Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why You Should Use Twitter At Your Next Conference

Prior to the Blogalicious 2011 conference, I had not used Twitter since February 2010! Since I love technology, I had kept up with the Twitter news and I know how Twitter was being used for news sharing and celebrity misconduct, but Twitter’s practicality in my life had shown itself to be rather limited. Enter the world of Blogalicious and everything changed. At the start of the conference we were given the hash tag established for the event (#blogalicious11).

I ignored the request for a little while until someone at my table started commenting about something she had just read in the twitter feed. It piqued my interest enough that I thought I should at least give it a glance. Lucky for me, my computer remembered my twitter handle and password. And then I remembered one of the reasons I am not a big twitter user. The twitter website is not the most usable site out there. So, I downloaded Tweetdeck, set up a column to follow the conference has tag and I was on my way.

It wasn’t long before I started to see the value of using twitter during this conference.

        ❑        Build Enthusiasm. Past conference attendees were tweeting about how excited they were to see each other again. New attendees were tweeting about what they were hoping to learn. Some were tweeting of their anticipation as they waited to get off the plane or waiting for the taxi to at least move another five feet so they could feel they were getting closer. Everyone was buzzing and the buzz was contagious.

        ❑        Run Contests. Want to give away copies of your book, a cell phone, a new line of products? Encourage attendees to use your own hashtag and gain much needed buzz among conference attendees and the twitter-verse at large. Win, win all around.

        ❑        Get content from sessions you were not able to attend. What do you do when the session on writing a great pitch is held at the same time as the session on creating kick-ass content? Just pick one and use the tweet stream to gain information from the session you couldn’t attend. You don’t get the full impact but you definitely don’t loose out completely.

        ❑        Share notes. In sessions where so much information is flowing, it is easy to miss something. Wait a few seconds and someone in the room will tweet what you missed. No need to interrupt the presenters asking them to repeat content. The Twitter-verse has you covered.

        ❑        Virtual Lost & Found. We all loose things. It’s inevitable. What better way to let technologically savvy people know they lost something than through a tweet? But that goes the other way as well. I remember seeing tweets from an attendee that managed to hold on to her computer but not her cell phone. A few tweets and she was soon reunited with her lost lifeline.

        ❑        Make contacts. With 300+ attendees, there was no way to make rounds and meet everyone. Did I mention that I’m actually quite a shy person. While it is not common for me to walk up to a stranger and say hello, I was comfortable responding to someone’s tweet and letting that serve as the introduction that would push me into making a real life contact. Don’t forget, everyone attending these conferences are not as outgoing as you would think.

        ❑        Organize side gatherings. Cocktails, impromptu book signings, swag swaps, etc. There were so many things going on, no one could ever get bored or lonely at this conference.

How do you use Twitter at your conferences? Do you find it useful or a distraction?

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