6 Ways To Utilize Twitter At Your Next Conference

I attended Blogworld 08 this week in Las Vegas. One thing that still amazes me is the free online service Twitter and its uses at conventions. Now I know Blogworld is full of early adopters people who jump no leap on new technology so I am not sure how long it will be before other industries catch on for there conferences. The Blogworld conference producers actively told people to use the twitter tag #bwe08 (BlogWorldExpo 2008) included in the 140 character tweets allowed.

Besides the “normal” conference twitter uses of: finding out what is going on, where the parties are and the fun interactions; a really great and useful way is to use twitter for panel sessions engagement and interaction with attendees present.

In one of the panels I attended they had the breakout screen projecting a twitter search feed (http://search.twitter.com) To make it work the moderator made up a conference room tag #PR08 and the people sitting in the audience had a running dialogue with what the presenters were talking about. This dialogue was between audience members, and of course anyone else who wanted to see what was going on anywhere in the world (with an internet connection)

So the audience was real time commenting and asking and forming the best questions together for the panel. It was fascinating. I find panel discussions usually frustrating because each panelist is usually fighting for time to speak or someone drones on and on. This way the audience is the real moderator.

The keynote interview (Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Timothy Ferriss of the 4 hour work week) that went on at BlogWorld would have dramatically improved if they let the audience participate. Remember Sarah Lacy at SWSW conference interviewing the Facebook kid? The twittering audience turned on her and she fought them. But this was going on behind the scenes and she had no idea the conversation the audience was having online right then. If it was on the screen where she could see it she could have done her job better and it would have made her job easier.

Another Twitter example happening today is my friends at InVision Communications are producing Oracle Worlds general session in San Francisco and they have the tag #oow08. Several of the tweets I watched people were complaining of line of sight issues from there seats. Screens cutting peoples heads off etc InVision could/should be watching so next year they make sure everyone can see and they have the proper placement for cameras.

(Imagine if Larry Ellison had special twitter separate screen so the 30,000 people in attendance could interact- now that would be engaging.
Of course in a giant audience like that the effectiveness would rapidly diminish or woul dit? Its an interesting proposition)

Here are six ways of using twitter on your next event.

1) Scheduling meeting ups with like minded people before the event.
2) Alerting attendees about changes or after parties.
3) Keeping track of what is going on at an event. If you are in a horrible breakout session you may scan the tweets and see a better one is going on.(conference producers should also be watching this)
4) Using it in your presentation to engage the audience. (see above)
5) Building a brand of how cool your conference is for other watching through twitter. Blog world will improve attendance next year from the positive tweets going on.
6) Real time performance review and feedback.

I would love to hear what you think? I am sure their are many more ways to utilize twitter? What are they?

(After posting this I asked via Twitter what people thought could be added to the list)
Here is what they said:

eMom @mmcallen We used Twitter to coordinate our giveaways at BlogWorld – gave away an Epson Artisan printer via Twitter ‘clues’. #bwe08

derecshuler @mmcallen All sessions should definitely have their own tag that’s monitored by a moderator. Great way to steer the conversation

jesseluna @mmcallen Can integrate Twitter with Eventvue.com. Builds a temp community for the show/event. Mashable uses it.

Post to:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks


  1. says

    This is a really good article on the effective uses of Twitter – very similar to the things we’ve been doing at the conferences and events we manage for our corporate and association clients.

    Some examples are our use of:
    – Using Wiffiti at Events: http://tinyurl.com/WiffitiforBusyEvent

    – How to Embed Twitter: http://www.busyevent.com/blog/?p=91

    – Face-to-Face Social Networking: http://www.busyevent.com/blog/?p=95

    Visit our blog for more: http://www.busyevent.com/blog

  2. says

    Nice article. These day’s it is so critical to engage participants and tap into their creative and critical thinking. No one needs to bring participants together just to show them presentations and ask for Q&A. Meetings will have to produce real results, right there in the meeting room. And real interaction and real dialogue will be key to driving the new kinds of experiences that organizations will be achieving through their meetings.

    Twitter is one way to provide this kind of engagement; however, it can be a little risky and it’s not easy to fully harness the thinking of the group. Also, not all participants necessarily have access to Twitter or are comfortable using it.

    For two decades, CoVision has pioneered ways to maximize participation, engagement and outcomes in large meetings. We have supported the facilitation of thousands of meetings in the US and abroad, appropriately integrating engagement technologies to support large group processes.

    Check us out if you’re looking to maximize engagement and participation in your next meeting. http://www.covision.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *