Using Twitter at Your Conference

TwitterIn a previous article Use Twitter to Promote Your Conference we discussed how to use Twitter for generating buzz about your conference. Because Twitter posts (called a “Tweet”) are restricted to text messages of 140 characters or less, the tool is perfect for generating headlines and small news stories. While this is tremendous to promote your conference, Tweets can be used with great effectiveness to increase attendee engagement and enthusiasm at the conference itself. This, in turn, will make the meeting more memorable and help build your brand.

Before reviewing techniques you can use, a couple of general issues should be discussed. Meetings are currently dealing with a widespread problem of wi-fi and cell phone access availability being totally inadequate for the amount of traffic generated. This, of course, leads to frustrated attendees and a diminishment of the results from your efforts. Make sure to confirm that your facility and related providers have successfully handled a show of your size and configuration.

As in promoting your conference, the starting point for using Twitter is having an effective hashtag. The hashtag is a short phrase preceded by a hash (#) symbol that is included in all Tweets referencing the conference. For example, if you are holding ABC Conference, your hashtag might be #abcConf. See this article for how to create a great hashtag.

Now that these foundations are in place, here are some ways you can use Twitter at your conference to make it even more of success.

• Publicize the Twitter hashtag everywhere – marketing material, shirts, programs, video screens. You should also mention the hashtag before each presentation and encourage people to include it in their Tweets.
• Respond to all relevant Tweets. It is important that you have someone (or a group) dedicated to responding to this effort. Not having such dedicated resources could cause your Twitter efforts to fail.
• Use Twitter as the place to go for information. Share the conference program as it unfolds. For example, “The General Session is starting in 5 minutes in the Lincoln Ballroom”…
• Monitor and use Tweets to handle any attendee issues – for example, bad food, broken A/V in a room… Respond when fixed – “Coffee is now available…”
• Generate conversation. Post questions that encourage a response. For example – “what did you learn from Speaker Davis?”
• Encourage exhibitors and sponsors to participate in Twitter activity. Occasionally mentioning/thanking your sponsors via Tweets will help the cause.
• When a speaker says something noteworthy, Tweet it! Include the speaker’s Twitter handle in your post. Your materials and the speaker’s presentation should include the handle.
• Ask attendees to Tweet questions for speakers and panels. Have pre-selected moderators or even allow attendees to moderate. Tell speakers in advance that you’ll be using Twitter so they are prepared accordingly.
• Tweet links to speaker’s posts and slides.
• Collect attendees’ Twitter handles and put on badges.
• Always popular is live streaming relevant Tweets on big screens and monitors throughout the event. People love seeing their names in print!
• Make sure to include photos in your Tweets, including links to Instagram uploads.
• Encourage social media activity by providing a lounge for recharging devices. You should have no problem finding a sponsor for this one!

Not sure how to write a great Tweet?
Here is a blog post that gives a nice breakdown on how to make your Tweets more effective.