If You Are Not on Twitter, You Are At a Disadvantage at Events

Out of all the social networks, Twitter is the one I find most people don’t understand and in fact, may even fear. But the reality is, Twitter is making its way to an event near you. You may have even been at an event recently that encouraged you to tweet from the event and which had a dedicated event hash tag?

If you were sitting there wanting to be a part of the cool crowd but didn’t have a clue how to participate and were too scared to speak up, this blog is for you. Similarly, if you have considered making Twitter a part of the next event you are organising, you should also read on. 
First up, let’s have a really quick lesson on key Twitter language, and why being on Twitter and using it at an event can really be a powerful business tool.

Talking “@” Someone

The @ symbol basically means that someone is talking at you, about you or to you. In your email address, you have an @ symbol, perhaps your name at your company, which is how people communicate to you.
So if you want to speak to me on Twitter, you can simply use @creativecollect which is my company account or @yradams which is my personal account. If you are going to an event, it is a good idea to obtain the Twitter profile for the company who are running the event, the sponsors and the speakers. A good event organiser will provide this information upfront by providing them either prior to, or at the event.

Hash Tags (#)

A hash tag is a way of aggregating information about a particular topic. So, let’s say a certain event is being run a certain company, for example, The Creative Collective.
The @ symbol would be the way you would communicate to the company and a hash tag may be used for just the event, let’s say #webwednesday.
In this way, anybody who wants to follow Web Wednesday whether they are at the event or not, can simply go on to Twitter or a social media dashboard like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and simply follow what is being said using the hash tag Web Wednesday.
A sample tweet along these lines might be “Having a great time with @creativecollect at the #webwednesday event tonight.”

How It Comes Together

Recently I was a mentor at an event on the Gold Coast called Start Up Weekend where people come along and share their ideas, form teams and launch startups, all in one weekend!
As you would expect of an event of this nature that was trying to bring together prospective start-up businesses, designers, developers, marketing specialists and mentors, they established a Twitter account, using the @ symbol, in this case @GCStartup and a dedicated hash tag for the event which was #SWGoldCoast for “Start Up Weekend Gold Coast”.
As an event organiser it is worth noting that it is a good idea to:
1) check that the hashtag you are proposing is not already in use and even better, to secure it on a site like twubs.com.
2) You then need to let people know about it. I’d recommend starting to use it in tweets in the lead up, and getting a few key influencers to also start putting the hashtag out to their networks and encouraging the use of it.
3) On the day, it is also important to place signage with the details in prominent locations at the event, include it on the powerpoint slide template, and then remind people to use it at regular intervals.
 
As an organiser of an event, this is really a powerful way to get the message out there about the event, thereby amplifying the reach of the event and potentially encouraging participation at future events. 

How to Take it to the Next Level

If you are really serious about using Twitter as an advantage if you are involved in an event, whether you are an organiser or a participant, it can be a good idea to set up a stream on Hootsuite. For those of you who don’t know it, Hootsuite is a social media management/monitoring tool which allows you to create streams of information you want to track on any given social network.
So upon arrival at any event, I always set up a “hash tag stream” on Hootsuite so I can track the online conversations at the event which enables me to monitor what is being said and re-tweet it or start getting involved in the conversation at any time I wanted.
A great example of this is when I recently attended a digital productivity conference put on by the Australian Government. By tracking the hashtag in Hootsuite I was part of the online conversations and participating in some of them. I was therefore gaining distinct advantage over people who were not engaging in this activity – I was able to connect with a number of highly relevant leaders in the digital space and basically start making friends with them.
These conversations have since lead to grabbing a coffee and exchanging information with some really relevant contacts for my business.
In summary
By encouraging tweeting at your event, you are effectively “viralising” the event. It enables other people to ‘sell’ it on your behalf.
If you really want to take your event to the next level, it is a good idea to engage professionals who already have extensive networks to leverage from and who know exactly how to engage key influencers and grow the reach of your event. The Creative Collective for example has combined networks of over 70,000 people and are regularly called on for our expertise in this area. If we can help you with this, contact us.
Do you use Twitter at events?
Do you even have a Twitter handle?
Do you understand hash tags?
Do you think it could be a good idea to track hash tags at events so you can start participating at conversations?
 
I would love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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