Event Trends: Twitter Walls
Spotlight Awards Finalists represent the best in our professionby Lara McCulloch-Carter | Published in January 2010 Columns | technology | Twitter
Spotlight Awards Finalists represent the best in our profession
You may have read the title of this article, saw the word Twitter, and immediately thought of mind-numbing statements like “I just ate a hamburger for lunch.” Instead, I want you to think about a conference or meeting you plan. Imagine being able to reach an audience of live attendees as well as many more who couldn’t make it to your event. Imagine being able to enrich their experience by understanding how they feel about a speaker, allowing them to ask questions, building on the speakers’ ideas and collaborating with others who are listening to the session.
Event organizers are embracing conversations that are taking place through social media and encouraging attendees to participate in the dialogue. Twitter is one medium they use. A Twitter back-channel is where attendees can tweet their thoughts about a presentation via their cell phone or computer in real-time. Many organizers are displaying this back-channel conversation during presentations via what is called a Twitter Wall—a projection of live tweets. All you need is a screen, a projector, a laptop, internet connection, a hashtag and a Twitter aggregator. Et voila! Now anyone attending your event, in person or online, can tweet their thoughts, ideas and questions for all to read.
A Twitter Wall allows audience members to be heard without having to stand up in front of a crowd of people. It can encourage knowledgeable attendees to add their thoughts, provide a new perspective or challenge something a speaker has said. At the right event and at the right time, a Twitter Wall is an effective way to enrich the experience of event attendees, to help speakers deliver more relevant content and to give organizers a better understanding of their audience.
What’s a hashtag?
A hashtag is a hash symbol (#) followed by a keyword (i.e. #eventprofs). They are created to organize conversations on a particular topic. In other words, if everyone attending an event uses the hashtag #event, event organizers and attendees can easily track what people are saying about the event. For more information on hashtags, visit mashable.com/2009/05/17/twitter-hashtags/.
What’s a Twitter aggregator?
A Twitter aggregator is a tool that filters tweets by keyword, geography or other criteria and displays relevant results. An example is Twitter Fall at twitterfall.com.
Four quick tips to help you incorporate a Twitter Wall into your event
- Strategize - Understand who your audience is, what your objectives are and what type of interaction you hope to create to determine if a Twitter Wall is relevant for your event and, if it is, the right time is to introduce it.
- Arm - Make sure your attendees have the means to use the technology. This may include providing laptops with Twitter-user accounts, a tutorial on how to use Twitter and/or experts to help guide people who have questions. Arm attendees with a hashtag to capture all comments about a session or event in one location.
- Guide - Provide guidance to your audience on how to use the Twitter Wall, including rules of conduct as well as how the wall is going to be used by the speaker. Provide speakers with adequate training to make sure they are aware of and comfortable with the technology.
- Moderate - Designate someone to moderate tweets to make sure the speaker answers any questions and that the tweets you are receiving have met the rules of conduct provided.
What are your experiences with Twitter Walls? How can you see yourself using this technology for your events? Share your experiences online at ready2spark.com/2009/12/bringing-twitters-back-channel-to-the-front.html