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BLOGTime for a Twitter Wall? (Part Two)

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Presentations, Social MediaTagged as: , , ,

Looking for the fine print on successfully using Twitter/Chat 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: #CAFEtalks2020 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, both Twitter and Chat.  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; another is Walls.io, which provides a very wide range of formatting options.   While there are many customization settings for each of these, here are the three key steps:

  • Add in your search terms (e.g. the hashtag, say #CAFEtalks2020).
  • 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.

When the speaker is presenting on-site, mirror the Twitter wall on a monitor at floor-level in front of the speaker.  This will allow the speaker to see the backchannel conversation without turning his or her back to the audience.  When the speaker is delivering virtually:  triple check the quality of their home studio.  Do they have multiple monitors, redundant computers, redundant internet feeds, etc? Another double check is whether they are certified as a virtual presenter.

Finally, use a staff member or volunteer to “live tweet” or “live chat” 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.  Note that this is different than an official backchannel monitor/producer/co-host, who has different responsibilities.

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

  • Download and review the Twitter and Chat 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 Chat 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 and Chat adds an important 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 with a colleague, and share with me as well via email, or on Twitter.  Use @randallcraig with hashtag #MyMindsEngaged.

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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