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Time for a Twitter Wall? (Part Two)

by Randall Craig on October 11, 2013

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Presentations, Social Media

Tagged as: , , ,

Looking for the fine print on successfully using Twitter at your event?  Here is Part two:  [Read part one]

1) Choose a hashtag:  Choosing a unique hashtag is critical; if you choose one that another organization is using, then their comments will be mixed in with yours.  CAFE, for example, is an acronym for the Canadian Association of Family Enterprises, the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, Canadian Association of Foundations of Education, and many others.  For a unique hashtag, add qualifiers to your name: #CAFEtalks2013 is good: #CAFE will generate problems.

2) Publicize the hashtag and educate your attendees:

  • Send instructions to attendees via email, encouraging them to try it out beforehand.
  • Print instructions on a postcard: how to get Twitter on their smartphone or tablet, what the event hashtag is, how to post. (An idea: ask them to answer a specific question, otherwise you will have many posts that say “this is my first post”).  The postcards can be given to delegates upon registration, handed out as people enter a room with a Twitter wall, or put on chairs.
  • For Twitter walls in an open area, have a staff member or volunteer nearby to answer questions.
  • Before a session, have an expert do a “pre-show” to teach the audience how to use the technology.  This should include how to download/sign-in on their smartphones, as well as sending their first tweet with the event hashtag.

3) Technical set-up:  There are a number of websites that provide Twitter wall functionality; one that works particularly well is the free site Twitterfall.com.   While there are many customization settings, here are the three key steps:

  • Add in your search terms (e.g. the hashtag, say #CAFEtalks2013).
  • Click on the presentation mode link.
  • Change the page title from the default to something useful, such as Please use #CAFEtalks2013.

Ensure that the computer that is projecting the Twitter wall is connected to a wired internet connection.  At many venues, the wireless internet can quickly become bogged down, leading to few (or no) updates being projected.  While users won’t have a problem with slightly slower speeds when posting, they will become frustrated if they don’t see their tweets appear quickly.

If you are considering adding a Twitter wall into a conference room, ask the speaker how often they have presented with one.  If the answer is never (or only a few times), then reconsider using the Twitter wall for that session.  Professional speakers will always highly tune a presentation; the unending stream of questions and comments via Twitter can be exceptionally distracting – unless the speaker has experience with it.

As well, mirror the Twitter wall on a monitor at floor-level in front of the speaker.  This will allow the presenter to see the back-channel conversation without turning his or her back to the audience.

Finally, use a staff member or volunteer to “live tweet” the event; this adds value for remote attendees, and avoids the problem of the Twitter wall looking empty.  Attendees are more likely to engage in a Twitter conversation if they see activity.

4) Follow-up:  Using Twitter doesn’t just happen at the event.  Afterwards, consider the following activities:

  • Download and review the transcripts for ideas and suggestions for future events.  Respond to any administrative questions that attendees asked.
  • Ask the speaker to monitor the hashtag and respond to questions for a few weeks after the event.
  • Send a note to attendees, reminding them that they can continue the conversation by including the hashtag(s) in relevant posts.
  • Use the hashtag to provide links for event evaluations – and registration for future events.
  • Add Twitter (and Social Media) to your postmortem agenda:  what did you learn, and what would you do differently?

Some people are more comfortable reading posts, while others are more interested in actively being engaged.  In both cases, using Twitter adds an interesting dimension to your meeting – if it’s done properly.

This week’s action plan: Everybody has been to meetings and seen great examples – or disasters – using Social Media. This week, share your experiences, either as a comment on this blog post, or on Twitter.  Use @randallcraig with hashtag #108MindsEngaged so we can continue the conversation.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com:  Professional credentials site
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About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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