Twitter is a brilliant (and free!) tool that can be used to enhance conferences from both an organiser’s and a delegate’s point of view. In our previous post, Organisers: using Twitter to enhance your conference, we looked at ways for organisers to incorporate it into their event. In this post, we concentrate on how delegates can enhance their conference experience via Twitter.
Chances are you’ve probably already got a Twitter account. If you’re an avid user of Twitter then you can move straight on to the next paragraph. If you’ve got an account that you signed up for over a year ago and you haven’t logged into since, then now is the time to brush off the cobwebs and get tweeting. Or if you’ve never used Twitter before in your life, then a conference is a great place to start. All you need to do is set yourself up with an account at twitter.com.
Make sure you’re following the Twitter account of the conference that you’re attending or the account of the company running the conference. Next, find out what the official hashtag is. A hashtag is simply the hash symbol (#) followed by a key word or phrase. You should tag all your conference related tweets with the hashtag so other delegates can see what you are saying. Remember that the hashtag eats into your 140 character limit so make sure you leave enough room at the end of your tweet to use it.
Before your conference, use Twitter to find other delegates who are attending. Look at who is using the hashtag, following the conference account or tweeting about the topics covered. It’s great to find people online and then look out for them at your event. You can even arrange to share travel or accommodation with them in advance. Also, look out for tweets from the organisers offering information to their delegates. This can range from how to get to the venue and what menu choices are available to confirmation of keynote speakers.
On the day, pick one or two sessions that you’re going to tweet live from. Try not to spend all day tweeting or you might find you don’t engage fully with what’s going on around you. After all, you want the use of Twitter to enhance your conference experience, not impede it.
If the person next to you isn’t using Twitter then share what’s happening with them. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a room full of people using their laptops or phones and having no clue what’s going on. If you are tweeting during a speaker’s presentation, check beforehand to see if the organisers would prefer you to sit at the back and if you’re allowed to take photos or make recordings of the session.
Monitor the conference’s hashtag before and after your sessions, at lunchtime and at the end of the day. Join in with the conversation and share your thoughts on the event. Keep an eye out for any tweets from the organisers giving you last-minute information or asking for feedback.
Use Twitter after the conference to stay in touch. Companies will often post links to presentations or handouts from the conference or offer deals if you book early for their next event. You can also use Twitter to keep in contact with other delegates you met at the conference.
At the end of the day, Twitter is an excellent way for you to get more out of your conference experience.