I used Twitter for the first time to harness the “back channel” chat in a GovNet conference on Mobile Technology earlier this week and I have to say it added tremendously to the experience. If you search twitter for #mobilegov you’ll see the thread.
From my experience I was able to tune into what others in the conference were thinking, liking, and hating and able to take their participation and feed it back into the conference.
There wasn’t a whole lot of us participating, about half-a-dozen, probably because we didn’t promote it enough prior to the conference, but there was enough to enhance the experience for me as the chairman and to prompt some better questions than I would have asked without the help.
I think the twitterers there found the conference more enjoyable and engaging by following the “back channel” chat.
So it was a more enjoyable experience, so what did I learn and would do differently, to get more participants.
1. Prepare more by doing the following:
2. Check the Conference venue has wifi and can technically support your wishes to live tweet the event.
3. Get to event early to get laptop etc set up so live tweeting is ready to run from the off. I had a technical issue with my wireless certificate, so had to borrow the event organisers’ laptop, which was fine, but it wasn’t ready from the off…. and so lessened the impact of the initial announcement.
4. Get event organisers to publicise that you can follow the event on twitter and set up the # to follow prior announcements in run up to the event and the event in itself.
5. Check out this blog post on TwiTip on six steps to using Twitter for your event.
This was my first try at this and I would recommend it for any chair of a conference where you think that attendees will be there who are active on twitter. I’m no expert, as I say it was my first time as a chairman and my first time live tweeting an event, but I hope this account of my experience helps.