Extra! The Twitter Show with Mike McAllen

The Meeting Planners podcast source for what’s new and exciting in meetings and events industry!

Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events & Media Talks about twitter and its use at events. Short recap of TwitterCon in San Francisco. #twtrcon

Quick links-
Twitter explained
Sarah Lacy Mark Zuckerberg Twitter audience backlash (started the whole Twitter back channel buzz)
Hashtags explained

Show notes:
Mike McAllen: Welcome back to Meetings Podcast. This is Mike McAllen with Grass Shack Events and Media. Today the topic is Twitter and I know that is the big kind of meem that’s going around right now, the big trend is Twitter. You see old Ashton Kutcher and all this famous person getting on Twitter and – and the PDidddy and everyone on there and so I wanted to do a little show about Twitter, it’s been all over the place.

Last year at South by Southwest the conference in Austin, Sarah Lacy was interviewing Mark Zuckerberg who was – who is the CEO of Facebook, so it was kind of big deal down there to get him on there. She did not do the best of jobs because she kind of had relationship with him before hand, so the audience really turn on her and she no idea what had happen and the audience actually took over the interview because she didn’t know what was happening.

So, I wanted go forward and kind talk a little bit about what Twitter was first. Twitter is an internet base service which lets you send a 140 character messages. If you really want to great little tutorial on it, go to Twitter and plain English at www.commoncraft.com and they run you – they run you through it really, really well. What you can do on Twitter is you can follow people, people can follow you. You can send messages back and forth by using an “@” symbol, so you can direct message people. So, if you don’t want to send that Twitter out to the whole world, you can just send it straight to that person. One great thing what you’re using now in Events is hashtag or actually any kind of trend that’s out there, you can a hashtag which is the number sign on your keyboard and then whatever it is.

So, if you had an event say the South by Southwest, they would have a hashtag and then the SXSW ’08 and then everyone who’s twittering about that conference would put that hashtag in front of their or right after whatever they’re saying on that 140 characters which gives them less than 140 characters with the hardshtag. Another great thing about that is if you want to do search because it’s all about communicating, you could just put into Twitter search or one of the other Twitter search features or applications and put the hashtag in their hash, the hash SW – SXSW excuse me ’08 and then search on that and then you can see everything that’s been going on pertaining to that event which is a very cool. It’s a very cool application. If you first go on to Twitter, Twitter.com you’ll sing up and then – you also start – start following people – follow me, mmcallen@Twitter, that’s at mmcallen, so two M’s, C-A-L-L-E-N and you start following people and start conversing with people and seeing what other people are doing.

Eventually it’s going to be kind the hard to follow and now they have this applications coming – coming forth like a TweetDeck which makes you be able – it makes it – makes you be able to – do different stocks or different columns with this TweetDeck of different people. So, on mine I have of course the – everybody going by that’s talking and then following and then there’s replies and then there’s the direct messages columns, each so there’s three columns there, is that three – there is the everyone on following, the replies, the direct comments and then I have meetings and events. I have the events Profs which is for you meeting planners out there that are listening to this, it is – you can – you can also see the Event Profs weekly meetings they have on Twitter which you can do hashtag, E-V-E-N-T-P-R-O-F-S, I think it says event profs, yes. So, E-V-E-N-T-P-R-O-F-S on hashtag in front of that and do a search on that and you’ll see all this people, they have regular two times a week meetings about that and you can go and see what everybody is been talking about. They’ll have a topic and you can talk about, it just another thing that you can do with this.

Why we’re using Twitter? It’s a community that you can get in to these different communities. You can see what’s happening right now. For a newspaper it comes out ones a day, a kid said this to me, a newspaper comes out ones a day but now with this online thing like Twitter, you get that information right away, so people will start twittering about you know, like that plane went down in the Hudson. The first person to take a picture of that sent it out on Twitter. So, they even get it before the new is get now because it’s collaboration of everybody out there.

So, for events and meetings you really want to – we’ll let me tell you a quote, “Growth demands a temporary surrender of security” by Gail Sheehy and that kind of says what this kind of new social media stuff like Twitter about, you got to let go, get out there, jump in and see what it’s all about. Some people are using this now as an events actually in their presentations because people are now sitting – it use to be like when I – that – that example I gave about Sarah Lacy and Mark Zuckerberg, that was an tech conference a year ago, things have really changed. It’s really blown up. So, now people are sitting in the audience and they’re Twittering away while you’re speaking sometimes or while you’re presenters are speaking. So, you have that to contend with getting people attention, getting across what you want to tell them or having your speaker do that of course.

Now, they’re having it as an – what they called that is a backchannel, so you want to kind the try and manage that backchannel if you can. So, one way is to take over the Twitter and it how it projected while you’re speaking which some people like Bert Decker and another think it’s just a big distraction and I kind of agree with that. I think it’s going to be out there but if you want to have involve in it you can have someone who is a volunteer, maybe sit next to you and follow that Twitter stream or sit there and then you know, kind the wave to you that you want to give us some – that they can – maybe give some questions whatever what’s going on out there you know, in the world on Twitter stream. So, they can ask you a question, so everybody doesn’t have to be sitting on that room with you, it can be someone virtually listening – listening in and commenting in and being involved in the conversation.

Also you can put the presentation that behind you have it – have a search.Twitter.com, excuse my “uhm” behind you on the screen and that can be big – and you could just have it live for all those people a room, make up a hashtag and have it rolling along. It is distracting but then again some people are really using it to get that conversation going. It really take some balls to really to do and I know it’s difficult enough to grab that audiences attention totally and have that rolling but if you can do it, it’s pretty powerful and that is a backchannel, so you would – you would give a hashtag for the room if you really want to jump in and say, “Hey, here’s the harstag for the room. You guys could Twitter back and forth”.

I heard somebody say recently, I think it was maybe Jeff Hurts blog jeffhurtblog.com I think but what saying that, no actually, I’m sorry I heard that on Bert Deckers – I read that in the comments in Bert Deckers blog and it was that maybe someone has comment and said, “Maybe you have actual pushes in your presentation for twittering” like say, “Twitter this out right now or have a pause in your presentation” because pausing is so important. There is a huge increase of blogging and Twittering during this conventions and it must be very difficult for presenters. I never presented in front a group that’s all twittering because they’re all looking down at their laptop but I think it’s something that’s just going to happen now in the future and we’re going to have you know, deal with it and try and make it the best we can of it.

So, one thing as – along those lines one thing I thought was funny, this quote from Dolly Parton said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain”. So, I think as event professionals as we all are, we have to kind of think about that and keep it – keep it in line saying that, “Okay, let’s just embrace as if we can and try anchor at it” because it’s going to be there, things are changing. The whole dynamics out there is changing of the landscape of all this technology at events which is great and we should keep up with it because that’s our main purpose, like if there’s like 90 people in the class and she has something she’s talking about maybe three will comment.

So, there’s a lot of shy people out there but kids these days are learning more about – you know, through collaboration you know, and they’re use to like searching, researching. They’re use to kind of you know, like now a days a newspaper, they’ll read it and they’ll be no – they can’t dig in where they want to dig in, so – if that make sense, like there’s no – now a days you can you know, it’s all about lengths and anchor text – and tags I mean and so you can click on whatever you’re interested in, it takes you somewhere else. You can keep searching or researching and that’s what this teach us which is I think is fantastic. Sometime she’s not even in class. She has a TA teaching the class and she follows it via the Twitter stream that they’ve setup, so she can actually answer a question from anybody in the class, so – which I think is really great. So, she can check in. It’s kind of – it’s a very cool video on YouTube and you can find that at our – at our website. So, that’s one way, so it’s kind of evolving Twitter.

Another thing I saw was Olivia Mitchell had a post and she was talking about how positive this is, something she brought up about it was you know, it helps the audience member focus. It helps the audience get more content which is kind the cool and it allows them to kind of dig in and ask – look for length from other people there at – who’s listening in. The audience members can also get question answered on the fly, if it’s not from you know, it use to have to lean over and ask your neighbor what they’re talking about, now you have it in the stream going on. Also the audience can participate for the whole thing. That alone is a very cool option. It makes it a way more dynamic. She said the audience can innovate you know, as your – you’re giving a presentation or someone is giving the presentation they ideas, the audience members can totally build on it, so the audience can – must be fantastic for a presenter to be able to go back and look at one of this things and see what kind of things they’re talking about and it involve your presentation.

You also – don’t have to be physically present for this – for presentations now which I can hear all the meeting planners right now grow in because all of the – the attendance are going down on events or around the world and that’s not something they want to hear but it is true, if you can’t make it too maybe you have a sales team that you had to cut back on your budget, maybe having a Twitter stream going on or internal Twitter stream maybe an (Amour) which is a internal Twitter type thing you can use. It’s a great tool. If you don’t want it to be blasted out to the world maybe it’s an internal thing. You can connect with people, you know, being in a conference. If you don’t know anybody, you can be really intimidated and it’s very cool to be able to have a way to kind the backchannel it and be able to meet up.

Recently, when I went to an event I was – while was a Twitter event which I happen to go very recently which I’m talk about a little bit. It was great to be able to hook up with people via the Twitter, so – and if the Twitter – the last thing that she had written Olivia Mitchell, she had written that, “You can do something else” which is funny because of the teacher or speaker is boring you have something else to do and you can do something more productive and no that’s not very good reason but it’s kind of an interesting thing. So, what else did I want to say? You can immediate feedback which is a great one too. Another thing is that you can get your colleagues of course, you could talk to your colleagues during it and another people can answer your questions too or start to debate that’s goes back to kind the innovate that the audience can innovate because you can start a dialog behind the scenes or afterwards.

So, how do you monitor this channel? I kind already talked about that, you can have someone volunteer, pick somebody out of the crowd, they can follow the Twitter stream with you, maybe they can write down cards and hand you questions that have come up over the Twitter stream if you’re presenting or if you’re on a panel – but it can be – if you are projecting it in the room which is the other thing, you can project it up on the wall. It can be annoying because of the you know, people can write silly things, “Hi, Mom” or you know, that kind of a thing and that sometimes can be very disturbing to your – if the people start laughing at another moment because someone wrote you know, “I took my pants off or something” it’s bad. So, that’s something to think about, you really got to be able to work – you have to be a very good speaker and really know your stuff well, to be able to work on that or make sure your speaker knows there stuff.

So, I wanted to give a little report from Twitter Con ’09 in San Francisco that I went to last weekend, Bert Decker from decker.com. Unfortunately, could not go to the conference, so he gave me his ticket and thank you Bert. It was very interesting conference, I enjoyed a lot, there a lot of people up there doing – there’s a lot of excitement around. It was at Hotel Nikko. A lot of businesses are there. A lot of stuff that I kind the already knew since I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years now but there’s a lot of – a lot of excitement on how things would work and then they had some panel boards that were pretty interesting.

In the morning Pistachio, Laura Fitton who I’ve known through Twitter for a long time now. She is now the authority on – on Twitter and she spoke in the morning, the first thing, poor thing I had to get on there and I wondered that about. Everybody in the room was down looking at their computers and she did a great job talking about you know, what Twitter was for – to initiate the people who don’t really even know what it is and a lot of us people from this business have been throw in from the marketing departments, from the PR departments. They came to this conference to go, “What the heck is this Twitter thing”. So, I think she give a great overview to start out, very early in the morning for a lot of people but it was a great overview and actually the people who run the Twitter Con did a great job for a first time event.

Guy Kawasaki came up and he was kind of – it was interesting because the audience was kind of arguing with some of the people up – that came up which was great – it’s great to have a good dialog and Guy Kawasaki is like a 125, 000 followers but he also has four people Twittering for him. So, she was saying how he ghost Twitter, what he calls them and if you follow him on Twitter you see that they’re just constantly links from his, a new company that he started all top and that – and there are a lot of links and so basically a lot of people were saying it’s just spam. It’s just like those spams you get it on your e-mail everyday that you have to delete. They’re doing a lot of that and he was kind of – he was really defending it and that’s they way he does it and he says, “If you don’t like it un-follow me, it’s a simple as that” and that’s really what this is all about, if you don’t like what someone is saying just un-follow him and you never see it again. So, you have to keep that in mind when you’re actually twitting out things.

What else happen there? I really like, they had Twitter contest, there are always people that are starting this new applications there, little trade show booth which actually around the coffee and the food. So, when you went in there, there are all this different little kind the TweetDeck kind of things, I explained earlier TweetDeck is a way of columns that you keep track of all your different people you’re following on your – on your Twitter stream and they have one called, people browser which I really like and talk to the owner there and I’m blanking his name right now but a fantastic problem, not problem, fantastic program and also another one called Hootsuite and another one called Tweet Funnel.

So, they have this contest where they would have people come up and they pitch their company to the audience in between their sessions which very interesting to hear and entertaining to hear them talked about their different products and I think – there’s a lot of cool stuff out there to follow because this opens up, the people browser really just doesn’t do Twitter. It also tells you all about you know, your Facebook. It brings all your social media into one spot and so if you want to post something, you can post it out to all the spot. So, it’s very powerful, it does a lot of things. I don’t really understand it yet, I need to sit down and play with it but what they’d showed me, is really fantastic for companies or for individuals or businesses.

What else happened there? They had the projected Twitter going on sometimes in between, so you could see it going. It’s kind of annoying everybody in the room was Twittering obviously, so that thing was just streaming away and it did kind the take away from what was happening on the stage. Some companies that went up there was Comcast, Burger King, MC Hammer was also there talking about how celebrities handle it. How he use Twitter, a very nice guy and very interesting and very down to earth. I really enjoyed listening to him talk. Some of the other people were not as open. It was interested to see how different people are use. Comcast, Frank Eliason was speaking and he – I’ve actually Twitter back and forth with him long time ago about – and he just started it up and started helping out people to be – help costumer service go and help people get around Comcast and it’s been very, very successful, like I see is now is five people, don’t quote me on that but I think there’s five people now twitting for him there too. So, they answer questions for people who have problems with their Comcast situations.

The Burger Kind lady was interesting. She spoke – she – I think she had coupled personas. Their were in a big panel board, so they didn’t really – which I would have like them each to speak individually to hear their story and how they’re using it next year, hopefully they’ll do something like that but she spoke – she twits for Burger King as a 18 year old boy or 18 year old man I guess or – and it’s kind of interesting that she does that. She’s you know, 42, I think she was said she was 42 year old woman pretending to be this young man and it kind of – it’s an interesting dynamic. It seems to be working for them.

Another one was this Kogi BBQ, I don’t know if you heard the story about them. I really wish they had come out and done what they – they have done. They started this – this lunch truck situation where they Twitter where they’re going to be and they sell this Korean barbeque fusion thing in LA and they go to this certain places and tons of people come but their whole site is you know, Twitter is just one piece of the puzzle but they have you know, the Flickr pictures going on and the Facebook and they have – just a really interesting how they’ve charged up their business using Twitter. It’s something really look into if you want to really do some sort of a PR, personal you know, strategy behind the stuff because if you jump in to the social media stuff, I really think you should have some sort of strategy behind it. It’s interesting to see it and go and look but if you’re going to do as a company, you really need a strategy behind it and it follow some kind the basic rules, they’re not rules but a basic strategy. So, you’re not just throwing things out there, maybe try and move up the stuff.

What else happened there? Looking through my notes, I thought it was interesting, Shel Israel came up, actually the day before last week I had gone to the Wall Street Journal, Dow had a little – had a little round table with David Merman Scot, Shel Israel and my friend David Spark and they talked about social media, David Merman Scot big fan of his. His done – written a lot books, one – recent one just came out, World Wide Rave. I think you should go out and get it if you haven’t got it. And then an older one which I really like too is the New Rules of Marketing and PR and he talks a lot about social media and how all this podcasting and video casting, Twittering, facebooking, all the stuff is really good for your business.

But Shel Israel spoke then, I had met him last week and then here he was be – doing the keynote here at the Twitter Con and he – what really interesting that he was talking about how some – you know, like for myself when I twitter, I twitter about everything, I twitter about business stuff but I also like use to twitter because I have so many friends out there that twitter back and it’s like almost having silly conversations to people. I don’t know if get as deeply of what I’m having for lunch but I may say, “You know, today – in fact before I came in here my neighbor had a little – my neighbor does – is in the video business, I’m also and also she is a does props events and for video shots and there was this big plane in her drive way, you know, look like what – you know, snoopy might fly. It was like this red baron kind of a thing, big one and so that I twitter that out which I just I took a picture of it and send it out and then got a bunch of comments back.

So, I do a lot of that kind of stuff. I see something interesting and I twitter it out, I talk about it and I think that what Shell Israel said in this keynote what actually that, that all business starts out with you know, a little stories or non-business conversation and I think that’s really true, that’s what this is all about. I mean if – I have – I have client that I’ve meet on Twitter now that I meet them through talking about whatever and I think it’s a very cool – his whole – his whole talk was that basically that you know, it’s all about the stories in getting that conversation going.

So, one of things I was at Jeff Hurts blog, Jeff Hurt is a great person to follow on Twitter at Jeff Hurt and the – I got link from his site to other which I called, the Influential Marketing Blog and this was written by – I’m going to botcher his name, it’s Rohit Bhargava and I’m sorry if I – I’ve never heard it said, so go to the Influential Marketing Blog. It’s a very interesting blog. I’m glad I found it from that. Thank you Jeff and it had talked about what you do at event when you’re twittering or blogging, some quick things and so if you’re at the event and you’re twittering about it, you want to have a purpose and you want to have a point of view, of course I’ve said that I’m twittering about people on the neighborhood.

So, you can do that too, a mixture of both I think is great but have a purpose of what you’re twittering. Have a point of view. The biggest one here I think is publish nuggets, you know, what are the big things that are happening in there, what’s the fun things happening, what are the things you’re getting out of it. You know how you sit through an event, a presentation or you’re watching a presentation or you’re giving a presentation, usually there’s three big points that, that speaker is trying to get across, maybe just look for those and then Twitter those out. Inside your prospective another one, pulse of the event and you want to represent for those virtual attendees that is what you’re trying to do, so you want to send it out there. I try to do that for my – for the Twitter Con but I’m not – I’m not sure how well I did with that. I was thanked by people but I think I get caught up and the selling said at all.

So, that’s basically kind of a Twitter overview, I hope that you enjoyed it. I’d love to get any links or any comments about Twitter that you have on the Meetings Podcast site or e-mail me at mike@ d72.c4e.myftpupload.com. We’re starting to get busy again, cross your finger that the economy is getting a little bit better for events and meetings and thank you very much for tuning in and that is Twitter and have a great day and I will see you next time. Bye-bye.

Female: We appreciate and thank you for listening to the Meetings Podcast. You can find Mike McAllen at d72.c4e.myftpupload.com, Jon Trask at alliantevents.com and Tom Hillmer at creativegroupinc.com. The Meetings Podcast theme music comes from the Delgado Brothers which can be found at delgadobrothers.com. Special thanks to riptidegraphics.com for the audio editing of this podcast.

Please leave us a question or comment, which we will try to address on the show ASAP!

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