I have been to four very different conferences lately and 3 of the 4 were not using twitter to its full beneficial use at all. These three did not announce the hashtag, I had to ask what it was (one didn’t have one!) and in my opinion, they missed out on valuable free publicity.
First, just in case you don’t know what the hashtag is, I’ll include a brief explanation here.
What is the hashtag? Well, a hashtag is a word used to summarise the conference after this symbol # and if tweeters click on it, they can see all the tweets related to that hashtag. The conference organisers should test the hashtag beforehand (to ensure it isn’t been used for other purposes) and should announce it. The hashtag at the women in agriculture conference was #agwomen which was a good one – short and succinct and anyone could guess what it was about. At the Towns of Excellence conference the hashtag was #servebesttoprofitmost which was way too long. We use #klck for all our KLCK meetings and for generating interest in the run up to our monthly meetings.
Benefits of Tweeting at Conferences (for the organisers)
- It is free publicity. Those who follow the tweeters will notice the hashtag and might engage. They might be so impressed by the reports that they will sign up to your next conference.
- It provides you with feedback on the conference. Most conferences use evaluation forms but the tweets will also give you good feedback.
- Announce the hashtag at least a month before the conference and get all the speakers to use it – this is an easy way to generate interest in the conference and increase ticket sales.
- It keeps attendees happy – they feel they are engaging with the speakers, they can network with fellow-tweeters and especially important for anyone who is there on their own and doesn’t know anyone else, it serves as a useful icebreaker at coffee and lunch breaks.
- You can monitor the effectiveness of the conference – are people getting bored if they have stopped tweeting or are they so engaged they’ve forgotten to tweet. Are they getting hungry? Do they need a coffee break before the next speaker – this is important if your schedule is running late. Do you need to cut some speakers short or eliminate some Q and A.
Benefits of Tweeting at Conferences (for the attendees)
- It is great for networking and you can meet up with fellow-tweeters during the break, having already ‘introduced’ yourselves
- If you don’t know anyone else at the conference, it is a good icebreaker and conversation starter.
- Some people may feel that they would prefer to solely listen rather than listen and tweet but I find I concentrate more when tweeting, I use the tweets as succinct notes to look back on later.
- Limiting points to 140 characters is excellent for effective note taking.
- Be sensitive though – don’t tweet anything that may be sensitive or confidential to the attendees in the room. Don’t be contentious or personal, be respectful to the speaker as they can’t respond in real time.
- You can share the main points with colleagues or friends who weren’t able to make it to the conference.
- It is a lovely way to engage with the organisers and thank them at the end of the day.
- I wanted to speak to two specific people at yesterday’s conference and I wasn’t able to do so but I was able to tweet with 2 people in similar roles which may lead to business in the near future.
- Using the hashtag does get you noticed. You will also gain more followers from the conference or from others following the hashtag.
Do read my other post on how to tweet at conferences (for organisers and attendees) too.
What do you think of tweeting at conferences?