Are you planning an event or conference?  Here’s all you need to know about how to have participants and presenters disseminating and networking using Twitter.  PS. This applies to any virtual events and webinars too, not just live events.

Why?

Tweeting at conferences helps to summarise and disseminate research and ‘take home’ lessons from sessions. It offers benefits for:

  • People back in the office who are unable to attend to get a sense of the event and the issues discussed.

  • For attendees/participants to consolidate their learning and ask questions. Not everyone likes a roving microphone.

  • For the presenters to hear questions, comments and discussions.

  • Organisers to receive real time feedback of the event.  No need to wait until next week to get the survey back.

Using Twitter adds an extra social and participatory dimension to events, but it works best when there are lots of users involved.

A Twitter presence at conferences, seminars and events is going to happen as there are usually a few early adopters in any crowd with their smartphones ready.  It is far better to be involved in the conversation than for it happening unbeknownst to event organisers by seasoned Twitter users in attendance.

 

Step 1.  Choose a hashtag

Some of the best hashtags are exceptionally short using just an acronym with the year suffix, for example #PH14.  If you have to use the word ‘conference’, just use ‘conf’.  With only 140 characters to play with, keep it as short as possible as you don’t want a long hashtag cluttering up tweets.  Keep the ‘micro’ in microblogging.  Before deciding on a hashtag, check it’s not being commonly used for any other purposes, companies or brands.

We recommend you register your hashtag on:

  • Symplur, leaders of the Healthcare Hashtag project, and
  • Twubs, a site that enables you to search, follow and share hashtag activity.  It doesn’t preclude others from using your hashtag but it does demonstrate your intentions to use it.

Step 2. Promote the hashtag

Best practice is to promote the hashtag in all communication, from event flyers, calls for abstracts, all registrations, in email signatures, on programs – everything before, during and after the event.

You might to be specific and include a clear call to action e.g. “Join the conversation on Twitter #PH14” or if space is a concern just #PH14.

 

Step 3: Build capacity

Naturally not everyone has the skills or time to use Twitter.  It’s likely that the majority of participants are not regular users or even registered.  That’s ok, we have you covered.  If you want to provide some support and professional development on how to get started and use Twitter we can help with that for example by running a pre-conference webinar.

We have also developed this Tips for Tweeting at Conferences resource as a good starting point.  Feel free to download and disseminate.

 

Step 4: Use it!

As organisers you may be too busy to manage a Twitter account and hashtag.  While it’s tempting to ignore Twitter at the event itself due to other pressing logistics, we strongly suggest keeping a presence.  Think about having a Twitter roster of staff or ambassadors to monitor and feedback any issues to conference HQ.

 

Step 5: Monitor

Ensure you check your hashtag and respond to any comments or @mentions from participants.  Programs like Twilert can be used to set up emails and alerts.

Record and reflect the conversation using Storify.

You can always ‘favourite’ (star) particular tweets as an effective way to bookmark important tweets to refer to later, or even do simple screen captures to include as an image in reports

 

Finally

Remember, using Twitter is not free.  It does consume time, plus there are paid premium options of the tools mentioned in this article.  However, a clear hashtag and twitter leadership is just as expected at events as a morning coffee.

For any extra help with Twitter management or professional development contact Kristy@zockmelon.com.au.

Follow us @Zockmelon