A friend of mine (hello, Keadra!) wanted to figure out who were the attendees of the Society of Forensic Toxicologist conference in 2018. Here is their website with all the past events (https://www.soft-tox.org/past_meetings) but you’ll find null information about their delegates.
The Regular Ways
In some cases x-raying a website and adding some further operators and keywords can reveal some of the delegate lists.
Searches like these …
- site:mgma.com inurl:attendees
- ext:xls intitle:attendees medical
- ext:pdf inurl:conference “first name” “last name” healthcare
- attendees name email phone title company “gmail.com”
… and alike can bring plenty of interesting results sometimes.
But it’s not always working, and the above association has not shared any of their attendee lists publicly. Too bad. Now what?
Facebook. Your First Place Facebook Must Be
While these companies and associations can easily be data-protective on the web, they certainly have a more challenging situation with social networks. Where social networks are involved companies lose a good portion of the control, and user data (and event attendee data) usually becomes more visible.
On the fan page of the Society of Forensic Toxicologist, you can find events that are hosted by this association, and people who marked their interest in those events.
Even clicking on a past event will show you everyone who wanted to or did go to these conferences. Like in this case, 61 of them!
But there is more than a Facebook page.
The Community tab is another helpful feature when searching for conferences and attendees. Every public post where a fan page is referenced will become visible here. These are the so-called mentions that can reveal actual attendees (not only those who use the mention but also all others that like or comment on that post) and show us suppliers, sponsors, and other information.
This is a great place to get some understanding of the vibe and the culture of a conference and read about the topics or, for instance, their regular hashtag.
Because a hashtag is king.
Every conference has a hashtag today, and we LOVE to use these hashtags everywhere. On Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, on a T-shirt and sometimes even in our private Messenger conversations.
Hashtags are also often searchable, so guess what? With that, we reach the next level of attendee sourcing.
Mapping and scraping attendees from Twitter
#SOFT2018 is the hashtag that the Society of Forensic Toxicologist was using last year. If we go to Twitter, we can easily find the tweets from that conference: https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=%23SOFT2018&src=typd. Voila! These are the people (some of them) who were attending the conference last year.
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Now we can scroll down the tweets manually (there is a few hundreds of them) and copy/paste the info from that or, we little upgrade our sourcing skills and apply some of the coolest automation tools.
There are plenty of extensions that can auto-scroll a page for you. However, I’d suggest using this one. I’ve learned this from the brilliant Gordon Lokenberg and cannot be grateful enough for the tip!
Once you’ve added the extension to your Chrome, go to the page you want to auto-scroll and click on the icon. It will start scrolling and soon will stop at the bottom of the page. And that’s it: now you have all the tweets in front of you — next step.
Dataminer helps you scrape data from the web. Go to https://data-miner.io/ and add the plugin to your Chrome extensions. Once done, go to Twitter, click on the Dataminer icon and search the Public Recipe library for Twitter recipes (type in Twitter to the search box and hit enter).
You can also create your own Twitter recipe (and here is a great video tutorial for that), but in this case, you can use almost any of the existing Twitter recipes. I will use the top of the list (Twitter.com – Search List 2019).
Run the recipe and then download the results either as a CSV or an Excel. And basically, here we are.
Now you have every tweet from that conference (214 tweets!) in one file. With a PIVOT you can see which attendee was the most active on Twitter (so that you can also better understand their level of influence) and while you’ll see some company names as well, a good number of attendees will also appear on the list.
For this search, it is 81 results. Eighty-one attendees from a conference which secretly hid all of their delegates. Isn’t it just amazing?
Happy sourcing and let me know if you have any questions or feedback.