My answer: To start and/or participate in a conversation on a specific subject. And a particularly useful Twitter conversation: live conversations during a conference or gathering.
At the Business Innovation Factory, a nonprofit that helps transform complex social systems such as healthcare and education, we host an annual Summit and regular gatherings.
Since Twitter launched, we’ve encouraged public conversations via Twitter using event-specific hashtags (e.g.,#BIF10, #hcnarrative). I use Twitter to raise awareness and engagement before and during the event. During the event, Twitter helps those watching via live-stream video feel more a part of the event.
Most live-event tweeters default to sharing speaker sound bites. So how do you avoid repetition and make your event’s tweet stream more interesting and useful? You have to herd the live-Tweeters. Here’s how we’ve done this successfully.
Popularize the hashtag before and during the event via event materials, emails, and your own tweets about the event.
Add attendees’ Twitter handles to a public list, so everyone can see and retweet each other.
Add attendees’ Twitter handles to their nametags.
Identify a group of “super-Tweeters” who will also be open to editorial direction. We’ve developed a list of good live-tweeters to whom we offer free registration.
At the event, broadcast the event’s tweet stream on a monitor in a public area; this encourages others to tweet and sparks conversations at the event itself.
Make sure you have good Wi-Fi at the event and share the information; consider setting up a separate (from other attendees) password-protected Wi-Fi network for tweeters and press.
Once you’ve assembled a group of tweeters, assign roles. I send an email ahead of time describing these roles, so people can volunteer to do what most interests them.
Roles include tweeting:
sound bites and speaker quotes.
information, including links to speaker bios on or off our site and links to past stories on the topic, past stories by the storyteller, pictures of speaker slides and anything else of relevance.
color commentary, tweets that offer context from the POV of different industries, occupations or concerns; tweets that describe the crowd and atmosphere; photos from the event.
live-stream help and amplification, including tweeting and re-tweeting the live-stream link and the Twitter handles of those who are helping live-streamers; solving technical problems; and responding to questions viewers tweet (these range from clarifications about speaker comments and slides, to requests to post pictures of items not visible on the live-stream (in one case, a speaker’s 3D-printed shoes).
Post-event, you’ll have a rich tweet stream that can be archived and shared and mined for insights. You can archive part of a tweet stream using Storify, but with the help of a professional you can archive all tweets using a specific hashtag during a specific time period.
Renee Hopkins is Community Engagement Manager at Business Innovation Factory; tweeting @Renee_Hopkins and @TheBIF; curious about curiosity, innovation, and creativity; twangy singer and #RollTide alumna.
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