If you’re an event organizer, you’re too busy to set up engaging twitter feeds for big screens, filter them, and promote the feeds to all the folks who couldn’t attend in person.
If you’re a conference attendee, following along on the fast-moving Twitter streams can be overwhelming, especially when there are too many retweets and off-topic conversations.
These 5 tips may help you keep up, whether you’re an attendee or an organizer:
- Start watching the official hash tag (example: #adobeMAX) at least 7 days prior to the start of the event. You can start following people you may want to meet, learn about the latest conference-related news, and make some early connections before you even get on an airplane. If you’re feeling brave, join in give your opinions about the conference, which sessions you’re looking forward to, and start a conversation with a “celebrity” in your industry. If you’re a bit shy, there’s nothing wrong with just following along and “listening”.
- See if the event has an official Twitter Dashboard, like the ones Refynr produces. For conference organizers, the benefit of a Refynr dashboard is that a) Refynr does all the custom work of designing the dashboard, b) the Refynr team manages and filters the feed for you so that you can concentrate on all your other tasks, c) and remote attendees can follow along virtually. Refynr estimates that for every 100 attendees, 20 additional will follow along on such a dashboard, because with the photo slideshow they feel almost like they are there in person. For attendees, the advantages are that they don’t have to figure out the best Twitter search on their own, and don’t have to waste time sifting through the extra retweets and spam that ofter occupies an unfiltered Twitter feed.
- Follow interesting tweeters and the people they follow. If someone tweets something relevant to you or your industry, follow them. Then, dive deeper by seeing who they follow on Twitter. Twitter.com and the official Twitter iPhone app has the best interface, in my opinion, for viewing who someone follows. Go through that list to read the bio and Twitter stream from each person in the list to find people/companies worth following.
- Create reports on the usage of the hash tag. Refynr can create custom reports for event organizers, or you can use free tools like HashTracking.com, which will analyze the tweets on the hash tag quickly and easily, but keep in mind that the free tools may not include all the data that Refynr curates, and so the data might not be exact. Either way, finding trends on who tweeted the most, which tweets induced the most engagement, and some key demographic information can be valuable to planning the next event and improving engagement with your various audiences.
- Follow up with all the Twitter connections you made. Make sure to follow your top people/companies of interest from the hash tag stream, and then tweet or DM them a short message to connect. It’s best to do a little research about each person before initial contact. To do so, read their Twitter bios and follow the links on their Twitter profile. You may be able to find their professional website, blog, or LinkedIn profile. Those websites are better than a personal twitter or Facebook account because it gives you insight into how their business and professional life may be connected to yours, rather than some personal information which may not be relevant.
Sure, at any given conference you’ll still meet people face-to-face and exchange business cards the old-fashioned way, but technology is changing rapidly. With new social media tools, event organizers and event audiences alike can engage in interesting, industry-focused conversations days or weeks before, and after, an event. And the connections made from Twitter, LinkedIn, or a Facebook Fan Page can be more powerful and permanent than a business card that will probably be lost or forgotten in your suit pants pocket anyways. Make lasting relationships, have a ball, and feel like the next conference brings a higher RORI (Return on Relationship Investment) for everyone!
This post was written by guest blogger Aaron Longnion,Founder & CTO of Refynr
About Aaron: Former senior engineer at Adobe, HomeAway (employee #12), and Lynda.com, who started Refynr in 2010 to clean up the Twitter streams, but found out that conferences and events need this technology more than your average twitter user. Aaron wants to see the event industry join in on to social media’s underutilized ability to easily connect like-minded people and businesses in a genuine and long-lasting way.
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