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Making Conferences Better with Twitter

Don’t forget to bring Twitter to your next conference

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Business executives in a conference
ONOKY - Fabrice Lerouge/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Chances are, if you’re attending a conference for work, you plan on networking, socializing, and learning about advancements in your field. You might bring your notebook or a laptop but what about your social media presence? Twitter can be used at conferences to connect attendees, share notes, and review speakers. Some panels may even utilize Twitter to encourage live question-and-answer sessions between panelists, attendees, and the general public.

Making Conferences Searchable

South by Southwest Interactive, a festival focusing on emerging technology has a huge Twitter presence before, during and after the annual meet-up. Hashtags, such as #sxsw are created, and companies go as far as creating new handles, like Google’s @Googlesxsw or CNN’s @CNNsxsw. Attendees then use the handles and hashtags to communicate with festival workers, panelists, and other attendees. Creating a hashtag and new handles allows for the event to be searchable or possibly become a trending topic on Twitter; therefore widening your audience and reach.

Finding Attendees

Another organization quick to recognize the power of Twitter is The Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (AWP). Every year, AWP welcomes writers to a major city in the United States. This year, they included a tweet wall at their annual conference in Seattle, Washington. Attendees were encouraged to use the conference hashtag (#AWP14) and selected tweets were displayed as a running feed on the gigantic wall in the entrance to the bookfair, the most travelled location of the entire event.

Besides just supplying the wall for passers-by to view and tweet at, AWP also created a TweetSheet for the conference with instructions on how to best utilize Twitter—such as using the event room number as a hashtag to make the panel searchable—to get maximum impact while tweeting responsibly and respectfully.

Tweeters were also saved “Tweet Seats” on a first-come-first-serve basis in the front row of every panel. This allowed social-media mavens to quote and take pictures of panelists. Since individuals were live-tweeting the panels they were in, other conference attendees could benefit from the shared notes of events they were not attending. Similarly, those who didn’t attend could follow the #AWP14 hashtag for a live feed of the Twitter reporters. You may also find that Twitter Chats are taking place during your conference that you can also join in on.

Use Twitter To Organize Impromptu Meetups

Just like SxSW and AWP, many conferences feature official and unofficial meetups, also known as “Tweetups,” of tweeting attendees. Tweetvite is an online tool in which people can organize or find a local tweetup. Every year, the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference has an unofficial Tweetup at a bar or restaurant near the convention. Invitees can share the invitation on various social media platforms to increase attendance.

Curate Before the Conference Begins

So, you’ve registered for the conference. You know the hashtags and the handles and the Tweetup times and locations. What else do you need to do? Before the conference begins, there will generally be buzz starting on Twitter. Follow the hashtags early, and then make a conference-specific list on Twitter of all the handles currently discussing the event. Continue to add people to this list. Another option is to favorite tweets of events associated with the conference. That way, when planning your schedule, you can easily access opportunities available by checking your favorites.

Don’t Forget Your Charger

Something easy to forget while packing, but an absolute must if engaging with Twitter is your device chargers. Using your cell, computer or tablet to tweet will run down your batteries. Make sure you bring backup chargers, and set aside time between events exclusively for charging if you are unable to sit near an outlet during presentations.

Be Polite

Finally, while tweeting at an event is extremely beneficial to you and your peers, always be respectful of those around you. Turn off all sounds on your devices so you won’t distract presenters or attendees. You can also change settings on your phones and tablets to lower the brightness of the screen so it doesn’t distract those near you. If you are in a dark room, you may want to forgo the live-tweeting completely and instead take notes to tweet later.

So while you’re packing your bags, don’t forget about your handles and hashtags.

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