (would-be) advocate after the session.