How Twitter Is Socializing Conferences

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Have you noticed an emerging trend of Twitter and Facebook integrating with TV?

Smartphones and tablets are now on coffee tables beside the TV remote.

Nielsen says that 40% of television watchers are multiscreening everyday. These couch potatoes have a TV remote in one hand and their mobile device in the other!

Why?

One-third of those multitaskers are using their mobile devices to review something related to the television show that they are currently watching. Some are texting, tweeting and posting directly to the producers or actors during the show. Some are chatting online with others about what they are watching. TV shows now frequently trend in Twitter topics as thousands of us share are opinions.

The result? TV is no longer just a passive, one-way experience. People want to participate with it. We are watching how social media is socializing TV.

The Online Socialization Of Conferences

Blogger Jeff Bullas recently wrote about how Twitter is socializing TV. That got me thinking about how Twitter is socializing conferences.

Much has been written about how to use Twitter for a conference. Social media conferences were some of the first to experience the backchannel, online chatter about the conference experience.

So much of the traditional conference experience is passive, one-way just like television shows. Today, conference attendees are socializing conferences in their own ways online, especially when the experience doesn’t give them an opportunity to participate onsite.

5 Ways Twitter Is Socializing Conferences

Here are five ways Twitter is socializing conferences.

1. Speakers tweet before, during and after the conference.

Savvy speakers start their presentation conversations before the conference begins. They use Twitter to help market their presentation as well as research what potential attendees want to hear. During the event, they ask someone to follow the conversation and share questions or comments with them. They continue those conversations after the event as well.

2. Emcees or hosts live tweet the experience.

Some give followers a behind the scenes peek into what is happening in the green room and back stage. Some alert followers to upcoming surprises that the rest of the crowd doesn’t know.

3. Hashtags are the new conference water cooler.

Conference attendees tune their Twitter applications to the appropriate hashtag (number sign # followed by an abbreviation used for the event) to join the conversation. Like a radio or TV station, the hashtag helps followers filter the noise and tune to the right frequency.

4. Everyone is a reporter.

When we watch TV, most of us are critics or reporters. We talk to the characters and news anchors out loud, playing armchair quarterback. Conferences are not any different. We used to just talk in the hallways or write notes to those sitting near us about the experience. Now we tweet about it. Savvy conference organizers follow those tweets and make changes as needed on site.

5. Call to action.

Some conference organizers are using Twitter to let conference attendees know about schedule and room changes. They tweet reminders to them about upcoming conference events. Some provide links to evaluations or other calls to action.

What are some ways you’ve used Twitter at your conference or tradeshow? What tips do you have for those using Twitter at an event?

Comments

  1. says

    I love number 3. I just wish ALL conference attendees would use twitter and facebook. Also, baby boomers need to stop getting upset when gen X & Y are using their smart phones during a class or session. Most of the time they are doing so to take notes, share info or communicate with others in the class. Much better (less rude) than whispering to the person next to you.

    Nice post Jeff!

  2. says

    Jeff, I’m curious about how all this affects the experience for those who aren’t tweeting a meeting. It’s almost like there’s this secret (OK, not secret, but it seems that way for those who aren’t on the backchannels) stream going on behind the scenes. Is it bifurcating the attendees, and their experience? If so, is this a good thing?

  3. Heather Trompke says

    Thank you for pointing these aspects out. In 2011, it is only wise to “drink the Kool-Aid”. Social media is growing as such a rapid speed, if you don’t get on board, you will be left way behind.

  4. Mary Yeaple says

    Good post. I would add a suggestion that before using a hashtag, please make sure those initials are not currently in use. I tweet for the Maryland Irish Festival and have been using #mdif daily for months (#mif & #mif11 were already in use) and all of a sudden a Medical Device & Investor Forum this week started using #mdif. I posted a comment early on that I hoped they like Irish-related Tweets but they continued using it.
    I’d be interested in hearing if others have run into this.

    • Jeff Hurt says

      @Dave
      Thanks for reading and commenting. So true that others should stop getting upset when people are using mobile devices in sessions. Those using them are not hurting those not using them.

      @Sue
      Good question. Yeah, it’s not a secret because it’s usually publicized. I don’t see it as bifurcating audiences any more than one group may go to breakout 1 and the other to breakout 2. Usually those that are not following the backchannel have chosen not to do so. It’s the attendee’s choice. It’s also no different than some people having a hallway conversation and others are not involved. And just because people sat in a session doesn’t mean that they were mentally engaged or paying attention.

      @Heather
      Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      @Mary
      I think many people have similar challenges when they choose their hashtag. I was just at a conference where the hashtag was the same as a makeup company in another country. It’s always a challenge and I’m not sure there is a simple answer. If others have a way they resolve this, please share with us.

  5. Alexandra Leloup says

    > Great post! Attendees want to contribute actively. And they want it to be public and visible, which, in fact, is really good for event organizers.
    Events go viral. They gain visibility.
    As I truly believe engaging people is the key to the success of all kinds of events, I recommend organizers who use the interactive mobile app Evenium ConnexMe to:
    >
    > – have guest’s contributions visible on screen, so attendees can listen with their eyes on stage and not concentrate on their smartphones
    > – have insiders in the audience who initiate and liven up conversations, providing examples of how to participate actively.
    > – have a moderator near the stage, to help speakers follow and answer interesting questions and contributions.
    >
    > @Sue: actually, not everybody is tweeting, that’s why it’s important to have attendees’ contributions on screen – or at least selected contributions.
    > The Evenium app puts the spotlight on contributions from “real” attendees, rather than those who simply follow and retweet without attending the event.

  6. says

    @Sue, @Jeff: In general, we encourage all of the event planners who use our space to be active in social media, but we also think it’s important to still encourage everyone to participate. Make it obvious, and maybe even host a fifteen-minute workshop–another breakout–on how to do so. Offering the option up front and obvious, we think, might allow for a richer experience.

  7. says

    We just returned from a conference where we used Twitter for the second year. Our second year was more successful than our first.

    To promote engagement we offered a chance for a free membership to anyone posting on the days of our conference using #aarc11. We got pretty good participation, then chose our winner from among the random tweets when we returned to our office the next week.

    Worked pretty good for us.

Trackbacks

  1. […] via social media channels (e.g. polling, texting answers, etc.). And with increasing frequency, business conferences are working on ways to move social media from the “back channel” to the front of the room. You know, you can try and fight […]

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