Thursday, May 31, 2012

Twitter, Events, Connections, and Value

Image from KK+ (thank you) 
When I say "value" I am not referring to its recent valuation estimate based upon private trading.

When twitter was launched in 2006 my immediate reaction was "this is stupid". (of course "stupid" ideas have often gone on to be unbelievably successful - and one person's stupid is another person's genius).

Then one of my classmates at BGI said, "I think you might like this" (he shall remain nameless), and there I went. I have to admit that my first use of it was more than likely as a distraction from class; reading news, talking trash, etc.  Those tweets are long gone (I think) so who knows what I did.

Fast-forward to 2012. I've continued to use twitter as a news feed, conversation portal, and as a way to interact with event attendees in professional and personal settings.

Here's what I've learned about twitter and events - use the conference hashtag (duh, right?)

Savvy event organizers provide a twitter hashtag on the event website, registration materials, and in obvious places around the venue to make it easy for attendees to interact and share their observations with the twittersphere.

I find this fascinating and of great value when I cannot attend an event that I am interested in - it's an easy and informal way to interact remotely.  From a professional perspective, it allows team members at the event to stay focused on greeting visitors face-to-face (nothing is more off-putting to a visitor than someone staffing a booth or table with their face buried in a mobile device) while another team member monitors the twitter stream and seeks to interact with attendees virtually to create initial relationships and invite them to their company space.

Observations:
  • Choose your hashtag intentionally - short, memorable, and unique
  • Beware hashtag appropriation by "outsiders"
  • Depending upon the event (in my experience - a reflection of the community's adoption of the medium) the tweets may or may not be useful for interaction.  At some events they're dominated by advertising blasts 
  • Take a flyer and help coordinate an impromptu tweetup for those active twitter users at the event. You never know who'll you meet and what great connections you might make
  • Think about archiving the tweets from the event for later follow up / analysis
  • If the opportunity arises, project the twitter stream somewhere at the event to encourage engagement - I've seen this at multiple events and it can be quite fun
  • Set up keyword searches relevant to your business (or your goals for the event) and monitor them along with the event hashtag for people you might like to connect with 
Using twitter helped me connect with a number of people at a recent event - we shared the use of the medium, with that in common it was much easier to strike up a conversation. Who knows how many connections were made and/or reinforced among other attendees (is there a way to measure this?).  I planned to tweet anyway, to help spread ideas beyond the event's walls - I overlooked its effectiveness as a connector, and was pleasantly surprised by how it helped.

So - if you're thinking about jumping into he twitter fray - or you're a seasoned tweeter - how might you use it to connect in new ways?

In what ways has twitter surprised you?  Good?  Bad?  Neutral?

1 comment:

Drew Love said...

The most interesting thing I've learned about Twitter is that when it's used effectively, it complements real life interaction. I've met a number of people both in my hometown of Boston, and at conferences all over the country, because we shared a hashtag, or liked what they retweeted and that led to a phone call or some coffee.

Twitter has a lot of potential as a networking tool, but the people that I know who use it the most effectively, are the ones who understand how it fits into a larger pattern of social interaction and network development.