Today’s conference attendees, armed with laptops, flip cameras and smart phones, are no longer sitting quietly taking notes during presentations.
They are using their new tools to document, take notes, check the presenter’s facts, search for resources, post and publish their reflections and connect with others in and outside the room. Millions of people use Twitter in a variety of ways, well beyond what the inventors first envisioned for it.
Some use Twitter to post updates on what they are doing or thinking–similar to the status updates in Facebook and LinkedIn. Others use it to publish posts that offer useful information or commentary on particular topics. Some share links to resources and photos as if reporting from the scene.
Twitter text posts, often called tweets, are restricted to 140 characters and demand a brief writing style which gets to the point quickly. Some people don’t see the value in tweets, especially in isolation. I believe that the value of a tweet lay in the eye of the beholder and the tweet’s meaning has to the author and reader. Following other Tweeps, as I call them, helps increase the value of Twitter as well. Following other industry professionals whom you respect, can help you learn and expand your circle of influence.
If you’re planning on tweeting at your next conference or event, here are some tips on creating Good, Better and Best Tweets.
Example 1: The Announcement
In this tweet, the user announces that they are leaving for an event. Using the hashtag, #pcma10, he’s identified his tweet as part of the discussion for the PCMA’s 2010 54th Convening Leaders Conference. This tweet is good, it shares user’s plans and where user is headed.
Announcement style tweets are good when you’re attending an event and others are looking for you.
Example 2: Information Sharing
Information sharing tweets are good when you share content, quotes or statements from others. This is a way to be a resource to your readers.
Example 3: The Announcement
In this tweet the user announces location, identifies the conference by the hashtag and identifies the speaker’s Twitter handle. User also shares a little about the audience providing context for the reader.
Example 4: Information Sharing
In this tweet, user identifies the conference by the hashtag, identifies the speaker’s Twitter handle and shares a comment from the speaker. This tweet provides content for the reader.
Example 5: The Announcement
User identifies the conference by the hashtag, identifies the speaker and speaker’s Twitter handle, shares info about crowd and shares a link to picture of session. This tweet provides context, information and gives the reader a snapshot of the event. Almost like being there.
Example 6: Information Sharing
User identifies name of session, conference hashtag, speaker’s Twitter handle, quote from speaker and link to speaker’s resources. This tweet is full of content and provides added resources for reader
If you’re tweeting from a conference, think about your readers. Try to provide as much context and relevant information in the tweet as possible. When you provide tweets from the “best” category you are providing a valuable service by passing information about the event to those who could not be there in person. You’ve extended the conference content, experience and messages to an audience outside of the event’s four walls.
What tips do you have about tweeting from a conference or event? Share your experiences, best practices and thoughts with us.
Jenise Fryatt says
Great info Jeff – for all Tweeps in general. What it really comes down to is providing value to the people who follow you. Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you.
Also, it’s not easy to get all the info you want into those 140 characters. Twitter users have cleverly invented ways to shorten words, as your examples show. But when you’re new to Twitter, it can be intimidating. Your very clear explanations will make it easier for lots of folks.
Jesse Koskinen says
Thanks for a great post on tweeting.
Interesting thought came to my mind related to the privacy of the content. Think about the case that you sit in the workshop where you solve issues or brainstorm opportunities related to companies, which are present. It might not be good idea to publish the information talked about or you might lose trust. How should organizers instruct the participants and what possible back channels there could be for participants to discuss?
Regarding the tips, I have used Ping.fm trough MMS in my smart phone. Works well, and you can post the same photo and text with tags to many social mediums.
As conference organizer, I have also seen as very useful to tweet about questions from audience and answers to them. That way, outer world can be involved more.
Jeff Hurt says
@Jenise thanks for adding to the discussion. I agree learning the abbreviations can be overwhelming. Third party apps like Tweetdeck have a built in tool for tweet shrinking with one click of a button. It makes shortening a tweet raiser.
Great tips and questions. Thanks for sharing. I think a general guideline to follow is that if the event organizers are encouraging the use of anhashtag, you can assume they want the audience to tweet. In a confidential setting, I think the organizers can set some ground rules and ask people to support them. There are ways to do that without coming across as controlling. Using Twitter for Q & A is a great way to engage an audience as long as you have speakers who get it. Moderators help on this situation too.
Eric Lukazewski says
Thanks Jeff for this great post. The hashtag is quickly become any enormous asset for any conference related information distribution. Ensuring that you’re using an official tag, if available (ie #pcma10 vs #pcma) is critical to successful message delivery.
As Twitter has developed, it’s been interesting to see the advent of various organization tags and techniques to help organize and optimize your valued 140 characters. Thank you for taking the time to illustrate some of these unwritten guides to maintain success of information flow.
Michael McCurry says
Great post and timely, given that #pcma10 is occurring right now.
Two questions I frequently ask myself when thinking about what to tweet are:
1. “How can I help my followers today?”
2. “How can I connect with my twitter peers?”
Approaching Twitter with that spirit alone will improve the quality of a Twitter user’s posts.
thanks for posting this article … I am certain many new PCMA Twitter users will benefit from it.
Dave Lutz says
Great discussion…with PCMA occurring now, here’s some of what I’m seeing in backchannel that I don’t think is necessarily helpful.
1. Some people cross post their tweets to Facebook or LinkedIn. I’m not a fan of this at all. I think you should approach communities on each of these platforms in a unique and personal way. I’m a LinkedIn power user. It comes across “spammy” and also is a waste of a high quality status update. Trust me on this one. On the flips side, tweeting a good status update is a good move of a thought leader.
2. There are too many RT’s that are done because we like the person that did the original tweet vs. knowing that it will be helpful to one’s followers.
3. We all need to err more on DM’ing over replying to all. I prefer to thank people for RT’s privately vs. not providing quality info to folks that are following me. Too much junk in the stream.
4. You don’t come across as a thought leader if all you do is RT. Add useful info and your opinion, reply on the posts that you link to and always give credit where credit is due. I’ve seen a few people here and there that send what appears to be original posts, but are nothing more than RT’s of the smartest people they follow. Bad form.
Am I off my rocker on any of these? Hopefully, I’ll do more tweeting in Dallas today, but will never keep up with @jeffhurt (My motto – if you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em). Lots of great in person networking yesterday, so kind of hard for me to multi-task. I prefer to press the flesh and focus on live conversations to optimize my conference experience.
Dave Lutz – @velchain
Mike McAllen says
There are no rules in tweeting. I do love these best practices (which are all great ideas) but I also enjoy the organic nature of how some people use Twitter. We are just learning how the community is adopting Twitter as a main stream tool.
Dave @velchain mentioned above about retweeting what your friends say. Not everyone follows the same hash tag or people. I think it is a great way to reach more people. If you have 5 followers and I have five different followers, I retweet your post, I now am sharing it with my 5 different followers. Sharing info is what it is all about. Also if someone only retweets they get unfollowed by me. Not adding anything to the conversation is like you said just more noise in the stream. Also, I am horribly guilty of not DMing when I should. But then listening in on others tweet conversations is interesting if I am following both parties. Again, there are no rules. Plus breaking rules has always been a fun past time for me.
Thanks for the cool post Jeff and it was great meeting you face to face at PCMA10#
Greg Ruby says
A very timely post as PCMA is going on this week. BTW, it was great to finally meet up with you this past weekend.
Michael McCurry nails it with his comments about wanting to assist his followers and wanting to connect with other peers.
Likewise, Dave Lutz hits a home run with his comments. Dave is spot on regarding cross posting from Twitter to LinkedIn. I also consider myself to be a LI power user and it does come across as spam in my opinion.
I have been guilty of not using DMs as frequently as I should and have resolved to do better in 2010.
Dave is also correct that too often items are retweeted because we are friends of the original poster. Of course, this does not apply to MY posts.
Jeff Hurt says
@Eric – I totally agree with you that the hashtag has become a great asset for a conference or event.
@Michael – great way to think about Twitter and adding value to your followers.
@Dave – I agree with Mike McAllen that the RT is an important part of networking. Many Twitter grading systems rank Tweeps based on their responses to people using their name, RTs and engagement. Just because someone RTs me does not mean they follow me so I can’t always DM someone.
As for Thank Yous in Twitter, I give people a lot more grace in this area. If someone is being grateful to others and thanking them in public, I respect it. I think we could all use a little more appreciation and thanks.
Very well put that there are no rules in Twitter and people can do what they want. We need to have a talk with Dave about being the social media police! grin
I see RT’g differently than Dave does. Not everyone wants to be a thought leader and not everyone has the same followers. I think it’s fine to show respect, appreciation and gratitude by tweeting friends posts. We could all use some helping getting a hand up from time to time.
As for DMs, many people will not respond to DMs and they see it as spam. I personally believe that thanks should be public. If Dave sees gratitude as junk in his stream, we should hang him out to dry for a while. Just kidding….well sort of.